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vpnc (for Cisco VPNs with 2-factor authentication) on Ubuntu

In order to connect to firewall and DRACs of our new Rackspace cluster, I had to setup a VPN connection. Rackspace gave us a Cisco ASA device which is firewall and vpn in one. In order to connect to the VPN the client needs to do 2-factor authentication.

At first I tried to install the necessary add-ons for Ubuntu's network-manager, but after I spent an hour or so trying to make it work, I took an alternate route.


Here's all you need to get started:

$ sudo aptitude install vpnc


Create a configuration file — I called mine rackspace.conf:

$ gksudo gedit /etc/vpnc/rackspace.conf

I put in the following:

IPSec gateway X.X.X.X
Xauth username USERNAME
Xauth password PASSWORD

Obviously, the capitalized values need to be replaced:

  • IPSec gateway: the VPN's gateway/address
  • IPSec ID: the group's name
  • IPSec secret: the group's password
  • Xauth username: the username
  • Xauth password: the password associated with the username

If you're with Rackspace, they'll tell you those exact things when the firewall is provisioned. I gather other ISPs call them similar.

Using your VPN

Once the file is saved, just start the vpn connection:

$ sudo vpnc rackspace
VPNC started in background (pid: 2691)...

Note: Just rackspace is plenty, not rackspace.conf or similar.


$ ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=114 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=113 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=113 ms
--- ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2003ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 113.766/114.199/114.866/0.552 ms

To disconnect it:

$ sudo vpnc-disconnect 
Terminating vpnc daemon (pid: 2691)


That's all.


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