How To: Cisco and Microsoft VPN Through Firestarter on Ubuntu

After doing a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala on my router, I realized that I had lost the ability to connect to my employer’s VPN. I use Firestarter for managing my firewall on this particular router.
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As I usually do, I googled “firestarter vpn“. Much to my dismay, it appeared that the Firestarter website was no longer alive. Instead of the usual Firestarter page, a page filled with useless links about security and anti-virus loaded. Luckily I was able to access the cached version of the page from Google. Since then, it appears that the Firestarter website has come back to life.

I wanted to make a note of how to allow VPN connections in the event that the Firestarter website becomes inaccessible again, that’s basically the point of this post. The page on the Firestarter site that details VPN connections can be found here. This should apply to pretty much every Linux distribution, not just Ubuntu.

To allow VPN connections with the Microsoft VPN client, simply enter the following lines into /etc/firestarter/user-pre.

# Forward PPTP VPN client traffic
$IPT -A FORWARD -i $IF -o $INIF -p tcp --dport 1723 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
$IPT -A FORWARD -i $IF -o $INIF -p 47 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
$IPT -A FORWARD -i $INIF -o $IF -p 47 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

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And to allow VPN connections with the Cisco VPN client, enter the following lines into /etc/firestarter/user-pre.

# Forward Cisco VPN client traffic
$IPT -A FORWARD -i $IF -o $INIF -p udp --dport 500 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
$IPT -A FORWARD -i $IF -o $INIF -p tcp --dport 500 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
$IPT -A FORWARD -i $IF -o $INIF -p 50 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
$IPT -A FORWARD -i $INIF -o $IF -p 50 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

Finally, if you’re running a Microsoft VPN server and want to allow incoming PPTP VPN connections, add the following lines to /etc/firestarter/user-pre.

# Forward PPTP VPN connections to internal server
SERVER=192.168.0.100 # Internal VPN server

$IPT -A FORWARD -i $IF -o $INIF -p tcp --dport 1723 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
$IPT -t nat -A PREROUTING -i $IF -p tcp --dport 1723 -j DNAT --to $SERVER
$IPT -A FORWARD -i $IF -o $INIF -p 47 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
$IPT -t nat -A PREROUTING -i $IF -p 47 -j DNAT --to $SERVER 

That should pretty much cover it. If you are using OpenVPN, head over to the Firestarter VPN configuration page for details.

Halo 3 Screenshot Site

There’s some truly amazing looking screenshots people have taken in Halo 3.  I absolutely love the fact that you can take screenshots from Halo 3 matches, I could spend hours watching movies looking for good screenshots to take.

i <3 halo 3 is a site that features some of the best Halo 3 screenshots I’ve ever seen.   If you want your screenshots featured on the site, just get in touch with bs angel, the site operator.  bs angel will browse through your screenshots at bungie.net.  If she finds something good, she may post the screenshot to the blog. Now, go check it out!

Using .aspx With IIS 5.0

I’m posting this here mostly so I can refer back to it later if I ever have the need to. I recently had to setup a Windows server running IIS 5.0 at work. It will be hosting a web application that will be used to verify all orders.

Anyway, I had IIS up and running but couldn’t get it to execute pages with a .aspx extension. It would just offer up the .aspx file for download instead of executing it and displaying in the browser. Turns out this is due to the ASP.NET ISAPI extension not being registered with IIS. To register the extension with IIS, open a command prompt and issue the following commands:

  1. cd C:winntMicrosoft.NetFrameworkv2.0.50727
  2. aspnet_regiis -i

In that example, I registered the ASP.NET 2.0 framework with IIS. If you want to use a different version of .NET, replace v2.0.50727 with whatever version you want to use. The various versions installed will be listed in the C:winntMicrosoft.NetFramework folder.

After running the apsnet_regiis command, my .aspx files loaded right away. I discovered all this at the Channel9 MSDN forums.

I’m Addicted To Halo 3

I’ve been playing a lot of Halo 3 lately. I have yet to finish the campaign on Heroic or Legendary, but I have completed the campaign on normal. I’d say it took me roughly 8 hours of playing to finish on normal, but I did a lot of exploring around the levels.

After I beat the campaign on normal, I started in on multiplayer on Xbox Live. That may have been a mistake, multiplayer on Xbox Live is horribly addictive. It’s not just the online gameplay that’s addictive though, the ability to watch movies of yourself playing is equally, if not more addicting.

