Service Interruptions

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We’ve been informed that some electrical testing will be carried out in January which will disrupt wired and wireless networking in the following locations:

Mon 4th Jan

  • The Hawthornes

Weds 6th Jan

  • 7 Priory Rd
  • Woodland Court
  • 5 Osborne Villas
  • 12 Osborne Villas
  • 16 Osborne Villas
  • 28 St Michaels Park
  • 32 St Michaels Park
  • The Hawthornes

We apologise for the lack of notice, and for the inevitable disruption that this will cause. Unfortunately we don’t yet have any details of how long the disruption will last.

We’ve recently changed the DNS Servers used by ResNet, to some new servers running on some much better hardware.

Most peoples computers have moved seamlessly over to the new DNS servers, but there are less than 20 computers still trying to use the old servers. We’ve done all we can to encourage these computers to start using the new servers but it looks like they’re not configured in our recommended manner so will need manual intervention to move.

The old servers have now been switched off, and when we do so things will break for that small handful of machines. If your ResNet Wired connection stops working, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Reboot your computer. In some cases this will cause it to pick up the new settings automatically
  2. Check your network settings, and make sure you’re set to “obtain DNS server addresses automatically”

If restarting doesn’t work, and your connection is already set to “obtain DNS server addresses automatically” check to see what DNS Servers you’ve been given.

They should start with “137.222.8.x” – if they start with “172.16.67.x” your computer hasn’t picked up the new servers properly. If this is the case, give the IT Service Desk a call, or take your computer along to the Laptop Clinic and we’ll try and help you work out why.

Part of the infrastructure which runs the ResNet back end has developed a hardware fault, some of the services it’s running are currently in a degraded state. We need to move services off it asap.

The following services are affected:

– http://go.resnet.bris.ac.uk – will be unavailable for up to an hour while we move it
– http://my.resnet.bris.ac.uk – will be unavailable for up to an hour while we move it
– DNS (ResNet Wired) will be in a degraded state, and web browsing for 50% of currently connected ResNet customers will be slower than usual
– DHCP (ResNet Wired) will be working, in a non-resilient state
– The ResNet channel in portal.bris.ac.uk will be unavailable for up to an hour while we move it

Various other administrative tools (eg the troubleshooting system used by the Service Desk when troubleshooting ResNet connection problems) will also be affected.

Important: Wireless is not affected at all, so if you’re experiencing wired connection issues – try the wireless.

Updates will follow as we get them.

Update 24th March, 16:15
– http://go.resnet.bris.ac.uk – is now available again
– http://my.resnet.bris.ac.uk – is now available again
– The ResNet channel in portal.bris.ac.uk is now available again
– DNS/DHCP (ResNet Wired) – This is now back in service in a non-resilient manner (both the primary and secondary are on the same hypervisor) which will get us through tonight but isn’t ideal in the long term.

Update 24th March, 16:56
We’ve started to move people onto a new pair of DNS servers to improve resilience and reduce the load on the non-resilient hypervisor. Early indications are that the new servers are performing nicely and that people are moving across to them smoothly as their DHCP lease renews.

Update 25th March, 10:51
The temporary hardware we used to restore service yesterday is overcommitted and while it’s working, it’s at the limit of what it can handle. We will be moving services off it today onto a more permanent home, and we’ll try to minimise downtime while we do so.

Update 26th March, 09:28
Some services are taking substantially longer than expected to migrate. We kicked off the migration of 3 VMs last night, and they’ve still not fully completed. The following services are currently unavailable:
– http://go.resnet.bris.ac.uk – (still migrating)
– http://my.resnet.bris.ac.uk – (still migrating)
– http://www.resnet.bris.ac.uk redirects (the content is still available at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/it-services/advice/homeusers/resnet)

Update 26th March, 11:00
Everything is back up on new hardware.

Update 2014-01-24 10:50am As of about 10:45am the replacement server is up and handling DNS queries so we’re back in business.

Sorry for the disruption!


We had some maintenance scheduled for 9am-10am this morning, which would have resulted in slow DNS performance for a small number of users for a comparatively short amount of time.

Unfortunately we hit some issues, the work over-ran, and then the last stage of the work failed completely rendering a DNS server unbootable.

As a result, ResNet Wired is currently running on only one DNS server.

The server which is missing is the primary for 50% of ResNet, so half of our customers will be seeing slower than usual internet access as it’s taking longer than usual to resolve domain names.

We’re in the process of building a replacement server, and we hope to have normal service restored as soon as possible.

This issue does not affect the wireless network.

This electrical work has been cancelled pending rescheduling
This electrical work has been rescheduled for 15th Feb 2014


Due to essential electrical maintenance work in the Social Sciences block, ResNet Wired and eduroam wireless will be unavailable in the following properties for approximately 6 hours on Saturday 15th Feb 2014.

  • The Hawthorns
  • 1-8 Priory Road
  • 10,67,77,79,97 Woodland Road
  • 28,29,30-33 St Michaels Park
  • Osbourne Villas
  • Woodland Court

In addition to the wired/wireless networking, university provided telephones in those properties will not be available either.

For more details about the wider impact of this work, please see the IT Services news item: http://www.bris.ac.uk/it-services/news/2013/electrical9dec.html

In an effort to resolve some of the wireless coverage problems we’ve been having at Chantry Court, we’ll be replacing all the wireless equipment in the building on Wednesday 11th December 2013.

We’ll be in the building physically replacing all the wireless access points with a higher capacity model, and it’s going to take us a while to get around all 8 floors.  We’ve worked out a process which should minimise the amount of disruption, but you should consider your wireless access to be “at risk” for most of the day.  Wireless access in some flats may be unavailable for up to 2 hours, although we’ll do our best to reduce that as much as possible.

The ResNet Wired network will not be affected by this work, so if you haven’t already done so you might want to activate your wired connection now to ensure you’ve got some form of connectivity while the upgrade is in progress.

Update: 2013-11-12:53 This work is now complete, and all the new equipment appears to be working.

At 12:00, Weds 17th April we lost all connectivity to the Stoke Bishop Halls.  We’re investigating, but currently the following services are not available:

  • ResNet Wired internet access
  • ResNet Wireless internet access
  • Eduroam
  • UOB telephones
  • Halls Admin connections

All residences at Stoke Bishop are offline, including:

  • Hiatt Baker
  • University Hall
  • Badock
  • Churchill
  • The Holmes
  • Durdham
  • Wills Hall
  • Grounds and Gardens Offices
  • Downs Workshop

We don’t have much information, but we’ve got a network engineer on his way to site to see what’s going on.  We’ll update this blog post as and when we get details.

Update Weds 17th, 12:44
It appears that all the fibre runs which connect Stoke Bishop halls back to the main campus have been cut through.  We’re currently trying to locate the position of the break, and will be liaising with our fibre contractor to get a fix put in place.  We don’t have any timescales for a fix at this stage, but will know more when we’ve been in touch with our contractors.  More updates to follow when we have them.

Update Weds 17th, 14:42
We’ve identified the location of the break (which is in the middle of the Hiatt Baker 2 building site) and our contractors are currently digging a bypass trench so they can splice in a repair to the fibre.   They will be laying the bypass duct much deeper than the existing duct, which was surprisingly close to the surface.  If all goes to plan, we’re hoping service can be restored by 7pm, but we’ll continue to update this post when more information becomes available.

We’ve just been sent this photo of the damage:
2013-04-17_small

 

Update Weds 17th, 17:58 (Mark, ResNet Manager)

Netwoking has been restored for all of Stoke Bishop.  Thank you to everyone who helped get this serious loss of service up and running again in a very short period of time – Fibre splicing is not easy!

And a welcome quote from Professor Robert Mayhew, Warden of Churchill Hall:

“Dear Mark,

Just to echo what you said on the Resnet blog, I am really impressed by the speed with which the Networking team managed to resolve this issue. The level of information for staff on the ground was also first class!”

We will be doing some routine maintenance on the Langford Residential Network on:

  • Tuesday 9th April
  • Wednesday 10th April
  • Thursday 11th April
  • Tuesday 16th April
  • Wednesday 17th April
  • Thursday 18th April

Any disruption to the network should be less than 1 minute.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

See Update 11:16

This morning we lost the network link to Stoke Bishop at approximately 8:20. As a result, ResNet wired & wireless, eduroam and internal phones are not working.

The exact cause of the outage is not yet known, but our networks team is actively working to restore service.

We will post an update here when we have more information.

Update 09:46 by Mark, ResNet Manager – We are very confident this is a power outage in our comms room.  We are now waiting for Estates to visit and restore power to our equipment.

Update 11:16 by Mark, ResNet Manager – Power has been restored by the Estates Team and all networking has been restored to the Stoke Bishop area.

 

Over the coming weeks we will be starting a programme of upgrades to the Residential Network (ResNet).  These upgrades will cause some disruption to subscribers’ Internet connections although these disruptions should be short.  A full list of dates and areas concerned is available below…

  • Completed – Tue 19th Feb 2013, Hawthorns – 15 minute outage from 06:00 for both Wired and Wireless ResNet
  • Completed – Tue 26th Feb 2013, Stoke Bishop Residences – 15 minute outage from 06:00 for both Wired and Wireless ResNet
  • Completed – Tue 5th Mar 2013, Goldney Hall, Clifton Hill House, Manor (Manor House, Richmond House, Sinclair House, Tottenham Place)  – 15 minute outage from 06:00 for both Wired and Wireless ResNet
  • Completed – Tue 12th Mar 2013, Deans, Woodland, Unite, Chantry – 15 minute outage from 06:00 for both Wired and Wireless ResNet
  • Completed – Tue 19th Mar 2013, All other location – 15 minute outage from 06:00 for both Wired and Wireless ResNet

Canceled – In addition to this there will be an outage to ResNet Wireless connections in all locations on Tuesday 5th March 2013 between 07:30 and 09:00.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

We lost connectivity to Northwell House at about 1pm today (Monday 4th Feb 2013)

We’ve managed to restore connectivity to the main building, but haven’t been able to get the Annex back up yet. So at the time of writing there is no ResNet Wireless, or ResNet Wired service in Northwell Annex.

We’re making arrangements to be on site as soon as we can tomorrow morning, and we’ll hopefully be able to bring it back to life then.

As a workaround, we suggest that any residents in the Annex use the common areas in the main building if you need internet access this evening.

Update: Connectivity to the Annex was restored shortly after 5pm Monday evening.

Well there’s been an awful lot of planning and preparation but we have finally launched ResNet Inclusive and perfectly on time too.  So from now, all UoB staff and students will be able to activate their ResNet connection as access is included in their accommodation rent; this includes any UoB person who’s just visiting.

Everyone will still need to activate their ResNet connection by visiting http://go.resnet.bristol.ac.uk via either the socket in their room or connecting to the ResNet-Setup wireless signal and follow the on-screen instructions.

The ResNet Inclusive connection is ResNet Standard but if they feel this is not enough for their needs then they can upgrade to ResNet Max for a small fee.  For details please see ResNet Packages.

What does this mean for ResNet customers?  Well, the registration process is much simpler because there’s no need to go through the on-line payment process which is great news for our international students that don’t always have Credit/Debit Cards.  This means more people won’t have to visit the Computer Centre to pay for ResNet.

I’d like to thank everyone that’s worked hard behind the scenes to make all this has happen.  The ResNet team have had to work closely with the Accommodation Office, Finance, the Secretaries Office and two external partners (Unite and A2Dominion) and without their help, understanding and cooperation this would never have happened.

Mark Elley
Residential & Mobile IT Manager

There will be a short break in service affecting all ResNet connections on Wednesday 27th June, between 9am and 9:30am while we make some changes to the network infrastructure.  Additionally the ResNet service should be considered at-risk until 10:30am.

The following services will be effected:

  • ResNet Wired – your computer will not be able to connect
  • ResNet Wireless – your computer will not be able to connect
  • My ResNet control panel will not be available
  • The ResNet Activation System will not be available

If you experience a problem with your ResNet connection during that period, please wait half an hour and then restart your computer before trying again.

We’re apologise for the short notice.  Updates on our progress will be added to this blog post when we have them.

Update: 2012-06-27 09:30
As far as we can tell, everything is back up again.  The interruption for the majority of users will only have been a couple of minutes, but if you’re having problems try restarting your computer.  If that doesn’t help, contact the IT Service Desk.

There will be some maintenance work happening on the electrical supply to Wills Hall, The Holmes and Durdham Hall on the 13th Feb 2012.

Mains power is expected to be off from 09:30-11:00 at The Holmes and from 12:00-13:30 at Wills/Durdham Hall.

As they’re switching the power off to the site, all the data networking equipment will be powered down as well.  This means that ResNet Wired, ResNet Wireless, VisitorNet and the Halls Admin network in these locations will be unavailable for the duration of the work.  Telephone service may also be interrupted.

On Tuesday 17 April, from 7am – 9am significant maintenance work is planned to the network infrastructure.

There will be two breaks of up to 20 minutes each which will affect Internet connectivity for the entire university.  This includes ResNet Wired, ResNet Wireless, VisitorNet, Eduroam and access from campus PCs/public computer rooms.

Full news item at:  http://www.bris.ac.uk/it-services/news/2012/janet3april.html

IT Services apologises for any inconvenience this work may case. If you have any questions or issues regarding this work please contact the IT Service Desk.

IT Services
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/it-services

For updates, see the bottom of this post

We’ve had a large number of reports of customers experiencing problems with ResNet Wireless and Eduroam.  The symptoms being that it your computer asks for your username and password.  Some times it will accept them, but it often takes multiple attempts to get anywhere.

We’re actively investigating the issue, and we’ve been poring through mountains of log files trying to work out what’s going on.

Workarounds:
The ResNet Wired service is not affected by this problem at all, so if you plug your laptop into the wall you’ll have a nice fast stable connection that doesn’t repeatedly ask for your password.

For Eduroam, we don’t currently have a workaround other than “wait for 15 minutes then try again” as the problem appears to move to another location every so often and if you wait a bit then try again it may work better.

Update 2012-02-10 16:06:
We’ve managed to replicate the problem on a machine in the office, and we *seem* to have fixed the problem with that machine (it’s a bit early to tell, but I’ve connected/disconnected several times with no problems)

We’ve released a new version of the setup wizard with a couple of tweaks, which should help.  You can re-run the wizard by connecting to the “ResNet-Setup” wireless network and then going to http://go.resnet.bris.ac.uk wizard in your web browser.

Update 2012-02-13 10:50:
OK, so the new wizard only appears to have fixed things for my laptop in the office and not anyone elses.  This rules out client side certificate issues.  We’ve got a few more leads that we’re following up from deeper in the network infrastructure.  More news as we get it.

Update 2012-02-13 12:20:
The problem appears to be even more widespread than we thought, and is potentially affecting some eduroam clients as well.  We’re currently working closely with the core networking team to identify a course of action.

Update 2012-02-13: 14:00:
We’ve hit a point with this problem where the next step is to escalate it to Cisco (the vendor that makes our wireless networking kit)  So we’re in the process of raising a ticket with their support team.  Our best advice at this point is to use the ResNet Wired network instead where at all possible.

Update 2012-02-15:
Just a quick update to say we haven’t forgotten about this problem and we are still pursuing it.  We are currently waiting for Cisco to get back to us.

Update 2012-02-16:
I think it’s safe to say we’ve got enough detailed information to go on for now, so there’s no need to email the service desk.  We’ll update this blog post again when we have some news about a fix.

Update 2012-02-20:
We now think this is  a known bug in the firmware version our wireless controllers are running.  By all accounts it only surfaces if the controllers have been running for quite some time (as ours have) and a restart of the controllers should temporarily alleviate the problem.

Coincidentally there is a wireless maintenance slot scheduled for tomorrow morning, so we’re planning to restart things during that slot.  Upgrading the firmware is a larger job though and needs some planning.  There’s a meeting happening tomorrow which will determine when that upgrade can happen.  More news about that tomorrow.

Update 2012-02-21:
The upgrade to the new firmware has been scheduled for Tuesday 28th Feb and will be applied between 6am and 9am.  During this time all University wireless services will be unavailable.  See this news item for more details: http://www.bris.ac.uk/it-services/news/2012/wireless13feb.html

Update 2012-02-28:
We believe that the upgrades done this morning have fixed the problem.  If you continue to have problems with ResNet wireless, please contact the IT Service Desk and we’ll investigate.

Because of essential maintenance to one of the university database servers, the following services will be unavailable between 21:00 and 21:30, Monday 13th February. This work is to fix the underlying cause of the problems we experienced before Christmas.

For the duration of the work, the following ResNet services will be unavailable:
The helpdesk connection troubleshooting tools will also be unavailable, but as it’s out of Service Desk opening hours that’s not going to make much of a difference!

For more information about other services (including a number of University Websites) which will be affected by this maintenance work, see the IS website: http://www.bris.ac.uk/it-services/news/2012/diversp1feb.html

Update: 13:20
And we’re back in business.  Service has been restored all ResNet accommodation.

History of this outage is shown below.

As of 12:30 today (19th Jan) just under a third of ResNet has lost internet connectivity.

Early investigations seem to imply that there is a power problem affecting Priory Road possibly extending as far as The Triangle.  This means we’ve lost power to the core networking equipment which feeds most of the centrally located accommodation – this has knocked out both Wired ResNet and Wireless ResNet services in the affected halls.

