Begone AnyConnect, Welcome OpenConnect
Cisco AnyConnect is a VPN client used by many institutions. It is the bad successor to the equally terrible Cisco Systems VPN Client.
A typical installation procedure goes something like this, this, or this.
It’s not clear which component is worse (requiring Java, installing Active-X on windows, or giving administrator access to a Cisco program) - but anyone who suffered through the old Cisco VPN will likely be willing to go to great lengths to avoid it.
Luckily, there’s an easy and Free-Software alternative: OpenConnect.
GNU/Linux Debian/Ubuntu Installation
Install the following packages:
sudo apt-get -y install openconnect vpnc
GNU/Linux CentOS/Fedora/RedHat Installation
Install the following packages:
sudo yum -y install openconnect vpnc
If the packages are not found, you might need to add additional repositories as explained here (fedora) or here (CentOS)
Mac OS X with HomeBrew
Using HomeBrew, install these pacakges:
brew install vpnc brew install --HEAD --with-gnutls openconnect
At the time of this writing (Nov-2014), the OpenConnect version in HomeBrew is 6.0.0, which requires additional drivers (Tun/Tap drivers for Mac OS X). Using
--HEADwill install a newer version than 6.0.0, which does not require any special drivers.
Some GNU/Linux ditributions provide GUI for OpenConnect VPN.
On Debian/Ubuntu, try installing the
For more information, see http://www.infradead.org/openconnect/packages.html.
Building for source code
For building instructions, see the OpenConnect website: http://www.infradead.org/openconnect/building.html.
Open a terminal window, and run the following:
sudo openconnect https://vpn.YOUR-INSTITUTE-HOST/
For example, the NYGC’s VPN host is
Once connected, you’ll be asked for:
- The group. This will typically be provided in the VPN instructions of your institute. It will also be shown on the terminal.
- The username. You should know what your username is.
- The password.
$ sudo openconnect https://vpn.nygenome.org POST https://vpn.nygenome.org/ Attempting to connect to server 18.104.22.168:443 SSL negotiation with vpn.nygenome.org Connected to HTTPS on vpn.nygenome.org XML POST enabled Please enter your username and password. GROUP: [XXX|YYY]: #### Enter Group Name, press Enter POST https://vpn.nygenome.org/ XML POST enabled Please enter your username and password. Username: #### Enter Username, press Enter Password: #### Enter Password, press Enter POST https://vpn.nygenome.org/ Got CONNECT response: HTTP/1.1 200 OK CSTP connected. DPD 30, Keepalive 20 Connected tun0 as 192.168.252.236, using SSL Established DTLS connection (using OpenSSL). Ciphersuite AES256-SHA.
The last message might show different technical parameters (e.g. Ciphersuites), but as long as it says “Established connection” - you’re connected to the VPN.
Keep the terminal open and the program running as long as you want to be connected.
When the program terminates, the VPN is disconnected.
For many more options, see the OpenConnect website: http://www.infradead.org/openconnect/
VPN Network connection
This section is informative - there is no need to run these commands in order to connect to the VPN.
The following are examples of the network interface and configuration while
the VPN connection is active. The
tun0 network interface is the VPN
connection interface. It will disappear once the VPN is disconnected.
The exact numbers will be different from system to system, YMMV.
On a typical GNU/Linux, the connection will look like this:
$ ifconfig <...> tun0 Link encap:UNSPEC HWaddr 00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00 inet addr:192.168.252.236 P-t-P:192.168.252.236 Mask:255.255.255.255 UP POINTOPOINT RUNNING NOARP MULTICAST MTU:1406 Metric:1 RX packets:1 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:1 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 txqueuelen:500 RX bytes:67 (67.0 b) TX bytes:67 (67.0 b)
On some GNU/Linux systems which do not have ifconfig (e.g. CentOS-7, RedHat-7) the connection will be:
$ ip addr <...> 3: tun0: <POINTOPOINT,MULTICAST,NOARP,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1406 qdisc pfifo_fast state UNKNOWN qlen 500 link/none inet 192.168.252.236/32 scope global tun0 valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
On Mac OS X with the built-in utun driver, the connection will look like this:
$ /sbin/ifconfig <...> utun0: flags=8051<UP,POINTOPOINT,RUNNING,MULTICAST> mtu 1406 inet 192.168.252.196 --> 192.168.252.196 netmask 0xffffffff
Routing table will be (on GNU/Linux):
$ route Kernel IP routing table Destination Gateway Genmask Flags Metric Ref Use Iface 162-220-30-20.s 10.0.2.2 255.255.255.255 UGH 0 0 0 eth0 nygdc01.nygenom * 255.255.255.255 UH 0 0 0 tun0 nygdc02.nygenom * 255.255.255.255 UH 0 0 0 tun0 10.0.2.0 * 255.255.255.0 U 0 0 0 eth0 192.168.252.0 * 255.255.255.0 U 0 0 0 tun0 192.168.253.0 * 255.255.255.0 U 0 0 0 tun0 10.2.0.0 * 255.255.0.0 U 0 0 0 tun0 10.3.0.0 * 255.255.0.0 U 0 0 0 tun0 10.1.0.0 * 255.255.0.0 U 0 0 0 tun0 172.16.0.0 * 255.255.0.0 U 0 0 0 tun0 link-local * 255.255.0.0 U 1002 0 0 eth0 default 10.0.2.2 0.0.0.0 UG 0 0 0 eth0
hostname resolution is configured as such (on GNU/Linux):
$ cat /etc/resolv.conf #@VPNC_GENERATED@ -- this file is generated by vpnc # and will be overwritten by vpnc # as long as the above mark is intact ; generated by /sbin/dhclient-script nameserver 10.1.1.51 nameserver 10.1.1.50 search nygenome.org