New Student FAQ

We're so excited you're coming to Brown! Here are the answers to some common technology questions we've heard from incoming students.

If you have a question that's not addressed here, please get in touch with the IT Service Center. We're looking forward to meeting you and helping you with technology during your time at Brown!

Brown University students in the fall

Computers and Software

What computer should I bring to Brown?
Most students at Brown bring laptops. For most purposes, Mac and Windows PCs work equally well. We estimate around 65% of students have Mac laptops, and 35% Windows. Some also bring Linux computers or Chromebooks. Chromebooks work great for email, paper writing, Zoom and Canvas (our online learning system), though they have some limitations that prevent them from using some scientific and research software applications.

We have some general buying recommendations on our Buying a Computer page.

Do I get a discount on computers? 
The Brown Bookstore Technology Center offers student pricing, affordable Safeware warranty coverage, and ongoing warranty support on Apple, Lenovo and Microsoft Surface computers.

You also might find some good prices from some of our favorite computer brands on their own student sites:

Are there loaner laptops available?
Yes! We have loaner laptops available including Windows PCs, MacBooks, and Chromebooks. If your laptop is broken and under repair or you need a short-term rental, the IT Service Center is happy to help. More information about IT Service Center equipment loans

What software is available for incoming students?
We're glad you asked! Before you buy any software, check software.brown.edu to see if we already offer it for free. Four titles you should especially note are Microsoft Office, Rosetta Stone, Adobe Creative Cloud, and LinkedIn Learning.

What type of computer support is available?
If your computer has a problem, the IT Service Center  can help you troubleshoot software and configuration issues. However, they don't repair student computers, so if you need a repair or part, they'll send you a block away to the Brown Bookstore Technology Center. The Bookstore supports Safeware warranty service when purchased with a computer from the Bookstore, as well as Apple service and factory service for other brands, under current warranty coverage or for a fee.

Printing

Student printing is currently available at a central location through the MyPrint-Pickup service. Students are provided with $30 in printing credits each year, and can add additional funds if needed.

Wifi

Is wifi available throughout campus?
Yes! We're proud of our wireless coverage and improving it all the time. All of our campus residence halls and most outside areas have fast wireless and great coverage.

What network should I connect to?
On your phone, tablet, or laptop, definitely connect to Brown! It's our most secure and highest performance network. If you use Brown-Guest instead, your traffic is not fully encrypted. However, we've made it available for campus guests, and for devices that can't connect to Brown (like gaming systems and printers). 

How do I connect my gaming system / wireless printer / Roku / etc.?
Simply connect them to the Brown-Guest network. We've found that most streaming and gaming devices are able to connect, as well as some wireless printers. If you aren't able to configure the Brown-Guest network directly on your device, you may be able to add it manually through our wireless registration page. However, some wireless printers may not be able to connect, so you may need to use a USB cable instead. Unfortunately, Chromecasts and many consumer-class smart devices such as smart bulbs, smart plugs, and Sonos systems aren't designed to work on an enterprise-class network like Brown's, so they may not work at all. 

Can I plug in with an Ethernet cable?
Though you may see Ethernet ports in residence halls, they are disabled by default because they are used so rarely. Disabling them helps Brown be greener and save power. If you have a device that isn't wifi enabled, you can use a wifi adapter to connect it. The IT Service Center can help.

Television

Is there cable at Brown?
We provide basic channels through our TV/DVR service, which uses a product called Philo. You can watch anywhere on campus as long as you're connected to Brown's wireless network (Brown).

What kind of TV should I bring?
We actually don't recommend bringing a TV unless you plan to use it for gaming or some other specific purpose. Our TV service, Philo, can be viewed on your computer or using an app on your tablet or smartphone. It works on Brown wifi. It's actually more complicated to view channels on a TV - you'd need to hook your computer up to the TV (for example, with an HDMI cable) or use a Roku. 

How do I watch TV?
Check out our instructions for watching Philo on different devices.

Phones

Are there land lines in residence halls?
No, but we offer free videoconferencing through Zoom as well as a VOIP app called Jabber available by request (at no cost). The Jabber app can be used on phones, tablets, and computers. The app gives you a local Brown phone number, and you can make and receive local calls from that number.

Do Brown students get cell phone discounts?
Yes - check out discount codes on our Buying a Cell Phone page.

Course Resources

Where can I find information about courses, like syllabi?
Courses@Brown is a great place to browse courses. In many cases, instructors have uploaded syllabi.

Does Brown have online courseware / a Learning Management System?
Yes, we use Canvas!  You can access Brown's Canvas system at canvas.brown.edu.

How can I get help with Canvas if I’m having technical trouble? 
Canvas has 24/7 support for students.  When you log into canvas.brown.edu, use the Help button in the low left corner to live chat or submit a ticket.

What should I expect if I have remote or hybrid courses at Brown? 
The Digital Learning & Design team has created an Online and Hybrid Learning Guide for students complete with tips and tricks to have a successful learning experience.

Written by dsrogers@brown.edu on