Monday, February 11, 2013

Cisco VPN via Network-Manager applet in XFCE4 Debian

Fighting VPN configuration in Debian Wheezy lead me to post these notes.

Even after installing network-manager, network-manager-gnome, network-manager-vpnc, and adding a VPN, actually launching it failed -- no authentication dialog would show.

It was definitely a GUI issue as running vpnc from commandline succeeded.

As a test, run sudo vpnc --gateway <gateway-IP> --id <cisco-group-id> --username <username>
To disconnect use: sudo vpnc-disconnect
If you can connect, you know your vpn subsystem is operational.

So first install the necessary components: sudo aptitude install vpnc vpnc-scripts network-manager network-manager-gnome network-manager-vpnc network-manager-vpnc-gnome

To permanently add the nm-applet to your panel, in XFCE, go to Applications(Menu)>Settings>Session and Startup>Application Autostart tab and enable "Network". This will add the applet upon next session start. You MUST have the "Notification Area" applet added to the panel.

To temporarily show the applet without logout or restarting, run nm-applet & ; exit
Now initially, Network-Manager will not be managing your connection, so edit the config to enable management of your existing wired connection. For me this was named "ifupdown (eth0)": (reference) sudo nano /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf and set in the config file managed=true
Then restart the network-manager: sudo /etc/init.d/network-manager restart
Now add your VPN settings and everything should work as expected.


  1. Perfect, thank you for sharing this tutorial!! Exactly what I was looking for.

  2. thanks me, you saved you again -- i was actually able to have it work without the 'managed=true' part.

  3. Hi there i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also make comment due to this sensible post.
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