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Second Life

through

a proxy

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Abstract

This document describes how to play Second Life and other stubborn online games in restricted places where all Internet connectivity is through a web proxy or a restrictive firewall only.

Note that the approach described here involves an application called Your Freedom. This application and the corresponding service is free to use in its rudimentary form and for testing, but in order to use more sophisticated service components permanently, a service package needs to be bought. The service needed to play games like Second Life is not very expensive though (less than 4 EUR per month).

This HOWTO focuses on Windows but similar things can be done with other operating systems as well. Please contact the author if you need assistance.

Some pictures in this HOWTO enlarge if you click on them.

So what's the problem with SL?

Second Life, like many online games, relies on your PC's ability to use a communications protocol called UDP, or Universal Datagram Protocol. Web proxy servers however only allow the connection oriented protocol TCP (transmission control protocol) to pass through, and many will not even allow TCP except for connections to HTTPS web sites. There are proxies compliant to the SOCKS5 standard that can forward UDP but they are rare, plus Second Life no longer contains a configuration option for a proxy.

To summarize: there are two obstacles here.

  1. You cannot configure a proxy server in Second Life (like you can in your web browser)
  2. Even if you could, your proxy server would not support the required protocols

So what you you do? Basically you need to change your connectivity situation to match the one that you likely have at home: you need to be behind a router that hides your internal subnet and allows for unrestricted outbound traffic and corresponding reply traffic.

The Your Freedom approach

Prerequisites

In order to play Second Life though a proxy you need administrative rights on your PC. You need this to install the game itself as well so it's probably a safe bet that you have the necessary rights. You certainly do if it's your PC.

Create a Your Freedom account

Visit the Your Freedom web site and set up an account. You probably cannot do this from a highly restrictive place so it's best if you do it from home. Click on the link below the login and password form fields:

Picture

This will take you to a registration form that requests many details; note that the only things you really have to fill in are:

Choose a username that contains ASCII letters and digits only (@ is good as well), you should avoid punctuation and special characters. The less commonplace it is the less likely it is that it is not already taken (you could use your email address, for example!). Letter case does not matter here (it does with the password).

Your password should be at least 6 characters long and should not be easy to guess. It is not a good idea to use a password that you use for other services (e.g. to play Second Life) already. You won't have to enter this password very often so make it random and write it down somewhere. On an old-fashioned slip of paper.

Your email address needs to be functional because the web site will send you an email containing an activation link. Then click on "Create Account". On the next page, verify that you've typed in the correct email address, then click on "Create account now!".

Now check your email box. You should have received an email to confirm your account creation (it may take a while, be patient and be sure that it does not end up in a SPAM folder!); click the link in there to confirm your email address. If you can't for whatever reason, please forward the email to info@your-freedom.net and state the account name you've chosen; the support staff will activate it for you.

Once your account and email has been confirmed you should be able to log in on www.your-freedom.net.

(All following steps need to be taken on the PC that you would like to play Second Life on and currently cannot.)

Ensure OpenVPN is installed on your PC

The approach described here uses the OpenVPN mode of Your Freedom. In order to use it you need OpenVPN support on your PC. OpenVPN is free software; you can download it as Windows installer version from the OpenVPN download page.

On Windows Vista and Windows 7 you must ensure that openvpn.exe is executed with admin privileges, or it won't be able to install routes. After the installation, fire up an Explorer window and locate the openvpn.exe binary -- it is usually found in either C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\bin or C:\Program Files (x86)\OpenVPN\bin -- then right-click on openvpn.exe, choose "Properties", go to the "Compatibility" tab and check the "run as administrator" check-box.

Set it all up

Download and install the Your Freedom client

Visit the download page and download the latest installer version. That's the top-most choice of all the options there and the largest file. Then install it. That's very straight-forward, the default options should be just fine.

Getting connected

When you start Your Freedom for the first time (Windows Vista users need to right-click on the desktop icon or start menu item, then select "Run as administrator" in order to use OpenVPN mode) a wizard will show up. Click on "Continue", and you'll see this:

If you are trapped behind a web proxy you need to configure it here. You don't know what to put here? Check out your web browser's settings. In Internet Explorer, choose "Extras", "Internet Options", then select the "Connections" tab. Click on "LAN settings". There is probably a proxy server configured there; note down the address and the port and copy the values into the wizard form. Click on "Continue" when done -- this will test the values you've entered, they either work or they don't or you might need additional data (authentication info). If you are having difficulties completing this step then please ask the Your Freedom support team for assistance. You could also try without a web proxy, or ask your local guru for help.

