Setting up VPN

Today, I received an email with my login info and started setting up the VPN.

Back in a big company

This was mostly uneventful, and a lot of the information about what I did today is private, so I cannot record it here. Red Hat has a pretty good set of on-line services. It’s fun to return to a “big company” setup, with tons of information on the company portal.

This reminds me of HP, but in a much more open way. For example, there are comments from users on practically all the pages, that give you additional hints or tips. Some of them were really helpful, showing where people bumped into this or that, with helpful suggestions. I really like it.

Authentication

Red Hat uses FreeOTP to do a two-factor authentication for everything. It’s very convenient: just install the application on your phone, and you are good to go. I guess if you don’t have a phone that runs iOS or Android, that could be a problem, but I just purchased an iPhone, so I’m good.

That two-factor authentication is the one thing that got me into trouble. Mid-day, my application and the server somehow lost sync. I had to call for help, because I assumed my password had been invalidated after too many failed attempts. Re-sync’ing the authentication token solved the issue, and that can be done from outside the VPN.

Software installations

Software installation happens in the background. It was not very fast, so at first I thought there were some issues with it, but after a couple of hours, it had installed everything. I guess it strikes a good balance between “instant access to applications” and “do not make your machine crawl just because I’m installing stuff”.

Many of the applications that are installed I had not used in several years, e.g. Thunderbird or Cyberduck. I tried Thunderbird, and I can’t say that I really like it. It feels a bit like Apple Mail of years ago. Now I need to decide if I pull my personal accounts into Thunderbird, or if I try to make Apple Mail connect to Red Hat mail servers.

Connecting Apple Mail

A quick check with the second option showed it’s not trivial: while the options for setting an account up the way Red Hat requires it do appear for existing accounts, they do not show up when you create a new account. Specifically, you cannot provide the name and connection parameters for mail servers. That’s a bit weird.

I guess it’s possible to work around that by hijacking an existing account to something like Google Mail, and then recreating it. But that’s a strange way of doing things.

Update: It turns out it’s surprisingly easy. Just treat the account as a “Google” account, and you’ll end up on the single-sign-on page.

 

Overall, a pretty good infrastructure.

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Author: Christophe de Dinechin

I try to change the world, but that's work in progress. If you want to know me, google "Christophe de Dinechin". Keywords: concept programming, virtualization, OS design, programming languages, video games, 3D, modern physics. Some stuff I did that I'm proud of: the first "true" 3D game for the PC, HP's big iron virtualization, real-time test systems for car electronics, some of the best games for the HP48 calculator, a theory of physics that makes sense (at least to me).

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