I had a little episode with my notebook this past week which caused me to lose total faith in it. It’s a little warm in this neck of the woods lately and my notebook has always run on the warm side. The fan was always constantly running on full blast (which caused me to get a desktop PC last year so I wouldn’t have to listen to it while working out of the house). This week the notebook shut down hard on me and would not come back on until I plugged it into a different power supply.
It has since resumed working with either of my power supplies for it… after a couple faulty bootups and a rather length scandisk session. Needless to say I don’t trust it now and would be up a rather unsanitary river without a paddle if the thing were to die while I was onsite at a client.
So I went out and purchased a new Sony laptop which has a whopping 6 GB of RAM, 400 GB hard disk, and dual flux capacitors or something like that. To take advantage of that copious amount of memory the laptop has Vista64 installed on it.
I’ve been installing my stack of software on the past few days and everything seemed to be working pretty well. I did not realize how well the backwards compatibility of 32 bit apps worked on Vista64 until I went to install the final piece of the puzzle, the CISCO VPN client which I use to connect to a couple of my clients. The installation package did not quite get going, and after a little research I find that it indeed does not work on Vista64, period. No sweat, I thought, I’ll just find out how to get the 64 bit version of the client.
It turns out that in order to get the 64 bit version of the client I will have to write it, because it does not exist nor is it going to exist anytime in the near future:
Cisco VPN Client Version 5 is available for 32-bit Windows Vista. There are no current plans to provide 64-bit support for the Cisco VPN Client but 64-bit support is available for the Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client.
The AnyConnect client, it turns out, does not support IPSec which is what my clients use. From the comments I scoured it turns out that a lot of people are using IPSec and are therefore also hosed when 64 bit Windows starts taking over machines. Wow.
Scouring comments did lead to a solution, though. A company called NCP Secure Communications sells a universal IPSec client that works on Vista 64. I was able to install a trial version of the client, reboot, import the PCF profile files from the CISCO VPN installation, and fire the connections right up. The software has a lighter footprint than the CISCO client as it doesn’t add another network connection to the list of network devices in Vista. Nor does it seem to be plagued with that weird connection error which happens every once in a while with the CISCO client on Vista 32. The only downside is the $144 dollar price tag.
I’m not quite sure why CISCO is abandoning their VPN product on Vista 64, other than to force their customers to purchase new hardware that will work with the AnyConnect client.