eduroam – wifi on the fly (Harvard edition)
Strange internet in a strange city.
This post is completely off my normal topics, but I’m putting it up here anyway in the hopes that it will help wandering scholars get their internet fix!
Some hefty disclaimers: I’m not a tech expert by any accounts, so some terminology may be used inaccurately in what follows. I’m not writing in any official capacity, only from the experience of an end-user using Mac and Apple products with the Harvard network. All files and links I’m including are up-to-date as of May 1, 2014, but I do not intend to maintain/update this page, so use these at your own discretion, and contact your school’s IT help desk directly for additional assistance.
Let me set the scene: A Harvard graduate student is spending time away from campus, in a city where there are plenty of other academic institutions, but she doesn’t have any affiliation with these institutions. For reasons of both work and leisure, she needs to connect to a wireless network. Where to find wifi? Starbucks? McDonalds? What about all these colleges and universities? Wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of internet consortium that allowed traveling scholars to use the wifi networks on other campuses?
OH WAIT THERE IS.
It’s called eduroam. It’s available all over the world. It’s an awesome thing. Lots of times, wandering downtown various cities or on college campuses I’d catch an eduroam wifi signal. But how to connect?
First, your home institution needs to be an eduroam member. If you’re in the US, you can check here to see if your school participates. I saw that Harvard was a member, so I knew I was supposed to have access. But what next?
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information out there on how Harvard students, faculty, and staff can use Eduroam. At the time of writing, Harvard’s FAS IT site doesn’t even turn up any results for “eduroam” when you search their site. A Google search led me to a registration portal, which was not particularly explanatory and seemed more targeted toward newcomers to Harvard’s campus. I wrote to Harvard’s help desk, asking them to provide better documentation, and received these instructions (which did help), but I’m writing this page to help clear up the whole process for Harvard affiliates like me who might never have encountered the term 802.1x authentication before. If you’re an affiliate with an eduroam partner that isn’t Harvard, you can read through the basics below, but the certificates and login information will be different, and you ought to check with your home institution for the particulars. With that said, are you ready? Let’s begin!
Step one: Get internet access.
This seems like a redundant, self-obvious point, but one of my biggest frustrations with setting up eduroam was you absolutely need to set it up while you have internet access, in order to configure your computer or device. But of course, if you’re trying to connect to eduroam, it’s because you don’t have internet access in the first place. Catch-22? Yes. But if you’re reading this, you’re on the internet, so now’s the time to configure everything. And really, get everything done while you’re online right now. Laptop, phone, iPod, iPad, everything. You’ll thank me later.
Step two: Install configurations.
Harvard has an installation page with different OS options here: Harvard Wireless: Secure or Eduroam. Choose your operating system, follow the prompts for the installation wizard, and install the configuration profile.
Note for mobile (iOS, Android) users: I had lots of trouble getting to this page on my mobile devices, because I was redirected to a different mobile site. One thing that could work is using a mobile browser like Chrome which allows you to request the desktop version of the site. What I ended up doing in the end, though, was downloading the mobile configuration to my laptop, and emailing it to myself as an attachment. Then, on my devices, I opened the attachment which triggered the installer for the eduroam configurations. For reference, the file I downloaded (on 5/1/14) was named mac_3515.mobileconfig, for iOS.
Step three: Account name and password.
While you’re doing your initial configuration, your device will ask you for your username and password. Easy, right? Wrong. What you need to enter is unlike any other login at Harvard:
Account name: [8-digit HUID]@harvard.edu
Password: your HUID pin
For example, if your HUID is 87654321, your login is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the password is the same one you use to login whenever you use that HUID online. (Note: I don’t know if this works for XID users, but imagine it might not)
Please don’t ask me how many permutations of my name, HUID, and email I tried, or how many times I almost punched my computer.
At this point, you should be configured, and you should get some confirmation that the certificates are installed and valid. Congratulations! You may on occasion need to reenter your account name and password to log into eduroam, but you shouldn’t need to reinstall the certificates (as far as I know).
And you should be free to surf the internet wherever you see the eduroam network, anywhere in the world!
For non-Harvard folks: the same principles apply for every eduroam setup. You need to install authentication certificates before the network will work, and those certificates are issued by your home institution. If, like Harvard, there’s no clear information online about where to get the install packages, contact your home IT department and request their help. Also, the login will almost certainly be different. Many institutions use the email login name; I suppose that Harvard’s multiple email domains (fas.harvard.edu, college.harvard.edu, seas.harvard.edu, etc.) prevented that possibility.
Anyway, I hope this helps you get connected! Have a happy internet!