Information for Node Hosts

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This page contains the following information that may be useful for node admins:

  • Guide on how to initially setup your node.
  • Instructions for the SOWN node deployment administration system regarding what information/settings you can change as a node admin.
  • Explanation of the usage graphs that can be viewed for your node deployment at https://www.sown.org.uk/nodes/stats
  • Details on the notification emails you will receive in the event of an issue with your node.
  • Troubleshooting advice on what to do if your node is not working as expected.
  • Information about future developments for nodes and their administration system.
  • Some useful links.


Initial Node Setup

  • Unpack your SOWN node and its attachments from its box. Store the box somewhere safe, as it must be returned when you return the node.
  • Attach the aerial to your SOWN node.
  • Find a suitable place to put your SOWN node. Ideally next to an external window but try to avoid stretching network or power cables, to limit and chance of them getting disconnected accidentally.
  • Plug in the network then power cable for your node.
    • If you provided the SOWN administrator who gave you your node with the gateway IP address of your home network, your node should automatically run its setup script and be ready to use within 10 minutes.
    • If you did not provide the SOWN administrator with your gateway IP address, your node will generate a setup request. It may take a SOWN administrator up to 24 hours to approve this request before your node can run its setup script and be ready to use.
  • Once your node if fully set up., you should be able to see an eduroam SSID. If you have a device that has connected to Eduroam before, then it should connect automatically and gain Internet access. If not, you will need to provide a username and password (most likely for your University of Southampton account) before gaining Internet access.
  • If the node does provide an eduroam SSID, (after 10 minutes or 24 hours depending on whether your provided a gateway IP address), disconnect both the power and network cables, wait a couple of seconds before reconnecting the network then power cable.


Node Deployment Administration System

SOWN has a system for centrally administering it's nodes. As a node host you can log into this system to check you node's status and modify its settings.

  1. Go to https://www.sown.org.uk/nodes/admin/ and login using the SOWN (sown.org.uk) account you were created to manage your node.
    • If you cannot remember your password then you can go to https://www.sown.org.uk/password/forgot and reset it. as long as you know your SOWN account username or the email account you set it up with (and for which you receive email notifications about your node).
  2. If you have more than one node you administer you will be presented with a list to choose from otherwise you will go straight to the "Node Deployment Administration" form. This form has 5 sections as shown below:


Deployment Information and Location

  • Name: The name of your node deployment as displayed on the SOWN node map.
  • Longitude and Latitude: The position your node appears on the node map. If you notice the position is inaccurate adjust the longitude and latitude as appropriate. Google maps is quite good at helping you determine more accurate co-ordinates for your node.
  • Range: By default nodes are created with a 20 metre range. This is generally pessimistic. If you find your node has better (or worse) range, please adjust as appropriate.
  • Mobile: If your nodes is portable (e.g. the GLi.Net Mi-Fi node that has a 3G/4G uplink) and/or liable to be moved around a lot, then check this box.
  • URL: A URL associated with your node that will appear on the SOWN node map (e.g. personal website).


Node Information and Configuration

  • Hardware: Specifies the make/model is your node. (Uneditable)
  • Wireless Chipset: Specifies the Wi-Fi chip does your node have. (Uneditable)
  • Firmware Image: Specifies the firmware image your node has installed on it. (Uneditable)
  • Usage cap: The maximum amount in megabytes that can be downloaded in a rolling 30-day period. (Please note that it takes a while for it to be detected that a node is over its usage cap before its eduroam SSID is disabled. Therefore the maximum usage may reach several 100 megabytes more than specified).
  • Firewall: Whether your node should allow users to connect to services on any port or the restricted list (as mandated by Jisc for the purpose of minimal Eduroam compliance, which includes common Web, Email, VPN, SSH, FTP, VNC ports etc.). This feature is currently unavailable.
  • Additionally allowed ports: Additional ports that should be open beyond the minimal list required for Eduroam compliance. This feature is currently unavailable
  • Ping attempts: When the node periodically tests whether it has lost connection to the SOWN network over its VPN tunnel, how many pings should it make before assumes the tunnel is down. If your node has an unreliable Internet connection, this may need to be raised to 10-20 to ensure the node does not keep restarting its VPN tunnel unnecessarily.
  • Wi-Fi down after:: How many ping tests based on the amount of pings defined in Ping attempts should it take for the node to disables the eduroam SSID because users will not be able to authenticate. Like Ping attempts, if your node has an unreliable Internet connection, this value should be upped to 3 or 4.
  • Primary/Secondary DNS Server (IPv4/IPv6): Set one of more of these if you wish those connecting to the node to be told about specific DNS servers. Only set these if you really know what you are doing.
  • VPN Connection: Specifies the server and port number you node connects to the SOWN network on. If you have an outgoing firewall on the network hosting your node, this should help you setup a firewall rule to allow your node to connect back to SOWN. (Uneditable)


Wireless Interfaces

For each wireless interface you will see three attributes. For most node deployments there will only be one entry.

  • Interface: The unique name for the interface on the node. (Uneditable)
  • SSID: The name broadcast by the node for that interface that you will see when you can for Wi-Fi access points. If there is only one wireless interface this should generally be set to eduroam. If you wish to change this you should contact SOWN before doing so.
  • Wireless Channel: Sometimes the default setting may already be used by nearby access points, so is worth changing. For most nodes, this can be set between 1 and 13. Other numbers are allowed but unless you know what you are doing, do not go outside this range.


Current Node Deployment Admins

Each current node deployment admin is listed. If you wish to add a new admin they just type in their sown.org.uk, ecs.soton.ac.uk, or soton.ac.uk username including the domain (e.g. example@sown.org.uk or ab1c23@soton.ac.uk). If there is a user listed who should no longer be a node admin, then check the appropriate Expire Admin checkbox and the next time the form is submitted this node admin will disappear as they are no longer current.


