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Mac: Setting Up Network Locations

 

Mac OS X loses EUI-WiFi and/or eduroam Network connection settings:

 

 

Problem

After having succesfully configured and used EUI-WiFi and/or eduroam at the EUI, you return to the Institue after having visited another institution, and used its wifi, and your Mac does not connect to EUI's wireless network anymore.

 

Platform / Software Affected

  • Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
  • Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion).

 

Technical Explanation

Mac OS X has a powerful tool which can manage multiple network profiles (called Locations). However, if it is not used correctly, that is locations are not setup correctly, it will use the defualt Automatic profile for any existing network and overwrite/update it whenever a new (wireless) network is used.

With the time, even if EUI-WiFi and/or eduroam have correctly been configured and have been working before, if configured on the Automatic location, their settings (above all 801.x and Validation Certificates) may get overwritten by other wireless networks and thus not work anymore once back at the EUI.

 

Solution

The solution is to create a network profile (Location) specific to the EUI (and be sure NOT to use it when off-campus) and at least another one (e.g. On Mission) to use when visiting and joining other institutions' networks in order for the EUI settings to not get messed up.

 

What is a "Location"?

A "Location" is a set of network preferences. Network preferences has a Location menu that you can use for changing or creating locations.

Users of portable computers frequently connect to the Internet or networks in different ways in different places, so "location" reminds you that Mac OS X has the ability to store different sets of customised and tailored network preferences, which you may name for the location in which you use them (e.g. EUI, Home, Office, Library, On Mission, At Hotels, etc).

 

The "Automatic" Location

By default, Mac OS X uses one location named Automatic, and all available ports are set to active status. A port (or "network interface") may be Ethernet, Wi-Fi or any other device used to connect to the Internet (AirPort, Modem, etc.).

The name Automatic is a little bit misleading as it ONLY means that Mac OS X automatically searches all active network ports for your connection to the Internet. For example you use a Ethernet at home but have Wi-Fi at work: if you set up both of these ports then travel between work and home, Mac OS X automatically detects which port is connected to the Internet.

Its main limitation, infact, is that it does NOT automatically create a new location for each network it detects, resulting instead in (the Automatic) settings being continuously overwritten while joining new networks.

 

Creating EUI and Other Locations

The above said, and since the single Automatic location does not meet our needs, the ICT strongly recommends creating a unique location for each of the different ways you may connect your Mac to the various networks.

On the Network pane in System Preferences, use the Location pop-up menu to create a new location name as follows:

  1. In the Location pop-up menu, select Edit Locations....
  2. The Locations sheet will appear. This displays a list of the location names presently defined on your device. Click the + (plus) button to create a new location. A new name will appear in the list of locations in the sheet. The new location will be named Untitled. (If you already have a location with that name, the new one will be named Untitled 2, etc.).

    Select the name of the new location in the sheet, and edit it to give it a more descriptive name. Create one specific to the EUI and name it accordingly. Take the opportunity to create other locations you may find useful, such as Ethernet OnlyOn Mission, At Cafe, At Hotels, Offline, etc.
    The Action (gear) pop-up menu contains commands to duplicate an existing location (which will give the copy a new name), or to rename an existing location.
     
    Please Note: you do NOT need to immediately create all the locations you might eventually need; you may choose to create just the location(s) you need initially, then return to this procedure later.
     

  3. Click Done to save the new location name;

  4. The new location has been created with some default settings and its name will now appear in the Location pop-up menu.
     

    Please Note: default settings may vary depending on the Mac hardware and any ports connected to a network at the time you create the location.
     

  5. Click the Apply button in the Network pane.
  6. If you need to create additional locations, repeat the steps above.

 

If there are any locations you will not be using (for example, perhaps you have decided not to use the Automatic location), we stronlgy reccomend, to delete them to avoid confusion and over-crowding: select Edit Locations... from the Location pop-up menu and, for each location you wish to delete, select it then click the - (minus) button.
Once finished, click Done followed by Apply (back in the Network pane) to save your changes.

At this point you have one or more locations created, including the EUI one, but have not yet configured them properly. Infact, when you create a new location, its initial configuration has settings that are usually inappropriate for use at least with the campus network. Thus you still need to configure your newly created EUI location as described below and you may need to to this for each location you created.

 

Configuring EUI and Other Locations

Any location you create begins initially with a default configuration. The initial configuration is usually not appropriate at least for use with the EUI network thus you must reconfigure the EUI location accordingly for use with the campus network. However, the procedure below may be used to configure any other location you created:

  1. Select the EUI location in the Location pop-up menu;
  2. Make sure at least the Ethernet port and the Wi-Fi port are present; by clicking on the + (plus) button and by selecting them in the Interface dropdown menu;
  3. If you are using a 64bit Mac OS X, you may take the opportunity to add and activate the VPN port as well;
  4. If none of the above ports are present, click on the + (plus) button and choose the according port from the Interface dropdown list, then click OK to add it to the current location;
  5. On the opposite, you can remove any unnecessary ports just by selecting them and clicking on the - (minus) button.

The above are the minimum ports to be added and activated for the use with EUI's network. Ports needed in other locations depend mainly on the purpose of teach location: for example an Ethernet Only location will only need the Ethernet port to be selected and so on.

 

Switching Between EUI and Other Locations

After creating any necessary locations, and having properly configured them, all that remains is to select your current location. You may do so in either of the following ways:

  • Use the Location hierarchical menu, located in the Apple menu. It lists the name of each of the locations currently defined: select one to quickly change to that location;
  • Open System Preferences application, select the appropriate location from the Location pop-up menu, then click the Apply button.

Please Note: when you select a different location, any connections that were present at the time you switch location may be disconnected. Any network application that was running before you switched locations may stop working and you may need to quit and restart the application.

 

 

Page last updated on 20 August 2017