Hopefully, ResNet will just spring back to life when the power comes back on, but we will be keeping a close eye on it just incase.

Update: The following buildings are without service

  • Chantry Court
  • 33 Colston Street
  • Deans Court
  • The Hawthorns
  • Northwell House
  • Osborne Villas
  • 121 Redland Road
  • 29 St Michaels Park
  • 30 St Michaels Park
  • 31 St Michaels Park
  • 32 St Michaels Park
  • 33 St Michaels Park
  • Unite House
  • Winkworth House
  • 97 Woodland Road
  • Woodland Court
Update: 13:05
Power has been partially restored, and service should be available once again at Colston St, Chantry Court, Deans Court, Unite House, Winkworth House, 97 Woodland Road.
The following residences are still down
  • The Hawthorns
  • Northwell House
  • Osborne Villas
  • 121 Redland Road
  • 29 St Michaels Park
  • 30 St Michaels Park
  • 31 St Michaels Park
  • 32 St Michaels Park
  • 33 St Michaels Park
  • Woodland Court

We will be doing some essential network maintenance on Saturday 7th January 2012. The following properties will experience intermittent disruption between 9am and 5pm.

  • Northwell House
  • Woodland Court
  • The Hawthorns
  • 121 Redland Road
  • Rodney Place

Please see the IT Services news item for more details, since some buildings other than halls of residence will also be affected.

We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers.

The database server used by a large number of ResNet systems is currently experiencing problems.  The issues started at around 17:18pm on Weds 14th December.

Until the issues can be resolved, the following ResNet services are unavailable:

  • The My ResNet Control Pannel (http://my.resnet.bris.ac.uk) will be completely unavailable
  • The ResNet Activation System (http://go.resnet.bris.ac.uk) will be completely unavailable
  • All helpdesk troubleshooting tools will be unavailable
  • Various back-end scripts are failing, and may result in strange behaviour from the bandwidth monitoring systems (the ResNet Gadget/RSS feeds won’t be updating) , the network status monitoring, DHCP updates will not happen etc.
Because ResNet don’t run the database server, it’s a little out of our hands at the moment.  The issue has been reported to the database team, and we will update this page as and when we have more information.
Update: 2011-12-15 09:35
The issue seems to be resolved (for now) and our systems seem to be working again.  However, reports from the database team suggest an underlying problem which they are continuing to investigate.

We are experiencing a network issue that is affecting Deans Court North block.  All other Deans Court blocks are fully working.  We are looking into this problem and will update this post later on today with any further information.

We apologise for the inconvenience.

[Update 14:10 05/12/2011]

The connection to Deans Court North has been restored.

About 25 of the servers which run ResNet are running *really* slowly at the moment (for various complicate and convoluted reasons) this means that customers may notice the following:

  • The ResNet DNS servers are slow and unresonsive, which effectively means that your connection may function slowly, or even not at all.
  • The My ResNet control panel (my.resnet.bris.ac.uk) is slow and unresponsive
  • The ResNet Activation System (go.resnet.bris.ac.uk) is slow and unresponsive
  • Most of  our backend troubleshooting tools are playing up as well, which makes troubleshooting individual problems difficult for the Service Desk
  • The Wireless ResNet authentication servers are caught up in this as well, so ResNet Wireless may also be unusable

Because of the widespread nature of the problem, we’re expecting it to affect all ResNet customers (Wired and Wireless)

We’re aware of the problem, and are doing everything we can to restore service as quickly as possible.  I’ve already started planning ways to stop the same issue hitting us again in the future.

Update: 21/11/2011 17:13
Good news and bad news.  The good news is that the load issues are beginning to resolve themselves and DNS seems to be back to normal.  The bad news is that somewhere in the last 2 hours we hit a (separate, but related) problem which means none of our web servers are currently running (so www.resnet/my.resnet/go.resnet etc are still dead)

We’ve got a lead on that problem though, and are working to get them back up again.

Update: 21/11/2011 17:50
And we’re back in business!   Sorry for the inconvenience everyone.

Just before 4pm today Hillside Woodside’s ResNet connection failed due to a power outage in the Burwalls comms room.  We are currently investigating this outage and hope to have this connection restored as soon as possible.  When we know the exact nature of the problem we’ll update this post.  Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

[Update 17:10 15/11/2011]

Our network team has arrived on site and have found that the fuse board that supplies our kit has tripped.  It’s now up to the electrical maintenance guys to reinstate power.  Once this is done ResNet connections should be back automatically.

[Update 20:21 15/11/2011]

It looks as though power has been restored, and Hillside Woodside has come back up.

On Tuesday 22nd November, between 07:00 and 08:45, all wireless services on campus and in residences will be switched off whilst a routine system software update is applied.

We are experiencing a network issue that is affecting Deans Court West block.  All other Deans Court blocks are fully working.  We are looking into this problem and will update this post later on today with any further information.

[Update 26-10-2011, 14:00]  Looks like a fibre cable connecting the ResNet switches in the West block to the local distribution switch was broken.  We have now switched to an alternative pair of cables and we’re now back up and running.  Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

We’re seeing some problems with OSX 10.7.2 (The latest update to Lion) and the ResNet Activation system (https://go.resnet.bristol.ac.uk)

The major symptom seems to be that if you’ve got a Mac, running the latest version of Safari (5.1.1), and the latest version of Lion (10.7.2) then you can’t access the activation system to set up your connection.  The page appears to load, but is blank.  The last couple of computers I’ve looked at which have the problem can’t open the Keychain App either.  This may or may not be related!

We’re actively investigating this problem, and trying to work out what’s going on so that we can fix it.  To be honest, we’re not making a whole lot of progress at this stage.  Safari appears to make the initial connection to go.resnet, but then stops talking to the server halfway through.  It’s all rather baffling!

Workaround:
We do however have a workaround for the problem.  It seems alternative browsers (eg Firefox,Opera or Chrome) can load the activation system fine.  So, if you’ve got an alternative browser, use that to activate your connection then go back to using safari once your connection is active.

If you don’t already have an alternative browser on your computer, use a friends computer to download one and then transfer it to your computer by USB stick.

Update 2011-10-26:
I think I’ve fixed this.  Lion users should now be able to activate their ResNet connections with Safari.  As a bonus, some customers who were finding the activation system slow may find it to be a bit quicker now.

If you’re still experiencing problems activating your ResNet connection, please get in touch with the IT Service Desk.

We’re having a few problems with the wireless at Churchill, and some of the wireless points in A block are offline, so the wireless signal in A block may be a little unreliable.

We’re not sure what’s causing the fault yet (although some signs are pointing towards a faulty power supply) and we don’t have anyone available to get up there today to look at it.

We’ll get someone up there as soon as we can, but until then we suggest using the ResNet Wired service instead as that’s not affected by the fault.

We will update this post when we’ve got more info.

[Update 26-10-2011, 12:30]  The vast majority of access points are working in Churchill but one WAP on the ground floor of A block and another on the top floor of H block are still down.  We have instructed our cabling contractor to troubleshoot and repair these two connections as soon as possible.  Wired ResNet is still working fine.

We are aware of some ongoing issues with wireless connectivity affecting ResNet Wireless in halls and eduroam on campus.

Common symptoms of these problems may include:

  • Intermittent slowness
  • Connection attempts time out
  • It may take several attempts to connect
  • Your computer forgets the saved network password

The problem appears to exist with some of the new wireless hardware that was installed during August 2011. We are currently talking to our hardware supplier to diagnose and resolve these problems, although progress is frustratingly slow.

We at ResNet are very sorry that these issues are causing inconvenience for our users. If you are affected by any of the symptoms described above, the best workaround is to use your ResNet connection via the cable. There are no known problems with the wired network.

We will post an update on this blog when the issue with ResNet Wireless has been resolved, so you might like to bookmark it.

Update 2011-Oct-18 18:11
As described in this IT Services News Item emergency work will be taking place, and ResNet Wireless will be unavailable:

  • Wednesday, 19 October, 06:00-08:45
  • Thursday, 20 October, 06:00-08:45
This emergency work is taking place to allow us to further diagnose the cause of the ongoing performance problems with the wireless service.  More news as and when we get it.
Update 2011-Oct-21
We believe the ResNet Wireless problems are now fixed.

ResNet Wireless is due for an upgrade so that we can increase the number of people who can connect to it.  As part of that work, we’re making major changes to the infrastructure behind ResNet Wireless on Tuesday, September 6th 2011.

ResNet Wireless will experience intermittent outages throughout the day.

Once the work is complete, anyone using ResNet Wireless will need to re-run the ResNet Wireless Setup Wizard to continue using it.

Important maintenance work on the power supply to the Stoke Bishop area will be taking place on the 4th August 2011 between 2pm and 6pm.

This will affect ResNet, Wireless (all wireless, including ResNet & eduroam services), Admin network and telephone connectivity at all Stoke Bishop halls.

Your hall office should be able to answer any further queries that you may have.

4th August 2011

The following locations will have no network (ResNet, Wireless, Admin Network) or telephones:

  • University Hall
  • Durdham Hall
  • Haitt Baker
  • Wills Hall (Including The Holmes)
  • The Downs Workshop
  • The Grounds and Gardens offices etc
  • Churchill Hall
  • Badock Hall

Additionally, some (possibly all) of Hiatt Baker will be without power for the duration of the work.

Update 20-07-2011

Telephone Services have now repaired the phones but currently the room number to phone number mappings are wrong.  This will be fully corrected in September.  If you need to know your internal number now, please dial ‘zero’ and ask the operator what your number is.  For any telephone related problems please contact Telephone Services directly <telephone-services@bristol.ac.uk>

Update 15:15 29-06-2011

ResNet is now back up and running.  Again, sorry for any inconvenience caused.  For any telephone related problems please contact Telephone Services directly <telephone-services@bristol.ac.uk>

Update 09:30 29-06-2011

Engineers are on site to fix cabinet back to wall and splice the fibre optic cable.  Assuming this all goes well and there are no additional breaks in the fibre optic cable then ResNet connections at Manor House should be back by this evening.

Telephone services will be re-terminating the phones but I don’t yet have a date for this.  If this is causing you any serious problems then please contact Telephone Services directly <telephone-services@bristol.ac.uk>

######################################################################

During routine maintenance of the switches in the data cabinet that feeds Manor House the cabinet became detached from the wall.  What’s amazing is that this has not happen years ago as it was fixed to a plasterboard wall without any structural load-bearing noggins.

To make the cabinet safe we have had to cut the fibre optic cable and all phone connections – this means that you are without data (ResNet) and phones until we can do the following:

1) Get Estates to correctly fix the cabinet to the wall
A call has been made and they are expected to do this on Wednesday morning.

2) Splice the fibre optic cable that was cut
We are talking to our fibre contractor, who happen to be in the area, for a date and time to do this.

3) Get telephone services to reconnect the phones
Telephone Services are aware of the problem but we don’t yet have a timeframe for this to be done.  They will need to see the severity of the problem first.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will be causing but hope to have your ResNet connections fully functional before the weekend.  I can’t comment yet on the phones though.

This post will be updated when we have further information.

Regards,

Mark Elley
Residential & Mobile IT Manager

At about 22:15 this evening a power cut started affecting some parts of Bristol City. This means that some University residences have lost power, and some networking equipment that feeds other residences is also without power. Currently, wired and wireless ResNet is unavailable at several locations (click here for the current ResNet network status).

ResNet should automatically return to service when the power comes back on. For more information, please refer to this IS News article.

Important maintenance work on the power supply to the Stoke Bishop area will be taking place on the 7th and 8th April 2011 between 8am and 4pm.

This will affect building power, ResNet, Wireless (all wireless, including ResNet & eduroam services), Admin network and telephone connectivity throughout Thursday 7th and Friday the 8th.

Your hall office should be able to answer any further queries that you may have.

7th April 2011

The following locations will have no power, network (ResNet, Wireless, Admin Network) or telephones:

  • University Hall
  • Durdham Hall
  • Haitt Baker
  • Wills Hall (Including The Holmes)
  • The Downs Workshop
  • The Grounds and Gardens offices etc

The following locations will have power, but no network (ResNet, Wireless, Admin Network) or telephone connectivity:

  • Churchill Hall
  • Badock Hall

8th April 2011

The following locations will have no power or network (ResNet, Wireless, Admin Network).  The phones should stay up.

  • Badock Hall
  • Churchill Hall

This morning (Thursday 17th March) we are experiencing problems with the University network. This is affecting all areas of the campus, including academic departments, wireless and ResNet.

The networks team are currently investigating the cause and working on a fix for this issue. We will post more details when they become available.

In the meantime, we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Update 10:29 by Mark:

The network team has isolated the problem and all service are believed to be working.  We are currently in an ‘At Risk’ state as we are only running on one core router.  I’ll update this again when the fully resilient service has been restored.

Update 12:38 by Mark:

We can now report that all services should have returned to normal. We have identified that a network switch was the cause of the problem and this has been isolated. For further updates please see the IS News Item for further updates.

 

We’ve been having ongoing problems with our database since the scheduled maintenance on Wednesday.  It was unavailable from 2am-8:30am Thursday, and the same again on Friday.  The database team are on the case, and the issue is severe enough that they’ve opened a support call with Oracle (who supply our database software).

We’re waiting to hear back from Oracle, but it’s likely that some of the ResNet systems will be unavailable for periods of time over the weekend.  The database team are planning to put some workarounds in place that should minimise the amount of time systems are unavailable.

The ResNet team are also investigating to see if there’s anything we can do to minimise the impact on peoples connections, especially those who are due to move out of the bandwidth restricted network on Sunday night/Monday Morning.

Because of essential maintenance to one of the university database servers, the following services will be unavailable between 8:30am and 12:30am, Wednesday 2nd March.

The helpdesk connection troubleshooting tools will also be unavailable, so there will be a diminished support capacity for ResNet until about 1pm.

For more information about other services which will be affected by this maintenance work, see the IS website: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/news/2011/diversp17feb.html

We experienced problems with ResNet Wireless in all areas overnight. Service was restored at around 9:30 this morning, and we are actively investigating the root cause in order to avoid similar problems in future.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused for you.

09:40 – We are currently experiencing problems with ResNet Wireless in all areas.  We are actively investigating this and hope to have it resolved as soon as possible.  In the meantime please use your wired connection as this is working fine.  This post will be updated as soon as there is any further information.

Update 09:50 – We believe this has been a problem since about midnight but has now been resolved.  The problem was with the primary authentication server but for some (currently unknown) reason the secondary server did not take over authentications.  This will be investigated further.

Due to essential network maintenance there will be a number of short interruptions, less than five minutes, to the network services on:

Tuesday 1st February 2011 between 08:00 – 10:00

These interruptions will affect the following area:

* Wills Hall (Stoke Bishop)

Information Services would like to apologise for any disruption caused by this work which is part of a continued programme of improvement to the network service.

If you have any questions or require further details please contact the IT help-desk.

As part of a programme of continued improvement and upgrades to the network, there will be interruptions to the network service at Langford on:

Tuesday 25 January between 07:30 – 09:00

At this time there will be an interruption to the data network of up to an hour during which the main Langford router will be replaced.

This will affect the Academic and ResNet data network for the entire site.  The telephone service will be unaffected during this outage.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Update 2011-01-12 15:10 Because of the extent of the impact this work would have, it has been cancelled and will be rearranged for a later date.

Read the rest of this entry »

At 08:50 on Tuesday 11th Jan we lost power to our router that serves the following halls:

  • Hiatt Bakter Hall
  • Wills
  • University Hall
  • Badock Hall
  • Churchill Hall
  • Durdham
  • and any other smaller locations in the Stoke Bishop Area

It seems that there is a power upgrade going on in Hiatt Baker which is the hall that feeds all others in Stoke Bishop.  Current estimate is that power will be down for 8 hours.  We are working through options for a temporary solution but given the short notice this may not be possible.  This post will be updated as and when we know more.

Update 09:30

It seems that this was a planned outage which we were not informed of.  Power has been restored and we assume the upgrade has been postponed.  Further updates when available.

It seems that one of our servers which provides My ResNet, the in-room registration system  and DNS for half of ResNet fell over on Friday evening.  Some people will have experienced slow connections as their connections failed over to the secondary DNS server.

As the office isn’t staffed at weekends, I only happened to notice it by chance.  I’ve restarted the server and normal service was restored at around 14:45 on Sunday.

Sorry for the inconvenience caused.

The ResNet Service at Hillside Woodside is currently unavailable.

This appears to be because the connection between Hillside Woodside and the rest of the university goes through Burwalls, and Burwalls currently has the power turned off due to some flooding.

We’ll update this post when we’ve got more information.

Update 2011-01-05: Following a site visit by our networking team, it is due to the flooding at Burwalls.  The pipe which burst was directly above part of the equipment which maintains the link back to the campus.  We’re currently trying to determine how best to go about replacing the damaged equipment.

As we don’t have any spares for that kit, it’s looking like we’re talking days to fix it rather than hours.  More info as and when we get it.

Update 2011-01-05: We’ve managed to acquire a replacement for the damaged kit (just about!  We managed to get the last one in stock!) They’re going to ship it out to us tomorrow, so with a bit of luck we should be able to get it fitted in time for the weekend.

