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Enabling Bittorrent at the University Level?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the bandwidth-and-administrator-headaches dept.

145

Sorthum asks: "I'm a network administrator for a small university (approximately 5000 students all told). We're running NAT in the dorms, which obviously restricts BitTorrent traffic. We do an annual student survey, on which 'Residential Network' is listed as the number 2 complaint. This translates more or less into 'Bittorrent is slow here.' My boss is in a frenzy to appease the users at virtually any cost, but it seems to me from my research that the only real way to improve Bittorrent speeds is to start assigning public IPs to the dorms. Add to that the potential liability of making a service that by most reports has upward of 90% of its traffic fall into a 'legally questionable' gray area, how can I win in this situation?"

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145 comments

Do they mention bittorrent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125518)

Or are you just speculating? Because Bittorrent does work behind NAT, and most legitimate users of it, don't really track upload/download like the less legitimate versions do. If there's some reaource that's not fast enough, cache it locally and offer it to students that way.

Re:Do they mention bittorrent? (1)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127126)

It works behind NAT, but we're not filtering right now, and it's taking up very little bandwidth-- most users can't exceed 20K a second for some reasons.

You have to decide what's important (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125521)

BitTorrent, like any other technology, protocol, or tool, can be used for things that are legal, illegal, or questionable in various jurisdictions. Are you prepared to continue quashing a protocol or service simply because it may be abused?

On the other hand, almost all (or at least a great deal) of the BitTorremt traffic may be currently used for sharing copyrighted materials. We all know that to be the case. Is it responsible to open up the pipes for what you know is almost exclusively illegitimate usage, within the context of the law (regardless of how you or anyone else feels about copyright infringement, and so on)?

On yet another hand, what happens if BitTorrent usage becomes largely legitimate because some large legitimate service begins using it? (And yes, to those reading this, I'm more than aware BitTorrent is used for a variety of legitimate large downloads.) In that event, can you afford to continue treating any protocol or service as if it's illegitimate, just because some level of it is now?

During the heyday of Napster (1999-2000), UW-Madison estimated that Napster accounted for over half [wisc.edu] (!) of our inbound and outbound traffic. There was a lot of talk about how to deal with this. Ultimately, UW-Madison decided that as a large public research university, we can't afford to police a particular kind of traffic wholesale: any network protocol can be abused, used for illegal purposes, and so on. We felt that the academic arguments and responding to usage demands of the campus trumped making judgment calls about the appropriateness of the use. Granted, the appropriate use policy [wisc.edu] of the university forbade some of the things people were using the network for, but we didn't actively police (or restrict) traffic. In the end, this provided the university with the impetus to examine ways of meeting increased demand and come up with novel solutions to our neverending bandwidth needs. One interesting example is that we now locally host a collection of Akamai's servers on our own network, which serves UW-Madison, the 25 other UW System Schools, and WiscNet. However, some of the smaller schools couldn't afford to make those same determinations: they either restricted or blocked Napster (and other things, like Gnutella) completely.

Today, the university does shape and restrict traffic [wisc.edu] to the residence halls in various ways; but it's designed to do so in a way such that users almost always won't notice any impact and allows equal access for all. All of our residence halls feature 100mbit ethernet, and that full pipe may be taken advantage of. Some users do use the network for inappropriate purposes, and those cases are dealt with individually when needed. Still, there is no proactive policing unless there are clear abuse/misuse issues. For what it's worth, BitTorrent (and all other protocols) are fully usable here.

If you can afford it, politically and financially, I'd say you should be looking into opening this up. The school does not bear responsibility for the actions of its users unless there is a lack of good faith attempts to stop abuse when requested by, e.g., copyright holders. There always is the argument of customer satisfaction, as well, that must be responded to - whether some students' use is appropriate or not.

Re:You have to decide what's important (2, Informative)

aitikin (909209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125590)

I am currently attending a university where they shape traffic. I have been here for as long as the shaping system has been in place and I have heard nothing but complaints. Granted, the university implemented CleanAccess as well, but most of the complaints seem to be related to the shaping and I don't work in ITS, so this is all just what I have picked up from living here. The most common complaint seems to be how slow the network is period, not just for P2P purposes. I can't even connect to the completely legitimate website www.ilounge.com, it never times out, it just keeps on "transmitting data".

I apparently can't use any proxy servers either. If I do a download from a sourceforge mirror, it comes in at about 40 kb/s which isn't too bad, but if I do a download from bit torrent I'm lucky if it comes in at .5 kb/s. This effectively prohibits me from effiently installing a customized Linux distribution, like Gentoo, because I can't install any packages at any relative speed.

In response to the shaping, which functions more like bandwidth limiting, an individual within the dorms has set up a DC++ hub, so while we may not be able to get anything from outside the network, we can at least get things from within. This just goes to show you that no matter what you do to "limit" illegal activities, people will find a way. So my answer to the OP would be to let them have it, just limit the actual bandwidth they can use, which is similar to how University of Illinois handles the problem.

Re:You have to decide what's important (2, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125629)

Our restrictions for the residence halls really just come down to bandwidth restrictions.

Residents get 5GB/week off-campus (unlimited on-campus). If they go over this limit, their off-campus connectivity speed is reduced until their traffic usage goes below a 4GB for the previous 7 day period. Campus traffic is never affected.

We haven't had any complaints about usability of the residence hall connections. All other connections on campus (non-residence halls) are generally unrestricted, and almost all are 100mbit.

More info: http://www.housing.wisc.edu/resnet/aup.php [wisc.edu]

Re:You have to decide what's important (1)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125807)

5 GB is absolutely nothing these days. It'd make more sense to have it something along the lines of 10 or 15 GB. Either way, I personally think that capping student downloads is pretty braindead. There are much better ways to deal with misbehaving students automatically on a case by case basis.

I'm an admin at University of Miami and we have no bandwidth usage policy, and you know what? We don't hear a single complaint from students about speed. If someone does something against the AUP, either our firewall or the tipping point packet filter will pick it up and notify the help desk and an automated program which terminates the user's session temporarily and gives them notice of what they did wrong.

Also, saying you haven't had complaints about usability is a flat out lie. I know this for a fact because I have several friends on your campus who have complained about it multiple times. One friend installed/patched up World of Warcraft just to find out afterwards that his connection speed was slower than a 56k dialup. Another found one day that his bandwidth usage on your site jumped from 400 megs to 3 gigs, without him doing *anything* during that time frame. A bug possibly? You guys need to rework your software that manages that.

Re:You have to decide what's important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16126114)

Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with UW-Madison ResNet, the networks in the residence halls, or anything having to do with how they're administered.

