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Setting up UF VPN on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)

Written by P. Oscar Boykin and Brett Presnell.

Connecting to UF's VPN (virtual private network) from home (or elsewhere) makes it appear that your IP address is a UF IP, and hence gives you access to library journals and so forth that are licensed by UF (it also encrypts the connection between your computer and campus). This can also be done by using the library's proxy (for that go the UF Library web page and click on Off-Campus Access), but the VPN approach is more seamless.

In the past, connecting via vpn required downloading and installing Cisco's VPN client, which was pretty tricky on linux and, since it ran as a kernel module, the install had to be redone every time your kernel was upgraded. This was a big hassle. Finally though, the native linux VPN client, vpnc, can be easily configured in Ubuntu to connect to UF's VPN and it seems to work very well. I've attached the instructions below.

One minor warning: if you start or end a vpn session while you have an email client running, you will lose your connection to the IMAP server. Similarly any open ssh or other such connections will be dropped. Just to be on the safe side, shut down your email before your start or stop VPN (it's perfectly ok to read your email during a VPN session, and it would be perfectly reasonable to just run VPN all the time so that you always have transparent access).


Posted to linux-l@lists.ufl.edu on 22 Aug 2007 by P. Oscar Boykin
Subsequent updates by Brett Presnell.

Updated for Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx).  See older versions of this
document for previous releases of Ubuntu Linux.

To connect to the UF VPN with Ubuntu 10.04, do the following:

1. You will need the UF VPN group password.  To get this, browse here
   and supply the gatorlink login as requested:

    https://net-services.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/vpn/vpn-ext-passwd.cgi

2. install the packages vpnc and network-manager-vpnc using either
   using the synaptic package manager or one of the command line tools
   (apt-get or aptitude), e.g.,

      sudo apt-get install network-manager-vpnc

   This should also restart network-manager, so be prepared to
   momentarily lose your network connection (I would quit email before
   doing this).

3. Click on the network icon in your "system tray" area (this looks
   like the bars on a cell phone if you're on wireless; if you have a
   wired connection, then the icon looks like two computer monitors
   under older versions of ubuntu and like a pair of up and down
   arrows under 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)).  You should now see an entry for
   "VPN Connections".  Go into that menu and click "Configure VPN".

   This should open the "Network Connections" window with the VPN tab
   selected.  Click the "Add" button.  In the dialog box that pops up,
   choose "Cisco Compatible VPN (vpnc)" and click the "Create..."
   button.  Another window will open.  In that window

   I use "UF VPN" as the Connection Name.  

   For the gateway use vpn.ufl.edu.

   For the group name use vpn-auth.

   For the "Group password", change "Always Ask" to "Saved" and enter
   the UF VPN group password you obtained back in step 1.

   For the user name, use your UF gatorlink email address (e.g.,
   yourgatorlinkusername@ufl.edu).

   Click the "Apply" button and then click the "Close" button in the
   "Network Connections" window.

7. Now you can connect to the vpn by clicking the network icon, going
   to VPN connections and clicking "UF VPN".  You will be prompted for
   your gatorlink password, and after that is entered, you will be
   connected to the UF VPN (indicated by a lock being added to the
   network icon).


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