Halo 3 records video of all the games you play, weather it’s an online multiplayer game or a single player campaign. You can watch all your videos and choose which ones to save in the Theater, the place in Halo 3 where you can access all sorts of Halo 3 media.

Death on SnowboundOne really neat feature is the ability to take screenshots from your movies. So, if you had an awesome looking kill or something else that you want to remember forever, you can take a screenshot of it and it’ll be sent to your Bungie.net profile for you to download and save later. I’ve been saving all my screenshots and uploading them to Flickr for permanent storage. You can have a look at them here, under my Halo 3 tag at Flickr. The quality of the screenshots is pretty good, they’ve all got a resolution of 1536 x 1152.

My Spartan As Of 10/11/2007Another cool new feature is custom armor for your Spartan or Elite multiplayer character. You can choose from roughly seven different armor styles. You can set different styles for your helmet, left shoulder, right shoulder, and chest plate. The Halo 3 Player Model Generator site lets you see what your Spartan or Elite would look like with all the available types of armor. According to that site, there’s 187,947,000 different armor combinations possible in Halo 3. Some of the Armor styles on that site are available only to Bungie employees, such as the “Flaming helmet” chest plate. Supposedly, using this chest plate makes the players helmet appear to be engulfed in flames. Seems like it’d make a nice sniper target to me…

Xbox 360: 3 Year Warranty

Xbox 360: 3 Red LightsMicrosoft has made a good decision here, they’ve extended the warranty on the Xbox 360 to 3 years. It was just recently bumped up to a 1 year warranty from a piddly 90 day warranty. Peter Moore issued an open letter to the community, some good info in there:

If a customer has an issue indicated by the three flashing red lights, Microsoft will repair the console free of charge-including shipping-for three years from the console’s purchase date. We will also retroactively reimburse any of you who paid for repairs related to problems indicated by this error message in the past. In doing so, Microsoft stands behind its products and takes responsibility to ensure that every Xbox 360 console owner continues to have a fantastic gaming experience.


The entire text of the letter is below:

To our Xbox Community:

You’ve spoken, and we’ve heard you. Good service and a good customer experience are areas of the business that we care deeply about. And frankly, we’ve not been doing a good enough job.

Some of you have expressed frustration with the customer experiences you have had with Xbox 360; frustration with having to return your console for service after receiving the general hardware error message on the console.

The majority of customers who own Xbox 360 consoles have had a terrific experience from their first day, and continue to, day in and day out. But when anyone questions the reliability of our product, or our commitment to our customers, it’s something I take very seriously.

We have been following this issue closely, and with on-going testing have identified several factors that can cause a general hardware failure indicated by three flashing red lights on the console. To address this issue, and as part of our ongoing work, we have already made certain improvements to the console.

We are also implementing some important policy changes intended to keep you in the game, worry-free.

As of today, all Xbox 360 consoles are covered by an enhanced warranty program to address specifically the general hardware failures indicated by the three flashing red lights on the console. This applies to new and previously-sold consoles. While we will still have a general one year console warranty (two years in some countries), we are announcing today a three-year warranty that covers any console that displays a three flashing red lights error message. If a customer has an issue indicated by the three flashing red lights, Microsoft will repair the console free of charge—including shipping—for three years from the console’s purchase date. We will also retroactively reimburse any of you who paid for repairs related to problems indicated by this error message in the past. In doing so, Microsoft stands behind its products and takes responsibility to ensure that every Xbox 360 console owner continues to have a fantastic gaming experience.

If we have let any of you down in the experience you have had with your Xbox 360, we sincerely apologize. We are taking responsibility and are making these changes to ensure that every Xbox 360 owner continues to have a great experience.

This will take a few days to roll out globally, and I appreciate your continued patience as we launch this program. I’ve posted an FAQ that should address some additional questions, and we’ll update it over the next few days.

I want to thank you, on behalf of all us at Microsoft, for your loyalty.


Xbox 360 Fanboy asks if the extended 3 year warranty is enough. I think this is more than enough, it more than doubles the previous warranty. It also refunds money to people who had to pay to get their Xbox 360 repaired/replaced. This should make most Xbox 360 owners pretty happy.

You can read the press release over at the Gamerscore blog. Also, check out the official Expanded Xbox 360 Warranty Coverage FAQ for answers to some of your questions.

I think Microsoft is taking the right steps here. Well, they’re trying at least.