Recently my laptop decided it no longer wanted to start. While it was in the Genius Bar, I dug up an old Macbook Pro (called MBP throughout the rest of this post) and began to configure it so I could use it for work. Configuring a different laptop gave me the opportunity to try out some new/updated applications and see if I could find more ways to be productive (I will cover this in a future post). In addition, it brought up some old issues I had experienced and gave me a chance to fix them and document them. In this post, I would like to talk about the problems I experienced attempting to connect to a Juniper Network Connect (called JNC throughout the rest of this post) VPN and how I was able to get it resolved.
Issues with Chrome
On my MBP I use the Chrome web browser (I have an Android phone). One of the first problems I experienced with JNC is that I cannot use it with Chrome as JNC requires a 64-bit web browser and the production version of Chrome is still 32-bit. As such, I typically use Firefox to get on my JNC VPN and then Chrome for everything else.
UPDATE: Well look at that, appears I missed the announcement: Chrome is now 64-bit on Mac and JNC now works through Chrome! Thanks for the tip!
Issues with Safari
While configuring my MBP, I decided to give Safari another shot as I had not used the browser in a long time. When I attempted to connect to JNC, I was greeted with the following error message:
To view this web content, you need to install the Java Runtime Environment.
I was confused by this as I had already installed the latest version of Java 8 and the Java test confirmed my browser was working as expected. A quick Google search turned up this post, which suggested installing the Java package available here. Upon doing so and restarting my MBP, the error message was gone.
Next, I was presented with a different error message:
An error occurred while extracting one of the Network Connect components
I consulted Google again and came across this post. Reading through the comments, someone suggested modifying the settings of the Java JNC plugin with Safari so that it did not have to run in Safari’s sandbox. The exact steps were:
- Safari > Preferences > Security
- Under “Internet plug-ins” > “Website Settings…”
- Select Java from the left-panel list
- Under “Configured websites” select the Allow drop-down from your VPN URL
- Select “Run in Unsafe Mode”
- Select Trust in the pop-up
- Select Done
Upon following these steps and attempting to connect to JNC, the VPN connected as expected! Wow, way too much work just to get on the VPN. After about ten minutes, I attempted to connect to a site behind the VPN and the site did not load. I noticed that JNC was not running! I fired it back up and it connected as expected. Again I was able to access sites behind the VPN. About ten minutes later JNC silently quit again. Looking to Google I found this post. Unfortunately, it merely had a workaround to the problem: use Firefox…
Avoiding the fat client
Now you might be wondering why I do not just download the JNC fat client and connect to my VPN that way. While this works, I use a single sign-on (SSO) solution, which allows me to authenticate once in my web browser and then be able to access everything that I need. Using the fat client would require me to authenticate twice. Now technically I have this problem anyway as I need to use Firefox and Chrome, but I was considering moving back to Firefox for a while, but eventually decided against this.
So it looks like the options are:
- Fat client
I look forward to the production version of the 64-bit Chrome…
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