Aymeric on Software

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Sharing a VPN Connection With VMWare Fusion

Rationale

My company has set up a VPN access that can be used from home. This proved to be extremely useful last winter when I got snowed in, and I have used it occasionally ever since. The VPN system we use (Sonicwall) is not supported on MacOS X and Sonicwall provides a Windows only connection software. I have tried to use IPSecuritas but I could not find a way to configure it properly. The commercial software VPN Tracker worked like a charm, but when I saw the price (€99 excl VAT) I stopped considering it. For about half of that price ($60 excl VAT) you can get a license to VMWare Fusion. So I decided to go for that instead. The obvious disadvantage in using VMWare is that it uses a lot of resources, but this is not really a problem for me, and it’s kind of hard to configure, but this post should help you with that. The obvious advantage of VMWare is of course that it does much more than provide access to a VPN…

Summary of the setup

My goal is to access the company network (10.100.10.x/24) from home on my iMac running Mac OS X 10.6. Since the VPN software is only supported on Windows, I connect to the VPN via Windows XP SP3 running inside VMWare Fusion. The virtual machine internet connection is provided via a NAT network interface connected to the iMac.

My setup consists in creating another network interface between the iMac and the VM. I then configure both Windows and MacOS X so that my packets get properly routed.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Setting up VMWare Fusion

I assume that you have correctly installed the virtual machine, Windows XP, and that the VPN software works as expected. My network configuration uses NAT to provide internet access to the VM, but it is certainly possible to use other configurations.

The first thing to do is to create a new network interface to provide access to the VPN from the Mac to the VM.

Steps

  • Switch off the VM
  • Go to “Settings”, “Network”
  • Add a network interface with the “+” button at the bottom.
  • Choose “The host only” option at the bottom.

Setting up Windows XP

The next part of the setup consists in configuring the newly created “Local Area Network 2″ interface (LAN2) so that it shares the connection with the VPN. We need to share the internet connection from the “Virtual Private Network” interface to the LAN2 interface. We also need to enable IP packet routing.

Steps

  • Sharing the connection
    • Go to “Control Panel”, “Network Connections”.
    • Right click on the “Virtual Private Network” interface, select “properties”, go the the “advanced” tab and select the option “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection“.
    • In the combo box below select “Local Area Network 2″.
    • Deselect the option “Allow other network users to control or disable the shared Internet connection”.
    • Click on “Ok” to validate the settings.
  • Enabling IP routing
    • Open “regedit.exe”.
    • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters.
    • Locate the key IPEnableRouter and set it to 1.
    • This setting is different on older or newer versions of Windows.
  • Set up Local Area Network 2 interface
    • Open the “Terminal.app” application on the Mac and type “ifconfig”.
    • Note the IP address (inet) associated to the “vmnet1″ interface and the network mask. In my case it’s 192.168.245.1 and 0xffffff00.
    • Go the “Control Panel”, “Network Conections” on the VM
    • Open the “Local Area Network 2″ interface properties window.
    • In the “general” tab, double click on the “TCP/IP” item.
    • Choose an IP address on the same network than the one from the Mac, and set the network mask. In my case, I chose 192.168.245.2 and 255.255.255.0.
    • Click “Ok” to validate the settings

At this stage, although this is not strictly necessary, you may want to enable the ping on Windows XP, to verify that your connection works.

  • Go to “Control Panel”, “Windows Firewall”.
  • Go to the “advanced” tab and select “settings” in the “ICMP” section.
  • Enable the “allow incoming echo request” option.
  • On the Mac, open “Terminal.app”
  • Type ping 192.168.245.2 and the Virtual machine, should normally reply to the ping. If it does not, you may have made a configuration mistake. Use ifconfig on the Mac and ipconfig on Windows to debug the issue.

Setting up Mac OS X

At this stage we need to set up Mac OS X routing so that VPN addresses are resolved through the vmnet1 interface. We also optionally set up the company DNS. If you have not done it yet, you should connect to the VPN from the virtual machine.

Steps

  • Once you are connected to the VPN on Windows, launch “cmd.exe” and type “ipconfig /all”.
  • Look for the following details: your IP address on the VPN network, the mask, and the addresses of the VPN.
  • In my example I have an IP of 10.100.10.212, a mask of 255.255.255.0 and two DNS servers at addresses 10.100.10.12 and 10.100.10.14
  • Go back to Mac OS X.
  • In the terminal type a command line similar to sudo route -n add 10.100.10.0/24 192.168.245.2. (Or alternatively if you do not wish to worry about the CIDR notation for the mask, sudo route -n * add 10.100.10.0 192.168.245.2 255.255.255.0)
  • The first partial IP corresponds to the IP of your network (normally the first digits, until the mask is zero).
  • The second IP is the IP of the VM on the LAN2 interface.
  • This line instructs MacOS X to route all IPs from the 10.100.10.x network to the 192.168.245.2 gateway, ie the virtual machine.
  • You must the enable IP routing. Type sudo sysctl -w net.inet.ip.forwarding=1.

At this stage you should be able to ping yourself on the VPN from the Mac. In my example ping 10.100.10.212 should reply. Now what if it does not work

  • Try traceroute 10.100.10.212. If you see your message routed through your normal internet connection, then something is wrong on the Mac. Otherwise it’s on Windows.
  • On the Mac netstat -rn will dump the route table.
  • Verify that you still have an internet connection, on the Mac and the VM. If you do trash your route table you may lose it entirely. (Try removing your incorrect route with “route delete …” and/or plug in and off your modem connection).

Optional steps to set up the DNS

  • Go to “System Preferences” on the Mac.
  • Select “Network”.
  • Click on “Advanced” at the bottom of the interface that provides your internet connection.
  • Go to the “DNS” tab. In the “DNS server” sections add the DNS servers of your VPN, on top of the list. In my case it’s 10.100.10.12 and 10.100.10.14.
  • Close, validate and do not forget to “apply” the settings.

Going further…

  • You can snapshot the Windows virtual machine to retrieve your settings next time.
  • On the Mac you can put the combination of the route and sysctl commands in a script to further automate the process. Maybe it’s possible to write a launchd script and do it at startup
  • I’m not sure how to configure the DNS from the command line, nor how to make the DNS of the company be used only for domains unknown from your regular DNS server.