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VPN and Remote-Desktop for GNU/Linux

To connect to my work's MS network, I needed to set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection. This page details is the methods I use to connect to a Cisco 3000 VPN Concentrator.

Note: to connect using the VPN, the firewall may need to be disabled during the connect.

Cisco VPN Client

My work provided the Cisco VPN client software for me to use. Note that the below example is on Slackware Linux, for Redhat and several other distributions replace rc.d with init.d.

I unpacked and installed it:

tar -xzvf vpnclient-linux-3.7.3.A-k9.tar.gz
cd vpnclient
/etc/rc.d/vpnclient_init start

To save time, I copied the .pcf file (used to store the connection details) from a windows machine (it's easy enough to set up if you don't have one):

cp clientname.pcf /etc/CiscoSystemsVPNClient/Profiles/

To connect:

vpnclient connect clientname

To set this up, so you don't have to be logged in as root to initiate the vpn client, you need to use...


To setup a command that only root could normally run, use visudo;

Here is an example to allow the use of the VPN service:

Cmnd_Alias VPN=/etc/rc.d/vpnclient_init

Now, the command can be run from user (roqetman) as:

sudo /etc/rc.d/vpnclient_init start

and to stop the VPN software:

sudo /etc/rc.d/vpnclient_init stop

Running vpnconnect will however take over your terminal, so if you don't want to open another terminal or use screen, you can push it into the background by typing ctrl-z followed by bg after the vpnconnect line.

VPNC on Ubuntu

There are several ways to get the Cisco client to work on Ubuntu, but I find that the native vpnc package works best.

To install it, type: sudo apt-get install vpnc

To convert the .pcf file that my company provided, I did the following:

cd /usr/share/vpnc/
./pcf2vpnc clientname.pcf > clientname.conf
cp clientname.conf /etc/vpnc/

To connect, type: sudo vpnc clientname

If you want to setup the configuration file (in this case clientname.conf) manually, you need to use this format:

IPSec gateway gateway.to.use
IPSec ID groupname
IPSec secret passwordforgroup
Xauth username myusername
Xauth password mypassword

You can also use interactive mode buy just typing vpnc and it will ask you all of the above.

To disconnect from the VPN type: sudo vpnc-disconnect

Remote Desktop

Once I'd connected to my work's MS network, I needed to use my Windows XP pc there. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to use remote desktop...

I went to to LinuxPackages (you can get a lot of software specially packed for use on Slackware here).

Downloaded rdesktop (the Linux remote desktop software)

as root:

installpkg rdesktop*

Usage: rdesktop -f IPAddress (this opens the window to full the screen, toggle with ctrl-alt-enter.

Ubuntu usually has this installed by default along with the GUI application to access it (just look for "Remote Desktop").


Use freeBSD? : See this document

Want to install the Cisco VPN Client on Ubuntu? : Take a look here for some advice.

© Roqet :: 2022-03-01 16:07:34