5GB per 7 days to off-campus sites is plenty for undergraduate residential use. For what it's worth, World of Warcraft downloads and patches do not fall under the University or Housing AUPs; if anything, they fall under the de minimus usage categories.

On-campus use is not restricted, and University wireless and non-housing networks are not restricted.

Almost all users of the housing networks don't have complaints about the usability or utility of the network. It really hasn't been a big problem, and putting the limits on Housing users has, if anything, solved problems.

Further, under this model, residents aren't proactively reprimanded for "inappropriate" use, as long as they stay within the bandwidth limits. Limiting traffic in this way was Housing's decision, not the University's, nor that of the central IT organization.

Re:You have to decide what's important (2, Interesting)

Orion_ (83461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126350)

Residents get 5GB/week off-campus (unlimited on-campus). If they go over this limit, their off-campus connectivity speed is reduced until their traffic usage goes below a 4GB for the previous 7 day period.

I would disagree that 5GB/week is really enough, but aside from that, I consider this a perfectly reasonable policy.

The problem is that the AUP you linked to flatly contradicts the bandwidth limitation policy as you described it. The real policy is that what you describe only happens the first time the 5GB cap is exceeded. After that, a series of increasingly punitive measures are taken, culminating in the fourth time when the user's off-campus access is completely revoked until he can "justify the reinstatement" of said connection to university officials.

This is completely unacceptable to me. I am a graduate student at UW-Madison, and this policy is the main reason I decided not to live in the university apartments. I know the university doesn't really care: There is more than enough demand for on-campus housing, and I'm sure the policy is designed specifically to scare off people like me that are likely to actually use their network connection.

But don't act like you have some kind of enlightened policy that relies on something as innocuous as throttling to meet the university's bandwidth goals, when in fact you have a policy that relies primarily on threatening the students with disciplinary action if they exceed their bandwidth limit.

Limit how? (2, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125632)

It all depends upon how you limit the bandwidth.

#1. Shrink the individual pipes to total_bandwidth/number_of_students? So you always get sucky performance?

#2. Cap the daily/weekly/monthly download/upload? So you get sucky performance during the first half of that period, but great performance once everyone else has hit their caps. And what happens when you have a legit need to go to a site after you've hit your cap?

#3. Do it like Frame Relay where you can "burst" to the available bandwidth? But if everyone is try to burst, you get sucky performance anyway.

#4. "Shape" the bandwidth based upon protocol and use one of the above methods to share that bandwidth? This works as long as there's no way to masquerade as a different protocol.

Each way has its own problems.

Re:Limit how? (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125693)

#2 doesn't work. Here at UVA, on-campus dorms has a 750 MB limit per day. You violate that three times in two weeks and you get capped to 56k for a few days. Do it again and it's a few weeks, and a third time and it's the rest of the semester. But everyone knows that all you have to do is find a wireless router not in use (in an empty library or in a classroom) and you circumvent that dorm-room limit. It's useful when downloading a Linux distro or legal content.

Re:Limit how? (2, Interesting)

sniop1 (973166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125726)

Here at my university, in the dorms connections have a 24 hour rolling bandwidth quota (updated hourly) of 750mb off campus traffic, which is sufficient for the overwhelming majority of users. Connections are not speed limited up to 750mb of traffic. After the 750mb has been reached, the user is placed into a "Class B" tier of service where connections are limited to 128kbit per flow. If the traffic exceeds 1gb per 24 hour period, users are moved into "Class C" service, which is 512kbit pool for all users in that tier. This system worked very well for us, allowing normal usage but curbing the people that abuse the connection. http://www.lartc.org/ [lartc.org] has excellent documentation on how to get a setup like this up and running

Re:Limit how? (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126263)

Begin Linux Distro download, see 5k speed go to class, see cap totally breached.

Some files are bigger than your caps, and the user has little control.

Personally I don't like caps and instituting them seems like a waste of resources that could be better spent on faster connections.

UPnP? (3, Insightful)

avalys (221114) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125529)

I know on small, home networks, many routers now support the Internet Gateway Device (UGD) protocol of UPnP, which allows dynamic configuration of port-forwarding for applications running through NAT. I'm not sure how well-suited the protocol is for large networks, but perhaps that's something you could consider?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Gateway_Devi ce [wikipedia.org]

Re:UPnP? (2, Insightful)

ldspartan (14035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125595)

I don't believe there are any Industrial Strength(tm) routers that support UPnP; I don't even think there's a decent daemon for the *ixs.

Plus, its a scary idea. A protocol to poke arbitrary holes in firewalls? Brilliant!

Leave it (2, Insightful)

Vokbain (657712) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125530)

They should be glad BitTorrent works at all. Students can wait a little while longer to steal movies/games/whatever.

Re:Leave it (2, Funny)

pdpTrojan (454023) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125557)

omg no way!!! at my school we just download linux isos. you are so ignorant... bittorrent is awesome!!!!!!

Re:Leave it (1)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125761)

Mod parent funsightful (funny with some insightfulness...I dunno, I might as well invent a new moderation).

If you think all college students are going to download over BitTorrent is shit from Archive.org and/or Debian, you're more than a little deluded.

Re:Leave it (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125645)

Or download a Linux distro like I just did at my UW-Madison dorm.

Re:Leave it (5, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125684)

If they mirror the linux distro, it'll download even faster. Perhaps they should figure out what students are downloading most (i.e. linux distros, game patches, movies that are in the public domain.. and keep local copies of those things. Once they learn of its existance, students will pretty much always go to the local cache for it's much much greater bandwidth and far lower latency.

They could even use mediawiki to allow the students to take some control of the cache.

Re:Leave it (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126479)

They should be glad BitTorrent works at all.

At my university, it doesn't. So much as a byte of bittorrent traffic and your dorm connection gets shut off for a week. Worse, your dorm connection is tied to your student ID, so once you're cut off you can't use the wireless access provided in the library either. So much for downloading WoW patches.

Incorrect premise (0)

bconway (63464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125540)

We're running NAT in the dorms, which obviously restricts BitTorrent traffic.

No it doesn't. BitTorrent works perfectly fine behind NAT, with or without port forwarding enabled for it. It can take a little extra time for things to get up to speed without any forwarding, but it still works fine.

Re:Incorrect premise (2, Informative)

dircha (893383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125767)

Yes it does. Let me explain, for your benefit and for the benefit of the topic submitter.

If your client does not accept incoming external connections and share torrents (if your client is not on an externally accessible device and you don't have port forwarding configured), all other peers will assign you a priority lower than every other peer that is sharing.

This doesn't just mean you will be last in line to receive the requested torrent. It means that all other clients will relegate your request to the small segment of bandwidth configured to be set aside for non-sharing peers.

