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It seems there are consistent problems with establishing VPN connection to L2TP-VPN on Mac. It is working for the first time, but after you are disconnected, you are unable to re-connect again for quite some time (it got better with Snow Leopard but it is still not working properly).

Does anybody know how to workaround this problem?

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The server I have is L2TP over IPsec (xl2tpd + openswan). I have the same problem. What works is I reset xl2tpd and ipsec in the following order:

# /etc/init.d/xl2tpd stop
# /etc/init.d/ipsec stop
# /etc/init.d/ipsec start
# /etc/init.d/xl2tpd start

Which makes every thing unusable because I need to restart LT2P server every time I disconnect.

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