MAX 2008, the VPN, and nerd joy

Mac users: did your VPN client quit on you recently? Read on, then. I have suffered a similar fate, and found a potential remedy, which I am glad to share.
I have been lucky enough to attend MAX this year, but have not blogged a single peep about it. That’s not because MAX is terribly dull, with no great announcements, code insights, or geeked out super nerds with kilts playing Unreal Tournament on bean-bag chairs. Ho, no. There’s been a ton of that. Sadly, there’s also been a broken VPN client on my MacBook.
20081119_01.png
The problem was Heisenberg quirky for a while, such that whenever I had some spare time and would attempt to fix the connection, the problem would stop occurring. It only seemed to break when I was stressed for time, working at a client’s site, and already grinding my teeth over some other problem. Luckily, if you use Google to search for ‘Error 51: Unable to communicate with the VPN subsystem’, you get two entries, one of which explains the whole thing. Note that, if you type ‘Area 51′, you will get considerably more than two results, on a topic not really related to broken VPN clients.
First, the word on the internet is “the Cisco VPN client tends to break with most OS X updates”. Like a good solider, I tend to accept OSX updates from Apple, mostly because I hope it will fix various annoying broken things. Like the kernal panic when unplugging my Apple keyboard, for example. While that issue persists, it looks like I’ve gained a new hassle by having an intermittently broken VPN. Expect the broken stopped being intermittent, as of last week, just before MAX and all the fun things I wanted to blog while sitting on a bean bag at Moscone West. So I’m fixing it.
The page continues; ‘I’ve found the Cisco VPN client to be the least reliable VPN client I’ve ever used. In fact, I think it breaks during most updates, possibly because Cisco (a) doesn’t bother to write a more modern launchd version, and/or (b) they put their StartupItem in the System/Library/StartupItems folder, which (unless I’m mistaken) is intended to be reserved for Apple software.”
The best part was finding the solution. There is nothing that delivers greater nerd joy than a shell command for punching a troublesome process in the kidney. Since the console log reported “com.cisco.VPNClient[301]: Could not attach to driver. Is kernel module loaded?”, the idea of giving the VPN driver a kick seemed worth a try. Here’s the command:
sudo /System/Library/StartupItems/CiscoVPN/CiscoVPN restart
Which I ran as such:
20081119_02.png
Type that into terminal, along with your password, and you should be up and running.
More on MAX in a bit; it’s (finally!) my turn to play some Unreal Tournament with kilt-boy.

2 Responses to MAX 2008, the VPN, and nerd joy

  1. Sam says:

    Thanks for sharing this Aaron

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