While it is possible for you to still obtain a fast download speed in the case that your request is fielded by such a large number of peers either whose bandwidth is under utilized or collectively whose non-sharing peer bandwidth allocation gives you an acceptable transfer rate, in most every case your download speed will be only a fraction of what it would be were you sharing.

And while I have not used BitTorrent in a long time now, it would not surprise me if clients were to implement logic to completely cut off "deadbeat" peers (freeloaders) such as yourself. Clients are by default configured to share with non-sharing peers not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because it is advantageous to allow peers who did not previously have anything to share to get a footing in the network on the premise that some of those peers may go on to become outstanding sharers. If however a peer downloads a great deal of data but fails to begin sharing within a reasonable period of time, that peer is probably a freeloader and can be safely blacklisted.

The "little extra time for things to get up to speed" you are seeing is the wait for all other leechers ahead of you to finish, opening up room in peers' non-sharing peer bandwidth to accomodate you.

Which I hope speaks to the question of why on earth would this university network administrator want to allow his users to use university bandwidth to get bonus points with copyright infringers so that they themselves can infringe copyright more effectively...

If you must do something, why don't you quietly encourage them to setup their own torrents on the local intranet? Surely between an entire campus of students there is enough shareable music to keep them occupied.

Re:Incorrect premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125929)

I think your post is slightly misleading. Being behind a NAT means that others cannot initiate connections to you... but you can still initate connections to them. So even behind NAT you can still share pieces and will not be a leech. However the number of people you will be connected to at any given moment will be lower, since you are always initiating the connection, and you are never receiving connections.

You can still be useful to other users in the swarm, because you may have chunks others do not. Bittorrent clients typically request the "most rare" chunks first, so that you can be a good sharer to others. So if you initiate connections to A and B, you can download bits from A and then upload them to B in exchange for new chunks. So you ARE SHARING.

However neither A nor B nor C can initiate new connections to you out of the blue, which means that statistically the size of the swarm you see is always smaller than someone who can receive connections.

This is why opening up a 'listening port' makes bit-torrent downloads so much faster: the swarm size grows and establishing new connections is faster since it is two-way. However even with no listening ports, you can still use bit-torrent and can still share.

Re:Incorrect premise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125957)

Which I hope speaks to the question of why on earth would this university network administrator want to allow his users to use university bandwidth to get bonus points with copyright infringers so that they themselves can infringe copyright more effectively...

As a University student I find comments like that very frustrating. Making bittorrent faster (by opening incoming ports) will make it faster for *every* use, whether academic or otherwise. I'm not going to argue that most home bittorrent use is not for movies and video games, but within a university context I'm afraid you have to give your users the benefit of the doubt.

I use the university network for bittorrent all the time... and yes it's for Linux distros and other large legitimate data. I personally feel that it's a valid part of my education to be able to play with different operating systems, pieces of software, technology, etc. Having fast bittorrent connections allows me to do this. Frankly my education shouldn't have to suffer just because others are using it for non-approved things. Worse, my education shouldn't suffer because someone believes that "all bittorrent traffic is for pirating" (or sentiments to that effect).

Re:Incorrect premise (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126233)

If your client does not accept incoming external connections and share torrents (if your client is not on an externally accessible device and you don't have port forwarding configured), all other peers will assign you a priority lower than every other peer that is sharing.


Any client that relies on the fact that other peers cannot accept inbound connections is broken. A better design is based on the upload/download ratio. As long as the peer is capable of uploading (even if it is a seeder that makes outbound connections to peers), then it is still a good peer.

The only reason firewalled peers are slower is because they are incapable of connecting to other firewalled peers. This cuts down on the potential bandwidth available and therefore cuts down on download speed.

Your fucked (2, Insightful)

bernywork (57298) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125544)

1) Implement public IPs and face the consequences, namely either knock on issues of them hammering your internet pipe, or as you said the otherwise potential legal issues surrounding it.
2) There was an article a little while back on rate shaping

You do have to question why the network is really there. Maybe you just need to tell your boss to get a grip.

I hate to say it, but does bittorrent (For non-uni use) really fall into the "supported" category? I know it's going to be something that everyone is going to try to find a way around as most uni networks have pretty good internet connections, but on a large scale like this you have to get an official statement from your boss as to say whether it's supported or not.

Sorry I can't give you better news.

Re:Your fucked (2, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125608)

You do have to question why the network is really there. Maybe you just need to tell your boss to get a grip.

I hate to say it, but does bittorrent (For non-uni use) really fall into the "supported" category?

I don't know if you've ever been to a University before (and if so if you've ever stayed in a dorm), but you've got to rememebr for most of these kids, the Internet pipe that comes with their dorm is *their only option*. Lots of caompuses do not let students get their own DSL/Cable installed in their dorm, they have to use the service that are privided with the dorm.,p>That said, you also gotta remember, these kids *are payig for* that dormroom Internet. If they can't use it for recreational use in their downtime, they're getting a really raw deal.

Are you sure that you're paying? (2, Insightful)

toddbu (748790) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125646)

That said, you also gotta remember, these kids *are payig for* that dormroom Internet

Well, yes and no. If the university has a clear $50/month charge on the bill then I'd say yes. I'm not sure all of them do though. If students really want ISP level internet access then they'd better be willing to pay for it, but I'm not sure that just because you're paying several thousand per year for tuition means that you get top-rate internet service. I really don't see internet access any different than dorm, food, or phone service.

Re:Are you sure that you're paying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125724)

So you're saying that universities shouldn't be required to provide decent food or housing? I go to a small school and we have no option but to live on campus in dorms. We have no other option than the school's phone service, cable and ISP. If there were another option I'd take it, but somehow I don't think the administration would really appreciate having their dorms fitted for outside services.

has *nothing* to do with tuition. (1, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126090)

Dorm fees have *nothing* to do with tution. Student's don't subsidize other students' housing, they are piad by dorm fees. It's akin to rent.

And when that rent lists "high speed internet included" as an option, and on top of that you are not allowed to procure your own alternative internet access, that Internet access should be as unencumbered as is reasonable.

Re:Your fucked (1)

bernywork (57298) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126029)

I understand that it's their only option in some instances. At that point the uni should be running it as an ISP then, give each of them a public IP and then run it as seperate infrastructure, on a seperate business model. At that point they should also include a set of terms and conditions that specifically point out that they are not in any way responsible for anything that they do. If people complain that it's slow, then there may not be much more of an option aside to rate shape traffic.

Either way, (My semi-educated opinion) it's not an engineering problem, it's a managerial problem about how the whole lot is being run at the moment and it obviously needs a re-think on how things are being done.