Update 2011-01-07: The replacement hardware has been delivered…

Update 2011-01-07: The replacement hardware has been fitted, and service has been restored to Hillside Woodside.

The networking in the North wing of Deans Court has been down since Mon 29-11-2010 at 10:30, we’re not sure why at the moment although workmen have reportedly been seen in the vicinity of the cabinet.  We’re looking into it, and will update this post when we know what’s going on.

Update: 12:50 – it all seems to be back up now.

We appear to be having some problems at Deans Court.

Flats in the east wing have been unable to access the internet since about 7pm on Friday 23rd July, and the north wing has been down since about 3am Monday 26th July.  We’re also receiving reports of problems in the West wing, although as yet these are unconfirmed.

We’re investigating it carefully, and will update this post when we’ve got more information.

Update: 2010-07-26 09:40 East wing has come back up

Update: 2010-07-26 10:00 North wing is down because of power problems, hopefully it will come back up when power is restored.  The fault with East wing was due to a faulty fiber connection so should be stable now.

Update: 2010-07-27 08:30 North wing is still down.  Deans Court contractors are sourcing a replacement fuse which is the cause of the problem.  They expect this to be fixed today.

Update: 2010-07-27 11:20 Deans Court contractors appear to have fixed the power problem.  ResNet for North wing is back up.  All of Deans Court is now working.

It’s the last week of the summer term and the vacation beckons. Thanks for using ResNet this year! Whether you are staying or leaving, here’s some final info from ResNet and an opportunity to shape a new service from the university.

Have your say on a new email service for Bristol students

The university is looking to create a new email for life service for students and alumni. This would be provided under contract with the university by either Google or Microsoft. We’d like to know what you think about this. Please see http://www.bristolresnet.net/2010/06/16/new-email-service/ for more info and to comment.

Leaving halls? Get broadband in private accommodation

If you’re moving into private accommodation next year you’ll want to sort out an Internet connection. Unfortunately you can’t get ResNet, but we have a guide to help you choose a broadband provider – see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/broadband/

Staying for the summer? Watch the World Cup on ResNet with Freewire TV

With Freewire you can watch 25 channels of live TV including BBC1 and ITV1 on your computer on ResNet. Freewire doesn’t count towards your ResNet usage allowance. See
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/resnet/using/freewire/ to get started.

Regards,

the ResNet team

The university is looking to create a new email for life service for students (and in time alumni). This would be available to all new students after a certain date, while current students could opt in to it. We’d like to know what you think about this so we can plan the service accordingly.

It’s clearly not a good week this week.  We’ve now lost connection to a network device at Woodland Court, which means that 35 rooms at Woodland Court are currently without ResNet access.

We’ve been out to site, and it looks as though there’s a problem with the uplink on the switch.  We’re pulling together the spare parts required to narrow down the issue further, and will update this post when we’ve got more information.

Update Weds, 12:41
First trip back with the spare parts makes us think it’s not the uplink, so it’s probably the switch afterall.  Time to head back out there with a spare switch.

Update Weds, 16:22
OK, this is not an easy one.  We’ve tried swapping out the switch for a new one, we’ve tried new patch leads, we’ve tried a different port on the upstream switch, we’ve tried new fiber interfaces on both ends, we’ve tested the fiber run and yet we still can’t find the fault.

It’s very unlikely at this point that we’ll be able to restore service before close of business today (Wednesday), however we will get right back on it first thing tomorrow morning.

Update Thurs 9:40am
We’ve traced the fault to the upstream swtich (which seems to have about 8 dead ports), we happened to have a spare one so we’ve replaced it.  Service has now been restored to Woodland Court.

We’re really sorry about the inconvenience this has caused!

We’ve been experiencing some problems with the ResNet Wireless service at Northwell House and Winkworth House.  The wired service, and wireless access in other locations around the university are not affected.

There are two distinct issues, which have combined to cause a rather complicated and confusing result, so much so that I’m not really sure how best to describe the situation!

The main symptoms people have been seeing are:

  • The wireless connectivity became unstable (we think on Monday, but possibly over the weekend), meaning that peoples wireless connections were unreliable.
  • The wireless bandwidth accounting encountered a problem and started counting peoples traffic multiple times, leading to people being cut off for going over their quota – without them actually doing so.

We’ve made some changes to the wireless network which we think will improve the stability again, hopefully returning us to normal service stability, and we’re busy fixing the bandwidth accounting.

We are picking our way through those who are affected by the accounting issue, restoring their bandwidth quotas and putting things back to normal.  Until we’ve completed this work, Wireless ResNet data isn’t being updated through My ResNet or the RSS feed/bandwidth gadgets We will be emailing those affected with more details in due course.

We’re really sorry for the inconvenience, especially during the exam season!

On Friday evening we saw unusual activity which resulted in the loss of Internet service to the whole university, including ResNet, from inside the University and we are aware that some internal services were affected by this activity.  Staff worked through the evening and service was resumed around 1:00am on Saturday. Information was updated on the IT Services Status page <http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/news/status/> throughout the incident and over the weekend.  There is a permalink to this status item <http://www.wireless.bris.ac.uk/blog/2010/05/07/dns-issue/>

In essence, an unusually large amount of traffic on the University network resulted in asymmetric routing of DNS queries resulting in them not being resolved correctly.  After identifying the problem, staff manually reverted the system to symmetric routing and restored service at around 1:00am on Saturday. This meant that sites during this period for which we had no cached DNS information were inaccessible.

Work took place on Monday morning to reduce the likelihood of this type of incident occurring again.

We apologise for the disruption caused.


Information Services
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is

The ‘Check your network usage’ feature in MyResNet has been broken since an ‘upgrade’ to a key component of the system on 4th May 2010.  Basically we were not informing you of your usage so no restrictions – yey!

Needless to say this has now been fixed 😉

Between 08:15 – 10:15 on Thursday 15th April there will be a series of interruptions to the network service as follows:-

  • the ResNet service
  • wireless networks in the halls

The following networks should not be affected, but may be considered at greater risk of interruption:

  • Halls computer rooms
  • Halls admin network

Information Services would like to apologise for any disruption caused by this work. It is being carried out to correct a recently discovered problem, which if not corrected could lead to longer interruptions. We would also like to apologise for the short notice of this outage. The work has been been scheduled for Thursday 15th April in order to complete it before most residents return for the start of term.

The ResNet service hasn’t been working at Churchill hall since 2:40am today. We’ve been up to Churchill to investigate, and discovered this is due to a power failure in parts of the main building, unfortunately including the ResNet cabinet which links Churchill to the rest of the network.

We’re sorry for the interruption to ResNet for students in Churchill, and we’re trying to get the power back on as soon as possible. We’ll also get a separate power supply put in for our cabinet, so that this fault doesn’t happen again.

Update: 10:50am The power is back on, and ResNet is now working again in all areas of Churchill.

The network at Unite House went down this morning at around 10:10, this is due to a power failure at Unite House.  We’re keeping an eye on it, and when the power comes back up we’ll check to make sure the network comes back up with it.

Update 17th Feb, 12:50: Everything is back up, and appears to be stable.

We will be doing some essential network maintenance on Wednesday January 6th 2010.  The nature of the work is quite involved, and it effects different types of ResNet Customer differently.  Please read the following sections to determine how you will be effected.

Customers on the main ResNet Network
This accounts for the vast majority of the people currently using ResNet.

Your connection should be considered “at risk” of interruption from 8am-10am although we anticipate the actual outage to account for about 30 minutes of this time.  During this time you will be unable to connect to university services on campus, and unable to connect to the internet.

Customers on the Restricted Bandwidth Network
At the time of writing, this includes about 14 people who have either been suspended for copyright infringement, or who have gone over their weekly bandwidth allowance.

Your connection should be considered at risk of interruption from 8am-6pm.  The networking for these customers is a lot more complex than for the majority of ResNet and while we anticipate an interruption of about 30 minutes at some point during the day, it’s possible that there may be multiple interruptions.

ResNet Wireless
If you live in a residence which offers the ResNet Wireless service, your wireless connection should be considered at risk of interruption from 8am-6pm.  The networking for ResNet Wireless is a lot more complex than for the majority of ResNet and while we anticipate an interruption of about 30 minutes at some point during the day, it’s possible that there may be multiple interruptions.

If you find your ResNet Wireless connection becomes unusable, please fall back to using your wired socket and then retry the Wireless later.

All Customers
Due to the nature of this work, it’s possible that there may be a few wrinkles for us to iron out.  So if you notice something which has stopped working (and you’re not within the “at risk” period described above) please let us know so that we can investigate it!

Updates and progress reports
We will update this section of this post as and when we have progress to report.

Updated 2009-01-06 09:34: Due to snow (staff availability), this work is proceeding slightly slower than expected. Therefore your connection might be out of action for a bit longer than stated above. We appreciate that more people than usual may be inside their residences today because of the snow, so we are working as fast as possible to get the work done.

Updated 2009-01-06 11:19: Most of the work has been completed, but we are still experiencing problems in some residences, including Deans Court. We are sorry for the continued problems, and will post more information when available.

Updated 2009-01-06 11:32:We think Wired ResNet connections are now working, but there is still a problem with Wireless ResNet in some areas, and we’re working on fixing that.

Updated 2009-01-06 12:04:Contrary to previous update, wired ResNet connections still aren’t working in all areas. Typically people affected will find that they can access internal university websites (eg www.bristol.ac.uk) but not external websites (eg www.bbc.co.uk). Problems appear to be worst in Deans Court/Chantry Court/Unite House/Winkworth House. We’re still working on fixing the problem.

Updated 2009-01-06 12:27:Work is still in progress, but some users who experienced problems earlier are now reporting that their connection has started working, and they can access websites as normal.

Updated 2009-01-06 13:10:We’ve now completed our testing, and phoned back a number of people who reported problems earlier. To the best of our knowledge ResNet is now working fully in all areas. We’re very sorry again for the extended interruption.

If you are still experiencing problems please call the Help Desk (7870 internal, or 0117 928 7870 external) to let us know as soon as possible, and we’ll help you out on an individual basis.

Updated 2009-01-06 16:17:We’ve identified three users who are still having problems. These are all people in the restricted bandwidth network. We think in total there are about 14 people still affected, and we are working to resolve the problem for them. For everyone else ResNet is working normally.

Updated 2009-01-06 16:26:We’ve now fixed the problems for the people in the restricted bandwidth network. These people, and everyone else on ResNet, can now access internal and external websites.

One of our network devices at Badock Hall failed at 11:40 Wednesday morning. Currently 47 people in Unit 5 are currently without ResNet connections.

At the moment, we’re not sure what’s wrong but we’ve got someone out on site looking at the issue now.  We’ll update this post with more information as and when we have it.

Update: 2009-12-02 16:18 – Service has been restored to Unit 5.

The ResNet Service is currently non-functional at Hillside Woodside.

The outage is due to a failure of the link connecting the main University network to Burwalls (which then feeds Hillside Woodside). A member of the Networks Team is currently working on the problem. The most recent information we have indicates that the problem is either due to power supply failure or hardware failure.

Updated, 2009-11-25 17:06: A replacement power supply should arrive tomorrow morning which will allow further diagnostics to be carried out. If the power supply is the cause of the fault, service should be restored early tomorrow.

Updated, 2009-11-26 14:54: The replacement power supply delivery has been unavoidably delayed until tomorrow. The outage will unfortunately persist until then.

Updated, 2009-11-27 10:14: The broken hardware has been replaced and ResNet at Hillside Woodside is up and running again.

A fault occured at Northwell House on Friday 20th November at around 11:20am which resulted in a loss of ResNet connection to 48 people in the main building.

Unfortunately we were a bit short staffed on Friday (a combination of staff being on holiday or out sick), and were unable to get out to Northwell house to resolve the fault before the weekend.

We’re a bit more comprehensively staffed this morning (Monday 23rd) and restored service in Northwell House at around 10:30am.

This is the second time in a week that we’ve had problems with this device, so we are investigating a bit further to see what steps we can take to prevent it happening again.

If you’re arriving in Bristol this weekend, welcome! ResNet is live and ready for you to connect.

You can get online with ResNet as soon as you arrive, even if you haven’t paid in advance. You need a cable and connection guide – these are available in your residence (either in your room, or available from your hall office/senior resident). Once connected you get a seven day free trial, and can then pay online or in person at the Computer Centre, Tyndall Avenue.

It is easy to connect, but if you need help please read the Troubleshooting Tips in your connnection guide or phone the ResNet Help Desk on 89001 from your room (0117 928 9001 external). The Help Desk will be open for calls from 8am til 8pm on Monday.

It’s a busy time of year for us here at ResNet with lots of people moving into their accommodation at the same time. To help us to cope with the rush, and to get as many of you up and working as quickly as possible, we’ve set up a dedicated ResNet Helpdesk with its own phone number.

Opening Times
Monday 21st to Friday 25th September, 9am to 5pm
Monday 28th September to Friday 2nd October, 8am to 8pm (freshers week)

Phone Number
89001 (free call from the internal phone in your room)
0117 9289001 (from external phones)

We’ve also got a page of simple things you can try before calling the helpdesk, you may find that one of these fixes your problem http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/resnet/help/helpdesk.html

In order to provide a more secure envoirment on  ResNet, we are introducing some new security requirements.

We have always asked for users of ResNet to be configured to get their IP address automatically. This is now being enforced by the new network equipment that we installed recently.

This means that users will not be able to use static ip addresses on ResNet. All computers or routers etc connected to ResNet must be configured to use dhcp.

If you think that you are being affected by these changes, make sure that you reboot your computer before contacting the helpdesk.

Instructions on configuring your computer to use dhcp can be found in this pdf:

Information Services are carrying out some essential systems maintenance on the 11th August 2009, 10:00-10:30 which affects the following ResNet systems:

  • My ResNet
  • ResNet in-room Registration System
  • ResNet Helpdesk troubleshooting tools (including those used by the out of hours helpdesk)
  • ResNet Network Monitoring system (the traffic lights on the ResNet home page)

All fully registered ResNet connections will continue to function normally throughout this maintenance period, so most people won’t notice anything.

There are several other University systems which are also affected by this maintenance, for more details see the IS News website: http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2009/koi28july.html

Students from other universities who are visiting Bristol over the summer and staying in university accommodation can get a ResNet connection for the vacation period. See ResNet over the summer for details and an application form, then please visit the Help Desk, Computer Centre, Tyndall Avenue (8am-5.30pm Mon-Fri) to apply, from Tuesday 23rd June onwards.

Current students who are staying on longer than orginally planned can renew their ResNet subscription through My ResNet.

On Monday 15th June there is some sheduled work on the power supply that feeds one of our core cabinets.

Between 6 and 9 am we expect to lose connectivity to the following residences:

  • Woodland Court
  • Northwell House
  • The Hawthorns
  • St Michaels Park
  • Osbourne Villas
  • 121 Redland Rd

We appologise for any inconvenience this may cause, and hope that the break in service will be as brief as possible.

Our current network devices have served ResNet well over the last 6 years but they are starting to get to the end of their useful lives.  In the past it has been possible for one compromised computer to disrupt access for many users in the same hall.  New switches have many more features that will help maintain the high availability that our users expect, even when other machines on ResNet are ‘misbehaving’.

We will be updating this blog post with progress several times per day during the phases so please check back for updates.

Phase 0 (Completed)

Starting on Monday 15th June and ending Wednesday 17th June we are upgrading one cabinet per morning in the Hawthorns.  Please consider the entire residence ‘at risk’ during these 3 days but we expect that users will only see a single 2 hour outage.

Phase 1 (Mon 6th July to Fri 17th July)

All other ResNet locations will be upgraded over two weeks starting Monday 6th July and ending Friday 17th July.  Again, please consider the entire residence ‘at risk’ during these 10 working days but we expect that users will only see a single 2 hour outage.

Residence Total Cabinets
Cabinets Complete Expected Start Expected End
University Hall 9 9 complete complete
Badock Hall 11 11 complete complete
Churchill Hall 9 9 complete complete
Hiatt Baker Hall 9 9
complete complete
Durdham Hall 4 4 complete complete
Wills Hall 9 9 complete complete
Unite House 5 5 complete complete
Winkworth House 1 1 complete complete
115 Queens Road 1 1 complete complete
Clifton Hill House 4 4 complete complete
Goldney Hall 12 12 complete complete
Manor Hall 7 5

(Access Problems in two cabs)

9th July unknown
2 Rodney Place 1 0 9th July 17th July
Chantry Court 3 3 complete complete
Deans Court 4 4 complete complete
Richmond Terrace 2 0 9th July 16th July
St Michaels Hill 2 2 complete complete
Osborne Villas 3 3 complete complete
121 Redland Road 1 1 complete complete
IAS 1 1 complete complete
29-33 St Michaels Park 1 1 complete complete
Hillside/Woodside 1 0 14th July 17th July
Woodland Court 3 3 complete complete
97 Woodland Road 1 1 complete complete
Langford House 3 0 14th July 17th July
Northwell House 2 2 complete complete
The Hawthorns 3 3 complete complete

We have lost ResNet service in Churchill hall.

The outage has been caused by a power problem starting at about 20:50 19/5/09. We apologise for this outage, we do understand that this is a bad time to be without access to ResNet.

