How To: Cisco Systems VPN with Ubuntu 11.10 / 10.10 GNU/Linux

What you'll need:
  • gateway DNS name or IP address for the VPN
  • username/password for access to the VPN server
  • group name/password for the VPN settings
  • Special Note - these instructions are for connecting to the VPN using the Cisco Systems VPN client. If you are looking for instructions related to using the open source alternative to the Cisco AnyConnect client (openconnect), have a look at my post entitled: How To Connect Ubuntu Linux to Cisco VPN with openconnect (anyconnect-capable alternative)
First, install these packages to extend the functionality of the graphical network manager in Ubuntu:
sudo apt-get install vpnc network-manager-vpnc


At this point you can try restarting your session (ctrl-alt-backspace if you have it configured via keyboard>Layout Settings>Options>Key Sequence to kill the X server), but it may take a full reboot of the computer for the settings to take effect.

Now, open the network manager, hover over VPN Connections, then click Configure VPN..., then click Add, select "Cisco Compatible VPN (vpnc)". Tip: if, for some reason, your network manager icon is not displaying the VPN Connections selection, launch the terminal (ctrl+alt+t) and start a new Network Manager applet with the command 'nm-applet' (no quotes). This will make two Network Manager controls, but the second one will likely have the "VPN Connections" control.





Enter your username, groupname, group password (set the dropdown to save the group password if it is very long ).

Ubuntu 11.10 Example:


 Ubuntu 10.10 Example:


Click Apply to save the connection settings. To connect, simply click the Network Manager icon in your panel, hover over VPN connections, click your connection, then enter your VPN password when prompted. Easy, peasy.. That's it!



Related Tip: To convert your *.pcf vpn client profiles to vpnc format, try the instructions here:  http://baheyeldin.com/cisco/converting-cisco-easy-vpn-pcf-files-linux-vpnc-configuration-format.html



Shannon VanWagner
14 December 2011

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