Search Google Appliance

Home >> Network >> Vpn >> Vpnc >> Configuring Linux to access the VPN Service using the Open Source VPNC Client

Configuring Linux to access the VPN Service using the Open Source VPNC Client

This document contains brief details of installing and configuring the Open Source VPNC client to access the IT Services VPN service on a computer running Linux.

VPNC is an open-source VPN client for Linux and other Unix systems which is compatible with the IT Services VPN Service. Note that we also provide a Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client for Linux. The VPNC client is supported only on a best-efforts basis by the Computing Services but may be useful on systems that are not supported by the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client.

Please make sure that you have read the introduction and general requirements, which apply to all VPN clients, before attempting to configure your computer or mobile device to connect to the VPN.

1. Installing and Configuring the VPNC Client

As linux distributions vary these instructions will not take you step by step through obtaining and installing the software but assume you are familiar with installing software on your system. They do provide full information on configuring the software once it is installed.

1.1. Installing the VPNC Client

On many linux distributions you should be able to download and install VPNC using the package manager included with your distribution.

For Linux Debian or Ubuntu users, the package is in the universe package repository. Ubuntu users can install vpnc using the Synaptic Package Manager. Assuming you are using the default Gnome environment go to [System] then open [Administration] and finally [Synaptic Package Manager].

Search for vpnc and install it. If the package does not appear on the search list then check that the universe package repository has been added and the list of packages has been refreshed. You may also see related entries for kvpnc and network-manager-vpnc. If you would like a GUI interface to the vpnc program you can install one of these packages as well as the core vpnc package (kvpnc is for the KDE environment).

Where you cannot use a package manager to install VPNC it can be downloaded from

1.2. Configuring the VPNC client

You will also need some group configuration information. Members of Oxford University can download a file containing this information from the Software Registration and Downloads page (select [VPNC Client for Linux/Unix] from the list). This will display the VPNC Client for Linux/Unix page. Click on the vpnc configuration file to display the configuration information you will need.

Once installed the client works straight away. Open a terminal and type: sudo vpnc-connect

You will be queried about the following things. Use the information provided in the vpnc configuration file to respond to the prompts. You will also need your IT Services Remote Access account details.

  • Enter IPSec gateway address:
  • Enter IPSec ID for oxford [also known as the group id]
  • Enter IPSec secret for ****** [the group password]
  • Enter username for ***** [(IT Services remote access personal username)]
  • Enter password for ****** [IT Services remote access personal password)]

(As noted above, the password information can be downloaded from IT Services.)

If all goes well you should see VPNC started in background (PID: xxxx).

If you type ifconfig you should see a new interface tun0 with an Oxford IP address.

To disconnect type: sudo vpnc-disconnect

You can also save the connection settings in a configuration file so that you don't need to type them in every time you want to connect. To do this, type in at the terminal: sudo gedit /etc/vpnc/oxford.conf

This will open the Gedit editor and create a configuration file. Make sure there is only a single space between a feature and a value. Note that this method requires you to save the passwords in plain text. So don't save any passwords to this file if you're using a shared computer!

            IPSec gateway 
            IPSec ID oxford 
            IPSec secret PASSWORD 
            Xauth username YOUR-REMOTE-ACCESS-USERNAME 
            Xauth password YOUR-REMOTE-ACCESS-PASSWORD 

Do not leave a space after any value before starting a new line. vpnc will treat this as part of the password if you do.

After creating this file you can connect by typing: sudo vpnc-connect oxford

For more information on vpnc type: man vpnc


Service area: 

Written by IT Services. Latest revision 10 February 2015