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Maths VPN Service

Introduction

  • When working remotely, you may find that there are resources you need to access and cannot because they are blocked at the Maths firewall. For example the Mathematics administrative database.
  • Accessing your home directory and other files used in your work is more difficult from off-campus.
  • There are still websites around which restrict access by IP address (though this is becoming less common).

The use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can help with these problems. While connected to the Maths VPN, your computer is effectively inside the firewall and is advertised as having the Maths VPN server's IP address.

Caveat - ejournals

It should not be necessary to use the VPN to access ejournals, and if you are a visitor and have not been granted off-campus access, doing so is in violation of the JISC Model Licence. If you are a current staff member or student and there is a journal you can only access on site or with the VPN, please report the problem using the "ejournals and eresources problem report form" below.

Connecting to the Maths VPN

Windows (Vista and later)

Tested on Windows 10 Pro.

To install OpenVPN on Windows:

Installing the OpenVPN GUI client will automatically start the "OpenVPN Interactive Service" and cause it to start at boot time. To configure the client then connect to the VPN, find it in the system tray (the icon is highlighted below).

The Windows OpenVPN icon

Right-click and choose Import File to import the windows.ovpn profile, then right-click again and choose Connect.

OS X

Tested on High Sierra.

Drag and drop .ovpn file

Two error messages will pop up:

  • Answer "Always use the plugin" when asked about openvpn-down-root.so.
  • Ignore the message about comp_lzo (an option to compress traffic over the VPN which will apparently become obsolete in later versions.)

You can then connect and disconnect via the Tunnelblick icon.

Ubuntu 16.04

To install OpenVPN on Ubuntu 16.04:

To connect to the Maths VPN type this into a terminal window and log in with your Maths username and password when requested. Press Ctrl-C in the same window to terminate the connection.

# Replace ubuntu.ovpn by the name you gave the profile
sudo openvpn ubuntu.ovpn

Ubuntu 18.04

To install OpenVPN on Ubuntu 18.04:

You can connect via the GUI. To set up the VPN the first time:

Open Settings via the Dash and click on Network, then click the plus sign next to VPN.

Ubuntu 18.04 network<br />
					   settings dialog

  • Click "Import from file" and open the Maths Ubuntu profile.
  • Enter your Maths username and optionally your password (if you leave it blank you will be asked for it every time you connect)
  • Click the green Add button.

Ubuntu 18.04 Add VPN dialog

You can click On/Off in the Network Settings window to connect/disconnect or you can connect and disconnect via the Network Manager icon.

iOS

Tested on an iPhone 7 running iOS version 11.4.1 (15G5077A).

Known not to work on an iPhone SE.

Android

Tested on a Samsung Galaxy J6 running Android Oreo (8.0.0).

To install OpenVPN on Android:

On a Samsung Galaxy J6, if you tap and hold on the "Maths Android profile" link above and select "Save link" then it will automatically be loaded into the OpenVPN client. Tap on the profile and enter your username and password to connect. Tap again to disconnect.

OpenVPN for Android<br />
					     client

 

Logging

We log your connections and disconnections from the VPN. While you are connected we also log your network traffic (this includes the IP addresses of the machines you connect to and the network port you connect on, but not details of the specific web pages you visit, nor anything about your email except that your computer connected to such-and-such a mail server at such-and-such a time). This is required by the UIS because otherwise, if there were an issue with a rogue VPN client, we would only know that a machine using the VPN server's IP address was causing trouble on the network, and we would have to shut the VPN down until the issue was resolved.

The logs are kept for 4 weeks, they are only accessible by Computer Officers, and we only look at them when there is a problem, we are trying to trace a bug or we suspect misuse.