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MIT graduate students will soon have MITnet service in their dormitory rooms, according to James D. Bruce, vice president for Information Systems.
Beginning in October 1994, MIT will extend its campus network to Ashdown House, Edgerton House, Green Hall and Tang Hall during1994-95. Eastgate and Westgate will receive network service in the 1995-96 academic year.
MITnet, established in 1984, is MIT's rapidly expanding campus computer network. Today, more than 8,000 computers in offices, laboratories, classrooms, public computer facilities, and dormitories are connected to the network. MITnet provides access to the Internet as well as the extensive facilities of Athena, MIT's heavily used academic computing environment.
The new network services in graduate dormitories result from a collaboration among Information Systems, the Housing Office and the Graduate Student Council (GSC) that began with the networking of undergraduate dormitories during the 1993-94 academic year. The residential networking effort has strong support from Provost Mark S. Wrighton.
According to Professor Wrighton, the extension of MITnet to graduate dormitories continues MIT's leadership in distributed educational computing. MITnet service has been available in independent living groups (ILGs) since September and in undergraduate dormitories since January. As of this spring, approximately 400 students in dormitories and 350 in independent living groups had connected their computers to MITnet.
The GSC conducted a survey in November 1993 that showed overwhelming interest among graduate students for residential networking. GSC president Caryl Brown credits GSC members Mattan Kamon and Jonathon Baker for leading a successful lobbying effort for the graduate network installation, which included numerous meetings with the Provost and key administrators.
In graduate dormitories, IS will provide facilities in each room for students to connect their own appropriately equipped computers to MITnet. An Ethernet drop will be installed in each room which will provide service at 10Mbps (10 million bits per second). There will be no fees associated with this service.
Lawrence E. Maguire, director of housing and dining, said that work will begin this summer in conjunction with the extension of MIT's 5ESS phone service to the four graduate dormitories. The goal is to have network connections installed and operational in 900 rooms by October 1.
Work in Eastgate and Westgate will be delayed until the summer of 1995 to coincide with the installation of 5ESS service in these facilities. Wiring for network service will be done at the same time as the wiring for the phone service, which will lower the cost of network installations significantly, according to Dennis Baron, senior project manager for Distributed Computing and Network Services.
Graduate students can buy workstations or personal computers such as Macintoshes and DOS/Windows machines for use on MITnet from the MIT Computer Connection in the Student Center. They may also buy from other sources as long as the equipment meets network specifications. Adding Ethernet capability to a computer that is not already so equipped requires hardware that typically costs from $100 to $200.
Graduate students will be able to contact a Residential Computing Consultant assigned to their dorm for assistance in getting connected to the campus network.
To maximize the educational effectiveness of the expanded MITnet, Information Systems has been expanding the network services available to users of Macintoshes and computers running DOS/Windows. Many basic services such as e-mail, Zephyr, Discuss and Techinfo are available for Macintosh computers. Some of these are also available for DOS/Windows computers and work on others is continuing with release targeted for 1994-95. Networking software is provided at no charge to students along with publicly available software that permits access to the Internet via Telnet, FTP, Usenet, Gopher and Mosaic.
IS is investigating how to provide network access for off-campus residents via modem and phone links. This project is in the planning stages; technical and funding issues still need to be resolved.
For more information on residential networking, send email to
A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 33).