We are currently waiting for a visit from the universities electricians to restore the power.

Update:

Power + ResNet restored at around 11:40 20/5/09

This is one of an occasional series of newsletters sent to ResNet subscribers. You can also read it on the ResNet blog at www.bristolresnet.net

Jobs with ResNet

Want to join the ResNet team? We are now recruiting for part-time technical support jobs with ResNet.

A job with ResNet offers competitive pay and excellent experience while working with and helping other Bristol students. It can be hard work but is very enjoyable, a chance to develop your skills, and great experience for future employers.

Jobs available start in September helping new students connect to ResNet, and some work continues term-time during the academic year.

The closing date for applications is 6pm, Tuesday May 26th 2009. For more details or to apply please see
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/resnet/about/behindscene/vacancies09.html

Renew your ResNet subscription online

Many ResNet subscriptions expire at the end of the summer term – if staying on in halls for the summer you may need to renew. You can check when your subscription finishes at http://www.resnet.bristol.ac.uk/myresnet . Within a few days we will be lauching online payments for ResNet, so if you need to renew you’ll be able to log on to myResNet and pay there with a credit or debit card.

Wireless printing

Did you know that you can print from your own laptop on the wireless network to public printers in the Computer Centre or Arts & Social Sciences Library? We’ve just launched a new setup wizard to make this easy – see http://www.wireless.bris.ac.uk/print to try it.

Unfortunately we had an equipment  failure here over the weekend that left various residences on St Michaels hill disconnected from ResNet. The equipment has now been replaced and service is back to normal.

One of the ResNet servers is feeling a little under the weather, so we’re going to have to take it offline first thing tomorrow
to run some diagnostics to confirm that the problem is what we think it is before we can log a hardware fault report.

The following services will be unavailable from 8:30am-10:30am, Friday 17th April 2009.

Currently registered connections will continue to function normally.

We will update this post when the maintenance is complete

Update: 09:42
Maintenance is now complete, and service has been restored.

Information Services are carrying out some essential systems maintenance on the 16th April 2009, 08:00-12:00 which affects the following ResNet systems:

  • My ResNet
  • ResNet in-room Registration System
  • ResNet Helpdesk troubleshooting tools (including those used by the out of hours helpdesk)
  • ResNet Network Monitoring system (the traffic lights on the ResNet home page)

All fully registered ResNet connections will continue to function normally throughout this maintenance period, so most people won’t notice anything.

There are several other University systems which are also affected by this maintenance, for more details see the IS News website: http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2009/oraclepatch17march.html

We’ve received a maintenance announcement from Freewire TV, saying that they will be carrying out some upgrade work on Wednesday 1st April 2009 between 1100 and 1500.

This maintenance has been scheduled so that Inuk Networks Infrastructure can upgrade the encoders used for broadcasting the channels listed below.

Setanta Sports News
Setanta Sports 2
Setanta Sports Golf
Arsenal
Liverpool
Celtic
Rangers
ESPN America

Maintenance Schedule
Maintenance Start: 11.00 on Wednesday 1st April 2009
Maintenance End: 15.00 on Wednesday 1st April 2009
Maintenance Window: 4 hours
Planned Downtime: 30 mins per channel

The network at Unite House went down today at 16:20.

From the pattern of devices which are down it looks to us like it might be due to a power failure in the area.  Unfortunately as yet we haven’t managed to get hold of anyone on site who can confirm this, although we are phoning everyone we can think of!

Update: 16:40
It would seem that the power has been cut due to a fire in the building.   We don’t have much in the way of information yet relating to the scale of the fire, the extent of the damage caused, or if anyone has been injured.

We don’t know when students are likely to be allowed back in the building, or if the network will be available when they are.

Update: 18:52
According to the BBC, no one is reported missing or injured, which is good news. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bristol/7949078.stm

We will investigate the networking situation fully tomorrow.

Update: 20:52 by Mark

All network devices appear to be back up at about 20:20.  We will still be investigating this tomorrow.

We’ve been monitoring some problems on ResNet that appear to be related to a problem we mentioned back in December.  A small number of machines seem to be getting their DNS Server settings hijacked, resulting in loss of internet connection.  In a majority of cases the problem will simply go away if you reboot your computer!  We are doing everything we can to stop this problem occurring in the first place but this problem is very hard to combat with our current infrastructure.

If you are experiencing problems after several hours then please call the helpdesk on internal 89001

Following the scheduled electrical testing at Chantry Court earlier today, ResNet isn’t working for up to 80 people at Chantry Court on floors 6-8. Those on other floors are working OK.

We’ve already been out to Chantry Court to try to fix it but weren’t successful. It looks as if part of our equipment has broken and we need to swap it for a replacement. We’re very sorry about the problem and are working to get it fixed as soon as possible, but unfortunately that won’t be until tomorrow morning (Tuesday 16th).

Update: Tuesday 16th, 09:50am
We have successfully installed a replacement switch, and service has been restored to Chantry Court.  We apologise for the inconvenience caused by this outage.

We’ve just been informed that there is some electrical testing scheduled for Monday 16th March, 10am-2pm at Chantry Court.  The ResNet networking equipment will be powered off during this time, and so ResNet will be unavailable at Chantry Court.

This work will only effect customers at Chantry Court.

The four routers that power the majority of ResNet are getting upgraded this Thursday (12th) and next Thursday (19th). There should only be very brief  (under 1 minute) outages as most of the equipment is rebooted. Areas of Clifton and Stoke Bishop will notice longer outages (up to 3 minutes).

All of the work is due to happen between 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM on both mornings.

Due to unforeseen implications of this upgrade we have decided to postpone until outside of term-time.

Over the weekend, two of the network devices that feed approximately 40 rooms in The Hawthorns developed a fault, and we lost network connectivity there early on Friday evening. Connectivity was restored first thing Monday morning.

We’re very sorry for the interuption over the weekend, and the obvious inconvenience caused to students in the affected area. Although we have 24/7 help desk support we don’t have out of hours technical cover on the ground. When problems occur over the weekend they take much longer to resolve.

Update: Tuesday
It looks like the problem reoccurred late last night/early this morning.  We have brought the network back online, and are currently investigating the issue with a fine tooth comb to determine the cause of the fault.

Update: Thursday
It looks like we had another outage in the early hours of the morning, it’s back up again now.  We’re closing in on the cause of the problem, it looks like it might be related to the interconnect between two of the switches in that cabinet.  We’re still keeping an eye on things.

Update: Friday
It looks as though the changes we made yesterday have worked, and at the time of writing (5pm) the switches are remaining stable.  With a bit of luck they’ll last the weekend!

Update: Wednesday
The switches concerned have been stable since Thursday last week, so we’re going to declare this one resolved.  Phew!

We will update this post when we have more information.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, one of our database servers encountered a problem and stopped accepting connections.  This meant that the My ResNet and Registration systems were unavailable, and in some cases were displaying unhelpful error messages.

The database team sprang into action on Monday morning and fixed the problem, and everything is back up and working now.  Sorry for any confusion/concern that this caused!

Information Services are carrying out some essential systems maintenance on the 7th Feb 2009, 08:00-14:00 which affects the following ResNet systems:

  • My ResNet
  • ResNet in-room Registration System
  • ResNet Helpdesk troubleshooting tools (including those used by the out of hours helpdesk)
  • ResNet Network Monitoring system (the traffic lights on the ResNet home page)

All fully registered ResNet connections will continue to function normally throughout this maintenance period, so most people won’t notice anything.

There are several other University systems which are also affected by this maintenance, for more details see the IS News website: http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2009/systemsmaintenance26jan.html

10.20am Monday 2nd February: ResNet is currently unavailable in one wing of Unite House & a few rooms of the Hawthorns. This is due to power problems over the weekend – some of the ResNet equipment didn’t come back properly when power was restored. We’re sending people out to Unite House & The Hawthorns now to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Update 11.10am: ResNet is now back on in all parts of Unite House & The Hawthorns.

We’re very sorry for the interuption over the weekend, and the obvious inconvenience caused to students in the affected areas. Although we have 24/7 help desk support we don’t have out of hours technical cover on the ground. When problems occur over the weekend they take much longer to resolve.

Are you a resident at Langford using ResNet? If so you probably need to renew your subscription for this term. Most ResNet subscriptions at Langford expire Tuesday 20th January. To check when your subscription expires you see www.resnet.bristol.ac.uk/myresnet

As Langford is many miles from the main university precinct we’ve made it easier for students at Langford to pay. Please see Sandra Sweeting at Langford during her office hours, 8am-2pm Monday-Friday. Sandra has application forms for you to fill in and can take payment by cash.The cost varies depending on which ResNet package you want and how long you are staying. The most popular options are £22 for one term or £44 for two terms.

In addition if you prefer you can also print out an application form and post it to us with a cheque, or pay at the Computer
Centre by cheque cash or card.

These are temporary arrangements – later in the year we will be introducing a new ResNet online payments system for use at Langford and elsewhere.

Microsoft have released a beta (preview) version of Windows 7, the replacement for Windows Vista. We’ve already had a few queries from students wanting to use it on ResNet. For the moment, please do not install Windows 7 on your computer and connect it to ResNet. It won’t work (the ResNet security checker won’t pass it). This beta version is not intended to be a primary operating system for everyday use. Essential updates and security fixes aren’t released or are released late for Windows 7.

We will of course be supporting Windows 7 when it is released but there is no release date for it as yet. For now if you have a real need to install Windows 7 there are other options, such as installing it on a virtual machine instead of as your main system.

We have just lost all connectivity in Unite House. This is because of a complete power outage affecting all of Unite House. Western power are aware of the problem and are working on a fix.

Power was restored at around 10:43am

2008-12-08: 16:23
We’re currently experiencing a malware outbreak on ResNet.  There are a handful of computers which seem to be infected (possibly with a variant of DNSChanger) which are acting as a fake DHCP servers.  These are handing out the wrong IP addresses to other computers on ResNet. We believe the issue to be similar to the one recently reported on isc.sans.org

We’re actively investigating the issue, and trying to find a way to identify the computers involved so that we can take them off the network.

The malware appears to be most active at Hiatt Baker at the moment, although we have seen related activity from other residences as well.

We will update this post as and when we have more information.

Update 17:40:

We’re not yet certain but we think this is a variation of a Trojan known as DNSChanger, Trojan.Flush.M, from a family of malware called Puper/Zlob. It tries to redirect traffic to fake sites in order to steal your information. We’ve now seen this problem in several different residences. More technical information about this particular trojan is available at TheRegister, McAfee Avert Labs blogand Symantec

There are three ways in which this may cause a problem for you:

  • Your computer may be infected by the trojan, and actively trying to infect others. Your computer is effectively under remote control of someone else. You may notice problems, or may notice nothing at all.
  • Your computer may be clean, but an infected computer on the same network segment acting as a rogue DHCP server may have sent your computer incorrect configuration information. This causes your Internet traffic to be misdirected to fake web sitesin an attempt to steal your passwords and credit card numbers. Your connection may stop working completely.
  • Your computer may be clean and with the correct configuration, but a misconfigured computer on the same network segment has been given the same IP address as yours. This may cause a message from Windows warning about an IP Address Conflict, and your connection may not work or may only work intermittently.

If your computer is infected then the file %Windir%\inf\ndisprot.inf will exist, and a Windows Service called “ArcNet NDIS Protocol Driver” will be running (NB: this is also running legitimately on some computers, but this is rare, so if you see it it is likely that your are infected).

What you need to do: check if you are infected

Press Control+Alt+Delete, Choose Start Task Manager, click the Services tab, click Name to sort the services alphabetically, then look for ArcNet NDIS Protocol Driver in the list.

If you find it then disconnect your computer from the network immediately (unplug the cable or disable the wireless connection). Please contact the Help Desk for further advice, and tell them your computer probably has the DNSChanger Trojan.

What you need to do: if having problems with Internet access

Click Start, (then Run in Windows XP), then type cmd in the box. Type
ipconfig /all
at the command prompt. Look for all occurrences of DNS Servers (you may need to scroll back up to see them all). The DNS Servers should start with 137.222. if any DNS servers start 85. then your computer has been configured to use a rogue DNS Server in an attempt to redirect your traffic.

Your computer may or may not be infected by the trojan itself, but another computer on the same network segment is. Be suspicious as sites may not be what they appear to be, and don’t enter any passwords or credit card numbers into websites.

Shut down and restart your computer – this may help you obtain the correct configuration from the network. Check ipconfig for the DNS Servers again. If the DNS Servers no longer start with 85. and start 137.222 then you are OK for now. If they don’t, then disconnect your computer from the network and try again a few hours later.

What you need to do: If you receive a message about an IP address conflict

Go to MyResNet www.resnet.bristol.ac.uk/myresnet and choose the option to troubleshoot your account. Under connection information, check to see what your currently assigned IP address is. It should start 137.222. Use ipconfig /all at the command prompt (see above) to find out what your IP address or IPv4 address is. If the address is the same then your computer has the correct IP address, but another computer on the same network segment is incorrectly using yours. Disconnect from the network and try again a few hours later.

If the address is completely different and starts 172, don’t worry – these 172 addresses are legitimately assigned at times (for example when first registering for ResNet or if you exceed the fair usage policy).

Update (by Mark): 12/12/2008 @ 16:00

On Monday afternoon blocks were introduced to all external DNS servers on all ResNet networks. This seems to have controlled the outbreak but affected users are unable to access any web sites. We have seen several machines that were affected, discovering DNSChanger rootkits, although we don’t believe that these machines were the root cause of the problem -they are just innocent victims. The only option for affected/infected machines is to rebuild them back to manufacturer defaults.

This malware is particularly difficult to detect unless we have physical access to the affected network segment. We have placed a monitoring system on the most recently infected network segment (Hiatt Baker Hall) in the hope that the problem machine(s) reappear. As we are now on the last day of term it is probable that we won’t see this problem any time soon. It is quite likely that re-registration will be required a the beginning of next term because we can modify the ResNet Security Checker to detect statically configured DNS servers, this being indicative of an infected machine.

Any machines that are currently not working on ResNet are likely to appear fine once connected to your ISP at home (because you won’t have the restrictions that we’ve put in place on ResNet). If you have been infected then you will have a DNS server in the 85 range (see above for details of how to check). If you do have this DNS server range then you cannot trust any site you visit, especially any site that requires personal information such as usernames and passwords. The only current option is to reinstall your operating system.

On Sunday 2nd November, between about noon and midnight, University connections to external sites experienced high latency and packet loss, see graph. We are currently investigating the issue but believe it to be a problem with the JaNet external link and not local to the University.

When more information becomes available we’ll let you know.

Microsoft yesterday released an extremely urgent update for Windows.

Normally the most reliable way to get updates from Microsoft is to use the Automatic Updates feature in Windows which will install updates for you. On this occasion however we strongly encourage everyone on ResNet to go to the Microsoft Update website or open Control Panel, Security Centre and check for updates. Install all critical or important updates. Do this now, rather than waiting for automatic updates.

This particular update is unusual: it is for a particularly nasty security problem. Any Windows system with File & Printer sharing switched on is vulnerable, and criminals are already using this problem to attack computers.

One of our ResNet DNS servers has developed a disk fault.

The majority of ResNet users will not be effected, as our other DNS server is ticking along nicely – however some users will notice that web usage feels a little unresponsive as their computer tries the dead server before failing over to the live one.

We swapped out the disk this morning at about 10am, in what should have been a transparent procedure with no expected downtime.  Things don’t appear to have gone to plan, and the service is taking longer than expected to restore (as we’ve had to take the server offline while it re-synchronises its disks)

I’ll update this post when we’re back in business.

Update: 12:31
The disks are still syncing – but thanks to some fancy footwork, we’ve managed to move the DNS service over on to a backup machine, so we’ve got two DNS servers again.

Update: Friday 24th Oct – 11:09
Normal service has been resumed – thanks to a significant amount of mucking about with disks, a long and tedious synchronisation process, and an issue with the disk controller drivers.  I do have some more minor work to do to this server to tidy things up – but it’s currently stable so I’ll leave it alone for the weekend.

In order to help prevent a repeat of the ResNet disruption on 20th October, anyone connecting to ResNet with Windows Vista must now have Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed. If you have Windows Vista the online registration process and security checker now check for SP1 and won’t proceed without it.

You need to go through the registration process when connecting for the first time, changing computer, changing room, or at periods during the year.

If when registering you get a message that the code entered is invalid, this is probably because you are using an old version of the security checker. Go through the registration process again and make sure you download and run a new copy of the security checker.

A good way to make sure you are getting the latest version of the checker and not one cached by your browser is:

  1. click the right-hand mouse button on the security checker link,
  2. choose Save Link As/Save Target As,
  3. Type in a new name for the security checker file.
  4. Download and run that new version from the desktop or other destination

We strongly encourage all ResNet users with Vista to install Service Pack 1, even if they aren’t re-registering at this time. The easiest way to do this is to go to Control Panel, Security Centre, WindowsUpdate and install all important and critical updates.

On Monday night between about 7pm and 10pm there are widespread reports of intermittent access to websites. Looking at our traffic graphs sees a significant decrease in traffic. We are currently investigating the cause of this problem and will report back as soon as more information is available.

