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I'm trying to understand something. When a client and the radius server start the connection how does things work? Is it always a tls connection and does it use the symmetric encryption after validating certificates like a classic https connection?

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When a client and the radius server start the connection how does things work?

The communication between the EAP supplicant (i.e. client in your question) and the RADIUS server is configured to use one of a number of different EAP methods. These have been developed over decades for a wide variety of applications and uses.

So one of the first things that needs to be negotiated between the two is which EAP method is to be used.

Is it always a tls connection

No, generally speaking, it is not always a TLS connection. Many of the EAP methods do not use encryption as there was no need for it with the way they were intended to be applied.

If you are talking a specific type of application, using 802.11 authentication as an example, then all the EAP methods I am aware of employed for this function do make use of a TLS tunnel. At least two of the most common (EAP-PEAP and EAP-TTLS) actually tunnel an EAP authentication (which may not use encryption) inside the outer EAP method which is only used to establish the TLS tunnel.

and does it use the symmetric encryption after validating certificates like a classic https connection?

Depending on the exact EAP method in question, yes it is often very similar to the use of TLS in an HTTPS connection.

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