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Turns out the problem was bone-headed: I uninstalled an expired 
(demo) version of Trend Internet Security that came with it and 
voila!  VPN works, ESET NOD32 installs.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions,

Rama

On 9/29/2010 9:48 AM, Bryan Fleming wrote:
> Hi Rama,
>
> I've got a USB cd-rom you can borrow if you want...
>
> Otherwise if the computer is on campus or you can easily bring
> it on campus for the day you can create a USB installer from
> "LiteTouch-x86_USB" or "LiteTouch-x64_USB" folders (as
> applicable) located here:
>
> \\files.uvm.edu\software\Windows_Deployment_Services
>
> -Bryan
>
> On 9/29/2010 8:11 AM, Rama Kocherlakota wrote:
>> Hi Andrew,
>>
>> Yeah, that sounds like good advice. It's a relatively new
>> machine so there isn't much to back up.
>>
>> Is there a Win7 image somewhere on campus I can download and
>> put on a flash drive? It doesn't have a CD drive and didn't
>> come with Win7 media.
>>
>> Thanks,
>>
>> Rama
>>
>> On 9/28/2010 7:41 PM, Andrew Hendrickson wrote:
>>> Unfortunately, given that there is a fairly high success rate
>>> in installations of the Anyconnect client in the wild, it
>>> sounds to me like this particular machine has big problems.
>>> Perhaps the fastest way to joy would be to back up what you
>>> need and start over from scratch? In other words, sometimes
>>> it's best to cut your losses and start over.
>>>
>>> It may very well be that you have malware or the
>>> afterleavings of malware. You could try running combofix from
>>> Bleepingcomputer to see if that sorts things out.
>>> Malwarebytes is another vector to try.
>>>
>>> On Sep 28, 2010, at 6:13 PM, Rama Kocherlakota wrote:
>>>
>>>> I also looked at the Event Log listings both for the
>>>> successful and the unsuccessful attempts to connect to
>>>> sslvpn.uvm.edu (from two different hosts). The unsuccessful
>>>> attempt definitely had more errors.
>>>>
>>>> The first error that seemed significant was a failed call to
>>>> CWindowsVirtualAdapter::GetConnName which returned an error
>>>> described in Event Viewer as "Unable to obtain an interface
>>>> name after 20 tries" which definitely didn't happen on the
>>>> successful computer. I tried googling various things like
>>>> CWindowsVirtualAdapter::GetConnName and "Unable to obtain an
>>>> interface name after 20 tries" but nothing interesting
>>>> showed up.
>>>>
>>>> At this point I started to wonder, for want of any better
>>>> ideas, if I had a virus on this machine, so I went to
>>>> install NOD32 from the software archive, but was
>>>> unsuccessful doing that too - I will send another note about
>>>> that.
>>>>
>>>> Thanks for any insights anyone has,
>>>>
>>>> Rama
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On 9/28/2010 2:10 PM, Rama Kocherlakota wrote:
>>>>> Hi Greg,
>>>>>
>>>>> Thanks for all the hints - unfortunately, I'm still not seeing
>>>>> success:
>>>>>
>>>>> On 9/28/2010 8:54 AM, J. Greg Mackinnon wrote:
>>>>>> Rama:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Is it the installer that is generating the error, or is the
>>>>>> product getting installed and then not starting up?
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> It's installing okay, it's when I try to connect that I run
>>>>> into
>>>>> trouble.
>>>>>
>>>>>> I found a reference to a "The VPN client /driver /has
>>>>>> encountered an error" on this page:
>>>>>> http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps6120/products_tech_note09186a00809b4754.shtml
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Yes, that is the error I'm seeing.
>>>>>
>>>>>> There are some recommendations here. The first being that you
>>>>>> should disable the "Routing and Remote Access" service before
>>>>>> installing AnyConnect. There are further remediations
>>>>>> recommended if that does not work.
>>>>>
>>>>> Routing and Remote Access was already disabled and I tried all
>>>>> the things they suggested (repairing the database, deleting
>>>>> it).
>>>>>
>>>>>> It also is recommended to analyze the setup logs for more
>>>>>> detailed error information. I have pasted in the log file
>>>>>> locations below...