Update 11.20am Tuesday 21st October: Apologies for the interruption to ResNet last night. We’ve investigated the incident and discovered what happened. Please read on to help us stop it happening again.

A pair of computers connected to ResNet caused a storm of requests to our name servers. Each computer sent thousands of requests every second. This overloaded our two name servers so they couldn’t process anything else. The name servers (DNS servers) are used to look up where to find an Internet server – so without DNS you can’t access anything on the Internet. We are doing everything we can to reduce the impact, but to really solve the problem we need to prevent it at source.

This storm is caused by a bug in the original version of Windows Vista. Any computer with the original version of Windows Vista can cause this, but upgrading to Windows Vista Service Pack 1 fixes the problem. Windows XP & Apple Mac computers don’t have the problem either. To make sure this doesn’t happen again we need everyone on ResNet to check their Windows version, and then install Windows Vista Service Pack 1 if they need it.

  1. Click the Start button
  2. In the Start Search box, type winver and click OK (if you can’t see Start Search, click Run and type winver in there instead).
  3. Look at the version number:
    • If it says Version 5.1 you have Windows XP and don’t need to do anything.
    • If it says Version 6.0  (Build 6001, Service Pack 1) you already have Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and don’t need to do anything.
    • If it says Version 6.0 (Build 6000) you have Windows Vista original and must install Service Pack 1. To do this click Start, Control Panel. Under Security, click Check for Updates. Click to install all important or critical updates. These include Service Pack 1.

For people interested in the technical details of this problem, please see Windows Vista DNS flooding.

Freshers.TV is a new TV channel just launched on ResNet, and running for the next two weeks. It is available

  • on Freewire channel 106 (Windows clients only)
  • on demand at http://www.freshers.tv
  • or in VLC via udp://@233.3.18.74:5000

Programmes on Freshers.TV are produced by students at universities around the UK as part of the National Student Television Association (NaSTA).

There’s a movement to launch a Bristol Student TV station too – so watch this space or get involved!

  • Slow, unwell computer?
  • Can’t connect to the Internet?
  • Computer viruses or spyware?

What is the laptop clinic?
At the Student Laptop Clinic we’ll look at your laptop while you wait and help get it working better for you. The laptop clinic is a new service for students at Bristol. We are trialling it this year with generous funding from the Alumni Fund. The people working on the clinic are a combination of other Bristol students and IT support staff.

Where are the clinics?
The Hawthorns Student Refectory – entrance on Woodland Road

When?

Starts Tuesday 7th October 2008, then every weekday 2pm-5pm until further notice.

What should I bring?
Please bring your laptop and power supply. If any Windows or recovery CDs were supplied with your computer please bring them too.

How does the clinic work?
On a first come first served basis. You must stay at the clinic with your laptop.

Who can use the clinics?
All University of Bristol students.

What can you fix?
We’ll look at both Windows & Mac laptops. We can only help with software and configuration problems. We can’t solve every problem, but are happy to look and see what we can do. If we don’t fix it we can also provide advice on what to do next, information to help you fix the problem yourself or suggestions about who else you can contact.

What other help is available?

Don’t forget that you can get help at other times by phoning the IT Help Desk (87870 internal, 0117 92 87870) or ResNet start of term hotline (89001 internal, 0117 92 89001) That’s the first call for help, but for more detailed problems where we need to see the computer you might want to try the laptop clinic.

According to our monitoring system, the ResNet service to 23 rooms at Wills Hall Z Block hasn’t been working since 4.20pm today (Monday).

When this happens it is normally due to a temporary power failure in the affected area – but it has been some time now and there still appears to be a problem, so it probably isn’t just power. Sorry for the interruption to service. We’ll investigate as soon as possible on Tuesday when staff are back in.

Updated 11.35pm Tuesday 7th Oct: ResNet in Wills Hall Z Block is now back up and running

Updated 6.15pm Friday 10th Oct: This failed again overnight on Thursday 9th Oct. The cause on both occasions this week is the power supply tripping out. This power supply is on a shared circuit with some of the rooms on the top floor of Z Block – students in these rooms lost power to their room too. ResNet access was restored when the power was restored.

The usual cause for a circuit to trip out is that it is overloaded, but we don’t know precisely why it is happening in this case.

We discovered a misconfigured setting on the network equipment at Hillside/Woodside this morning. This was responsible for slow speeds and some packet loss over the last week. Sorry about the problem.

The good news is that we’ve fixed this misconfiguration. First reports from residents suggest that the speed is far faster than before.

Background for anyone interested: this year we’ve provided ResNet at Hillside/Woodside for the first time. A dedicated 10 Mbit link replaces the 2Mbit ADSL service which was there before. The new link is provided using a combination of fibre through a new trench and a wireless link across the gorge. This connection is not the fastest on ResNet, but it’s not the slowest either (and Hillside/Woodside has a relatively small number of residents). This connection went in just in the nick of time before the start of term so we didn’t have much time to test it thoroughly, that’s probably why we didn’t find the problem earlier – sorry about that.

It’s the end of Freshers Week – it’s been a busy week but we’re delighted that most new students have such successfully connected to ResNet. If you haven’t been able to connect up yet, the best advice is to first give us a ring so we can help you out over the phone. It is now much easier to get through than it was earlier in the week. The out of hours team are on over the weekend, and the ResNet team back answering calls from Monday.

If you prefer to do things yourself, our tech support people have assembled a list of the most common problems and fixes we’ve seen on the Help Desk. Most ResNet users won’t come across these, but if you are having problems and have some technical knowledge this information will help. If you don’t, don’t worry – give us a ring from your room and we’ll help you out that way.

Starting today we have contractors pulling new fibre cable along our trench which provides ResNet access to the six halls of residence in Stoke Bishop (Hiatt Baker, UH, Durdham, Wills, Churchill & Badock). We’re doing this now because we’ve discovered some damage to the current fibre, and we want to get the problem fixed now (when there are very few people in residence) before the start of term.

The trench isn’t is good condition, and there is some risk that in the process of pulling new fibre the existing fibre could be broken. If so this could interrupt ResNet, phones, and/or the halls admin network for the six residences. If this does happen the contractors have equipment on standby to repair it (this could take a few hours).

In short – it is unlikely that anyone will notice this maintenance work. With a bit of luck we won’t get any breaks. Just consider the network for those six residences ‘at risk’ for the moment.

It looks like the University single-signon system isn’t working at the moment. I’m told that people are looking into it, but as far as I can tell it’s a certificate problem.

This means that the following ResNet services are unavailable as there is no way to log in at present.

  • My ResNet
  • The in room registration system
  • All our administration tools

I’ll update this post when the problem has been resolved.

Update: 2008-08-19 – 16:47
Problem is now resolved.  I don’t have many details as yet, but access to all the above tools has been restored.

There is some central database maintenance going on today, which means the following ResNet services are unavailable:

If your ResNet connection is working, it will continue to work unaffected. If you need to register your connection, move rooms, or connect a new computer to ResNet, you’ll need to wait until later this evening.

Other systems around the university may be affected by this maintenance period. For more information, see http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2008/datahavenaugust4.html

Update: 2008-08-14 10:43
It seems that there were problems encountered during the upgrade which meant it took longer than expected.  Normal service was resumed at about 10am today (Thursday) and after a few minor wobbles we appear to be back in business.

It would seem that just after I left the office on Friday, the server which hosts both the registration process and the My ResNet service fell over. The out of hours helpdesk have probably noticed this, as it also hosts the system which they use to look at the health of peoples ResNet connections when they call up!

We don’t have access to the machine room on weekends, and I’m unable to reboot the server remotely as we’ve upgraded part of the equipment that does that – and my crib sheet of instructions is out of date! The staff that have the required knowledge to update my crib sheet aren’t available…

So it’ll have to wait until first thing Monday morning. I should be in the office around 8:30am on Monday, and I’ll reboot it first thing.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused by this outage.

Update: 2008-06-30
The server was rebooted at about 8am this morning.  Normal service has been resumed.

Several ResNet subscribers at Unite House reported problems on Thursday evening and Friday morning. We’re sorry for the interruption. ResNet at Unite House is now working fine, but here is an explanation for those interested.

The problems were caused by one ResNet user at Unite House setting up their computer or router so that it acted as a DHCP server- handing out incorrect network information to other users on the network. The other connections then stopped working, or worked intermittently, as they didn’t have the right settings.

We’re happy for ResNet users to use Internet Connection Sharing or a (non-wireless) router to share their connection between more than one computer (in their own room and for their own use) – but please be careful if you do this that you’ve got it set up right.

With a router make sure you plug the WAN (Wide Area Network) port into your ResNet socket, and the LAN (Local Area Network) ports to your own computers. If you do it the other way round you might cause problems for everyone else in your network segment – which won’t make you very popular with your flatmates and other residents 🙂

This is a clarification of the information posted in the previous post – Problems with ResNet at Woodland Court & Deans Court dealing specifically with the situation at Deans Court.

Over the last few days, it would appear that there have been several short outages affecting a large number of people living in Deans Court. We are actively investigating the problem, and it’s not a simple one!

The outages tend to last a couple of minutes, and there is no discernible pattern to them. They are spread over several network devices and affect several flats in different parts of the building. They don’t seem to effect all people at the same time but are more random in nature.

We think we’ve tracked it down to some faulty software on two student computers at Deans Court, which is disrupting Internet access for the other residents by grabbing additional IP addresses. We are contacting these two students and have isolated their computers on the network.

However, at this stage we can’t be certain that we’ve identified all of the machines responsible – we will update this blog post with more details as we learn more about the situation.

Update – 2008-06-02 14:11
We have identified a few more computers which are causing problems and have removed them from the network, the situation should be a little better now, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We are continuing to work on the problem and will update this post when we have more information.

Update – 2008-06-03 09:51
We’ve identified another couple of computers which are causing problems and have removed them from the network. At this stage, we think it’s an virus outbreak. It looks like something pretty new as none of the virus scanners we’ve tried are picking it up – we’re working hard to identify how it spreads and attempting to isolate a sample that we can submit to McAfee for analysis.

How can you protect yourself?
Our best advice at the moment is to ensure your computer is up to date with windows patches, antivirus and that you’re running the latest versions of common software. As ever, be cautious on the internet, and don’t click on any links in emails or instant messenger sessions that you weren’t expecting.

Update – 2008-06-03 – 16:46
The latest on this is that we’ve identified and disconnected 9 computers so far. We have been in touch with those who own the computers concerned and are working with them to clean the computers up before we allow them back on the network.

As far as we know, the network at Deans Court is now stable (if you know different, please let us know!) – although we are monitoring the situation and disconnecting computers as and when we spot them.

Update – 2008-06-20 – 15:22
It’s back.  The problems appear to have started slightly before 15:00 today, we were notified via a call to the helpdesk and within 15 minutes had identified the machine that was causing problems.  We have disconnected that machine and are in the process of contacting the customer concerned.

Unfortunately, the weekend is approaching and we’re unable to be quite as responsive as we would be during the week – although we will do our best to keep an eye on it.

Clarification (11:45am 2008-06-02):
The following blog post is unclear, the problems at Deans Court should be considered ongoing, the problems at Woodland Court are resolved. The two are unrelated. To make the distinction clearer, there will be a new post about Deans Court along in a minute.

(updated 10.30am)

The ResNet service at Woodland Court was not working over the weekend. The cause was a local power failure to the comms room at Woodland Court, which affected both the telephones and ResNet service. ResNet was restored at 9.30am Monday 2nd June by re-routing the network equipment to an alternative power supply.

We have also received several reports that the ResNet service at Deans Court has been not been operating properly over the weekend with breaks in the service for some residents. Our network monitoring shows that the service is working to all areas at Deans Court, however some individual users are still reporting problems. Our initial investigations suggest that faulty software on two student computers at Deans Court is disrupting Internet access for the other residents by grabbing additional IP addresses. We are contacting these two students and isolating their computers on the network to resolve the problem.

We would like to apologise for the obvious inconvenience and problems caused by a break in service, especially one during the examination season. When a fault occurs over the weekend it will generally take much longer to resolve it, as we do not have 24/7 cover for ResNet (providing this would make the ResNet subscription charge significantly more expensive). Despite the lack of formal cover some attempts were made over the weekend to resolve the problem, but the fault was not fixed until more people and resources were available on Monday.

What do you think of ResNet? Please complete the 2008 ResNet subscriber survey and let us know. Our annual survey is very important in planning improvements to ResNet.

There is a prize draw of all completed surveys. Top prize in the draw is an iPod nano. There are also runner up prizes of an iPod shuffle and 3 lots of £10 IS print credits. The survey and prize draw are open to everyone currently using the ResNet service at Bristol.

The survey is open to all current ResNet subscribers. The survey is available now, and remains open until Sunday 25th of June 2008. It should only take about 10 minutes to complete. Go to this web page to enter:
http://survey.bris.ac.uk/is/resnet2008

Thanks,

The ResNet team.

We’ve just been informed by freewire that they will be doing some maintenance on the TV service this Wednesday, it shouldn’t cause any problems but we thought we’d warn you all just incase. details as follows:

Maintenance Details
This work has been scheduled so that Inuk Networks can upgrade the User Interface component of the IPTV platform. This improvement will enable future VoD menu features to the Freewire Television service.

Whilst we believe that this work will be completed within the specified times, we feel it prudent to make customers aware that this work is planned.

We do not expect there to be any interruption in your Freewire services.

Maintenance Schedule
Maintenance Start: 10.00 on Wednesday 14th May 2008
Maintenance End: 11.00 on Wednesday 14th May 2008
Maintenance Window: 1 hour
Planned Downtime: No impact.

Student Laptop Clinics on Fridays

The Student Laptop Clinics before Easter were very popular and we are running them again this term. Due to a lack of space clinics this term are on Friday afternoons only; however we will have lots of staff available to help. We can’t fix all problems but will help as much as we can. Clinics are free of charge.

Clinics will be held in room TRF on the first floor of the Computer Centre from 2pm to 5pm starting Friday 25th April.

Pay for print credits online

You can now add credit to your printer account by making an online payment. See the “File & Print” tab in MyBristol http://portal.bris.ac.uk or go to http://www.bristol.ac.uk/online-payments/

Student IT Skills training

Information Services are offering the following training courses for students over the next feww weeks:

  • Preparing images using Photoshop – Thursday 1 May 14.00 – 17.00
  • Basic Web Authoring – Thursday 8 and 15 May (2-part) 14.00 – 17.00
  • Further Web Design: Cascading Style Sheets – Thursday 1 May 14.00 – 17.00

Courses are free. To book a place go to http://www.bristol.ac.uk/studentskills/cobs/

Please note that sessions may be filmed for inclusion in a Student Skills online video.

Welcome back to students returning to Bristol today for the start of the summer term.

Unfortunately at time of writing there is currently no ResNet service in two areas. This is affecting up to 40 ResNet subscribers in total.

  • 121 Redland Road: there has been no ResNet service to the 16 rooms in this student house since 13:20 Sunday 20/04/08
  • Deans Court: there has been no ResNet service to most of the rooms in flats Flats 32-49 Deans Court since saturday 04:20. ResNet in the rest of Deans Court is working fine.

We don’t know the cause of the two faults yet and are unable to fix them at the weekend. We will investigate it fully and try to fix them as soon as possible on Monday.

We’re very sorry for the interruption and the inconvenience caused to people in those areas.

UPDATE:

These two outages were fixed by 11am 21/04/08.

We have just been informed that building services will be carrying out a series of electrical tests in Goldney Hall over the next 9 days. This may affect small numbers of ResNet users in Goldney as the network equipment is powered down. These types of tests are normaly fairly short, so we do not expect prolonged outages.

It looks as though one of our servers fell over at about 7am yesterday morning. We didn’t notice because we were all away for the bank holiday. Sorry about that.

The services affected include:

There are a number of other services which may have experienced problems, although those appear to have fallen over to backup servers.

We have a mechanism for rebooting servers from offsite, so I’m trying for a reboot now.

Update: Reboot complete, service should now be back to normal.

It seems we’ve been having problems with the ResNet Chat service all day.

It’s been doing some odd things, specifically with server2server chat (eg chatting to your mates on googletalk)

The problems became a little worse this evening and I’ve spent the last three quarters of an hour or so trying to breathe some life back in to the service.

I’m not getting very far.

I’ve managed to get it back to a point where you can connect, and it appears that you can chat to other ResNet chat users – but talking to external users still isn’t working.

I’m going to keep looking into it, but I’m rapidly becoming out of my depth – so I’ll be passing it on to a collegue in the morning.

Sorry for any inconvenience this causes!

Update 2008-03-04: We’ve spent all day looking at it, updating certificates, restarting this, fiddling with that – and it’s still broken. We’re going to try a cold reboot of the server tomorrow morning to see if that helps, but as far as we can tell it *should* be working. I will update again tomorrow morning.

One of the Universities central database servers will be unavailable between 8am and 10am on Thursday 6th March 2008.

What does this mean for ResNet? Most people won’t notice, it should have no impact on existing registered connections at all. However, the following services will be unavailable:

  • Registration System. This will be unavailable to new customers. Existing customers should be ok.
  • We don’t think that My ResNet will be affected, but it may be in some cases.
  • We will be unable to sell subscriptions during the maintenance period.