Social problem needs social solution (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126225)

Either way, (My semi-educated opinion) it's not an engineering problem, it's a managerial problem about how the whole lot is being run at the moment and it obviously needs a re-think on how things are being done.

Bingo; yet again, it's an attempt to solve a policy/managerial/social problem with a technological solution. Almost any time this is attempted, failure results.

As to the OP, if you want to provide customer satisfaction, and your customers want BT, then you need to provide externally-facing IP addresses and allow as much traffic to each client as is technologically and economically feasible. The law ought to be on your side, since you'd be acting as a 'common carrier,' just like any other ISP. Provided you respond to and comply with any court orders or other legal requests for action by copyright holders, and don't attempt to shield you users from the consequences of their actions, you ought to be OK.

I think that the cost of internet access to each student should be broken out on their residence-fee bill, so they know what they're paying: if they're only paying $5/mo for it, then they can't expect even Comcast-like service and customer satisfaction. But if they're paying $75 or $80 a month for a 128kbit pipe, on top of which you layer tons of NAT and filtering, then they probably are within their rights to be pissed. I certainly would be.

I've got even worse news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125973)

It's spelled "you're".

Re:I've got even worse news (1)

bernywork (57298) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126709)

Yes, yes it is. Did someone misunderstand what I was saying though? I doubt it. I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

Re:Your fucked (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16126429)

My fucked what?

Do what universities do here? (3, Insightful)

Keruo (771880) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125559)

Assess the need of services to provide to students, webmail, directory services, course pages etc.
Make the services available over net.
Kick residential networks completely away from university network.
Then you won't have to worry about what students do in their network, since it's operated by third party operator, not by university.
Third-party operators here are student unions etc, which partly/entirely own the housing which students rent,
and network policies are set at student level.

Re:Do what universities do here? (1)

GC (19160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126026)

Interesting, I think ridding yourself of the problem by bringing in a third-party operator probably wouldn't resolve the issues that the students have, but it might shift it to being their problem.

Slightly offtopic, when I was at Uni in 1991 (Warwick, UK) the department of computer services, CSV, had a similar issue with what would now be called "chat rooms" (I personally believe that this was where Internet chat was invented), although the problem was that the chat servers were being hosted I guess 'illegally' on workstations there are some parallels as to what is supported and what isn't. (Also notable is that this is before anyone ever used NAT, and the idea of the stateful firewall was yet to reach the mainstream, as such all systems on the University network were freely accessible on all ports from the entire Internet. This was however, before that fateful AOL day, so the entire Internet was still mostly high-level academia)

The whole saga is all recounted on Cheeseplants [cheeseplant.org] website and it's funny to note how new protocol's and internet functions can be impeded from proliferation, but seldom stopped and that we continue to try to impede these technologies to this today.

Probably Can't (1)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125562)

...how can I win in this situation?

Truthfully? You probably can't, unless you go to your University's legal team and convince them that this is a battle they want to fight. You don't even need to convince them to allow filesharing--rather, you need to convince them that when they get legal threats (and be assured that, if you open up bittorrent, they will get legal threats) they need to respond that they do not limit their network and cannot be held responsible for the activities of end users. This answer will lead to lawsuits.

What you're dealing with here is not a technical problem. It is a legal problem. The current legal climate is one of reducing liability at any price. If your University legal system is willing to fight that, excellent. But you should probably present it to your boss as a legal issue rather than as a technical one.

Re:Probably Can't (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125622)

I have to agree about not being able to win in this situation, I also agree that allowing bit torrent to run without restriction will most likely lead to lawsuits. I wonder if the uni could get round this by making the students sign a declaration that they are the sole persons responsible for what they do on the net. (I don't really get how it works though, if a student was downloading child porn the uni wouldn't be in trouble, would it?).

Other than that the guy could have a full (and anonymous) discussion about what they would use it for, if it's downloading music are there not legal alternatives which they can use which the uni could pay for (or, add on to the cost of the rooms/'net) and then they would be fine not changing the systems

Re:Probably Can't (1)

kz45 (175825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125713)

"I have to agree about not being able to win in this situation, I also agree that allowing bit torrent to run without restriction will most likely lead to lawsuits. I wonder if the uni could get round this by making the students sign a declaration that they are the sole persons responsible for what they do on the net. (I don't really get how it works though, if a student was downloading child porn the uni wouldn't be in trouble, would it?)."

If a university does not have the capability to limit bandwidth on a per-computer/connection basis, they need to block most if not all p2p services (and bittorrent).

When I was going to college in 2000, my university had no blocks (and did not have the capability to throttle bandwidth). The Internet was not only unusable, but I would find kazaa and napster clients running on lab computers all the time with hundreds of connections (mostly people downloading porn). Now, all odd outgoing ports are blocked (besides the usuals: 80, 100, 25, 443,etc) and the Internet is faster then ever.

We are also required to login with a username/password to get on the Internet, and any unlawful activity can be traced directly back to our account.

It's one thing to appease your users, but another if it effects the QOS for 99% of the people on the Network.

Operate like an ISP (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125569)

Give them public ip addresses, but make them dynamic, possibly make each user connect using PPoE, so there is a username and password, limit the bandwidth, block inbound windows SMB/LSH/NetBIOS ports such as port 139, 137 incoming to each user, etc.

Keep logs of what user logs in to what ip address. As an ISP you aren't responsible for the details of exactly they do online, you have no idea about the nature of their activities, or if they're legal or not: make sure you stay within the DMCA safe harbour, and clearly document the contact information as required, so the ISP can receive DMCA letters.

ISP responsibilities should be mostly met by being able to match an ip address to an individual who is responsible for that node.

Usenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16126736)

Set up a usenet server. Many ISPs have one, so it must be legally ok. Let the students satiate their piratical instincts with that.

How are they using BT? (2, Insightful)

barzok (26681) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125587)

That's the key question. When I was in college, the network and internet access were provided "for academic use". Obviously, when you have thousands of people living on the campus 24/7 for 8 months out of the year, there will be plenty of non-academic use, but that's understood and accepted, as long as you're keeping it reasonable. Call up the helpdesk and complain that your Quake(World) ping times are slow or you're lagging, and they aren't going to work much at "fixing" it. Run a high-volume server (web or game), and they'll come shut you down, unless it's directly related to something you're doing academically. If you're having trouble downloading something from MIT for a research paper, and they'll take care of it.

Are the students using BT for legitimate academic purposes, or are they using it to download entertainment? Don't even get into the "gray area" of judging whether the content being downloaded is legal or not. If they have educational needs that are being met by BT, then there's an argument for "improving" that service. If not, why spend the time and bandwidth money on it?

