Using a Linux computer in University halls

If you run Linux on a PC or laptop in halls of residence you may of realised that most universities are using 802.1x authentication on their networks. It’s great, secure all that. It can just be a pain to set up. I’m currently in halls at Bangor University and couldn’t figure out how to get it all working in Ubuntu or Crunchbang. To be fair, it’s pretty unreliable in Windows too… “Unable to authenticate!”… Grr but I digress.

I found this guide on Aberystwyth University’s website, and it worked great. Basically you need to download and make sure that wpa_supplicant is installed (It should be in pretty much all modern Linux distros), then create a config file for it using the details on the page linked. I’ll paste them below in case they ever take the page down.

Start up a command line interface and create a directory by typing:

mkdir /var/run/wpa_supplicant

Using a text editor create a wpa_supplicant.conf file in /etc/wpa_supplicant. Inside this file enter the following lines:
# BEGIN wired network configuration

ap_scan=0

ctrl_interface=/var/run/wpa_supplicant

network={ 
      key_mgmt=IEEE8021X 
      eap=PEAP 
      phase1="peaplabel=1" 
      phase2="auth=MSCHAPV2" 
      identity="your University email address" 
      password="your University password" 
}

# ENG wired network configuration

Open a command terminal window and type:
sudo chmod 600 /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

Edit /etc/network/interfaces with the following. (The bits in bold)
#BEGIN

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp
wpa-driver wired
wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

#END

Restart your network card by typing
sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

You should now be connected to the University network

You’ll have to do a bit of experimenting with the identity field. Aber wants your entire uni email whereas at Bangor I just needed my username for it to work. Try both until it works. I’m fairly certain these settings are going to be fairly universal for all uni’s who utilise 802.1x authentication systems.

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