Some other university systems will be unavailable as well. For more information, see http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2008/datahub6mar.html

Information Services is now providing help with ResNet and other IT problems by phone from 8am until 2am, seven days a week. We’ve combined the ResNet Help Desk with the IT Help Desk and extended the help desk hours.

The number to call is 0117 928 7870 or internal 87870 free from your room. The previous number dedicated to ResNet (89001) will also still work and redirects to the same phone line.

The service is also available on bank holidays and days when the University main buildings are closed (except 25 and 26 December, and 1 January).

See IT Helpline now available 18 hours a day for more information.

You may have noticed in the Network Usage section of My ResNet that for the last two weeks we have defined a weekly allowance at off-peak times as well as the usual on-peak allowance. From monday 11th February we are now enforcing this limit.

What are the limits?
The limits are now 35GB off-peak (midnight to 6pm) and 5GB on-peak (6pm to midnight). If either of these limits is exceeded then your connection will be restricted.

The off-peak restriction works in exactly the same way as the on-peak restriction by moving your connection to a different network segment with other high traffic users. Your connection will be limited to web and email for the remainder of the week. You will get the usual warning email at 80% of allowance so you don’t have to keep too keen an eye on your MyResNet page.

Will this affect me?

It is highly unlikely that you will be affected by this revised policy. In the last 2 weeks only 19 users (0.4% of ResNet) exceeded the 35GB limit with 5 of those (0.1%) exceeding it both weeks. It is not something for most people on ResNet to worry about. We’ve only introduced it because a very small number of people on ResNet were using an extremely large amount of the capacity.

More information

To check your usage see My ResNet. For more information see the Fair Usage Policy or information about how to control your network usage. If you have any further questions or you wish to comment on this change then please email us at resnet-help@bristol.ac.uk

We are planning to upgrade to software running on our primary router early on Tuesday morning. This is to solve a few issues we are having with the current software.

As the router has a redundant pair there should only be two very short outages (< 1 minute).

The database server which runs various chunks of ResNet will be unavailable on saturday morning for about 2 hours due to some essential systems maintenance.

Customers with existing connections will be unaffected – your connection will continue to function as normal

The maintenance will affect the following parts of ResNet

  • The in-room registration system for new customers will be unavailable
  • The My ResNet system will be unavailable
  • The slink url shortening service will be unavailable
  • All our back-end administration tools will be unavailable, but you’re unlikely to notice that anyway 🙂

Various other university services will be unavailable during the maintenance period, see the following IS News article for more details.

http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2008/maint9feb.html

This is the first part of a news story from the BBC.  Full story on the link at the bottom.

Severed cables disrupt Internet

Internet services have been disrupted in large parts of the Middle East and India following damage to two undersea cables in the Mediterranean.

There was disruption to 70% of the nationwide network in Egypt, and India suffered up to 60% disruption.

UK firms such as British Airways have told the BBC that call centres have been affected by the outage.

Industry experts said it could take up to one week to repair the damaged cables and resume full service.

International telephone calls, which have also been affected, are being rerouted to work around the problem.

Full story…

Manor house will be down for a short while as building services are conducting some type of electrical testing.

We expect the work to be completed in a couple of hours.

The work was finished by around 10:30.

One of the Universities central database servers will be unavailable between 8am and 9am on Thursday 24th Jan for some essential systems maintenance.

This will mean that the following ResNet services will be unavailable:

  • The in-room registration service for new users
  • Some parts of My ResNet may also be unavailable

All existing ResNet connections should continue to work uninterrupted and most customers won’t notice anything.
There are a handful of other University services which will also be unavailable during the maintenance period. For more details, please see the IS News website: http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2008/datahub24jan.html

Dear ResNet subscriber,

This is one in the occasional series of ResNet newsletters sent to all subscribers.

Get your computer up to date

Welcome back to Bristol if you’ve been away for the Christmas vacation. Now you are back this is a great time to check your computer has all the essential security updates for Windows. To check and install updates go to Microsoft Update http://www.update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/ or open Control Panel, Security Center.

It is essential you stay up to date: if not you put your computer and others on ResNet at risk. To protect other people we may suspend your ResNet connection if your computer is not up to date (but we’d give you a warning about that first).

For more advice on computer security see Protect your computer, your data, and yourself: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/security/

Changes to fair usage allowance

During the vacation we temporarily increased the weekly peak time fair usage allowance from 5GB to 10GB, as the network was very quiet. Now term has started again we’ve returned to our normal limit of 5GB a week, peak time (6pm-12 midnight).

Extended ResNet Help Desk opening hours

As it’s busy at the start of term we’ve extended the ResNet Help Desk opening hours. For the next two weeks if you need help with ResNet you can now ring us on 89001 internal, 2pm-8pm weekdays.

Free software for students

As a student at Bristol there is lots of free or very cheap software available for you. For example you can:

  • Download McAfee Anti-Virus from the University free of charge,
  • Buy, rent or get free (some departments only) student copies of Microsoft Office,
  • Get free Desktop Publishing software from Serif,
  • Get free Autodesk CAD software.

To download free software or find out more about student discounts see software for home users: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/software/

As it’s the start of term we’ve extended the ResNet Help Desk opening hours.

For this week and next week (Monday 14th Jan to Friday 25th Jan) the ResNet Help Desk will be open for phone calls from 2pm-8pm, Mon-Fri, and for visitors 10am-1pm and 2pm-5.15pm Mon-Fri.

If you’d like to pay for ResNet please visit us at the Computer Centre, and if you have any problems please give us a ring on 89001 internal.

We’re currently having some problems with our live status monitoring system, which appears to be caused by some high network latency on a section of the ResNet network.

This is causing the network monitoring software to report most of the ResNet network as unavailable, when in reality it is available, it’s just slower than the monitoring software can cope with.

As far as we can tell, actual end user ResNet connections appear to be working as normal.

We’re investigating the problem and will update this blog post as and when we have more information.

Update: I’ve tweaked the monitoring system so it’s less sensitive, and it’s now reporting status correctly.  We are still investigating the cause of the latency though.  This is a particularly busy time of day on the ResNet network though, so if you are experiencing any latency problems, you may find that they resolve themselves after 6pm

We have had quite a few reports that some / all sites in China are running really slowly or not at all.

This is not a ResNet, University, JaNet or UK problem.

chinalatency

 

Above (click to make bigger) is a graph of latency (ms) and packet loss (colour) to jupiter.sina.com.cn we are currently seeing a 550ms ping time and 95% packet loss. This is not good. The packet loss is generally happening in the link between USA and China – and obviously we have no control over that!

This page will be updated when we have more info.

Update Tuesday @ 8am

Below is the new latency graph. It shows that there are still problems, again totally out of our control – sorry.
China Latency 2

Update Thrusday @ 11am

It seems that the packet loss today has dropped below 25% which is much better than the 95% we have been seeing. Sites are loading much more reliably now

china3.bmp

My ResNet upgraded

We’ve just upgraded My ResNet to a newer, faster, prettier version. With My ResNet you can check your network usage (now with graphs), move your connection to another room, connect a different computer to your socket, and lots more.
Go to My ResNet http://www.resnet.bristol.ac.uk/myresnet to try it.

We’d love to hear from you if you have any ideas for improvements to My ResNet. What information would you like, or what tools would be useful? Please comment on our blog http://www.bristolresnet.net/2007/11/19/

Student Skills

Have you seen the new Student Skills website? There you will find ways to enhance your study skills, including IT Skills. Visit Student Skills http://www.bris.ac.uk/studentskills/ to see the many learning opportunities provided free of charge by the Students’ Union, Careers Service, Information Services and others.

Back up your data

Imagine spilling a pint of beer over your laptop, perhaps destroying the hard disk in the process. What would you do if your 10,000 word dissertation was due in the following day, or you lost your entire collection of digital photos? There is no need for this to happen: make backup copies of your data to keep it safe. Backing up is easy to do. You can store backup copies on a USB pen drive, an external hard disk, on recordable CDs/DVDs, or elsewhere on the network/Internet.
For more advice on backups, see Backing up your data http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/security/protectcomp/owncomp/backup.html

Regards,

Nick Skelton, ResNet Manager, & the ResNet team.

There seems to be something funny going on with our blog templates, I’m investigating – so the styling of this page may change without warning as I try to debug the problem…

Update: All done, everything should be back to normal.

We’ve just heard from FreewireTV that they will be doing some electrical work on one of the power feeds to their data centre on Saturday morning, between 10:30am and 12:30.

There should be no interruption to the ResNet TV service during this period, but we thought we should give you all a heads up incase something goes wrong.

One of the Universities central database servers will be unavailable on Saturday 27th Oct for some essential systems maintenance.  This will mean that the following ResNet services will be unavailable:

All existing ResNet connections should continue to work uninterrupted and most customers won’t notice anything.

There are a number of other University services which will also be unavailable during the maintenance period.  For more details, please see the IS News website: http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2007/maint27oct.html

At about 3am earlier today ResNet stopped working in 11 rooms at Woodland Court. Affected are all rooms in Flat 18, all rooms in Flat 18, and room 17E.

Our switch providing the ResNet service to these rooms stopped working at about 3am on Fri 5th Oct. We replaced it with a completely new switch at about 11.30am the same day, and restored the service.

Unfortunately the new switch then stopped working at about 12.40pm. We replaced that switch to at about 5pm.

The Freewire IPTV service will be unavailable for most of tomorrow (Thursday 6th Sept). Apologies for the late notice on this, we’ve only just been informed by INUK, the service provider. The maintenance bulletin we’ve been sent is below:

Please be informed that essential maintenance has been scheduled on the Freewire Television service infrastructure on Thursday 6th September from 10.30am. This maintenance has been scheduled to migrate the live IPTV head-end to the new Freewire platform.

There is a planned downtime to the service as a result of this scheduled maintenance.

Whilst we believe that this work will be completed within the specified times, we nonetheless feel it prudent to make customers aware that this work is planned.

Maintenance Start: 10.30 on Thursday 6th September 2007

Maintenance End: 22.30 on Thursday 6th September 2007

Maintenance Window: 12 hours

Planned Downtime: 12 hours

UPDATE: Friday 7th Sept. We’ve been informed that maintenance will carry on until 1pm today (Friday). Sorry for this further delay.

UPDATE: Tuesday 11th Sept. We’ve been informed that the service from FreeWire is back up but we are having difficluties receiving the new streams. Our FreeWire techie will be looking at this tomorrow when he returns from holiday.

The same problem has reoccurred at Badock Hall as it did a couple of weeks ago.  There will be no  ResNet in Badock until power is restored.

There are some power problems affecting users in Tottenham place. A call has been logged with building services, and hopefuly should be fixed soon.

UPDATE : service was restored by 18:00

The ResNet service to the residences at Langford is currently unavailable. Our router providing the service stopped working at 1.30am on Monday morning. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.

We have a replacement router ready to swap out which will restore the service and are sending someone over to Langford right now to do so.

UPDATE: Service was restored by 12 noon on Monday.

If you are returning to University accommodation early you can get ResNet for the month of September only for the special price of £10. This may be particularly useful for people living at Unite House, where lets run from 1st September.

If you want to do this come in and pay at the ResNet Help Desk. For details see the vacation application form.

The main ResNet service for the 07/08 academic year will launch on Saturday 22nd September.

This week we are upgrading some of the networking equipment serving Unite House, Deans Court, Chantry Court and Winkworth House.

30/08/07 – Deans Court – between 11:00am – 12:00am users may have noticed some downtime as equipment was upgraded.

30/08/07 – Chantry Court – between 15:00pm – 17:00pm users may have noticed some downtime as equipment was upgraded.

I have just been informed that our main comms cabinet at Badock hall has been affected by a power outage. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do until the electricians get the power working again.

So there will be no ResNet anywhere in Badock hall until power is restored.

There is a power cut affecting Winkwork House at the moment. SWEB know about the problem and are working on it..

Obviously this effects resnet in the building, and probably the computers that want to use ResNet.

It’s one of *those* Fridays.

It seems we’ve been having problems inserting data into the main ResNet database.  I’m not sure how long it’s been a problem, but it looks like it may have been a couple of days now.  I’ve cleared the problem now – if you were having problems registering, please try again.

If your connection is fully working, there is no need to take any action.

Most people on ResNet won’t have noticed, but one of our servers dropped off the network at about 7pm last night due to a problem with one of it’s network interfaces. Things that will have been affected include:

  • Registration System
    The server that fell over provides the DNS for the registration network. It’s set up to redirect all requests for web pages to our registration system. Your connection will have fallen over to the secondary DNS, but the secondary isn’t set up in the same way – so your web page requests won’t have been diverted.If you typed in the url for the registration system directly, you will have been able to register OK.
  • Manage My Resnet
    Bandwidth reports for last night won’t have been updated.
  • Network Status Monitoring
    The traffic lights on the ResNet home page which monitor the status of the network won’t have been updated.

Normal service was resumed at 9am this morning which was the first available opportunity for me to have physical access to the server.

One of the central University database servers is being restarted at 8m on Friday 27th July 2007. This is expected to take about half an hour.

This maintenance will cause problems with the following parts of ResNet;

  • Registration system
    New users will not be able to register for the duration of the maintenance period.
  • Manage My ResNet
    Some parts of Manage My ResNet will be unavailable for the duration of the maintenance period.

Existing ResNet connections will remain active, and most users won’t even notice. For more details about other University services which will be affected by this maintenance – see http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2007/stellar27jul.html

We are delighted to announce details of ResNet subscriptions for academic year 2007/08.

We have once again been able to keep the subscription prices at the same level – £55 pounds for three terms (suitable for undergrads), £75 for 12 months (for postgrads) or £20 for one term only.

Most students will receive a ResNet application form with their offer of a place in University accommodation. If you prefer you can also get an application form to print out from our website.

Some of the equipment serving the Langford residences will be switched off tomorrow morning (11/07/07) at around 8am. This is due to an upgrade of the UPS for this equipment. The downtime is expected to be very short (less than 10 minutes).

The IPTV service seems to have gone off air. We’re looking into it, initial investigation seems to suggest it might be a problem with the supplier. Mark is currently on the phone trying to get hold of their technical bods. We’ll update this as and when we have more info.

Update – 17:00: We’ve just had an email from the guys at freewire, it looks like the problem is wider than just Bristol, it’s effecting other universities as well – but they’re working on it.


Please be informed the ‘Freewire’ Infrastructure team are investigating the current network problem and are working with ‘JANET Operations’ to return the TV channels as soon as possible.Sorry for the interruption in service, we will keep you updated.Best regards

Freewire Support


More info as we get it. (Although you’ll probably notice it’s working before we do!)


If you’ve tried Freewire TV you’ll know it’s fixed 😉

I’ve just noticed that one of our servers fell over at 7am this morning. I’m not in Bristol so I can’t go in and switch it back on, and unless one of the other permanent staff happens to be in the area – the following services will be unavailable until Monday morning.

  • In room registration process. New users will not be able to register their connections.
  • Manage My ResNet – You won’t be able to get to this at all, so you won’t be able to see your bandwidth usage (although we’re still counting it!)
  • ResNet software archive (http://download.resnet.bris.ac.uk/pub) will be unavailable
  • The short version of the URL for the ResNet website (http://www.resnet.bristol.ac.uk) won’t work, although the long form will (http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/resnet/)
  • There may be a handful of other services that don’t work as expected, which I’ve forgotten. But it’s Saturday morning and I haven’t had breakfast yet.

All existing ResNet connections should continue to function as normal.

Update: I have just kicked the box back into life – it is back up and all services are running as expected – sorry for any inconvenience caused. Mark.

We have just been informed that Unite House have scheduled work on their power supply today. Therefore Unite House will have no network connectivity for the duration of this work.

I have been told the work is predicted to last from 10am to 3pm.

Last term over 1900 students responded to the Student IT survey. The results and comments from this have been extremely useful. The priorities identified during the survey are being used to help draw up the University IT strategy for the next few years.

We held a random prize draw to award the prizes for completed surveys and have now contacted all the winners. Prizes available were one iPod video, two iPod shuffles, and 12 lots of £15 printer credits.

You can see pictures of the prizes and prize winners or a report of the survey results on the IT Strategy site.
Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey, and congratulations to the winners.

 We’ve written a ‘ResNet review of the year’ for ResNet subscribers – a summary of what’s happened on ResNet over the last twelve months. Before finalising the report, here is a draft version. If you have any comments please let us know on the blog below, or email the ResNet help desk.

Network capacity & performance

We’ve greatly increased the speeds available to ResNet subscribers this year. The total ResNet offsite link now runs at 300Mbit/sec in, 100Mbit/sec out.

Traffic levels on ResNet have shot up hugely. Traffic increases each year, but the increase this time was more than we’ve ever seen before. We think this is due in particular to the growing popularity of video on the Internet – egYouTube & downloads.

Peer to peer technologies are increasingly common – e.g. Channel 4’s 4oD video download service uses peer to peer. This means that while you are downloading a file, other Internet users are also uploading it from your computer. It saves the provider bandwidth (network capacity) but puts the strain on our network instead.

At the same time that traffic levels are going up we’ve been trying to improve the performance of the network. If you use Skype (45% of Bristol students do), webcams, gaming, or anything else which works in real time then performance is important. Your network traffic must get there quickly and smoothly, or your conversations and video will break up.