If it's about Linux ISOs, set up a local mirror for the student body and ask them to use that. Bonus being that they'll download it faster than they ever could with BT.

Re:How are they using BT? (1)

grim4593 (947789) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125664)

You act like the universities are doing them a favor by having internet. The students are paying for this, dorms are not cheap. The university is making lots of money when housing is thousands of dollars per person and there are 2-4 people to a room. And these are not large apartments either, the students have to get something out of the deal, especially when some universities come up with the BS idea of requiring freshmen and sophomores to live on campus. Since the university is a monopoly in most respects, they should make considerations for their students.

Re:How are they using BT? (0, Troll)

barzok (26681) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125711)

The university isn't obligated to provide internet access at all. The primary intended use of that internet access is for academic purposes. If they're using BT for legitimate academic purposes, then whatever problem there is should be addressed. If they're not, it can wait.

BT uses bandwidth, and bandwidth costs money. Room & board are billed separately from all other university services, and that room & board bill doesn't include internet in most cases. Housing, contrary to what you may believe, isn't cheap. The students get planty out of the deal - they don't have to pay for water, electricity, maintenance, food, most cleaning, heat, and grounds maintenance (the sidewalks don't shovel themselves).

How is the university a monopoly? You have thousands of universities to choose from. If you don't like one school's terms & requirements, don't go there.

Re:How are they using BT? (2, Insightful)

DeusExMalex (776652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125812)

The students get planty out of the deal - they don't have to pay for water, electricity, maintenance, food, most cleaning, heat, and grounds maintenance (the sidewalks don't shovel themselves).


Are you insane? What the hell makes you think that students living in the dorms don't pay for water, electricity, maintenance, food, cleaning, heat and maintenance?! Just the fact that we don't get a monthly bill for it?

I'll let you in on a little secret: the cost to a student of living in a dorm has all these factors (other than food, which is payed for in a meal plan) factored in. There is no way that a business will eat the cost of so much expense - they pass it on to the consumer. So yes, students do have to pay for water, electricity, mainenance, cleaning, heat and maintenance - they're included in tuition and housing bills.

Re:How are they using BT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16126179)

The students get planty out of the deal - they don't have to pay for water, electricity, maintenance, food, most cleaning, heat, and grounds maintenance (the sidewalks don't shovel themselves).

Are you insane? What the hell makes you think that students living in the dorms don't pay for water, electricity, maintenance, food, cleaning, heat and maintenance?! Just the fact that we don't get a monthly bill for it?

I'll let you in on a little secret: the cost to a student of living in a dorm has all these factors (other than food, which is payed for in a meal plan) factored in. There is no way that a business will eat the cost of so much expense - they pass it on to the consumer. So yes, students do have to pay for water, electricity, mainenance, cleaning, heat and maintenance - they're included in tuition and housing bills.
No, they're only included in their housing bills.

I'm fully aware that the students are paying for it, it's all rolled into the housing bill, so it's "transparent." They're not having to pay a monthly bill which most are not capable of properly budgeting for, and also wouldn't be covered by many student loan/savings programs so it'd be an immediate out of pocket expense they can't cover. Would it be better if they housing bill was 1/3 less, but every month the students were sent a half-dozen bills for everything else?.

Re:How are they using BT? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125760)

The university is doing them a favor by providing a service they are not obligated to provide. Students may examine the lease, or the rental agreement they sign when they buy use of a room. The services the university is required to provide in consideration for the amount they pay for rent will be listed.

Internet service may not be listed, and there may indeed be an additional charge to use internet access. I know for a fact that a number of universities require payment of a fee to access the internet.

The University is an ISP, and they have the right to set the terms of use for their network, but they should act like an ISP, and treat their users like customers. For one thing, they should offer at least the same level of service you would expect from a consumer ISP, such as providing a public ip address and providing access to popular services like BitTorrent, HTTP, E-mail, Online Games, IRC, Skype, etc.

If the options offered by the University are not to the satisfaction of the students, they have the possible option of buying internet access from a third party, and the possible option of choosing not to live in the dorm during the school year (even if they still have to pay the dorm fees to attend school, they can choose to live somewhere else, possibly paying a rent for the place they live and a rent for the dorm they don't actually live in as a result).

I'm not saying it's fair. A University has no obligation to be fair, they just have to act legally and professionally.

Re:How are they using BT? (1)

aitikin (909209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125823)

"If the options offered by the University are not to the satisfaction of the students, they have the possible option of buying internet access from a third party"

Here at EIU we cannot buy third party access. If we do so, we violate our residance agreements. Furthermore, we can't setup wireless APs ourselves, we can't log on without doing the following (for windows), have CleanAccessAgent running, have bridge networking turned off, have every Windows Update, have one of three major AV programs (Symantic is provided at no additional cost), and have all these running all the time, (for everyone else) you have to open a browser window and log in with your username and password.

At first it seems that they're trying to get people to give up on Windows, but then the network is so slow that pretty much all Linux distributions would be a waste of time anyway because you can't download anything fast enough.

Re:How are they using BT? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126035)

Depending on what country you are in your options may be different. In the US, a rental agreement that prevents you from using any antenna is a prohibited restriction and can be preempted under FCC rules, if the antenna is small enough, and is a "customer-end" antenna. I.E. You could subscribe to a wireless ISP, if available, provided you have control over an area such as a balcony where you can place the antenna.

Specific rental restriction may be preempted under FCC Rules that prevent a renter from stopping tenants from setting up antennae for transmitting and receiving at the customer-end to access a fixed wireless internet service, direct broadcast, etc, see the FCC Fact sheet [fcc.gov] .

If you have exclusive control of an area, they may have broken the law by making too sweeping a restricting that prevented you from operating an AP in the first place -- reasonable safety limitations are ok, but they can't prohibit signal reception and transmission by consumer-end equipment.

The FCC provides the wireless frequencies used by APs as unlicensed spectrum, so long as your use of the equipment follows FCC rules, the FCC is the sole regulator in this matter, private property owners cannot restrict spectrum, and the devices function without harmful effects such as RF Interference or human RF exposure beyond the established limits, you and your device has a right to utilize these public frequencies. In theory, you could get a special license to a dedicated frequency, setup special wireless equipment to operate at that frequency, and carry your access in from a remote site.

Your computers are personal property, the university has no legal right to directly restrict how your computer may connect to the internet -- they can't prevent you from subscribing to a third party service, legally, but it may be difficult to do against their wishes, since they don't have to provide the facilities you might need to get a third party service in, either. I.E. You might need to get an additional phone line or special leased circuit in the building, and up to your room, somehow.

