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I've installed StrongSwan and the network manager helper and I have the options in the applet for VPN, but it only supports certificate configuration, not PSK entry.

I've tried to add the PSK into the /etc/ipsec.secrets file but I don't know what syntax I should use to identify the connection. I simply get "The VPN connection 'VPN Connection 1' failed because of invalid VPN secrets".

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Install the old client: https://launchpad.net/l2tp-ipsec-vpn

First install required packages:

sudo apt-get install gksu libgksu2-0 libctemplate2 libengine-pkcs11-openssl libp11-2 xl2tpd

Next download the old binaries and install with dpkg:

wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/universe/o/openswan/openswan_2.6.38-1_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i openswan_2.6.38-1_amd64.deb 

wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/universe/l/l2tp-ipsec-vpn/l2tp-ipsec-vpn_1.0.9-1_amd64.deb

wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/universe/l/l2tp-ipsec-vpn-daemon/l2tp-ipsec-vpn-daemon_0.9.9-1_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i l2tp-ipsec-vpn_1.0.9-1_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i l2tp-ipsec-vpn-daemon_0.9.9-1_amd64.deb

Open the client. Add a connection and configure as needed. Once you try to connect it may take awhile but be patient.

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  • For this, one can just do sudo apt-get install l2tp-ipsec-vpn. And in my experience this did not connect even with correct PSK and user/pass. :/ – Oxwivi Sep 29 '15 at 8:21
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    @Oxwivi This package doesn't exist in 15.04 repos so you can't just use apt-get currently. That being said, it does work for me so it may for someone else. In fact, I couldn't use Ubuntu without this. – badmadrad Sep 30 '15 at 2:30
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You should try the NetworkManager L2TP plugin, but now that it is a few years later you may also want to upgrade to a newer release of Ubuntu (as 16.04 is the current LTS).

I followed this blog post to install the PPA and the Gnome NM applet and was able to use a PSK VPN with a username and password prompt (though it can be saved into the connection file as well).

Code to add the PPA and install the software.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nm-l2tp/network-manager-l2tp
sudo apt update
sudo apt install network-manager-l2tp-gnome
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