College Dorm Guide

So, you got hooked on Kazaa when you were in high school, but now that you're in college, you're horribly disappointed that it doesn't work anymore.  WHAT?  WHO DID THIS!!!???

Well, your school has probably blocked it from their network.  You, of course, want to know how and why they did that.  Well, the short answer is there are two reasons:

  1. Giving thousands of students Internet access is not cheap.  Like any business, your school wants to do things the cheapest way possible.  Now, unlike Cable and DSL providers, who have to compete with each other for your business, your school is your only connection to the Internet.  So if they decide to cut you off from Kazaa, there isn't much you can do about it.
  2. Your school doesn't want to be the next one to be sued by the RIAA.

If you read my Firewall and Router Guide, you know that everyone on your school's network is probably sharing one connection to the Internet, and shares one IP address.  This means that everyone who connects to the Internet connects through the same computer.

When Kazaa was first released, it defaulted to having your incoming port set to 1214.  This meant that all a network administrator needed to do to block Kazaa is block port 1214.

Later versions of Kazaa made the incoming port a random value.  This made it harder to block in college environments.

Well, at Chapman University (where I go to school), the administration responded by blocking EVERY port except the ones used for basic programs like web browsing, AIM, e-mail, etc.  There are also programs that can analyze all the packets that go through your router and block ones that are used by Kazaa.

As it turns out, Kazaa packets are very similar to HTTP packets.  The only difference is that when a connection is initially established, the packets are encrypted.  This is because Sharman is a stingy corporation that does not want anyone to write their own Kazaa-compatible program.

On the other hand, the Gnutella network does not encrypt packets.  As a result, I am able to connect to Gnutella when I'm at school (for the time being, anyway).  I can also connect to eDonkey and BitTorrent (although I can't upload to BitTorrent, so that effectively kills my download speeds).

And now the reason you are here: to find out how to get around your school's firewall.

Well, there is no one solution for everyone, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Try a different network.  Kazaa is the most popular P2P program, and therefore the most monitored and filtered.  eDonkey and Gnutella will probably give you the best results.
  • My school requires us to use an HTTP proxy server to connect to the Internet.  There are two kinds of HTTP proxy servers: ones that support HTTPS, and ones that do not.  HTTPS is encrypted HTTP, so in order to pass HTTPS traffic, your proxy server must not be able to understand the data it is transferring.  If your proxy server supports HTTPS, most eDonkey clients (NOT Shareaza) will let you use it to connect to their network.  Of course, your school can also decide to block eDonkey through the proxy server, but many administrators don't worry too much about what goes through an HTTP proxy server, since HTTP proxy servers do not support UDP and some TCP applications.
  • A better solution would be to try and find a public SOCKS 5 proxy server.  These support all TCP programs, and some of them support UDP as well.  The best way to do this is to use Tor.
  • A lot of California state schools have a private Direct Connect hub.  This allows students there to swap files with each other.  Plus, since they are all on the same network, they get MUCH faster transfer speeds than you will over the Internet.
  • Make a friend who is a Computer Science major.  These guys know all about how to download stuff off the Internet.  You might even get lucky enough to be able to just tell him what you want, and he'll give you everything on a CD.
  • Try IRC.  It's not a P2P program, but instead you download from bots on IRC channels.  It works much better though firewalls, too.  But it is difficult to use.
  • First, you'll need mIRC.  Then you can find a list of files to download at Packetnews.