Internet falls short of expectations
Joshua Ensler – News editor. Students have little good to say about Linfield’s Internet access and its network security suite, Cisco Clean Access Agent.
Linfield’s Internet, a critical research tool and common recreational activity, is considered by many to be inadequate. Even more maligned is the network security program, which a number of students say is difficult to use or full of bugs.
Irv Wiswall, chief technology officer for the department of information technology services, shares the concerns of the student body, and his department is upgrading Clean Access Agent.
“I had a meeting with a student from the ASLC Cabinet,” Wiswall said. “It wasn’t about the Internet in particular, but when we met last time, I asked about the Internet in the residence halls, and I was surprised that they said they thought the Internet was OK. I’m not so sure it is OK.”
While students echoed Wiswall’s assessment of the school’s Internet, most of their rancor was aimed at Clean Access Agent.
“It’s incredibly difficult to use and not at all user-friendly,” freshman Beth Turner, who lives in Frierichs Hall, said. “It’s really contradictory and makes everything more difficult than it should be.”
Turner also said that she struggles once or twice a month with the Clean Access Agent.
Freshman Kaston Gleason said his problem was Cisco’s occasional inability to properly update.
“That thing is getting irritating,” he said. “I want to go on quick, but then I’ve got to sign on, and then it says ‘no,’ and then I’ve got to sign in again.”
His friend, freshman Kohau McCab, echoed his sentiment.
Among other reasons Cisco is so disliked is that students such as McCab don’t know what Clean Access Agent actually does.
“I don’t know,” said McCab. “Pop-up blockers, I guess.”
Clean Access Agent is a network security suite, a program designed to ensure that computers on Linfield’s network are up-to-date with anti-virus and malware protection.
Apple computers, such as the Powerbook laptops used by some Linfield students, are not required to use Clean Access Agent.
Recently, Cisco stopped supporting Linfield’s version of Clean Access Agent. The new edition requires a Linux box optimized to run the Clean Access Agent be delivered to the school, Wiswall said.
He also said the upgrade project began in December but was put on hold because a critical employee was on a scheduled vacation.
The upgrade will take place next week and will fix several bugs that have cropped up because Cisco no longer supports Linfield’s edition of the Clean Access Agent.
One such bug is Cisco’s inability to interact properly with Windows 7, Microsoft’s new operating system.
The Clean Access Agent is also unable to talk to a free anti-virus program called AVG Free. Although Cisco was not designed to work with all such programs, AVG Free is one of the that Clean Access Agent is supposedly designed to work with.
This will not be the first Linux box used on Linfield’s servers. The Linfield Web site search engine uses a Linux box from Google, optimized to run its search engine.
Wiswall’s department has not been neglecting Internet bandwidth, either. Linfield had a quarter of a megabyte-per-second bandwidth when it first connected to the Internet in 1992, and by 2006, it had 20 MB/s of bandwidth. Linfield now has 100 MB/s.
Linfield’s ITS does boast an unusual Internet connection, Wiswall said.
Unlike most private connections, Linfield had 100 MB/s of upload bandwidth, and 100 MB/s of download bandwidth. Most private connections are weighted toward either uploads or downloads.