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12. Interactions with other PPP implementations

12.1 How do I connect to a Windows NT server?

This question is becomming one of the most frequently asked questions about PPP. The Microsoft Windows NT platform is making substantial inroads into the corporate and commerial service organizations and the use of it's RAS services is seen as one of the reasons. It is just so easy to fill a few items in a form and have your Windows 95 system connect to the Windows NT platform that it is extremely tempting for many companies to offer Windows NT as their method of connection to either the corporate intranet or the Internet.

Yet, there are some difficulties with the use of Linux PPP and Microsoft Windows NT. There are a few different things with Windows NT as opposed to a UNIX platform.

There is no special script for connecting to Windows NT servers. If you are using chat (a UUCP expect-reply scripting tool), the script is nothing more than:

chat "" ATDT5551212 CONNECT

since it only needs to dial the Windows NT server and get the telephone to return a connected status. You can embelish it to look for things such as BUSY or VOICE or other errors from the modem, but those are not required. The only thing is to not expect "login:" or any other form of textual login sequence. Also, Windows NT server is \quiet\. It does not send anything until you do. It will just answer the telephone and then wait.

There is nothing special about using PAP or MSCHAP with Windows NT and Linux PPP. The Linux PPP process supports the MSCHAP protocol if you apply the patches which are included with the source package and get the D.E.S. library from ftp.funet.fi. (The DES library was originally developed in Australia. That country has the same restrictions on export of cryptography as do the countries of NORAD. So, since it has leaked to Finland, people should get it from there. I do not know who broke Australian law and that does not matter as long as it was not I.)

If you require to interface to a server which is configured to accept only encrypted authentication then you must use MSCHAP. If you can open up the server and accept "any authentication, including clear text" then you are best using PAP.

If you use PAP, then edit the /etc/ppp/pap-secrets file and put the entry which corresponds to:

account        remote            password

This is three words, seperated by one or more spaces, on the same line. I have left out the IP addresses as they are used more for the \dial-in server\ side of the pppd process. There is no limit to the line length. If your password or account name has spaces in it then use "password" or "account" (put quotes around it.) If the password has special characters which are not glyphs (printable characters such as a, b, c, etc.) then you may use \nnn for octal or \xNN for hexadecimal to enter the raw data as needed.

The field marked account is the name of the account on the Windows NT server, remote is either an "*" to mean that it is not used or it corresponds to the value used with the \remotename\ option to pppd and password is, obviously, the password.

Then you need to add either "user account" or "name account" where "account" is the matching item to your user name on the Windows NT server and matches the entry in the pap-secrets file.

Do not use the "+chap", "+pap", or "auth" options since these require that the remote system (Windows NT) authenticate itself with you. Normally the administrator won\t put in your codes so this will fail and you will not be able to communicate.

The entry for the chap-secrets file is basically the same. The MSCHAP code will convert the ASCII code to UNICODE that Windows NT requires since it is a simple mapping function from ASCII to UNICODE for the first 128 characters.

The double entry in the chap-secrets file is because the CHAP authentication is assumed to work both ways. In fact, since the MSCHAP sequence only works in one direction at the present time (because the Windows NT server does not authenticate itself with the client because Microsoft chose not to do that section of the code) the second entry is just noise. However, the parser for the option in pppd will require that you have it to make MSCHAP an acceptable authentication protocol when requested by the Windows NT peer. The "secret" for this item can be anything but an empty string.

The difference between "name", "remotename", and "user" is:

user : Used for PAP authentication. It will default to the value assigned to "name" if you do not specify the "user" option directly.

name : The name of the local system. It is used by the CHAP and MSCHAP code to select the secret from the chap-secrets file. It will default to name of the local IP address if you don't specify it.

remotename : The name of the remote (peer) system. It is used by PAP, CHAP, and MSCHAP to select the item from the file. It will default to the name of the peer's IP address if you don't specify it.

The Microsoft authentication sequence is a CHAP style authentication with their DES encryption algorithm for the passwords.

So why didn\t Microsoft just use CHAP with MD5 encryption then? CHAP does not send the clear text password across the \wire\. The answer is that in order to use CHAP protocol, you need the clear text for the password to be used with the encryption algorithm. You would need to store this clear text on your disk file. (The pppd process stores it in the /etc/ppp/chap-secrets file.) Storing a password in clear text on the disk also violates the requirements for C2 registration.

The only real difference between CHAP and MSCHAP is that MSCHAP does not store the clear text for the secret (password). They are both as vulnerable for middle-man imposter threats. They are both just as secure. Yet, MSCHAP can be used on a C2 registered system; CHAP can not.

12.2 I tried to use MSCHAP or PAP with Windows NT and it fails with "E=691". Now what?

The error condition identified as 691 is Windows NT way of telling you "invalid user name or password". Cute, isn\t it? It would have been better if they had included just a little more text with the message such as 'E=691 R="invalid user name or password"', but I guess that they had to save some memory some place and that was the place that they chose to do it. So, they left it as just this cryptic code number.

(There are about five other errors which may occur. Each is just a code number as well. For a list of the code numbers and their textual translation, you will have to query Microsoft's knowledge base on http://www.microsoft.com.)

Aside from the obvious reason of really not giving it a valid user name and password, the other reason is that it can not validate the entry that you did give it.

If your RAS server is a member or a secondary domain controller of a domain then you need to prefix the user name with the domain name. The reason that you must specify the domain name is that the RAS server must ask some other server to validate your account, it needs to know the domain name which corresponds to your account.

The domain name is pre-pended to the user name with a \ character separator.

However, since \ is special to pppd as it has the normal "C" language meanings then you need to use an entry in the pap-secrets or chap-secrets file which looks like:

domain\\account     remote         password

and use name "domain\\account" or user "domain\\account" as the option for pppd.

Then, you need to be careful about putting the \ character on the runline or as an un-quoted parameter to the connect option. The shell also uses \ for special purposes. This may mean that you would have to use name domain\\\\account just so that the pppd process sees name domain\\account so that it can give to Windows NT the sequence domain\account.

12.3 How do I support Windows 95?

Windows 95 PPP support is designed to work with Windows NT and similar servers which do not use a login and password prompt. For this to work, you would need to use a getty process which will recognize the LCP configure-request.

12.4 I am using a Trumpet (for MSDOS) and the connection simply terminates. Why is this happening?

Trumpet does not like any VJ header compression. Use the pppd option \-vj\ to turn it off.

12.5 I am using dp-3.1.2 (with SunOS) and the system will not allow me to use anything but ping, or nslookup. Why is this happening?

There is a bug in the 3.1.2 version of dp. Please get the 3.1.2a or later file from the dp ftp home site harbor.ecn.purdue.ecu. Until you can put the patch into dp, disable the vj header compression.

12.6 My provider wants to use a dynamic DNS address which is not the same with every connection. Yet, Linux wants just one address in the /etc/resolv.conf file. This works with Microsoft Windows 95, but how do I make it work with Linux?

Run a local \cache-only\ nameserver on your own Linux system.

Instructions on running the nameserver are in the Named-HOWTO. The only file which you need to obtain from the internet to enable the nameserver is the named.boot file. This is available from the ftp site at ds.internic.net. Then, use the address 127.1 as the address of the nameserver.

You will need to create a named.boot file as well as a primary for a dummy domain which will hold your localhost name and a primary domain for the 127 IP network. Again, instructions on how to do this are in the Named-HOWTO file.


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