As some of you know, I blogged last week about my experiences with Lion Server concentrated on a particular gripe with Lion’s VPN service.
Over the last week I’ve had the chance to play with 3 different solutions to my problem (hint: one isn’t alcohol!).
The first solution I have found, and the most reliable in use, is a program called iVPN. It markets itself as the “GUI that Apple left out”. It’s main use is to tie into the UNIX core that provides the VPN service and is present in all versions on Mac OS X, to provide the VPN server service on any Mac, client or server.
Cost: £15.00 (GBP)
Pros: It enables the PPTP and L2TP service in a nice clean GUI interface.
Cons: The license fee is £15! Also through testing, we have found it will only work with the first user account created within the Application.
Thoughts: Due to the price and one user only issue, I would not recommend this. Additionally, despite a claim of a 60-day refund if you are not happy, Mac Serve does not respond to emails (at time of writing)!
The second solution I came across is a program called Easy VPN. This markets itself as easy to use and the ‘same as OSX server’ and I have had great success but for a much worse reliability.
To make this application work, I found I had to use Server.app to turn the VPN service off, make the changes in Easy VPN, then use Server.app to turn the service on (rather than the built in on/off button). Once setup, I could successfully have 5 or 6 Macs connected without any issues. However, a few days later, it just stopped working and no amount of pleading could get it to work.
Cost: AUS $5 (around £3.35 GBP)
Pros: It enables the PPTP and L2TP service in a nice clean GUI interface, with multiple users.
Cons: Despite working fine at the start, it seems to have failed unexplainably.
Thoughts: Due to the lack of stability, I would not recommend this.
Admin Tool VPN
This product is unique in that it is available through Apple’s Mac App Store and for a low price. However, installed onto a fresh Lion server, this just plain refused to work. None of the settings stuck and the on/off switch did not work.
Cost: £1.49 GBP
Pros: Super Cheap, available on the Mac App Store.
Cons: Doesn’t actually seem to work
It seems I have hit a stalemate at the moment. I’m not a fan of Apple’s implementation of VPN in Lion Server, nor its lack of stability. But the alternatives are few and far between. To make matters worse, they all use the built in command line VPN solution. At the moment, the only real solution appears to be either lump-it, or shell out for a dedicated network appliance.
I will be looking into other solutions, but most likely down the security appliance route.
Well that’s enough from me, what about your stories? Please share your own views on Lion Server, VPN, and experiences, below.