If you use the UUA’s Virtual Private Network (or VPN) on a Mac you may have noticed that occasionally it just stops working. Usually the culprit is a OS X update, that resets permissions on a certain file the UUA’s VPN (NetExtender) uses. The fix is usually very simple:

Open the terminal (Finder >> Applications >> Utilities >> Terminal) and type in:

sudo chmod u+s /usr/sbin/pppd

A quick note about sudo and the terminal, this is like telling your computer: “I know what I’m doing don’t ask me questions just do what I say.” Your computer will believe you and dutifully carry out all your commands to the letter. In this case the command tells your Mac that any program you run (including NetExtender) should be allowed to use pppd. If you are interested searching around the internet will turn up plenty of geeky info on sudo, chmod and other commands you can use in the terminal.

If the command above doesn’t get the VPN working again I usually just reinstall NetExtender. To do that open the Applications folder in Finder and drag the NetExtender App to the trash. Next open Safari and head over to virtualoffice.uua.org. You’ll need to sign in with your UUA username and password. Once you’ve signed in click on the NetExtender button and after a couple seconds it will prompt you to install.

If you are still having trouble after a reinstall or you have questions you can let us know by sending an email to helpdesk @ uua.org

About the Author
James Curran