How-to Guides

Biochemistry OpenVPN service: remote access to departmental computing facilities

The Biochemistry OpenVPN (Virtual Private Network) service provides remote access to many facilities on the Biochemistry network.

It allows members of the department to browse file shares, read 'department-only' web pages, run 'Remote Desktop Connection' to control your work PC, ssh to Biochemistry hosts, print to Biochemistry printers, and connect to Oxford-restricted services such as online journals.

To use the OpenVPN service you will need to download and install OpenVPN software, and connect your computer to the internet, for example, via a broadband network connection, or via wireless. Details for various operating systems are below. Note that the OpenVPN service requires a Biochemistry network account.

Once you are connected, read this guide to learn how to access your network shared folders and home directory.

For security reasons, default access to services running on hosts within Biochemistry is restricted to the following ports:

tcp/22 SSH; tcp/80 HTTP; tcp/88 Kerberos; tcp/443 HTTPS; tcp/445 SMB; tcp/515 LPD; tcp/631 IPP; tcp/3389 RDP; tcp/5900 VNC; tcp/9100 JetDirect

Access to these ports should be sufficent in most cases. If you experience difficulty contacting a particular service within Biochemistry from an OpenVPN session, please contact IT Support.

Please note: While connected to the Biochemistry OpenVPN, all your internet traffic goes through the University network. You are therefore bound by the University IT Rules and Regulations until you close the connection again.


There is also the University VPN service. Since it is based outside the department, it does not allow access to department-only services. It does however allow access to Oxford-restricted services such as online journals, and may be useful if you are unable to use the Biochemistry OpenVPN service.


To use the Biochemistry OpenVPN service

  • Choose your operating system and follow the instructions:
  1. Windows
  2. Mac OS X
  3. Android
  4. iOS
  5. Linux


1  OpenVPN Connect for Windows

  1. Go to  https://openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk  leaving the dropdown menu at its default setting of 'Connect' and connect with your Biochemistry network account username and password.
     
  2. Follow the instructions to download and save the OpenVPN Connect msi file.
     
  3. Click on the downloaded msi file, then click 'Run' in response to the 'Do you want to run this file' popup.  You will need to have local administrator privileges to do this.
     
  4. When the installation is complete, an OpenVPN Connect icon will appear on the desktop.  To ensure that it also appears in the System Tray at the right hand end of the Taskbar:
    1. On Windows 7, select 'Show hidden icons' in the System Tray, then 'customize', and change the setting for OpenVPN Connect to 'Show icon and notifications'; or
    2. On Windows 10, left-click the start menu, select Settings | System | Notifications & actions | Select which icons appear on the taskbar, and set OpenVPN Connect to 'On'.
       
  5. To connect, click the OpenVPN Connect icon in the System Tray and select 'Connect to openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk'. Enter your Biochemistry username and password and click on 'Connect'.  On first connection, click 'Yes' in response to the 'Allow connection to openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk?' popup, ensuring the 'Don't ask again' box is ticked.
     
  6. To disconnect, click the OpenVPN Connect icon in the System Tray and select 'Disconnect openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk'.


2  OpenVPN Connect for Mac OS X

  1. Go to  https://openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk  leaving the dropdown menu at its default setting of 'Connect' and connect with your Biochemistry network account username and password.
     
  2. Follow the instructions to download and save the OpenVPN Connect dmg file.
     
  3. Double-click on the downloaded dmg file to install it. Depending on your own system settings, installation may get blocked with the message "OpenVPN Connect Installer.pkg can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer." In this case, you'll need to go to System Preferences | Security & Privacy and permit the installation to proceed by clicking "Open Anyway".

    Depending on your version of Mac OS X, you may find that doing this isn't enough to get the installer running properly. If so, unlock the system preferences by clicking the padlock icon at the bottom left (entering administrator credentials) and change the "Allow Apps Downloaded From" setting to "Anywhere". Run the installer and then return "Allow Apps Downloaded From" to its previous setting.
     
  4. When the installation is complete, an OpenVPN Connect icon will appear on the toolbar.
     
  5. To connect, click the OpenVPN Connect icon and select 'Connect to openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk'. Enter your Biochemistry username and password and click on 'Connect'.  On first connection, click 'Yes' in response to the 'Allow connection to openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk?' popup, ensuring the 'Don't ask again' box is ticked.
     
  6. To disconnect, click the OpenVPN Connect icon and select 'Disconnect openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk'.
     
  7. If you are running Mac OS "Sierra", we have noticed that the standard OpenVPN client can give the appearance of being connected but in reality the connection has dropped. If you experience this, we have tried https://tunnelblick.net as an alternative, and it appears to work OK


3  OpenVPN Connect for Android

  1. Go to  https://openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk  and login with your Biochemistry network account username and password.
     
  2. Select the 'OpenVPN for Android' link, which takes you to the Google Play Store.
     
  3. Follow the instructions there to download, install and open the app.
     
  4. Select Import from the menu, then choose 'Import Access Server Profile'.
     
  5. Enter openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk as the Access Server hostname, then your Biochemistry username and password.
     
  6. Leave 'Import autologin profile' unticked and select 'Import Profile'.
     
  7. You'll be presented with a Connect screen, with your Biochemistry username already entered. Fill in your Biochemistry password (leaving 'Save' unticked) and select 'Connect'.
     
  8. Grant permission to connect (once only).
     
  9. Once connected, select the Home button.
     
  10. To disconnect, swipe down to show Notifications, select 'OpenVPN', then select 'Disconnect'.


4  OpenVPN Connect for iOS

  1. Connect to  https://openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk  with your browser. Enter your Biochemistry network account username and password, make sure the drop-down is set to 'Login' and click 'Go'.
     
  2. Click the link 'OpenVPN Connect for iOS' to take you to the App store and OpenVPN iOS App. Download and launch this App.
     
  3. Set up your connection by entering  openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk  into the second option down ('If you are importing a profile from an OpenVPN Access Server…') and clicking 'Go'.
     
  4. Your browser should now be ready to download your profile ('client.ovpn'). Choose 'Open in OpenVPN'.
     
  5. The OpenVPN App should now be prompting you that your profile is available for import. Click the circular green (+) button to import it.
     
  6. When given the prompt 'Allow OpenVPN to enable VPN connection?', choose 'Yes'.
     
  7. You should now have a VPN connection running.
     
  8. The normal iOS System Preferences will now show your OpenVPN configuration in the usual VPN list and is able to terminate the connection.
     
  9. To re-make the connection another time, you’ll need to launch the OpenVPN App and click the App’s Connection on/off switch. Leave 'Password Save' off to make sure you're prompted for your Biochemistry password each time you connect.


5  OpenVPN Connect for Linux

  1. Go to  https://openvpn.bioch.ox.ac.uk  and login with your Biochemistry network account username and password.
     
  2. Select the link to the user-locked profile and download the connection profile file (called client.ovpn), for subsequent use with an OpenVPN client.
     
  3. Then select the 'OpenVPN for Linux' link and follow the instructions for installing an OpenVPN client and for running it with the connection profile file (client.ovpn) that you downloaded in step b.
  4.  
  5. Note: Some versions of the openvpn client (such as 2.3.3 which comes with ubuntu 14.04) are too old to work with the OpenVPN server. In such a case, install a more recent version available from https://community.openvpn.net/openvpn/wiki/OpenvpnSoftwareRepos

 



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