In a major extension of the campus computer network to the undergraduate dormitories, Ethernet connections have been installed and the MITnet became operational in some 2,300 rooms January 18.
"The extension of the campus network to the dorms and ILGs is a major milestone toward our goal of universal network connectivity for MIT students, faculty and staff," said James D. Bruce, vice president for information systems.
In the first week almost 200 students connected computers to the network. The new high-speed network provides the necessary connectivity to allow students to have Athena workstations in their rooms for the first time. .
Many basic Athena services such as electronic mail, Zephyr, Discuss, and Techinfo are available for Macintosh computers. Some of these are also available for DOS/Windows computers, and work on the others is continuing with release targeted for the 1994-95 academic year.
Networking software is provided at no charge to students along with publicly available software that permits access to the worldwide Internet via Telnet, FTP, and UseNet. Macintosh users can also communicate on MITnet using the AppleTalk network protocol.
"The extension of MITnet to dormitories and other living groups maintains MIT's leadership position in distributed educational computing," Provost Mark S. Wrighton said. "It will deliver reliable, low-cost common services to thousands of diverse computers through the Athena client-server architecture."
According to Gregory A. Jackson, Director of Academic Computing, "Completion of the extension of MITnet into dorms and ILGs will enhance undergraduate education by improving communication between faculty and students. The availability of limited access to Athena services on student-owned machines should relieve some of the demand for seats in Athena's busy public clusters."
The new dormitory network services result from a collaboration between IS and Housing and Food Services.
In addition to the academic benefits, Lawrence E. Maguire, director of Housing and Food Services, commented that, "networking the dorms opens exciting possibilities for improving student customer service and satisfaction regarding the whole housing process, and it brings all of us involved closer by making communication open and easy."
While Telecommunications Systems and Housing were installing equipment and cabling, various other groups in IS were setting in place the additional support necessary for networked student-owned computers.
Computing Support Services expanded consulting services and stocked up on Ethernet hardware for sale at the MIT Computer Connection. Distributed Computing and Network Services hired and trained student Residential Computing Consultants to help dorm students connect to MITnet. Academic Computer Services is investigating the feasibility of making educational software for Macintosh and Windows computers available over the network.
MITnet service has been available in independent living groups (ILGs) since September. IS is also investigating extending MITnet to the graduate dorms and providing network access to off-campus residents via modem, ISDN or cable TV links. These projects are in the early planning stages; technical and funding issues need to be resolved.
Additional information on the project is available in the Computing/Resnet section in Techinfo. Questions on residential networking can be sent via electronic mail to .
A version of this article appeared in the January 26, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 20).