They can't control who you are allowed to call on a cell phone, or when you may use a cell phone in your room (these are also things that they cannot legally restrict), also, the cell phones use spectrum licensed to the mobile providers. You may be able to use a cell phone as a method to connect to the internet, through a data service, the University will have no knowledge of any private arrangements and services you receive with your mobile providers.

They (0, Flamebait)

mattboston (537016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125611)

should be lucky they get internet access in their rooms. When I went to college, which wasn't that long ago, we had to go to the library or settle for dialup in our rooms

dialup over a digital PBX phone! (3, Interesting)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125686)

I got a little box that would go between the phone body and the handset. This little box provided an analog phone jack. It had a way to adjust for 4 different power levels, to be set according to your digital phone. I think it needed a wall wart for power.

Procedure:

1. take handset off hook
2. tell modem to dial (any number will do)
3. dial the real number using buttons on the phone
4. enjoy the 9.6 kb/s connection

Re:They (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125689)

"They" pay $2,600 at the very least for going to school fulltime each semester, and may be FORCED to live on campus (and pay for it) for their first year at college.

The school has an obligation to make sure they can use the internet for both school and pleasure

Re:They (1)

mattboston (537016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125782)

Their problem is they are spoiled brats who believe that they deserve everything for free. The school is not obligated to provide them anything except an education, room and board. The internet access they provide is a privledge, which can be taken away if people abuse the privledge. Read your college or university's AUP.

Also, wait till they get in the real world where their employment will be terminated for abusing the "free" internet at work. I've personally seen people terminated on the spot and escorted out of the building by security for abusing the internet at work.

Re:They (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125927)

It's not a privledge when you pay for it. It sounds like you'd prefer to live in ancient Sparta. Why don't you?

Re:They (1)

Chowderbags (847952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126475)

Last time I checked, people pay to go to college and pay more on top of that for housing. The university is obligated to provide what it says it will provide (which in todays world almost always includes an internet connection). Beyond that, many college's internet use policy assumes general privacy, so unless you're hogging like crazy, I don't really see where it should matter what you're doing (until the law comes along). In "the real world", you are getting paid to perform a task. If you are using the internet, you aren't doing the task (though I don't think anyone really wants to get into the discussion of whether it's even humanly possible to focus on your job the entire workday). If someone is fired for "abuse" of the internet at work, they probably spent most of their day doing diddly squat, and would've gotten fired regardless. There's not really any connection between paying for a service and complaining when it's taken away and being paid to do something and then goofing off.

Re:They (1)

mattboston (537016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126610)

sure there is. if you're abusing the network at school they have every right to terminate your access. read your school's policy. I've got some friends that are the sr network admins for large university's around me and they've cut people off all the time. Like I said, school provided internet is a privledge not a right. It's just like your drivers license, you can lose it any time.

Re:They (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125799)

No. The school doesn't have this obligation, not unless they provided it in the housing agreement.

The students want and expect internet access for school and pleasure. But this is something different from the school having an obligation to provide the same. A school, if it wishes, has the option of having no internet access on campus, whatsoever. They will seem to be living in the dark ages to most, and students will avoid the school as a result, but that is an option that schools have.

The students would like it if they would provide internet access to the room for both school and pleasure, the fact is they don't have to be given this -- an obligation is something the university has a legal obligation to provide, something they put in an agreement. Students wants do not have to be met.

The school isn't even obligated have to have telephone service, or cable, available in your room unless it's in the agreement and a level of service they ordinary provide. They may have to have some electricity (lights) in buildings, but only for safety reasons -- they don't have to provide wall outlets for you to plug stuff into.

Re:They (1)

Chowderbags (847952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126501)

You're forgetting that plenty of colleges advertise that they have internet, cable, phone, whatever. If they suddenly take it away after you've paid tutition and housing costs, then they're violating the agreed upon conditions.

Not to say that Amish University couldn't get off the ground and running, just that most colleges at this point are rather locked into what they said they'd do.

Re:They (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126789)

The school has an obligation to make sure they can use the internet for both school and pleasure

Whoa! Go back and re-read what you wrote. Why would the school have an obligation to provide for "pleasure" or leisure.

Higher education is not required by law. You don't *have* to attend an university. If you do so, it's under their rules. If they decree that you have to leave in their dorms but can't have internet, or cable TV or telephone or whatever... well, it sucks but it's their prerogative. I'm sure there are plenty of institutions that will let you leave off-campus or have third party providers for those services. Some might even provide them with no restrictions at all.

Remember folks, when you go to college concentrate in your education. Party all you want, but don't get all worked up because of something as trivial as download speeds. If it's academic related your need for bandwith/unrestricted access, then make your case and take it to your advisor, professor or whatever.

Re:They should be lucky... (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126128)

When I was an undergrad, we had to walk a quarter mile uphill in the snow to get to the nearest computer center to use keypunches, or (later, after I'd moved to north campus and the computer center had upgraded) 3/4 mile across mostly-flat snow to get to the one computer center that had some Decwriters and a couple of CRTs on the mainframe and a couple of PLATO terminals. Modems existed back then, but we didn't have an ASR33 in the dorm or fraternity house and there wasn't anything on our IBM-centric campus to talk to with it even if we had :-) We did have phones in the dorm rooms.

You might want to block email as well. (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125665)

"Add to that the potential liability of making a service that by most reports has upward of 90% of its traffic fall into a 'legally questionable' gray area, how can I win in this situation?" -Author

Well as long as you are at it, you might as well block email given that there are reports that upward of 82% [internetnews.com] of it is spam. 419 scams, get-rich-quick schemes, multi-level-marketing, fake viagra, medication without a prescription, blatant fraud, identity theft, phishing, Pump & Dump stock trades, you name a scam & e-mail has it.

But still, for the 18% of mail that is legitamet, you still make use of it.

Just as e-mail systems block spam, you would do better to block the copy-right infringement websites. Maybe redirect them to OSS software sites & Creative Commons music sites where people can legally explore & download music.

Re:You might want to block email as well. (1)

kz45 (175825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125765)

"Well as long as you are at it, you might as well block email given that there are reports that upward of 82% [internetnews.com] of it is spam. 419 scams, get-rich-quick schemes, multi-level-marketing, fake viagra, medication without a prescription, blatant fraud, identity theft, phishing, Pump & Dump stock trades, you name a scam & e-mail has it"

yeah, well, most people communicate through email (including professors) and email is light for the most part, light bandwidth, so you don't even have a valid point.

Have you ever even used bittorrent? It automatically shares your connection with other people (which takes up a ton of bandwidth). If this was not the case, it would be no different than something like FTP, which is a non-issue.

I have used bittorrent to download many linux distros and I usually have to start a download before I go to sleep at night because of the thrashing my cable modem takes when downloading.

even a university Internet connection would be saturated with enough of these running.

