Each problem has a solution…

… it’s just a question whether you like it or not.

But then again: Does idealism justify using the wrong tool for a particular problem just because the right tool does not seem ideologically right?

We’ve installed an evaluation version of Microsoft Exchange and despite some problems at first, it’s working very well and is the best groupware-solution we have tried so far.

Needless to say that there are many proxies and relays between the net and the actual box. That much I don’t want to trust it ;-)

pptp + linux = much fun.

Actually it’s not that bad. Its just another of those things-that-work-stop-working-and-it-takes-ages-to-find-out-why-things.

For about four weeks I had a problem that LAN-Connections did not work after resuming from hibernation and I was unable to access my pptp-server in the office from home. On the linux side a got a timeout while waiting for LCP-Resonse (or something like that) and on the windows-side, the whole process stopped while validating my (long and thus quite secure despite the flaws in the pptp-protocol) password.

Who would have thought that those problems share one thing: The common cause ;-)

For accessing another server of a client behind a cisco-router, they provided me with the “CISCO VPN Dialer” which, when connected provides an option called “Stateful firewall (Always On)”. I confess. The “always on” suggest that this not-so-well working firewall (have I said that I hate desktop-firewalls, especially those by ZoneLabs which this VPN Dialer obviously uses) also is running when the applicatoin is not, but then again: Who could think, that something stays running even though there is not GUI indication (and no way to turn it off, besides re-dialing) whatsoever?

I found this out when I tried to ping my workstation form a Linux-Server within our network, which I tried after seeing that VMWare stopped working too (incredibly useful for making screenshots of strange OSes).

So my expirience with this cool CISCO VPN-Dialer is as follows:

  • Breaks well-working applications (VMWare)
  • Makes me unable to use my own network while connected (despite the checkbox telling me otherwise)
  • Breaks PPTP (and I already suspected Linux)
  • Is incompatible with the Hibernation Mode that comes with Win 2000 and later
  • Is an usability nightmare as it does not provide any visual feedback of being running despite the fact that an always running firewall and a VPN-Dialer do have nearly nothing in common.
  • Is an even worse usability nightmare as there is no way to turn that firewally thing off besides building up the VPN-Connection which has even less to do with a firewall than the tool alone.
  • Is insecure: Everyting besides the PPTP-Connection was well working when using WLAN to connect to the network – even the ping from the server to my machine.

    Great product indeed.