I really don’t enjoy using Windows for general purpose things - I’ll grant that some special applications require this, and I understand that many businesses use Windows as the only operating system on their network. But I really hate it when on my computer I have no choice but to use Windows, whether it be in order to connect into someone’s network - be this because someone’s web page only works in Internet Explorer (when will Firefox finally have enough market share that it starts getting sites that only support it?) or because they require you to have special software in order that they can monitor your computer’s antivirus status.

The issue that prompted this rant comes from UAH, which I will begin attending in August. Unfortunately, they have attempted to secure their wireless network using a solution from Cisco, which forces the users of the network to run Cisco NAC Agent - which only supports Windows, and the even more expensive and closed Mac’s. And why do they use this program? - so that they can ensure that everyone connecting to their network has an up-to-date antivirus solution, even offering a free download of McAfee for anyone who doesn’t have antivirus (thanks, but I’d rather have my computer work). Think it would even recognize Clamav? I doubt it somehow - I might have to experiment with it though. Still, I think I could handle the security on my computer better than Cisco’s automated service could - I have managed to setup a server and install Gentoo. Still worried? I’ll throw on Clamav to my new BSD install and read up on computer security, and write some firewall rules for IPFW (a BSD firewall) or the like. I’d certainly not put a program that could screw around with my antivirus, because who knows what kind of security holes that could have. I’d be more comfortable with this if it was open source, so that at least the aspects of the system that it monitors could be checked, to ensure that the only thing it monitors is my antivirus.

Aside from my personal problems with having to use Windows or OSX just to get into UAH’s wireless network, I also feel that it is unfair to force people to pay for an operating system when they could get one for free if they so desired. To get an OEM copy of Windows cost around one hundred dollars, and that’s just one of the basic versions (a future rant - how many versions of Windows 7 there are). Sure, most people have Windows already installed on their system when they buy it, but they have the option to get the money refunded if they decline the EULA and call Microsoft (a hard choice to be sure, but for a cashed strapped college student it might be worth it). And don’t even get me started about Apple products (speaking of which, given the Unix like setup of Apple, how hard would it be to port this NAC to other *nix systems?).

In short, although I will be contacting the administer of the system to see if I can get an exception made, this will probably force me to run Windows, ironically resulting in my security being reduced. I should easily be able to set up a virtual machine within Windows that will be able to share the network connection, but this is far less efficient than using the Linux system I have dual booting with Windows on my laptop. All in all, I’m very disappointed that the network administrator(s) at UAH decided to go this route, even if I do understand, even praise, the idea of increasing network security.