Commonly used method to remotely access the servers installed in an online computer lab is through the virtual private network (VPN) technology. Students can download the VPN software from the vendor’s Web site and configure the VPN client on their home computers. Some of the operating systems include the VPN components. If so, after the client operating system has been installed, a student can configure the VPN to remotely access the computer lab servers.
VPN on Red Hat Linux Operating System
For a client computer installed with a Red Hat Linux operating system, the tasks in the configuration of the client VPN are shown below.
- Install the dynamic kernel module support package and point-to-point protocol (PPP) kernel module. PPP is an Internet protocol commonly used to establish a direct connection between two nodes.
- Install the GUI tool PPTP Client.
- Install php-pcntl which is used to assist the GUI tool PPTP by adding process control functions to PHP and php-gtk-pcntl which can be used to simplify the writing of client-side cross-platform GUI applications.
- Install the pptpconfig package which can be used to install Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). PPTP is an Internet protocol to allow remote users to access corporate networks securely across the Internet.
- Run the pptpconfig package to start the VPN configuration GUI.
- Configure the VPN connection by specifying the name of the connection, the name or IP address of the VPN server.
- Connect to the VPN server with the user name, password, and domain name.
For Linux operating systems from other distributions, you may find a similar process from the distributions’ Web site. Or, you can download the VPN client software and configure the VPN client accordingly.
VPN on Windows Operating System
For Windows XP Professional Edition and Windows Server 2003, the VPN utility is included in the operating system software. The following are some tasks in VPN configuration for a client computer.
- Make sure that the Internet connection is working properly and point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP) forwarding is enabled in the DSL router.
- Start the network connections utility which can be found in the control panel.
- Specify the connection type to be VPN connection.
- Specify the connection name.
- Choose the VPN server created in the online computer lab. You can either use the host name or use the server’s IP address.
- Students need the user name and password created on the VPN server to log on to the lab VPN server. When entering the user name and password, a student may also need to enter the domain name if his/her account is managed by a domain controller.
After logging on to the lab VPN server, a student can then access each individual computer in the lab. We will discuss this in the next paragraph.
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