Bradford rears its ugly head: Summer network changes affect Vista and Linux users

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By Calder Phillips-Grafflin

Bradford Campus Manager, the system used by the college to control access to its network, has delivered a number of surprises to students returning to campus.

Most importantly, students still using Vista are unable to access the network without modifying their systems. In addition, the college is now providing a Bradford client for Linux which is largely incompatible with desktop versions of Linux.

The problem for Vista users isn’t new; the help article ITS has provided to students is almost two years old, but it’s actually a very simple problem. Simply stated, Vista doesn’t properly handle DHCP servers that don’t use a special kind of message flag. In particular, the college uses the “Bradford Campus Manager” as its new DHCP server, and it doesn’t use the right kind of flag.

As it turns out, the problem is due to the lack of a single key in the Windows Registry, which controls how Windows computers operate.While it may sound complicated, solving this problem is very easy, and we have included instructions (see right) for those of you who still can’t connect to the network.

Barely more than a year ago, the official position of ITS was that the number of Linux users on campus was so small that it was inconsequential.

Now, apparently, that has changed. Either the number of Linux users on campus has increased noticeably, or the college has decided that they pose more of a security problem.

The problem with the new Bradford client is that it requires software that’s not included in most Linux versions. To run the Bradford client, you need to have the Linux Standard Base (LSB) installed. LSB is closest thing to a “standard” for Linux versions, but support for it is very poor.

In fact, the versions of Linux which are used by an overwhelming number of desktop users don’t include the LSB at all. This leads to a catch-22 in which you can’t access the internet without running Bradford, but you can’t run Bradford without the internet to install LSB.

Problems with Bradford aren’t really the fault of ITS, since they are at the mercy of Bradford Networks, but they do demonstrate ongoing difficulties with student access.

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