Thursday, June 14, 2012

Disable ATT Communications Manager (ATTCM) autostart on MAC OSX

ATTCM can be a nuisance and there is hardly much you can do on MAC OSX since there is no startup elements you can disable like on Windows. You can go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items and can disable some items but it doesn't work with USB Modems. Once you have installed the ATTCM or any USB modem application (like sierra wireless air watcher), you are kind of stuck with the autostart of these applications once you insert the modem on the USB port since they almost act like a disk.

So what i had to do was to first of all setup PPP connection via the USB Modem network interface as detailed in one of my previous posts so that i could at-least connect to the internet. Don't try to upgrade the ATTCM with the application running because you don't know where the update is going to get downloaded and 99% of the times it doesn't come with the uninstall option and no modem driver for some wired reason.

If you are really interested, go to ATT website and download the dog file and install it manually so that at least you get the uninstall option which cleanly uninstalls the ATTCM.

I would rather stick to the ATTCM 7.2 version since it comes with correct modem drivers for SierraWireless 313U (Momentum 4G) wireless data card so that you can have the PPP working properly which is essential if you want to try VPN via data card.

So in order to disable the autostart, i ended up doing the following:
  1. Unplug the USB data card before doing this.
  2. Go to the Finder > Applications > AT&T > AT&T Communication > Right Click > Show Package Contents
  3. Click on Contents 
    • Delete diskutil
    • Click on SharedSupport > Config
      • Delete the autostart INI file.
    • Click on MacOS and delete the following files
      • attcm
    • Don't delete the
Shutdown and restart MAC without the modem plugged in. Once started, connect the modem and use the PPP connection to connect to the internet. You can also setup the PPP advanced options to auto connect to avoid the extra step of manually clicking connect on the PPP connection. Also you can create a shortcut by checking "show modem in status bar".

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Working Cisco AnyConnect, CISCO IP Communicator on VMWare on MAC OSX LION Host, WINDOWS 7 Guest using broadband datacard

This one was probably one of the most challenging ones i have faced so far.. I am not a networking expert by any sorts but this issue specifically has taught me stuff i don't wanna even know..

I hope people reading this post will find it useful to help them in following situations:

  1. If you run VMWare or Parallels on a host MAC OSX machine and have trouble running CISCO AnyConnect VPN on the guest WINDOWS 7/Vista/XP etc. connected via a broadband data card (which only support VPN via PPP as detailed in my previous post).
  2. Since there is no CISCO IP Communicator for MAC, this is probably your last option to have CISCO IP Communicator run on a MAC OSX machine via the guest WINDOWS operating system after connecting through VPN to your corporate network.
  3. The other party can't hear you via CISCO IP Communicator (the whole debate around NAT Vs. BRIDGED connections in VMWARE/Parallels)
So how did i end up writing this.. Well recently got a ATT datacard and had to struggle through to get CISCO AnyConnect VPN working on MAC OSX (LION). My previous post details out how to get that working. Now once you get that working you still can't use your corporate IP phone (especially CISCO IP Phone) since they don't have a MAC OSX version even after promising it for several years. Don't know if its APPLE or CISCO but what ever..

So what are your options... I guess the only reasonable one is to run CISCO IP Communicator on the Windows guest operating system either using VMWARE or Parallels. Almost everyone who owns a MAC, has WINDOWS OS running on it for variety of reasons beyond this post..

