Preventing connection timeout when using VPNC in place of Cisco VPN Client for Mac
Posted on 2011-05-02
Hello experts. Had my boss previously set up to connect to our PIX 506e via the last VPN Client for Mac (4.9.01.0180) and en elegant little app managing the connections called Shimo. All was well. Upon purchasing a new Mac Pro (5,1) with Snow Leopard recently we started receiving "Error 51: Unable to communicate with the VPN subsystem." Haven't had to change things for a while so when I got up to date I realized that the older Cisco client doesn't run in OS X 64-bit. Further research revealed the newer AnyConnect client was designed to work with newer Cisco hardware and the built-in VPN client in SL that includes the ability to create an IPSec connectiion for Cisco is also intended for newer hardware. We do video postproduction work so we will likely be running in 64-bit from here on.
One of Shimo's features is its ability to take a Cisco .PCF profile and convert it to vpnc. I found that if I booted the Mac in 32-bit, reinstalled the Cisco client and made sure it was happy and then created a vpnc profile from the Cisco profile I could reboot into 64-bit and connect happily using the vpnc profile. Shimo seemed to work just fine and the connection was solid...or so it seemed. I then discovered the connection would time out consistently at about 5 minutes and 30 secs. There are settings both in the vpnc profile and in Shimo to generate "Idle" or "keep-alive" packages, respectively. Unfortunately, neither seem to impact on the problem.
When I went back into 32-bit mode, using the vpnc profile I got the same result (as expected). I then made a connection using the Cisco profile and the connection has now been active for 45 minutes and counting with no sign of timing out. So, I can see that the Cisco client is sending something to the PIX that the vpnc isn't. I hadn't worked with vpnc previously and, as mentioned, Shimo created this profile for me so I'm not familiar with the underpinnings of this. Can anyone advise me as to how to get the vpnc to perform as a full-fledged substitute for the Cisco client and maintain the connection? Thanks.