UTA VPN from Linux

UTA provides a VPN service for UTA students and faculty to facilitate work from off-campus. Cisco AnyConnect is used for the connection which has a Java installer and client interface, and installs platform specific binaries to your system. As usual, support for Linux breaks with time and is not fixed and the Cisco AnyConnect client for Linux cannot be installed on many machines. Time to look for an open alternative.

OpenConnect provides all the functionality of Cisco’s AnyConnect and works nicely on all platforms. OpenConnect can be used from the command line, or through the network-manager applet interface.

It can be installed on Ubuntu/Debian systems as:
sudo apt-get install openconnect
To use the network-manager applet, you should also install the network-manager-openconnect, network-manager-openconnect-gnome packages. This post only covers the command line method.

To connect to UTA’s VPN:
sudo openconnect vpn.uta.edu
and follow the prompts on the console.

  • UTA apparently has not updated its certificates in a while, so one has to accept unverified certificates twice by typing “yes”.
  • When prompted for GROUP, students should use the first one .Default--Students by typing it in exactly
  • Use your NetID and password as is. It is not required to prefix “uta\” to the username.

Once everything is done, you see the Connect Banner with UTA’s VPN policy and you are connected to the student VPN.

Pressing Ctrl-C in the console should gracefully shut down the VPN connection. If things are not right afterwards or you cannot reconnect, see below.

If you suspend your machine while it is connected to VPN, networking may not behave correctly on resume or you may not be able to re-establish the VPN connection. Killing the old VPN process by pressing Ctrl-C in the console, and then killing the openconnect daemon seems to fix things for me.

sudo pkill openconnect

If you know the Expect language, you can write a script to automate this and get you connected without responding to prompts. You can also use autoexpect to generate the Expect script.

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