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2004 Jul 01 21:57

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[vox] Discussion: WiFi hospitality and GNU/Linux values
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[vox] Discussion: WiFi hospitality and GNU/Linux values



Hello, everyone, and the presentation on WiFi security at the June 1
meeting of LUGOD, as well as some recent threads on LUGOD mailing
lists and a newspaper article I saw just this week posted on a more
traditional kind of bulletin board at the CSUS Library, prompt me to a
bit of an open query about how GNU/Linux values might apply.

Here are some ideas that have occurred to me as a possible basis for
dialogue and discussion, which I share in order to invite
consideration of appropriate technical means, as well as of desirable
goals and standards of "open WiFi etiquette."

       (1) Open WiFi hospitality, like free software (often in both
           interpretations), is itself a good thing, since it promotes
           communication and community.

       (2) Anyone enjoying this hospitality should be ready to
           cooperate with certain measures, such as a login
           procedure, designed both to make the guest user
           identifiable in appropriate situations to others
           on the Internet, much as with a conventional ISP,
           and to protect the privacy of others on the WiFi
           host system and the integrity of the host filesystem.

       (3) Thus we might seek out Unix/GNU/Linux traditions and
           models, ranging from rlogin to anonymous FTP and the
           GNU Public License, which could help in devising
           technical solutions and conventions of etiquette
           fostering free WiFi hospitality with a reasonable
           level of security for all involved.

Here, as with the GPL, I might argue that a mild and friendly level of
structure -- protecting against someone copyrighting a free software
program and restricting access to source code, or using a WiFi system
for abuse of the 'Net (e.g. spamming) which might get attributed to
the main user(s) of the system offering this hospitality -- could
benefit both those wanting to provide a valuable community resource
and those wanting responsibly to enjoy it.

Also, there could be protocols to set a maximum number of simultaneous
guest WiFi users on a system (as with FTP), a policy I read some
providers are actually following, or to set a level of "niceness"
(lower priority) for processes initiated by guest users.

To conclude, what I propose is a consideration of the best technical means
for actualizing a paradigm of WiFi host users who may choose to open their
systems to general community users while maintaining a reasonable level of
security and confidence, and of WiFi guest users who, in return for
cooperating with some moderate technical constraints (e.g. a procedure
like rlogin or a more secure SSH equivalent), can help build and enjoy a
friendlier neighborhood and global community.

Most appreciatively,

Margo Schulter
mschulter@calweb.com


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