Deployment Notes

A node deployment can have notes associated with it. This can be used to inform SOWN that the node may be offline for a while or to record other important information about the status or special configuration of the node deployment. For existing notes, its text, the date and user who created will all be displayed but not editable. If the note is now invalid then check the appropriate Delete Note checkbox and the next time the form is submitted this note will be deleted. If you wish to add a note then just type this into the bottom text box and this will be added along with your username and the date and time you next submit the form.


Node Deployment Usage Graphs

Your node's usage graphs can by viewed by clicking on the Go to Statistics link once you have logged into SOWN's node deployment administration system. You can access then directly by going to https://www.sown.org.uk/nodes/stats.

There are three separate graphs, as well as a usage bar if you have a usage cap set for your node:

  1. Last 30 days usage - The amount of data downloaded/uploaded for each of the last 30 days.
  2. Last 12 months usage - The amount of data downloaded/uploaded for each of the last 12 months.
  3. Average number of connections throughout the day - The average number of users that have connect to your node at a particular time of day.


Node Status Monitoring Emails

Why emails are sent

In order to provide near-live network availability information, all of SOWN's nodes (and servers) are monitored by an application called Icinga. This checks the availability of each node every 5 minutes. If a node is down for a continuous 2-hour period, an e-mail is automatically sent to the current node admin(s), as well as to SOWN's technical support team and IRC channel. Our reason for sending these emails is to notify you, is that may not realise your node has disconnected if they have a separate Wi-Fi network you can use.

If your node fails to reconnect to the network, reminder emails will be sent to you every 45 hours. This frequency was chosen to ensure that reminder emails will get sent at different times of day to reduce the chance of them being missed.

When Icinga notices that your node has reconnected to the network, a further notification will be sent (by email to you and SOWN technical support team and in SOWN's IRC channel) confirming this.

There are occasions when all of SOWN's nodes are disconnected from the network due to connectivity issues between SOWN's Servers and the Internet. Icinga also monitors this and should not send out emails if the problem is at SOWN's end. However, on occasion this may happen. If you have Internet access and either cannot access the SOWN node status page or see that multiple nodes appear as DOWN according to this page, it is most likely you can ignore any email notifications about your node being disconnected.

What you should do if you receive a monitoring email

If you receive a notification that your node is disconnected and you are not aware of any reason why your node should ne down, (such as problems with your Internet connection), SOWN ask that you disconnect the power and network cables from your node, wait a couple of seconds and then reconnect the network then power cables. Prior to doing this you should also ensure the other end of the network cable is still securely plugged into your home router or similar device.

If you are aware of a reason why your node will be disconnected temporarily, there is no need to respond to this email. SOWN appreciate that the outage may have been due to reasons beyond your control, or simply because you needed to disconnect the node for a short period. If there is a reason why your node will be disconnected for a prolonged period of time, please contact SOWN to make us aware of the situation so that we can disable notification emails about your node being disconnected.

Troubleshooting Advice

Due to the notification emails you should receive in the event of an issue with your node, it is more likely that SOWN will notify you about an issue before you detect one yourself. However, if you do find your node is not behaving as usual, here are some steps to follow depending on the symptoms:

Attempts to connect to the eduroam SSID fail

Typically, the device you are connecting from will give you advice on what is wrong but if that has not helped then there are several things you can check:

1A. Does your node show as being DOWN according to the SOWN node status page?

  • If so it means that the connection back to the SOWN network has recently gone down but the node has not fully determined this yet so the eduroam SSID is still visible. This is most likely an intermittent issue and will resolve itself quite quickly. Keep and eye on the SOWN node status page, when you node shows as UP again you should be able to connect to the eduroam SSID.

1B. Does the bottom (AUTH2) line on SOWN's RADIUS peering checker show as a red box from the domain of the account you are using (most likely SOTON)?

  • If so, this means SOWN is having problems connecting to the authentication server that can log you in to get Internet access using eduroam. This is similarly likely to be an intermittent issue. If you click on red box, it will show a graph, so you can get an impression of whether this is a short term or longer term issue. Keep and eye on SOWN's RADIUS peering checker, when the box goes back to green you should be able to connect to the eduroam SSID again.

1C. Have you changed the password for your Eduroam (i.e. University) account recently?

  • If so, it is likely your device will have prompted you to renter the password. It may be worth forgetting the eduroam Wi-Fi network device and setting it up again.

1D. None of the above?

  • As with a password change, forgetting the eduroam Wi-Fi network device and setting it up again may fix the issue. Otherwise contact SOWN with as much detail as you can regarding the issue you are experiencing whilst trying to connect to the eduroam SSID.

Cannot see the eduroam SSID

2A. Does the node show as being OVERUSE according to the SOWN node status page?

2B. Does your node show as being DOWN according to the SOWN node status page?

  • If so, you should try rebooting the node by removing the cables and plugging them back in, network first then the power cable. Give the node up to five minutes to boot up and reconnect to the SOWN network. If this does not work, then contact SOWN with as much detail as you can about the issue you are experiencing.

2C. None of the above?

  • It may be the node is disconnected but SOWN's monitoring has not detected this yet. Initially, you should wait ten minutes or so to see whether the eduroam SSID reappears or the SOWN node status page shows your node as DOWN. If either the latter happens or there is no change after 10 minutes you should follow the advice given in 2B above.


Future New Features

  • Ability to add secondary SSIDs and restrict who can connect to them.
  • Fully routed IPv6 addresses for users connecting to your node.


Useful Links