VPN Client on Linux Mint

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. This is more for me than for the public so that I will remember what I did to get a VPN client running on my Linux Mint 10.

Since I am a Systems Administrator a lot of my work can be done from my desk, when I am not building new servers or troubleshooting hardware issues. Thanks to the powers where I work I am allowed to work from home from time to time. In the past, before I made the switch to Linux full-time, I used the Cisco VPN client on my Windows machine. Since moving to Linux, I needed a VPN client that worked with our Cisco ASA 5500 and then a good Windows RDP client to remote into my work computer once connected to my work network.

I searched around for a while and finally found a good client for Linux Mint called VPNC. You can find it in the Software Manager or by typing the following at the terminal:

sudo apt-get install vpnc

Of course after installing this I had to work with the Network Engineers in my IT department to configure my profile on the Cisco ASA. Once that was done I needed to edit the config file for VPNC found here:

/etc/vpnc/default.conf

The configuration looked something like this (excerpt of my file):

IPSec gateway IP address goes here
IPSec ID identification goes here
IPSec secret secret password goes here
#IKE Authmode hybrid
Xauth username username goes here
#Xauth password password goes here

Of course, the hash tags comment out the lines. I hashed the password so that I would be prompted once I connected to my corporate network for additional security. Then once I had a connection, validated by having a tun0 interface, I use Gnome-RDP for my remote connection to my work PC. That simple. The only problem is DNS on my personal computer. Since I am on Linux and not Windows my personal machine’s DNS does not get updated to the DNS at work. There are ways to fix this but I know the dynamic IP address of my computer at work so once that Gnome-RDP profile is created with that IP address, I don’t have to remember it. Also, if the IP address of my computer ever changes I know the IP address of our domain controllers/DNS/DHCP servers at work so I can connect to them to get the updated IP address of my workstation.

One issue I found with Gnome-RDP is that there is no clear way to exit out of full screen view of the RDP session. I found you have to select, on your keyboard, Ctrl-Alt-Enter to exit and enter full screen mode of Gnome-RDP.

Bluetooth Fix In Linux Mint 11/Ubuntu 11.04

In the video in my last post on the Dell Vostro V130 with Linux Mint 11 I mentioned that everything worked except for Bluetooth. Well, apparently this was a known bug and was fixed back in April. Here is a direct link to the bug (#714862):

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/714862

The section to pay attention to is comment #10 here:

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/714862/comments/10

Be sure to download and install both packages attached to the bug list on the right side. I will also provide direct links to the downloads below.

Atheros dkms driver

Dell dkms driver

Here are the simple steps from the bug link:

1. install the latest kernel image and kernel header
sudo apt-get install linux-image-2.6.38-8-generic linux-headers-2.6.38-8
2. download dkms packages from the right column and install them  (after downloaded ar3011-dkms_1.1ryu2.3_all.deb and dell-laptop-dkms_1.4_all.deb)
sudo dpkg -i ar3011-dkms_1.1ryu2.3_all.deb dell-laptop-dkms_1.4_all.deb
3. run "dkms status" to see if there are the following info(or just paste the result here)
dell-laptop, 1.4, 2.6.38-8-generic, x86_64: installed  ar3011-dkms, 1.1ryu2.3, 2.6.38-8-generic, x86_64: installed
4. you don't need this step if you have the info that step 3 describes  (paste the result of the following commands here)
1. cat /proc/version_signature
2. dpkg -l | grep linux- | grep ^ii
3. ls /usr/src

The steps worked for me without needing to proceed to step 4 and I was able to connect to my OG Droid and transfer files.

Good luck.

I should also give credit to Joe who posted the link in my last post in the comments.

My New Dell Vostro V130 With Linux Mint 11

It’s been long enough after using it to now blog about it. Recently, I decided to try to buy a thin and lightweight laptop that is more practical than a netbook to use for my technical consulting business (more info found at http://ectech.info). The Dell Mini 9 netbook I had purchased back in 2008 has been a very useful computer for basic internet browsing but it wasn’t practical for work use. Most of my work functions involve some word processing when composing contracts, invoices and such; network troubleshooting on routers and switches; and other various tools needed for troubleshooting computers and servers. The ideal candidate I had found for the job was, originally, the Dell Vostro V13. However, Dell came out with its successor, the Dell Vostro V130, that is a little more powerful and added functionality with an HDMI port and an additional USB port while still staying within the same price range as the V13. I shopped the Dell outlet store waiting for the perfect price point since my budget wanted me to stay under $450. The only issue with this is that in order to stay under that price I needed to avoid the new i3/i5 processor and stick with the lesser powered Celeron processor. After waiting for several days the Dell outlet never produced what I was looking for. So, instead, I searched eBay and found what I was looking for at an affordable price of $390 in a refurbished model originally purchased from the Dell outlet. Below I decided to post a brief video of the Vostro v130. My apologies ahead of time for the shaky camera.

This is what came with the Vostro:

  • Vostro V130 UltraSleek Laptop 0.65″ at thinnest point (0.78″ at thickest) & 3.5lbs
  • Color: Aberdeen Silver
  • 2 GB Memory (1x2GB), 1333MHz Dual Ranked RDIMM
  • Dell Wireless 1702 802.11n/BT3.0 Networking Combo Card
  • 320 GB SATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
  • 2.0MP Webcam
  • Keyboard on Notebook
  • 6 Cell Primary Battery
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Trend Micro 16.6 PC-cillin 30 Day
  • 64BIT Operating System
  • 65W AC Adapter
  • 13.3 inch Widescreen HD (1366×768) with Anti-Glare
  • 125V Power Cord
  • VGA & HDMI Port
  • Processor: Intel Celeron Processor ULV U3600 (2M Cache, 1.2GHz, 800 MHz FSB)
  • Dimensions & Weight:
  • Width: 13″ / 330mm
  • Height: (front/back) 0.65-0.78inches/16.5-19.7mm
  • Depth: 9.06″ / 230mm
  • Starting weight: 3.5lbs/1.59kg (with 6-cell battery)

As mentioned in the video, Linux Mint 11 works really well installed on the Vostro V130. Since Ubuntu moved, a few versions ago, to using Unity as its primary interface, I started using Linux Mint as my preferred Linux distribution. It’s basically a branch of Ubuntu but leaning more toward Debian based without the annoyance of Unity. It’s definitely an operating system I would recommend to anyone especially since it is free to download, install and use without any cost to you. Below is a screenshot of the elegant desktop and menu of Linux Mint 11 Main Edition.

Screenshot-Linux Mint 11.png

Some of you that know me know that I also own a MacBook and are probably wondering why I just don’t use that for my consulting. I was using it for a while but since it is getting a little long in the tooth – I purchased it way back in 2006 – I was afraid of it getting thrown around too much in my duties that it would die sooner than I would like it to (I LOVE my MacBook). Also, if you have ever held the black MacBook from that line you know that those aren’t too lite, especially compared to the Vostro V130.

I have been really impressed, so far, with the performance and mobility of the Vostro V130. And benefiting from the installation of Linux Mint 11 is just an added bonus. Those that may have some apprehension of buying something like this and losing performance will be as surprised as I. The only issue with the Vostro V130 that most reviews have mentioned is the battery life. On average, like others, I’ve gotten about 2 hours worth of battery power. But, in most cases for me, that is enough to work off of onsite when working with my clients before having to plug it in at home to recharge.