Limiting upload speeds? (1)

dimfeld (247690) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125916)

If you're having troubles with your Internet connection slowing down a bunch while using Bittorrent, you probably need to cap its upload speed. As of a long time ago, you couldn't do this with the official client (maybe you can now; I haven't checked). Try getting Bittornado [bittornado.com] which will allow you to limit the speed at which it uploads and should allow you to use it without monopolizing your bandwidth.

Re:Limiting upload speeds? (1)

kz45 (175825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126392)

"you're having troubles with your Internet connection slowing down a bunch while using Bittorrent, you probably need to cap its upload speed. As of a long time ago, you couldn't do this with the official client (maybe you can now; I haven't checked). Try getting Bittornado [bittornado.com] which will allow you to limit the speed at which it uploads and should allow you to use it without monopolizing your bandwidth."

This may be true, but most clients will kill your download speed when limiting your upload speed. I would rather have it kill my connection overnight than have to wait a couple of days for my downloads to finish.

Re:You might want to block email as well. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125898)

Maybe redirect them to OSS software sites & Creative Commons music sites where people can legally explore & download music.

This generation of gamers is showing a distinct lack of interest in Nethack.

--- and while it would be nice to think that listeners are more interested in product from the independent labels, I suspect the "top of the chart" hits on BT pretty much track those posted by Billboard.

How much bandwith do you have (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125678)

How much bandwith do you have to the internet? that may be slowing it down as well this one school I was at only had a T1 line and it got real slow at times and that was with any Bittorrent being used.

Re:How much bandwith do you have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16126364)

Firewalling off BitTorrent server ports actually means people typically have to upload MORE data than those who have public access. By opening your ports the bandwidth requirement may drop significantly.

Local Cache? (2, Insightful)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125692)

Azerus supports the use of the Joltid peer cache for downloads. Someone suggested dynamic, public IP's. You could use IPv6. Although it doesn't make sense: Bittorent works through NAT's very well. But if there are bandwith issues then use a cache.

IPv6? (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125700)

Now this puts you into the "public IP's" area, but seriously.

You can still effectively firewall. You don't HAVE to NAT to have an effective firewall. Somewhere along the line this came into thought. Granted, that means all IP's are world-accessible, but that doesn't mean you have to allow traffic to reach those machines from outside.

allow tcp 22 from any to (ipv6 hosts allowed ssh)
allow tcp 80 from any to (ipv6 hosts allowed web access)
block icmp from any to (ipv6 network)
block from any to any

You can get fancier than that if you want. Not a major problem. Only issue is that IPv6 can reach IPv4, but not the other way around. You have to encapsulate IPv6 into IPv4, but there's software for handling that.

Re:IPv6? (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125710)

BTW, if you do this, you'll want the following too:

block smb from IPv6 network to world
block databasing from IPv6 to world

Probably a few others you'll want to toss in there that really should never go to the outside world. With windows hosts, you have to be careful.

Re:IPv6? (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126148)

allow tcp 22 from any to (ipv6 hosts allowed ssh)
allow tcp 80 from any to (ipv6 hosts allowed web access)


What would this solve? You only need one open port to be able to host anything you want, including ssh and http.

We have public IPs at Leeds (2, Interesting)

David Horn (772985) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125728)

When I was in uni residences in 2005, we were assigned public, static, IP addresses which were fine for bittorrent. The IP is permanent and tied to both your university username and MAC address, and they were quite tough if the RIAA or MPAA reported abuse to them.

NAT is Wrong (0)

neuroxmurf (314717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125740)

This has nothing to do with BitTorrent. Assigning non-routable IP addresses to anyone is wrong, a violation of good network design, and a compatibility nightmare. Assigning non-routeable addresses to FIVE THOUSAND STUDENTS is even worse.

Every machine deserves a routeable IP, whether they use that IP to run BitTorrent, Skype, or just FTP.

Re:NAT is Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125890)

Great idea ... but what are you going to do if you have only a limited number of IPs available, not all universities do have a class B network.

And it still might not improve the situation. The solution might be in clustering the firewall, enhancing the firewall hardware, improving the network topology. Doing some rate/connection limiting per internal IP might also be a good solution (people using bittorrent might be a bit limited, but it will be way better for all the other ones).

Guillaume

Tell kids to warez with FTP. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125753)

nt

You don't need public IPs (2, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125777)

Many BitTorrent clients support reporting a different IP to the tracker than the one actually held by the computer. This is useful for routing INCOMING connections through a third party.

Essentially what you need to do is have students connect to a server with a public IP via SSH, and set their BitTorrent client to report that server's IP to the tracker. The idea is that you set up an SSH tunnel that accepts connections on the remote end and forwards it over SSH. Most SSHv2 clients (such as PuTTY) support this functionality.

Assign each user a specific port on the server (There are over 65 thousand ports, and each person needs just one), and provide them with a nice little automated solution to set up the tunnel. PuTTY has a command-line version called "plink" that makes this super easy. Just write a short VisualBasic application that does nothing but show a window with a button to start up and connect plink to the server, and shut down the process when the user is done. This way, all a user has to do if he wants to use bittorrent is run the application and click a button. Or better yet, just write a short batch script that the user can launch when they want to do torrent-related stuff.

This is only one of the possible methods. As you can see, a computer doesn't need a public IP address in order to accept incoming connections via BitTorrent, since you can tunnel them. It should be noted that many BitTorrent clients also support proxies. uTorrent even supports proxies for peer-to-peer connections. And you may also want to look into P2P caching solutions, which could potentially significantly reduce the impact of BitTorrent on your university's connection.

BT caching. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125816)

You could implement BitTorrent cacheing. You would still need to consider the cost efficiency of this solution, as it will cost money, and it will not help students in their academic tasks.

I think that the only commercial solution ATM is of CacheLogic, but the protocol itself is open, so others could follow.

Anyway, your users should be glad. On my university, BitTorrent/ed2k/etc. don't work at all. I can not even ssh/telnet/pop3/irc to the outside world, and not transfer files via ICQ. (Skype started to work recently). The closest anyone got near BT was a last-year project that specifically involved p2p file sharing, so the students were allowed to place a server on the DMZ without root access, and with traffic accounting.

My university... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125830)

...did just the opposite. They gave public IPs to all the students, seemingly with no restrictions -- I could have as many IPs as I had network adapters, even on the University wireless. They blocked inbound Windows filesharing ports and outbound SMTP, and throttled BitTorrent, but other than that, I could just about saturate the 10 mbit pipe to my dorm room. I could saturate BitTorrent if I turned on header encryption.

