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On-Campus Resnet to Be Activated Next Tuesday

By A. Arif Husain
Staff Reporter

Resnet, the newest addition to MIT's growing electronic network, will go online next Tuesday. The service will allow students to conduct many functions available on Athena from their personal computers.

The ongoing project, started last summer, has already connected all of the off-campus independent living groups and Huntington Hall to MITnet. This latest installment will span the undergraduate dormitories. Information Systems, the Institute-employed group in charge of the project, hopes Resnet will alleviate some of the load on the campus Athena clusters, according to Resnet Support Coordinator Michael L. Barrow.

"Resnet is intended to extend the network to the residences," Barrow said. "Students will get access to files, and will be able to communicate with other students around the world," he added. "Hopefully [students] will soon start contributing information to the Internet in addition to gathering it."

Using Resnet, students who own Macintoshes and DOS-based computers with appropriate networking hardware will have access to news, mail, and general information archives anywhere on the global Internet. Aside from the basic ethics policy mandated by IS, usage will be unrestricted. With applications such as TechMail, Gopher, Mosaic, and Zephyr available for distribution, Resnet users will be able to emulate many of their Athena activities on their own systems.

"Personally, I find Resnet to be amazing," said Erik L. Nygren '96. "While many students will find that they have absolutely no use for it, others will find it very useful and will wonder how they ever lived without it."

The physical infrastructure of Resnet is comprised of 10 megabit-per-second optical fiber extended from a router on MITnet to each of the 10 undergraduate dormitories. Repeaters in the dormitory phone closets link the drops, via twisted-pair Ethernet cabling, to each room. Hardware will be provided to accommodate a connection for each resident of multi-occupancy rooms.

Off-campus ILGs will gain access to Resnet through a frame-relay system using 56 kbps lines leased from NYNEX. Huntington Hall is conneceted with a 1.54 Mbps leased line. A link was provided to each ILG in September, but internal distribution of the service was left for each group to decide. While the leased lines are not as powerful as their on-campus counterparts, they provide ample service, and are the most effective method of networking such a widely dispersed group, Barrow said.

How to access Resnet

Students interested in accessing Resnet must meet with one of the Residential Computing Consultants assigned to their dormitory, Barrow said. Nineteen such consultants, all undergraduates, were hired by IS Distributed Computing and Network Services to help people use Resnet. The RCCs will provide their constituents with a network address, software, and any external wiring needed.

In a further push to reduce some of the surplus load on the Athena network, most of the computers supporting modem dial-in access will be converted to express systems. Express keeps usage down by limiting access time to 15 minutes when more then 10 users are logged in. In this way, students will be encouraged to use their own systems as much as possible, using the dial-up service only when necessary, Barrow said.

While Resnet will be available to most students on Tuesday, residents of MacGregor House crowded lounges may face some delays in their connection due to an internal misunderstanding, said RCC Rupert C. Young '94. Both the network contractors and the engineering staff reported the successful installation of network ports in the MacGregor lounges. Upon recent inspection, however, IS found the rooms to be deficient. Attempts will be made to remedy the situation as soon as possible, Young said, but it may take a few weeks.