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Kubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex has been out for some time now. This version of Kubuntu sports the brand new KDE 4.1 Plasma theme that introduces a Mac OS like dashboard. The analogy with the Mac OS is just to make sure that people who are less aware of Kubuntu understand what I am talking about. Here’s a screen shot of my dashboard:

My KDE 4.1 dashboard

Nevertheless, since I run Kubuntu at my home it was very important for me to get my company VPN connection working. In the previous version, Hardy Heron, I had installed Kvpnc for this. Kvpnc is a GUI client for KDE that uses vpnc to connect to VPNs. In Hardy, all I had to do was import the Cisco (my company runs Cisco VPN servers) .pcf file provided by my company. And voila! I was in.

socketKeeping that experience in mind I tried the same thing in Intrepid. Disappointingly, it did not work. I kept getting an irritating “Authorization failed(Group password)” error. There was an even more cryptic “tun0: Disabled Privacy Extensions” message in the system logs. Initially I thought there must have been some change to the .pcf file. My IT department confirmed that there weren’t any. Puzzled I sat down to get this thing to work.

My previous Hardy installation was a 32-bit one whereas the Intrepid is a 64-bit one. Was that at fault? A bit of Googling did reveal that I might be right. Still not convinced and unready to give up I kept at it. But no matter what I tried I could not get it to work.

Finally when I was on the verge of giving up, I came across an article that mentioned decoding the group password. A bit of digging and I got to a web site that offered to decode the encoded group password that is specified in the .pcf file. Using that web site I retrieved the group password, fired up Kvpnc and specified the decoded value as the new group password and hit Ok. It worked!!!

Wow. So apparently the Kvpnc client does not do a very good job of decoding the encrypted group passwords that are present in the Cisco VPN .pcf files. Here’s the web site that helped me with the decoding.