Yes, I know.. Long time since a post, but I have been waiting ’till I had something interesting to comment on 🙂
You should all know by now that Ubuntu 11.04 and Mint 11 are now out in the wild, and both are very nice IMHO. I have been a “Minty” guy now for quite sometime but I thought it would behoove me to at least try the new Ubuntu 11.04 and it’s Unity interface, so I stuck it on a netbook to test it out and I can say this: It doesn’t suck at all! In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. Compared to Gnome 3 (more on that later), Unity is quite usable.
That brings me to Mint 11. A beautiful distribution as I have come to expect. Not too much to say about it for those familiar with Mint except it’s a worthy successor in a long line of great releases. If you haven’t yet tried Mint, you are really doing yourself a disservice.
There are of course problems with everything. Mine was with my vpn connection. I use vpnc to connect to my works’ cisco vpn, and I have been doing so successfully now for many years. In fact, vpnc is my preferred method of connecting over any other client including the cisco client itself. It just works. It’s very easy to configure and use and it stays out of my way. That is until recently.
After I installed Mint 11 on my daily carry, I eventually needed to vpn into work and fix something. Well, I immediately noticed that ssh through vpnc would not connect. I could ping, http, rdesktop, whathaveyou, but no ssh. I looked at the routes, I looked at the tunnel, I looked at the verbose messages from vpnc. Nothing worked. If, however, I walked over to my other laptop that is running Mint 10 with the very same vpnc config, I got right through. This was quite perplexing. I eventually tried connecting with the Ubuntu 11.04 install, and I got the exact same results. I was grasping at straws. Maybe all new distributions were broken in this manner? The horror actually forced me to install Fedora 15 (sorry Fedora folks) and test that. To my surprise, F15’s vpnc+ssh worked just fine. This also gave me an opportunity to find out how dysfunctional and horrible an interface Gnome 3 is (KDE and Unity are gonna become big real soon I guarantee it).
As a last ditch effort to narrow things down, I decided to try a different ssh client. I tried both putty and dropbear. THEY WORKED! YAY! This meant I could go back to running the new Mint on my netbook. I fully intend to just try my own compile of ssh sometime in the future, or perhaps the package maintainers will catch wind of this and fix it (I did send some emails to Clem). Until then, I am happy that I can still use my beloved Mint and I can live temporarily with dropbear and / or putty for ssh through my vpn when I need it. I just hope this post gets around a bit so the other guy that uses vpnc+ssh to connect to his cisco vpn doesn’t think he’s going crazy like I did 🙂