At the office, a few us use Fedora. The main reasons are that it’s a fairly good desktop distribution, and the software is nice and bleeding edge; perfect for developers. But sometimes, it breaks.

I’m still on Fedora 20, but a handful of coworkers have either upgraded to Fedora 21 or installed the latest version because they recently got new computers (and crunchbang doesn’t play well with newer Haswell setups). All the new setups had one problem: they couldn’t connect to one of our VPNs. We’re in the process of migrating to SoftEther, but this particular VPN still uses PPTP while we validate that SoftEther can handle our load.

So what happened? The short answer is that the VPN wouldn’t connect. It would take ages for the connection attempt to fail, and in the logs, we’d see something along the lines of:

LCP: timeout sending Config-Requests

After a bit of digging, it turns out that there are a few packets that are being blocked by the firewall since the 3.18 kernel:

As expected, with the 3.2.x kernel :

if neither nf_conntrack_proto_gre nor nf_conntrack_pptp are loaded, the first GRE packet of a plain GRE tunnel (as set by ip tunnel) or a PPTP connection is NEW ;


What has changed with the 3.18.x kernel : if neither nf_conntrack_pptp nor nf_conntrack_proto_gre are loaded, any GRE packet is INVALID.

The solution, thus, both on Ubuntu and Fedora (and I expect others as well) is to always load the nf_conntrack_pptp module.

# Fedora
echo nf_conntrack_pptp | sudo tee /etc/modules-load.d/pptp-firewall.conf
sudo modprobe nf_conntrack_pptp

# Ubuntu and friends
echo nf_conntrack_pptp | sudo tee /etc/modules/pptp-firewall.conf
sudo modprobe nf_conntrack_pptp

Happy connecting!

Blog Logo

Sebastian Lauwers



Drop a Blog

I'm a software architect and Free Software hacker

Back to Overview