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One Click Campus VPN using only OSS

I figured I'd finally sit down and mess with Network Manager since I recently upgraded to Edgy Eft and it looked all purdy and such. Unfortunately, even the version of nm included in Eft is behind on some plugins. Fortunately, this ubuntu forums post had already done the hard work on getting the right code, then it was just a matter of figuring out the right configuration.

(read more for the gory details)

For edgy:

  1. aptitude remove network-manager-gnome network-manager libnm-util0
  2. aptitude install vpnc
  3. download the two packages from the thread above, and dpkg -i to install them
  4. Reboot (I tried just restarting dbus, and re-running the applet, but it caused some odd problems -- just reboot)

And you're up and running with a version of network manager that knows how to set up vpnc connections.

For other distributions (dapper users can follow the directions linked to on the other thread above), just get yourself a recent CVS of Network Manager including the vpnc plugin.

Next up, time to create the connection itself.

Under the VPN section of the applet (or run nm-vpn-properties), add a new vpn type. Your only choice will be vpnc for type of vpn, and use the following settings:

  • Gateway:
  • Group Name: vpn-auth (NOT vpn-auth-mga -- unfortunately, the vpnc client doesn't support mga)
  • Open up Optional Information
  • Override user name:
  • When you authenticate, you'll need your gatorlink password and the group key which is fortunately easy to obtain. First, login to the vpn download page, and grab a copy of the .pcf file. Look for the "encrypted" group key and use the web tool or c source to decrypt the password.

Tada! Using keyring to securely store the authentication credentials you can quickly and easily login to the UF vpn from anywhere.

There are a couple of caveats, however. First, by using the vpn-auth group instead of vpn-auth-mga, you're opening yourself up to some security risks. While it's unlikely this could happen, think long and hard about what you're doing and whether it's worth the increased risk.

Another possible solution I haven't investigated at this point is to use the l2tp vpn service also available on the vpn server with openvpn since there are also openvpn plugins to network manager. This would be much more secure, but also much more of a headache to configure.

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How I did it for Ubuntu 7.10

For folks using Gutsy Gibbon (7.10) here's how I got it to work.

  1. Open up Synaptic Package Manager and search for "vpn"
  2. Select network-manager-vpnc, vpnc and apply the packages to your install
  3. Reboot and it should appear as an option along with your networking status
  4. Follow the step in this tutorial for Gateway, Group Name, etc.
  5. You should be able to connect at this point

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