To help improve this we introduced a new fair usage policy for ResNet, which set limits on the amount of traffic each subscriber could use during peak times. Getting this right was tricky, as we had to balance the demands of one group of subscribers against another – we were never going to be able to make everybody happy. However we’ve made some changes in response to the feedback we got and we think the end result has worked out pretty well.

Previously the network was congested during the evening, when we hit our traffic limit. Now we don’t hit the limit and applications run more smoothly. Heavy downloaders can still use 5 GB of traffic a week in the evenings, and far more during the day.

Service reliability

The ResNet network has generally been very reliable (so far!) this year.

Reliability is more than just the network – the worst problem we had this year was the weekend after Freshers week, when database problems over the weekend delayed or prevented many people from registering. We’ve taken some steps to make our database queries more efficient and reduce load on the database. Thanks to the database team for help with this.

Behind the scenes over many years we’ve been improving the resilience of the network – removing the oldest and least reliable equipment and introducing redundant routes to many locations. This will continue over the summer with another round of upgrades, particularly to residences in the Stoke Bishop and the Frogmore Street areas.

We remain most vulnerable to problems at weekends – in common with most IT facilities at the University we have no formal out of hours staff cover for ResNet. If problems occur out of hours sometimes they are dealt with by staff if they can, but this isn’t guaranteed. Introducing formal out of hours cover would involve employing additional staff – this would be expensive and so the ResNet subscription fee would have to be raised. Instead our strategy is to implement backup systems with automatic failover in case of problems. We think that offers better value for money.

Cost and take-up of ResNet

This year 4500 people subscribed to ResNet (97% of people living in University accommodation). The ResNet fee this year remained at 55 pounds for three terms. There was an increase in the fee for people here over the summer vacation – from £15 to £20.

The ResNet subscription fee funds all the direct costs of the service – the network infrastructure and equipment, and the salaries of the full-time permanent and part-time student staff who run it. We try to keep the fee as low as possible.

We have been able to keep the fee at £55 for many years. We were able to do this as the number of people choosing to subscribe to ResNet increased, so we sold more subscriptions. Now that almost 100% of students in residence have ResNet our income won’t grow, but the costs will keep on rising. We will have to increase the subscription fee gradually over the next few years. However we still believe ResNet offers excellent value for money compared with commercial broadband providers, and will continue to do so.

TV over ResNet and other entertainment services

At Bristol we have always recognised that ResNet provides an Internet connection to your home, and that it is valid to use ResNet for both educational and personal use. We have always tried to provide access not block it.

We’d like ResNet to offer a package of

  • Access to educational resources on the University network,
  • Fast access to the whole Internet,
  • Entertainment and communications services such as TV and voice-over-Internet (either providing these ourselves or simply letting students access services already available on the Internet).

We want to offer an attractive service that will help students choose Bristol as their university.

As fast broadband has become popular, social and entertainment usage of the Internet has taken off. Most Bristol students organise their social lives with Facebook and MSN. Many people in halls don’t watch TV, but they might watch video clips on Youtube or download movies instead.

One major development this year has been the trial of Freewire TV over ResNet. This provides 15 digital TV channels viewable on your computer. There is no charge to use it, but you must have your own TV licence. Initially the service appears very welcome – but how many people want live TV now if they can get downloads on demand instead?

Other developments this year

  • The ResNet blog www.bristolresnet.net, to keep subscribers in touch with what we are doing, and get opinions on proposals and changes we make.
  • Support for Windows Vista on ResNet
  • View your ResNet usage on the Manage My ResNet system
  • ResNet chat instant messaging and chatroom system – not a big success as nobody used it! We’ve learnt something from it however
  • Removed the requirement to use the University webcaches -this means many services previously blocked such as iTunes Music Store now work.
  • Relaunched the Notebooks for Students scheme – advice and discounted laptops for students to purchase.
  • Ring the ResNet help desk and find it engaged? You can send us a text instead, and we’ll ring you back when we are free.

Update 2007-06-19: Comments are now closed as there have been no genuine comments submitted recently, only spam. If you want to comment on this article, please contact the ResNet Helpdesk.

People testing Freewire TV can now also listen to radio stations within the Freewire TV application. 17 BBC stations and 10 commercial stations are currently available.

Many of these stations were already available as streams, but there are advantages in using the Freewire application to listen to them:

  • It is quick and easy to change channels,
  • There is a programme guide to tell you whats on,
  • As the channels are multicast (there is only one copy of them for the whole of ResNet) they don’t count as part of your fair usage allocation.

Linux and Mac users can’t use the Freewire TV application (except under some form of virtualization) and can’t watch channels broadcast as Freewire TV, but may be able to listen to the radio channels using VLC.

At 9:00 am on the 30th May we plan to reboot one of our main routers.

There should only be a small break in service as most traffic will be re-routed.

Unfortunately the ‘Freewire TV’ service will be interrupted for the full length of the reboot.

This will also affect the UoB Wireless service in the Halls (The rest of the campus Wireless will not be affected).

The reboot was completed by around 9:10am, all services are now restored.

The ResNet help desk will be closed on Bank Holiday Monday 28th May.

The ResNet help desk will reopen on Tuesday 29th May but with reduced opening hours for the rest of the term. We will be open for both phone calls and visitors weekdays 2pm-5.30pm only.

At this time of year we get very few visitors so hope this does not inconvenience many people.

Each year a large number of students and postgrads join the team to run ResNet. A job with ResNet offers competitive pay and excellent experience while working with and helping other Bristol students. The student staff are an absolutely essential part of the team with helps make ResNet both a successful service and an enjoyable place to work.

We have a number of technical and non-technical positions available for full-time work this summer vacation and part-time work from Freshers week onwards.

To apply, please see our vacancies. For more information, please call in to the ResNet help desk for a chat.

The closing date is 10am, Monday May 21st 2007.

This explanation is a little technical – please read on if interested! If not, the take home message is this: if there are applications like VOIP, music stores, instant messengers, or anything else which you previously tried but didn’t work on ResNet, please try it again – you might well find it is working for you now.

The University has a set of web proxy servers (webcaches). Until April 2007 we required that all computers on ResNet use the web proxy – there was a block on all direct web traffic (all traffic on port 80 if you want the precise technical detail).

The webcaches were originally there to reduce our traffic by keeping local copies of popular pages – but with the growth of video and other very large files on the web (too large to be cached) they weren’t really saving us much.

The proxies were fine for web browsers, but caused us problems with lots of other programs that didn’t know how to use the proxy. These include some setup programs, Internet telephony apps, and music stores.

We’re no longer encouraging people on ResNet to use the proxy and have now removed the block on direct traffic. We’ve been able to do this now because of various other changes we’ve made – both enlarging the network pipe available to ResNet and bringing our traffic levels under control with the fair usage policy. We actually made the change before Easter but haven’t announced it until now – as now we’re confident we’ll be able to keep things as they are.

So, if there is anything which you previously tried but didn’t work on ResNet, please try it again. In particular, we’ve had lots of requests to get iTunes Music Store working, and it now is.

There are still some things which won’t work on ResNet, due to the University’s default deny incoming firewall. Hosting a games server on ResNet for players outside is one example. However we’ll consider requests to open up ports through the firewall, and can do this for some requests.

Generally, compared with ResNets at other universities around the country, we think we’re pretty open about what is allowed on ResNet – we are trying to provide the best service we can.

There are some rare times when you might still need to use the proxy. In particular, if you ever exceed the fair usage policy and are temporarily moved into the heavy user network then you’ll need the proxy for web access. For that reason we recommend you keep the proxy ‘autoconfig’ script set on your computer.

See configuring applications with local network settings for all the correct firewall or other settings you need to get applications working on ResNet.

We seem to be having some problems with Manage my ResNet – which may mean that people are unable to use it to check their bandwidth usage and/or sign up for the IPTV trial. I am investigating.

Update: The problem seems to be with our database link between the ResNet database and the main university database. Independently the two databases are working on their own, they are just not talking to each other. I’m just off downstairs to make the database admin team aware of the problem.

Update: Just as I hit save on that last update, the problem seems to have fixed itself. There should be no problems logging in to Manage my ResNet as of about 12:13pm today.

We are having some problems with IP address allocation via DHCP in University Hall.

As a result some users are not getting access to any internal or external resources.

We are actively working on a solution and hope to have it fixed soon.

Please watch this space for updates (if you can) – Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Fixed – 16:42 24-04-2007 – there was an error in one of our configuration scripts – again sorry for any inconvenience caused – we were trying to improve the service not break it – honest 😉

There will be an interruption to network services in the Clifton area on the morning of Thursday 12th April. This will affect the ResNet service, halls admin network, and wireless hotspots, in Clifton Hill House, Goldney Hall, Manor Hall, 115 Queens Road and Rodney Place.

The work will start at 9am and be completely as quickly as possible later that morning.

It is possible that the phone service will also be interrupted, although the interruption to the phone service is likely to be shorter than that to the data network services.

Although we have scheduled this work for the Easter vacation when many people are away, we are sorry for the obvious inconvenience caused to people who will still be in residence.

The interruption is due to work we have commissioned to install a new power supply in the switch room which serves all these residences, so that the network equipment will be powered on a separate dedicated power supply. We’ve previously had problems, especially in the summer when aircon is working hard. The power to this switch room tripped out, stopping the service. The new power supply should make this much less likely and so improve the reliability of the service in the long term.

The work on the power supply feeding the network equipment for the clifton has now been completed. We turned off the equipment at around 8:45am and the power was restored at about 9:55am.

Up until last wednesday ResNet relied on a collection of proxy servers to provide access to websites on the internet. But applications like itunes and msn messenger didn’t work very well with proxy servers. So we have decided to unblock port 80 on the University firewall and allow ResNet users direct access to websites.

This should mean that your software will now work more reliably, and there is no longer any need to configure proxy server settings in your web browser.  But it is possible that there may be performance issues, caused by the lack of proxy servers.

We are going to be keeping a very close eye on the situation, and are prepared to roll back to using the proxy servers if there does seem to be a substantial increase in latency or packet loss.

There was a lightning strike at Wills Hall a couple of days ago and after this some ResNet users reported that their ResNet connection was not working.

We’ve checked our equipment and it appears to be operating fine. So far the people who had a problem have found that the network adapter inside their computer had been damaged by the strike. Replacing the network adapter gets them working again.

We sell external high-speed USB network adapters at the ResNet help desk. If you have a problem please try replacing your adapter (and resetting your connection with Manage My ResNet). That will probably sort it out – but if it doesn’t you can return the adapter for a refund and we will investigate further.

What’s going on?

We’ve recently been having some pretty severe performance problems on ResNet.

What you might notice

If you are sending email, viewing websites, or accessing internal university resources such as Blackboard these will still work – you won’t notice much difference if any.

You could have problems with things that work in real time:

  • MSN Messenger or other instant messaging programs keeping disconnecting and reconnecting
  • If you try to use Skype you can’t hear the other person
  • For gamers, you get very high ping times and packet loss

Performance is worst at peak times of day (generally evenings) when more people are using ResNet.

Why is this happening?

Network traffic (bandwidth) on ResNet goes up every year. This year however it has shot up far more than ever before, probably due to the growing popularity of online video such as YouTube and other sites.

We have taken steps to cope with the increased traffic. The University recently moved to a higher capacity Internet connection (SuperJanet 5) and so we’ve been able to increase the total bandwidth available for ResNet. This is a good thing, and will provide better performance for everyone on ResNet.

In addition for many years we have had a traffic management system on the link between ResNet and the Internet. This works to divide up the amount of capacity fairly between all ResNet subscribers. If we don’t have any traffic management then just a few of the 4500 people on ResNet can fill our entire pipe.

We’ve bought a new higher capacity traffic management system to cope with the new higher traffic levels. However it hasn’t worked as well as we’d hoped and we’ve had problems getting it up and running. At the same time our old traffic management system is creaking badly – it’s pretty old and not working as well as it should.

Because of this for some periods, especially on Thursday 22nd Feb, we’ve been running without any traffic management at all. This means that just a few people on ResNet can generate massive amounts of traffic, and the performance for everyone else really suffers.

What we are doing

We’d like to get much better and more consistent network performance. This is our top priority at the moment.

We are aiming to provide:

  • up to 8 Mbit download speed
  • latency of 20-60ms to UK sites
  • 0-2% packet loss
  • consistency at all times of day

These are all trade offs – eg we can increase the download speed (good for people downloading large files) but this would probably increase the latency (not good for gamers or Skype users). We are trying to get the right balance. Sometimes we’ll tweak the settings, get it a bit wrong, and this will temporarily make things worse for some or all people. We’re very sorry about this, but please bear with us while we try to improve matters.

What you can do to help

You can help by

  • giving us some feedback on how well ResNet is performing for you,
  • keeping your usage low where you can

If you would like to let us know how well ResNet is working for you, please email resnet-help@bristol.ac.uk . Please include details of what you were doing and when you tried it.

To reduce your bandwidth usage if you have any form of peer to peer filesharing program (eg Bittorrent, eMule or similar) then shut them down as soon as you finish using them. Don’t leave them running in the taskbar all the time, as they generate huge amounts of traffic even when you personally aren’t downloading a file.

You can see your own usage by looking at Manage My ResNet. Remember we have a fair usage policy on ResNet where you can use transfer 10GB of data per week, and if you go over that you will be warned and then your usage will be restricted.

If we don’t have the traffic management in place it is much easier to go over the 10GB limit, so make sure you keep it under control.

We’re currently having some strange problems with the ResNet network resulting in sporadic performance. We’ve also seen some loss of offsite connectivity from ResNet.

We apologise for this, and we’re working hard to identify and resolve the problem.

More info will appear here as we get it.

Update 2007-02-23 – 11:40am
We seem to have managed to persuade the network to use the primary link, bandwidth shaping and all.  However, we’re not confident enough in it to leave it in place over the weekend – so we’re looking at alternatives. 

Update 2007-02-23 – 9am
Things are a little better, but they’re still not 100% stable. Our bandwidth management box fell over at about 3:45am this morning, causing the ResNet external traffic link to flip over to a backup link. We’ve restarted the bandwidth management box, although we’re having a little difficulty getting the network to switch back to using it.

From 11am this morning we have reduced the upload limits to around 4Mbps per user. This is in response to poor performance last night due to yesterdays changes.

We noticed an increase in the dropped packets on our link to the Internet that is probably due to the increased load. We have also had reports of greatly increased response times.

Again, we shall be monitoring these changes closely to make sure there are no further problems.

Our existing bandwidth management appliance is getting a little long in the tooth and whilst it can cope at the moment, it isn’t able to scale to match our needs for the future. So we’re replacing it, and over the last couple of days we’ve been trialing the new system.

Initial reports are mixed. Some users of services such as Skype have reported improvements, others have seen things get noticably worse. Eg at peak times last night, the latency on the network increased substatially compared to our previous solution.

One side effect is that the new system allows people much more “upload” bandwidth during off-peak times than we had anticipated. This seems to have caught out a few people who had left their P2P applications running, and caused them to go over their weekly bandwidth quota.

As this was unexpected, we have taken the decision not to transfer anyone to the restricted network on Monday. However, you do still need to keep an eye on your bandwidth usage as we are likely to go back to using the restricted network on the 12th Feb. Don’t forget that even if you’re not downloading anything, your P2P software may be uploading to other people. The best thing to do is to shut it off if you’re not using it!

We’re still learning about the new system, working closely with the suppliers to tweak it so that we get the best possible performance out of it for our environment. We think last nights latency problems were caused by a configuration oversight, which we will look into as soon as possible next week.

For the moment though, we have moved the network back to our previous bandwidth management appliance and we intend to leave it that way over the weekend.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused while we’re finding our feet with the new appliance. We hope that any problems will be short lived, and in the longer term you should notice an improvement in the quality of your network connection.

Update – 10:02am
It’s all fixed.  Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

It seems that we’re having database problems at the moment, We can’t look up anyones details in the central university database.  From digging in the logs, it looks like the problem started at about 01:15 this morning. The following systems don’t work:

  • Manage My ResNet
  • ResNet in-room registration system

If you try to log in to either of these systems, you’re likely to get the following error message “Sorry, we couldn’t find anyone in the University database with that username”

We’re working with the database administration team to try and work out what the problem is and to fix it asap.

An online survey and test of “MyBristol”, the new University Portal is now available. The survey feedback will be used to further improve the Portal, which will be released for the autumn term 2007. If you would like to test the portal and give your feedback to improve it, please see the portal survey.

(updated by Nick 16/01/07)

ON Monday afternoon at 4.20pm we experienced a network outage of approximately 15 minutes. During this time all users of ResNet would have been unable to access any network services, including local services such as Blackboard. The problem affected large parts of the University network and not just ResNet.

The exact cause of this outage is not yet known, but some maintenance work was done first thing Tuesday morning to try and stop it happening again.

In the longer term, we are also working to re-engineer the links between ResNet and the rest of the University network so faults in one part of the network are less likely to affect us.

The database server we use is due to be taken down for some routine maintenance on the 2nd January 2007. The vast majority of ResNet users won’t notice, although the following services will be unavailable during the maintenance.

The Registration System – people trying to set up ResNet for the first time, or with a new computer will not be able to register.