>>>>>>
>>>>>> /J. Greg Mackinnon/ | Systems Administrator
>>>>>> ETS Systems Architecture and Administration | University of
>>>>>> Vermont
>>>>>> *Phone:* 802-656-8251 | *Web:* http://www.uvm.edu/~jgm
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Complete these steps:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> 1.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Obtain the device log file:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Windows XP / Windows 2000:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *\Windows\setupapi.log*
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Windows Vista:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *Note: *Hidden folders must be made visible in order
>>>>>> to see these files.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *\Windows\Inf\setupapi.app.log
>>>>>> \Windows\Inf\setupapi.dev.log*
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> No errors.
>>>>>
>>>>>> If you see errors in the setupapi log file, you can turn
>>>>>> up verbosity to 0x2000FFFF as described in this Windows KB
>>>>>> article
>>>>>> <http://support.microsoft.com/kb/906485/>leavingcisco.com.
>>>>>> Note the article says to set it to 0xFFFF, but if you add
>>>>>> the high order value of 0x2, it makes the logging faster.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> 2.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Obtain the MSI installer log file:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> If this is an initial web deploy install, this log is
>>>>>> located in the per-user temp directory.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Windows XP / Windows 2000:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Temp\*
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Windows Vista:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Temp\*
>>>>>>
>>>>>> If this is an automatic upgrade, this log is in the temp
>>>>>> directory of the system:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> *\Windows\Temp*
>>>>>>
>>>>>> The filename is in this format:
>>>>>> anyconnect-win-x.x.xxxx-k9-install-yyyyyyyyyyyyyy.log.
>>>>>> Obtain the most recent file for the version of the client
>>>>>> you want to install. The x.xxxx changes based on the
>>>>>> version, such as 2.0.0343, and yyyyyyyyyyyyyy is the date
>>>>>> and time of the install.
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> No errors.
>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> On 9/28/2010 7:12 AM, Andrew Hendrickson wrote:
>>>>>>> Have you tried the 2.5.1025 standalone application found
>>>>>>> athttp://www.uvm.edu/software
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> On Sep 27, 2010, at 9:34 PM, Rama Kocherlakota wrote:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> No, I thought it might be something like that at first when
>>>>>>>> I had trouble this weekend, but I tried again today with
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> same problem.
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> "Andrew Hendrickson"<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> Hmm, when I connected the Anyconnect client downloaded and
>>>>>>>>> installed a new client version.
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> Perhaps Network Services was updating the clients installs
>>>>>>>>> on the host at the time you tried to connect?
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> On Sep 27, 2010, at 6:16 PM, Rama Kocherlakota wrote:
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> Sorry, should have mentioned - it's a Win7 netbook.
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> Rama
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> On 9/27/2010 5:45 PM, Rama Kocherlakota wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>> I have an ASUS netbook that I am trying to use to access
>>>>>>>>>>> sslvpn.uvm.edu. If I go to the web site, it goes
>>>>>>>>>>> through its
>>>>>>>>>>> usual sequence of authenticating, downloading, and
>>>>>>>>>>> launching,
>>>>>>>>>>> but then, in the process of activating the VPN adapter,
>>>>>>>>>>> it gives
>>>>>>>>>>> me the rather cryptic error message that "VPN has
>>>>>>>>>>> encountered an
>>>>>>>>>>> error" and fails.
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> - I've tried using the browser-based Java version under
>>>>>>>>>>> Chrome
>>>>>>>>>>> and the Active-X version under MSIE.
>>>>>>>>>>> - I've tried with the standalone AnyConnect application
>>>>>>>>>>> - I've tried turning off the Windows firewall, FWIW.
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> But nothing seems to help. I'm working on a secured
>>>>>>>>>>> Wi-Fi
>>>>>>>>>>> network - and other machines on the same Wi-Fi network
>>>>>>>>>>> connect
>>>>>>>>>>> reliably with no issues. Any thoughts?
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> Thanks,
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>> Rama
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> ---
>>>>>>>> Rama Kocherlakota
>>>>>
>>>>> :-(
>>>>>
>>>>> Rama