If you need to connect to your VPN at work and your home computer or laptop is a 64-bit Vista or XP computer, Cisco says you can go pound sand. They suggest that you use the AnyConnect client instead. Just one problem with that… the AnyConnect client does not support the widely deployed Cisco PIX network appliance. Unbelievable… how does a company get so big that they can shaft this large a group and get away with it? I guess Cisco is really that big.
Well, since I run Ubuntu Linux in a VirtualBox on my laptop, my first thought was to run the Linux vpnc client. And I got this working – nearly. I got it to connect but then, within 5 minutes or so, it would suddenly stop communicating. The client thought it still had a connection but nobody was home on the other side. <heavy sigh> Rather than beat my brains out trying to find a solution to that, I went back to Windows land to search for a third-party solution.
I found my solution in the NCP Secure Entry Client, a $144 software package. Since I didn’t have much of an idea of how the Cisco PIX at the other end was configured, it took me an hour of hit and miss before I finally got my first connection. But I can report that the software is golden and the connection is rock-solid — which it should be since this is the sort of software that you typically get for free, or a least at a hidden cost. There are a multitude of supported options in this software and you definately need to be a techno-geek (or conscript one) to get it configured. But with Windows Vista x64 its really the only option.
Oh, and I will not ever again willingly buy another product from Cisco or Linksys (now a Cisco company) if a customer-friendly competitor’s product is available for the same task. I’ve learned my lesson.