Manage My ResNet – you won’t be able to check your bandwidth usage, your account details, or move rooms.

ResNet status monitoring – you won’t be able to see if there are network problems on ResNet

That’s pretty much it.

Other systems around the University may be affected, please see http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2006/sys2jan.html for more details.

Whilst working hard to solve a problem highlighted by the early firing of the fair usage policy script, Badock and Chantry Court lost connection for approximately 1 hour this morning (11th Dec 2006).  This has now been fixed.

We are really sorry about this – we’re not having a good day!

As a result of this second problem in as many days, we will not be enforcing the fair usage policy, so won’t be moving heavy users onto a separate network this week.  We will resume the fair usage policy after the Christmas break.

We have accidentally run our weekly bandwidth usage scripts too early. We are in the process of rectifying the problem now.

We are very sorry about the 63 people that have been moved into the restricted network – you will be the first to be moved back.

132 people have just received an email at the wrong time. The people affected by this will be sent an email to clarify the situation.

Update 10:45 – The people moved onto the restricted network have now been moved back onto the normal network. All people affected have been sent an email explaining what happened.

Update 14:30 by Nick – We still seem to have some problems. Some of the 63 people are reporting that their connections aren’t working at all. Other people are concerned that they receive an email saying they were over the bandwidth limit when Manage My ResNet shows that they are within the limit.

We are still looking into both these problems to work out what went wrong and fix where necessary.

Sorry again for the mistakes – Nick

Update 15:40 by Nick – Over the last hour we’ve now individually re-enabled the connections of 63 people whose ResNet had been completely disabled. That shouldn’t have happened at all. We are emailing an apology to everyone affected.

We’ve disabled the buggy script that did this and will review the bandwidth usage scripts on Monday before we run them again, to guard against any other problems.

Those people who were concerned that Manage My ResNet said they were within their bandwidth allocation, but the emails said they were over – this is because the scripts which sent the emails were measuring usage over 7 days to Friday, including the previous weekend. The script got it wrong as it was run on the wrong day. If run on a Monday (when it was supposed to) the figures would have matched Manage My ResNet.

For a period on 18th December between 8am to 10am the following ResNet services will be unavailable

  • ResNet online registrations
  • Manage My ResNet
  • ResNet automatic status monitoring

This is due to an urgent need to move power supplies in several racks in the machine room – the server our database is hosted on is one of those systems affected.
Actual ResNet connections will be unaffected – you can keep on using ResNet.

The ResNet database has been switched off. This is so that the machine that it runs on can be attached to a new super quick network filesystem. Sorry we didn’t tell you earlier.

Luckily, this work will not affect most ResNet connections:

  • If you are a current ResNet user, the Manage my ResNet utility and the automatic status monitoring on our homepage will be unavailable for most of the day. Otherwise, your internet connection should be unaffected.
  • We will not be able to move your connection if you are moving room/hall until the database is back on.
  • If you are a new ResNet user and need to pay us, we will be able to take your money, but we will not be able to switch on your account until after the database has been reactivated. Usually this would be instant.

Update: this was restored by about 11.45am this morning.

On Sunday 12th November @ 22:30 one of the 4 proxy servers that ResNet users use to surf web sites crashed because its log file became too full. The initial question should be “how did we let the log file get so big?”. Well, the log file is able to get to 2GB in size before it fails, which under normal circumstances is more than enough, especially as we rotate the logs daily. However, one user’s machine was making about 100 requests per second (over 8 million per day) to this server which caused it to crash. The user in question has been disconnected from ResNet until we can find out what software was causing the problem.

Most of you probably did not even notice the server fail as all its traffic was automatically moved onto one of the other three proxy servers with the failed server back up by 9am on Monday. One good thing to come out of this is that we have now changed the way we load balance our proxy servers in the event of an error. Instead of one proxy taking the load of the failed one, doubling its load, the traffic is spread evenly between all remaining servers so only increasing load to each by one third.

Another result of the 8 million connection attempts in one day was that the log analysis server crashed a day later because it ran out of disk space due to the larger logs that were copied to it 😉 It never rains but it pours!! This is being fixed by adding a larger disk. Well the original disk was only 18GB, it will soon be a whopping 36GB!

Since early Sunday morning ResNet traffic is being routed via our backup link. This link does not have our traffic shaping hardware and so the link is getting swamped with P2P traffic.

This is something that cannot be fixed until tomorrow morning when we are back in the office.

We will be working hard this week to locate this reoccurring problem as we understand this causes massive problems to all ResNet connections.

Update: We have restarted the shaper box that fell over and we are investigating reasons for this to try and stop it happening again.

Update Wednesday 8th Nov: this problem has happened several times now over the last few days. Most recently was at 3am 8th Nov.

Depending on when the box falls over, it can be very disruptive to ResNet subscribers, or you may not even notice it. If it happens at a quiet time of day when there is not much traffic on the network (eg mornings) then it isn’t a problem. If it happens at the peak time for ResNet usage (late afternoon and evening) then connections will be less reliable, especially for realtime traffic sensitive to packet loss (eg gaming and telephony).

We think the cause is a hardware problem with one of the components in the traffic shaping server. We are trying to isolate the cause and replace the faulty component now.

Just over one month into term we now have over 4500 Resnet subscribers – that’s about 96% of students in University accommodation. Here’s the pretty graph:
Uptake graph October 2006

Users in Deans Court, Unite House, Chantry Court or Winkworth House may have noticed a brief (<1min) outage this morning. This was due to planned work on the link feeding this areas. The change went without incident and all indications are that the link is now working fine.

Thursday afternoon we started to receive reports of high latency and packet loss on ResNet. It would appear that the main link between ResNet and the internet is having a few problems, and has fallen over to a backup link. Unfortunately, it fell over in such a way that our monitoring software didn’t spot it happening!

The backup link doesn’t have our sophisticated trafic shaping hardware running on it, and as such the link is being swamped by P2P traffic. Here’s a graph:

Traffic Graph - 15th Oct onwards

As you can see, the problems started at about lunchtime on the 26th, and our offsite traffic pretty much doubled! This network congestion explains why people are seeing high latency and packet loss.

Now that we’re aware of what’s going on, we’re working on a fix.

Update: All fixed! Our traffic levels are back to normal again, and the link is now much less congested.

The router (a cisco 857) was installed yesterday at about mid-day.  We experienced some strange behaviour (high latency and occasional disconnections) that lasted until about 5 am this morning. We believe that this was due to the router negotiating the best possible speed from the dsl link.

The connection now appears to be stable and relatively quick.

To all residents at Hillside/Woodside:

copy of letter sent by post last Friday. 

Dear resident,

I’d like to apologise for the lack of an Internet connection at Hillside/Woodside so far this term. We will very soon be providing an ADSL connection for the house, which should be available by Fri 20th October. We will update you when the connection is ready for use, this is simply some advance warning. 

There will be no charge to use the ADSL connection. We will provide network cables – to use it all you essentially need to do is connect the cable from your computer to your wall socket, and make sure your computer is set to “obtain IP address automatically” (the usual setting). 

This is a shared connection, and will operate at a likely speed of 1 Mbit/sec, which is not much between 30 people. It should be adequate for email and web use, but not other applications. Anyone attempting to use filesharing programs to transfer large movies, music and other large files will completely swamp the connection and cause problems for everyone else. Please don’t do this! It is up to you as housemates to use the connection sensibly, we can’t enforce it.

The ADSL connection is a short-term measure and not up to the usual ResNet standards. We have a dedicated 10Mbit leased line on order for Hillside/Woodside, but installation of this is still some time off (we don’t have a confirmed date yet, but it should be some time in November or December). When this line is installed we will be able to offer a faster service, similar to ResNet in other student houses, and will begin collecting ResNet subscriptions at that point.

For anyone who has already paid a subscription to ResNet  partial refunds may be available, but we will work these out when the faster connection is in place.

We lost the ADSL connection with Rodney Place again yesterday at about 17:30. I had to manually reset the connection this morning at 09:20. I am going to investigate ways of automating this, so we do not need any manual intervention. The link is now up and running.

Rowan

10.30am Monday morning: we had pretty severe problems over the weekend which at various points meant that people were unable to send email, register as new ResNet users, or access our website. Although this was severe some ResNet subscribers wouldn’t have noticed as most of what they wanted still worked – people could still access the web for example.
There were different faults at different stages, but they were all due to problems with our DNS setup. DNS is the system which maps server names to their numeric IP addresses – so without dns the servers are inaccessible.
Right now things are looking quite a bit better but we are checking through everything carefully and ironing it all out. We have the whole ResNet team available and backup from other IS staff too, so can get things sorted. After the dust has settled we’ll review what happened carefully to try and stop something similar happening again.

Nick.

UPDATED: Tuesday 10/OCT/2006 -  We are in the process of resyncronising our DNS servers and various databases. This may have prevented some people from sending email this morning, but all should be fixed by this afternoon.

James.

Since approx 6.30pm tonight we have been experiencing severe problems which are stopping new people registering on ResNet. Existing people up and running are fine, although there are some parts of our website such as the knowledgebase which are inaccessible.

This is due to a fault with our dns server which we are tracing and trying to fix at the moment.

UPDATE 8.30pm: we think we’ve now fixed the DNS problem, however as DNS information takes a while to propogate it will take a while longer (maybe up to an hour) until everything is back to normal.

Sorry to everyone who was trying to register tonight – please try after 9.30pm tonight or tomorrow.

UPDATED UPDATE – 10:08pm: It’s still somewhat broken. A number of DNS entries haven’t propegated properly, and as such people still can’t register. I’m looking into it.
– Paul

UPDATED UPDATED UPDATE – 10:48pm: I think I’ve identified the problem, but it’s not something I can fix. With a bit of luck, the chap who can fix it will read the email I’ve just sent him. Sorry everyone!
– Paul

SAT MORNING 10AM: Everything now seems to be in the DNS that should be – haven’t spotted any problems so far. Thanks James who was fixing stuff at 4 in the morning!

SAT MORNING 1.30PM: It’s not fixed after all! Registrations are failing towards to end of the process with an error

Can’t call method “ReadMAC” on an undefined value at /var/www/register/cgi-bin/activate.account.pl line 607.

We’re trying to fix it. Please try in a few hours or tomorrow.

SAT AFTERNOON 3PM: Looking better – we’ve tweaked things (added all the hubs to our hosts file) and 12 people have now registered in the last half hour. We’re still testing stuff before we conclude that everything is sorted.

SAT EVENING 6:33PM: Looking worse again! The database job that creates the DNS file has started failing in a pretty catestrophic way and is generating empty DNS configs. So we’ve effectively lost 99.9% of our DNS records. I’m working on a fix. -Paul

SAT EVENING 7:37PM: OK, I’ve now managed to get the database job to produce some output. I’ve taken a snapshot of the config files. The job is due to run again in about 3 minutes time, if it fails, I’ll rollback to the snapshot and turn the job off. This will cause problems for anyone who registers after the sanpshot was taken, but at least it’ll get the service back for the other 3800 of you! -Paul
SAT EVENING 8:38PM: Rolling back to the snapshot doesn’t seem to have helped the situation. The config files are all there, but the DNS entries don’t appear to be propagating. I’m still in the office though, and still working on it… -Paul
SAT EVENING 9:15PM: It’s still broken, but I’ve run out of ideas. As far as I can tell, it *should* be working – but isn’t. Hopefully one of the other guys on the team will have more luck. -Paul

If you’ve been trying to register in Old Clifton Wing CHH or K Block Churchill and had problems, this is because the room numbers have been changed. We’ve now updated our database with the correct info and you should be able to register OK.

This is a very long post about a serious problem but which will only be of interest to about thirty students in one student house. If that’s not you, please look further down the blog for fun with Jaffa cakes.

The University owns Hillside/Woodside, a student house with about thirty residents. It’s in Leigh Woods on the far side of the suspension bridge – a beautiful but out of the way location.

Once upon a time we provided a dialup service for the students living there (and in a few other small University-owned student houses). As nobody wants dialup any more we got rid of the dialup service a year ago, and put a dedicated link in to just about all the small student houses so we could provide the normal ResNet service.

Hillside/Woodside was always going to be tricky due to its location and distance from everywhere else. We looked at all sorts of possibilities, such as wireless, but they didn’t work out. We put in a phone line and ADSL link to replace the dialup. This worked, but not very well – 30 students on one ADSL line wasn’t great, although we tried all sorts of ideas to improve the connection it ultimately wasn’t fast or reliable enough.

This year we decided the only solution was to put in a dedicated 10Mbit leased line to link Hillside/Woodside back to the main site. That way we could provide ResNet as available everywhere ele. A leased line is much faster and more reliable than an ADSL connection. It is also hugely more expensive 🙁

The University starts a new financial year in August and in August we had found the money to do it. We then realised that it can take months to get this sort of leased line installed, and it wouldn’t be quite ready for the start of term, but we hoped it would be soon afterwards.

Just recently the final survey was carried out by our supplier before the work could take place. This uncovered a few problems – the leased line can’t be routed to the exchange in Clifton as had been thought. Instead we need an even more expensive leased line across two phone exchanges 🙁

We’ve now ordered the leased line we really need. Unfortunately this has delayed us further. Given the first delay we’re trying to get it pushed through by our supplier faster than normal, but there are no guarantees. When it is in place we should be fine, but we have a problem until then.

We are now looking at interim solutions – resurrecting the ADSL connection from last year, which wasn’t great but is better than nothing. We won’t charge residents at Hillside/Woodside anything for using the ADSL line, and start collecting ResNet subscriptions only when we have the proper service in place. We’ll keep everyone in the house informed as to what’s going on, and hope to have the ADSL service up real soon now.

We’d like to say that we’re really sorry to the students at Hillside/Woodside. We’re really sorry. When you are away from home at uni an Internet connection is pretty important for keeping in touch. There are other facilities available – the nearest is probably the computer room and cybercafe in the students union, and you can use the wireless hotspots with your own laptop on campus – but obviously it’s not the same as a connection in your own room.

About the best we can say is we’re working on it and doing what we can.

UPDATE 05/10/06: We have now ordered the ADSL service for Hillside/Woodside. Will keep this updated with news as to when it will be available.

UPDATE 10/10/06: Looks as if it should be in by about 19th/20th October.

The ResNet service in accommodation at the Vet School, Langford was interrupted for some 25 minutes around 11am this morning. This was due to a problem which actually affected the whole Langford site, not just ResNet there. Service is now ok.

Nobody is using ResNet at Langford this week anyway so no harm done 🙂

We’ve had a few problems with the ResNet service at Rodney Place over the summer vacation. It’s been up and down pretty frequently. We’re very sorry about the problems. Fortunately there are only a few people living there over the summer, and it won’t be full during term time either – but that’s not much help for those who are affected.

We’ve got the service up and running again today. We’ve made some changes which we think will make it more reliable in future, but will keep an eye on it and see how things work out in practice. That’s probably all you need to know – but if you’re interested in the details please read on.

The University has its own trench with copper phone cabling to Rodney Place. We provide ResNet to Rodney Place by using one of those cables for a private ADSL circuit. We use the same equipment for some of the other student houses and it works well, but at Rodney Place the distance is just a bit further.

Today we’ve replaced some of the phone cabling with higher quality network cabling wherever it is accessible and resoldered various joins along the route. We’ve also installed some equipment which will automatically give the equipment a kick if it develops a problem. Initial indications from testing the new setup are good, but we’ll have to see how it is over time. If residents at Rodney Place encounter any problems, please contact the ResNet help desk.

We now have four webcaches for ResNet users, including two brand new systems. We now have more caches than before, and they are running on faster boxes. Also they are split across two separate locations, so should be available even if there is a problem at our main site. Huge thanks to Martin, Squid guru of the PC Systems team for setting up the caches for us.

What do the webcaches do? When you request a webpage your web browser checks to see if the webcache has a copy, and if so gets it from a fast server here at Bristol. If it doesn’t it stores a copy on the webcache for future use. There is 600GB of storage available across the four caches.

By using the webcaches we can also reserve network capacity (bandwidth) for web browsing. Along with email web browsing is the most important and popular facility on the Internet. Other bandwidth on ResNet is shared between gaming, file transfers, radio, instant messaging, etc etc, and is limited both per person and for the whole of ResNet. With dedicated email servers and webcaches for the University we can we hope to make sure you can always browse the web and send mail, even if you or your neighbours are hammering the network with huge transfers at the same time.

Tomorrow (19th September 2006) we will be moving the ResNet database to a much more powerful computer.
Cool … but why do I care? Well, that depends on who you are:

  • If you are a current ResNet user, the Manage my ResNet utility and the automatic status monitoring on our homepage will be unavailable for most of the day. Otherwise, your internet connection should be unaffected.
  • If you are a new ResNet user and need to pay us, we will be able to take your money, but we will not be able to switch on your account until after the database has been moved. Usually this would be instant.
  • If you are coming to Bristol for the new academic year, you will be able to register and setup your connection even faster. (At the start of the year, when 5000 people try to register their connection at the same time, the old database computer tended to get a bit stressed, hopefully the new one will not!).

1pm 19th Sept: the database upgrade has now been completed. The new system is much snappier than the old one, and should be good for the start of term. Thanks to the database guys for sorting this for us.