Let's assume this worked. The configuration wizard will then try to locate Your Freedom servers that you can connect to. This step may take a few minutes so go grab a coffee. If you're lucky you'll end up with a long list of usable servers. All of them will do for starters (except ems10), but your best choices probably are ems01, ems08 and ems16. You need to choose a server that is actually connectible, i.e. that has the word "yes" or a number in one of the columns on the right. For now just choose one of the top-most ones and click on "Next".

The next step is to enter your Your Freedom username and password -- that's the ones you've used to set up the account on the web page and that you've written down.

Click on "Next" when you've filled them in. Then click on "Save and exit".

You should now see the Your Freedom client's main window, just like this one:

Click on "Configure" so we can make a few more adjustments. Another window will open up:

Tick the "Reconnect after server shutdown" checkbox. This only works with paid-for accounts but it doesn't hurt to tick it now. Then click on the "Server Selection" tab and move the sliders to these positions:

To prefer a European or North American server, move the corresponding sliders as well; these values will help the wizard to choose the best servers for you but this is not exact science and not important enough to waste more than a minute with. When done, click on "Save and exit".

You should now be back to the main window. Click on the "Ports" tab. Ensure that it looks exactly like the example below, you must tick the OpenVPN checkbox:

Now go back to the Status tab and finally click on "Start connection". The door icon should go through these stages, from left to right (this may well take 30 seconds, please be patient):

Icon:
State: Closed Unknown Open OpenVPN
Description: The YF connection is closed, you are trapped behind your proxy. The client is trying to connect to the server but has not yet managed. The YF connection is fully functional but OpenVPN is not (yet) up. All is working fine, you are online.

Click on the Messages tab to see what's going on; you need to see an AUTH_OK message and you need to see the "OpenVPN ready, you are online" message.

Fire up Second Life

Admit it, this is what you've waited for! Start Second Life now. Then click on "Preferences" and set your network bandwidth to 60 kbit/s -- this is Your Freedom's default bandwidth if you haven't purchased a package. Setting this value in SL helps SL to judge what's important and what's not and make the most out of the available bandwidth:

Once it all works you'll probably find that things are sluggish with 60 kbit/s of bandwidth and that it takes ages for everything to build up. That's because 60 kbit/s really is the lowest limit, and you need a Your Freedom upgrade package. "Test drive" packages are available for free on the "Packages" page on the Your Freedom web site (be sure you log in first); click on the "Try before you buy" link on the left hand side. If you can't create your test package there just send a nice email to the Your Freedom support staff asking for a test package to evaluate Second Life through Your Freedom; tell them whether you would like to test a BasicFreedom package (256 kbit/s, usable and cheap) or an EnhancedFreedom package (4 Mbit/s, lightning fast and slightly more expensive). Remember to adjust your bandwidth setting in Second Life after you've upgraded the account.

Second Life still does not find its servers!

That's likely because your system does not have a name server configured that is able to resolve the names. Shut down Your Freedom, then go to "Start", "Control Panel", "Network Connections" and right-click on the TAP-WIN32 interface and select "Properties". Find "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)" in the selection list, mark it, then click on "Properties". In the lower half of the window that has opened, configure "85.214.47.70" as DNS server. Click all the OK buttons and try again.

OK, so do I have to buy a package?

Once you have sufficiently tested Your Freedom with Second Life and you are happy with the results, your test package will eventually expire. You'll notice immediately because your Your Freedom account will be back to 60 kbit/s and it will be a pain in the backside. That's the right moment to ask yourself whether you'll be using this in the future and whether or not it's worth a few Euros or Dollars (not Linden-Dollars, I'm afraid) to enjoy the game through a proxy or firewall. If your judgement is positive, please visit the "Packages" page on the Your Freedom web site, log in and consider the packages under offer. Good choices for Second Life are BasicFreedom and EnhancedFreedom, TotalFreedom is overkill. You can always upgrade later without losing money, and there is a full money back guarantee if you are not happy.







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