I need to connect to a VPN from a linux box. It has to be possible... right?
October 24, 2007 8:39 AM   Subscribe

LinuxFilter: Help me solve one last hurdle thats keeping me from going to linux full time at home. VPN issues are making me mad.

I use linux full time at work (Ubuntu Dapper and FC 7). At home, I have a Ubuntu Fiesty desktop, and my Windows XP laptop. The only reason I haven't switched my laptop to a lixux distro is because I cannot figure out how to connect to work's VPN with linux. Oh hive mind, if you can help me figure this out, I would be forever grateful!

* I currently connect to a SmoothWall VPN with my windows box. It's a L2TP VPN, and I have all the necessary certificates, passwords, etc and helper exe as mentioned for client installation in this page. I'm configured as a 'road warrior', meaning that I can connect from any IP address.
* Although I can definitely take care of myself under linux, and the terminal is my friend, i'm not a huge linux guru or anything like that. I can follow directions, however, and i'm not opposed to a little trial and error.
* I've read this page about linux client installation here, but i'm getting stumped on the .conf file. All I did was manage to toast my internet connection completely.
* I've googled til I can google no more, and either the solution doesn't exist, or I'm just completely missing it. The solutions for the Cisco VPN client do not help me.
* I'm not tied to a particular linux distro. If for some reason there's an easy solution under another distro, i'm willing to use that if it'll solve my problems (iff i can get my wireless to work under it!). Otherwise, Ubuntu is what i'll be using.
* I will have a VMWare XP install available as well, if that helps. (Unfortunately, I do need to test some sites under IE, and IE under Wine *is not* the same.)
* I work for a small consulting company, and our sole IT guy is swamped. I can ask him specific questions, but I can't bother him for troubleshooting, etc.

I know I'm asking a lot, but if anyone can point me in the right direction, or even has helpful advice, I'm listening. (And if you have an actual solution, you'd be my hero!) This is the single problem keeping me from ditching windows as my primary OS completely. (That, and some wireless connection problems, but i'm convinced I could figure those out one I get this nailed down.)
posted by cgg to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have a diagnosis of your problem, but I had problems with the cisco client two years ago when I was trying to set up vpn with ubuntu. I ended up solving most of my problems by using VPNC. (google 'vpnc ubuntu' for several how-tos)

Yes, it's anecdotal, but who knows - it may help.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:11 AM on October 24, 2007

Have you read this article found on google by searching "linux l2tp client"?
posted by doomtop at 9:13 AM on October 24, 2007

chrisamiller, I use vpnc and love it, but I think it's a Cisco-only solution.
posted by the dief at 9:53 AM on October 24, 2007

From what I've gathered, setting up a VPN can be pretty difficult, so you're not alone.

You have a big post, but you don't include any sort of error messages or say exactly what won't work. Is any part of the process of setting it up working? Have you setup all firewalls to let VPN connections through? Are you able to ping either side?

If you'd like to try a non-l2tp vpn, you could try setting up a tun(4) through ssh. Here's a page for how to do that under Ubuntu.
posted by philomathoholic at 1:05 PM on October 24, 2007

If using L2TP is problematic for you, an alternative may be to try OpenVPN. It has a software SSL tunnel approach to encrypted traffic. It can be configured to be a server and client on many operating systems.

On Windows, it even appears to the OS as a separate network connection and Windows doesn't know the difference.

It hasn't failed me once in the 2-3 years I've been using it.
posted by wesley at 9:27 PM on October 24, 2007

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