Giganews VPN on Ubuntu

If you enjoyed this article, please leave a comment, rss subscribe to my RSS feed and/or follow me on Twitter. Thank you very much!

This article briefly describes how you can setup the Giganews VPN (PPTP) on Ubuntu. I'm gonna assume 10.04 (that's what I tested with) and the gnome desktop.

Does this sound familiar: The VPN connection 'xxxxx' failed because there were no valid VPN secrets.

If so then I'm hoping this article will help you.

What is a VPN for?

The use-case for a VPN — and this is for basically any VPN (not just Giganews' service) — is security. For example, for online banking when you use public WIFI at airports, train stations or your favorite coffee place.

Unless the VPN service itself is blocked, a VPN also provides real and unfiltered Internet access. No bogus blocks or censorships because your goverment thought they need to protect you.

From a development perspective using different VPNs also allow me to easily test location-based services. And it doesn't stop there — for example since I work for people in the U.S. we often run into issues with services which we use which do things different to me because of my location. A VPN in the U.S. fixes that for me.

And there are more and more use-cases once you think about it.

Setup

You may have to install PPTP support for the network-manager.

The easiest is to use a terminal, and this is how:

sudo aptitude install network-manager-pptp

In case the VPN related things were missing, installing PPTP support gets everything setup for you.

Configuration

Giganews currently supports the following VPN endpoints:

  • us1.vpn.giganews.com (LA, CA)
  • us2.vpn.giganews.com (Washington, DC)
  • eu1.vpn.giganews.com (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • hk1.vpn.giganews.com (Hong Kong, China)

Here is how you configure the VPN connection:

  1. Go to Connections > VPN Connections > Configure VPN
  2. Click "Add", then select "PPTP" from the dropdown and hit "Create".
  3. Put in anything for the name: Since I setup various different VPN connections, I used something like "giganews-us2".
  4. In the gateway field I put us2.vpn.giganews.com.
  5. Username is my Giganews username.
  6. Password is my Giganews password.
  7. Then click "Advanced", check "Use Point-to-Point encryption" and click "OK".
  8. Finally, click "Apply".

Here's a small gotcha — for whatever reason this doesn't work yet.

So you have to restart the network-manager:

sudo restart network-manager

The final step: Then go to Connections > VPN Connections > giganews-us2 and it should connect you.

Thoughts?

Giganews Free Trial Let's not argue about PPTP vs. OpenVPN vs. L2TP/IPSec — this VPN service is basically included in my usenet subscription and I wanted to take advantage of it.

I realize that PPTP isn't the most awesome (read most secure) out there, but for some weird reason Giganews currently only offers PPTP or L2TP/IPsec — with the latter being a complete b*tch to setup on Ubuntu or Linux in general. I have no idea why OpenVPN is not offered.

Fin

That's all. I had to blog it and hope this is helpful to someone out there.

| More