Now for CISCO IP Communicator to run on the guest WINDOWS OS on host MAC OSX, you most probably need to connect via VPN to your corporate network. The challenges you face there are plenty.
  1. There is this whole issue of how VMWARE/Parallels uses the network connections i.e. NAT, Bridged or HOST. You will find several posts talking about that it works only in BRIDGED mode but the challenge with BRIDGED mode is that it only works with an ethernet/wifi adapter i.e. if you are connected via either one of them. So if you are using a USB modem or data card, you are pretty much out of luck.
  2. The biggest issue with NAT is that the person on the other side of IP Communicator can't hear you. There is some networking issue that i can't seem to understand.
  3. You can try various things like Internet Sharing in MAC OSX, and even then can't get the CISCO AnyConnect VPN to work. Believe me i tried and couldn't get it working.. 
  4. Any who..Your best bet is to figure out a way to get Cisco AnyConnect working on the guest WINDOWS OS and then connect the CISCO Ip Communicator. You will not have to deal with this BRIDGED/NAT BS either if you follow the steps below. 
So the steps that i followed to get this working are below:
  1. Connect your data card to MAC OSX the normal way and let it connect.
  2. Start VMWARE/Parallels and connect the network adapter in it so that you have internet access.
  3. The key to getting this working at least on WINDOWS 7 is the BFE (Base Filtering Engine) service. Somehow for me the service was altogether missing. I tried researching but no luck. Some noble soul had posted the registry settings to create the BFE entry and i am attaching it below.
  4. Once you run the registry file, it will create a BFE entry in the following location --> HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\BFE
  5. You will now need to open regedit.exe as administrator and go to the above entry and modify the permissions of the BFE folder in the registry to allow full access to the user operating the HOST & GUEST. You can also try giving full access to "everyone" user.
  6. Now go to My Computer > Manage > Services and start the BFE service. It should start without any ACCESS DENIED errors if you have done step 5 above.
  7. Now start CISCO AnyConnect VPN and it will connect to your corporate network in a jiffy.
  8. You will still have the network adapter in VMWARE/Parallels connected and able to access the internet. If you need proxy, make changes accordingly.
  9. Start CISCO IP Communicator and that too will connect without issues. Make a test call to yourself just to make sure that you can hear both sides :)..
This is all you need to do to get this complicated stuff working. Its working for me.. Hope it does for you guys too... Happy calling!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Wireless Data Cards (Sierra Wireless 313U) and Cisco AnyConnect VPN - Solved!!

Just got a brand new AT&T USBConnect Momentum 4G LTE data card by Sierra Wireless. Setup was straight forward and i was connected in no time. The ATT Communications Manager application installs by itself (MAC/Win7).

I started playing with the card and the first thing i tried was my corporate VPN via Cisco AnyConnect. What do i find???? No matter what i tried, restart, reinstall, Sierra Wireless Air Card Watcher, nothing would work. It would go as far as the last step and give me the following error

"The VPN client was unable to modify the ip forwarding table...."
"AnyConnect was not able to establish a connection to the specified secure gateway..."

There was no way for me to connect to the Cisco VPN using the data card. So i tried investigating online. People talk about various ways they have tried but no luck. There is an inherent problem with the security in Cisco and the way the data is handled via a wireless card using WWAN. After wasting a lot of time and effort, i stumbled across few posts which talk about using the Native Interface for connection or have some sort of NDIS drivers. Being a MAC user, it was a nightmare to find any drivers.. let alone the setups and configuration instructions. I even called AT&T and got the usual answer about the lack of support for VPN and especially MAC OSX (Hope APPLE is listening...) and was asked to contact my local cop orate IT.

Started playing around and finally got VPN to work on my data card. I think the approach is device agnostic so should work with any data card on probably any operating system as long as you know how to go about creating a Dial-Up Networking (DUN) interface. I am mentioning the steps for MAC OSX LION 10.7.4 but same steps can be followed for WIN7 or LINUX.

  1. The first and foremost thing is that you make sure that your initial install of the card doesn't have issues and installs the following network interfaces
    • direct IP (Its just the name of the interface at least on my MAC) - This is the basic network interface required by the AirCard Watcher or ATT Communications Manager.
    • The second but most important is the "AirCard 313U" interface which is basically a USB modem network interface. This is what we will use for setting up the DUN.
  2. One important thing that i noticed is that the drivers that came on the card are actually the only ones (at least for MAC OSX) which install the USB Modem driver and are embedded into the ATT Communications Manager that it installs. If you download a version of ATT Communications Manager from AT&T's website, you may be out of luck and you may not get the Modem Driver installed.
  3. Now if you don't wanna do VPN, you can continue to use the ATT Communications Manager utility to connect.
  4. For VPN, you need to go to Mac OSX Network Preferences. You will use the same approach for any OS. All you need to do is to identify the USB Modem Network Interface.
  5. Once you have located the USB modem network interface, enter the following settings on the Network Interface.
    • Telephone Number - *99#
    • User Nam & Password - Optional. If your network provider has provided you one, please use it otherwise leave it blank.
    • Under Advanced Settings
      • Select the Modem Driver - Sierra Wireless (or your specific vendor)
      • Model - GSM or CDMA
      • APN - broadband or ISP.CINGULAR (These are only for ATT. You can find your network provider APN from the AirCard Settings)
      • CID = 1
    • Proxy - You can setup proxies if required by your corporate.
  6. Save the settings and make sure that the ATT Communications Manager is not running and is not connected using the "direct IP" interface.
  7. Click connect and you will be connected to the internet via DUN (Dial-Up Networking).
  8. Start Cisco AnyConnect VPN and try connecting to your corporate VPN and there you have it.. A working VPN with no degradation of speed ( i validated using speedtest) on a wireless 4G LTE Data Card.

Monday, February 27, 2012