Basically, they decided that the web (port 80) needed to be as fast as possible, because that's where real work gets done.

Re:My university... (1)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126080)

Basically, they decided that the web (port 80) needed to be as fast as possible, because that's where real work gets done.

Saying such things on SLASHDOT?

Connection flood (1)

j35ter (895427) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125845)

I administer a network of 30 inhouse and 400 remote workstations. Inhouse I have 2 NATted 4Mbps connections for 30 users, which should be enough for most cases. this summer, I had problems with the NAT routers slowing down almost to a halt. When I took a closer look, I found out that we had several BT clients running simultaneously with several hundred open connections!
Now I have 1(one) instance of an emule client running, with a web interface where everyone can "order" some files, and a public share where he can pick them up...no complaints since then!
...OTOH, I often forget that you guys in the US have to be careful not to get sued... :P

Caching bittorrent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16125897)

What about isp-level caching? Didn't Bram Cohen recently disparage encrypted bittorrent because it prevents ISPs from caching the bittorrent? That seems to imply this feature is possible and maybe even available.

Socks5? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16125956)

Why not just setup a socks5 proxy and have people use that for bittorent?

As for the legality, is it your job to police people on what's legal or not? I mean, there are also legitimate uses for bittorent.

public IP space (1)

jon787 (512497) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126125)

I guess another question is whether your university has the public IP space to actually do that for all your students. If you don't already have enough public IP space then you're gonna have to deal with begging ARIN for a bigger allocation which might not be worth your time. /my university has a /16 //its only using 16% of it by my last check

Bandwidth should be your bigger concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16126135)

The big issue isn't legality, it's bandwidth (sort of). Bitorrent opens up a flurry of connections compared to say FTP. Wheras FTP opens one connection and leaves it open and sticks with it for the duration of the download, Bitorrent open many, many connections throughout the download process and continually queries known clients for what parts of the file they have. Different clients handle this process differently, but the basic Bitorrent client is by far the worst. A single download of a single file using the vanilla Bitorrent has brought my entire 125 KBps DSL connection to a screeching halt before. Either way, for every connection that is opened with another client, the queries must be passed through the campus routing system. Although these queries do not take up any real bandwidth, they occupy the processing time of the router. If the router doesn't have enough power to handle this traffic, ALL traffic gets choked off. There may be plenty of bandwidth left to use, but the router is too busy to deliver it to people.

Use a Residence Exchange Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16126252)

Heya, I'll tell you how things got done back in my frosh year.

A few brilliant members of our computer sciences division brewed up a marvelous piece of code. Essentially, it was a piece of P2P software that connected all users in all the dorms. Upload and download speeds were astonishing at easily over 500kB/s. Overall, it was better for the students because they could get what they wanted off of each other very, very fast. While Bit-torrent and other P2P programs were definitely choked, there was still a 5kB/s leeway. A dedicated few students used it to stream new content into the main data pool. The system was called ResX and was sponsored by the University for the most part. It kept the traffic inside the university, which is the first great hurdle. As a student, it was awesome.

Of course, my university is in Canada. Legality about filesharing definitly has a looser definition due to our levy on recordable media. Rumor has it, ResX isn't used anymore, or at least it's functionality has been cripped due to political drama. The tricky thing is, once you condone file sharing, your University can be easily targeted by the powers that be. An individual with his own IP address and line isn't much of a target.

Like others have said... (1)

kosmosik (654958) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126545)

What for they need BT protocol? I see most of legitimate uses of BT as downloading Linux (or other freenix) ISOs, commercial games demos and other legitimate big files.

If they (the users) are downloading illegal stuff they should be prohibited to do that.

What I've read most of Slashdot users are suggesting is to set up mirrors of those stuff to let them download it of local network - great idea. But add to it that you do not need to make yourself an admin of those mirrors. Just set up an apply process for a mirror maintainer and let the students maintain the mirrors themselves (even give the admin-ones way to use BT to mirror).

That way they can:
- learn how to operate such systems
- learn how to practically (as in social siences) operate such systems
- get some responsibility and management skills

Re:Like others have said... (1)

kosmosik (654958) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126628)

> What I've read most of Slashdot users are suggesting is to set
> up mirrors of those stuff to let them download it of local network
> - great idea. But add to it that you do not need to make yourself
> an admin of those mirrors. Just set up an apply process for a mirror
> maintainer and let the students maintain the mirrors themselves
> (even give the admin-ones way to use BT to mirror).

Actually all you need to do is give them (the maintainers) an account of one of the servers with proper shell access, bandwith/limits, monitoring and so on - that way they can on their own create communieties like gaming.yourorg.edu, linux.yourorg.edu that host mirrors of hot files and also (if you decide to make it public) serve others.

To be honest that is nothing that I've invented myself - most of schools (that are worth of attention) in my country functions that way (including my one).

Change the way they use the internet? (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126827)

First things first:
Separate residential network from the rest of the university.
Give it big fat internal pipes.
hint that there would be nothing to stop someone from running an internal tracker that wouldn't be limited in speed.
Let them do what they will with it.
It probably wouldn't take long for someone to set something up and people were sharing most of what they wanted anyway over it.
Mirror linux distros and other legit items, or create an electronic form where a student could request a copy of a legit item, when its provided to them, they could use it on the internal tracker.
Better yet set up your own internatl tracker for those kinds of items, someone will realize they work, and set up one for non-legit items.

Try to move most of the traffic inside (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#16126907)

Add to that the potential liability of making a service that by most reports has upward of 90% of its traffic fall into a 'legally questionable' gray area

Until we have strong AI so that a cyber-lawyer inside your firewall can figure out whether a packet should have the 'evil bit' set or not, nobody is going to be able to identify whether a bittorrent (or any other protocol's) transaction is legal or not. It's no use to try. So I wouldn't worry about whether it's legal or not: you're never going to know. That didn't stop you from allowing web traffic, did it?

IMHO, the thing to do is to limit external connections in such a way that they are possible, but appear "expensive" to the client, so that intranet clients will be encouraged to connect to one another (instead of the outside) whenever possible. Ideally, a large file should only be transferred over your outside pipe once regardless of how many users are downloading it.

And along those lines, set up any sort of caching services that you can.

I suspect that what ISPs and Universities, really need is some kind of internal torrent watcher/cache thingie, that figures out what torrents are popular and then downloads the files and serves them (via bt) to the intranet. i.e. instead of banning bittorrent, run it on one of your machines, so that clients cheaply connect to that machine inside your network, instead of expensively connect to somewhere outside.

Students sign a waiver saying they will be held... (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127031)

Students sign a waiver saying they will be held liable for all illegal activity that perform, and that the university holds absolutely no responsibility.
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