Bash Script to Manage VPN Routes

September 30, 2020

In my day job I use a VPN, specifically GlobalProtect from Palo Alto. In our installation it is setup to be “full duplex” — all the traffic from your local machine is routed through the VPN. Previous we had a half duplex setup, where only the private network traffic was routed through the VPN.

GlobalProtect has a client, which was setup by our security staff. It’s dead simple to use and annoying to work with. Between the DNS jiggery-pokey that GP does, and my own DNS settings, I’ve had problems with some non-work sites not working.

The alternative to using the official client is to use OpenConnect. This requires installing it and using it on the command line, but doesn’t mess with IP traffic as badly as GP wants to. The problem is that OpenConnect doesn’t setup routes for the private network, and therefore some work-related sites don’t work.

My choices, then, are: (1) Use the official GP client and live with all my traffic being routed through the VPN, and have some sites not work, or (B) use OpenConnect and have some other things not work.

There is a third choice. Write a script to figure out the routing rules that need to be added to the routing table, and use that, along with OpenConnect, to establish your VPN connection. One of my co-workers created a script and shared it with me. His was able to work on either Linux or macOS. I only use macOS for work, so I didn’t need the Linux specific stuff. Therefore my script is a bit more compact and straight-forward than his.

As will all scripts you find on the Internet, use caution before blindly putting them to use. This script works for me, in my situation, with my edge cases. Your mileage will almost certainly vary.

set -e
set -o pipefail

# Dependencies
# brew install iproute2mac - gets ip command for macOS
if ! [[ -x $(command -v ip) ]] ; then
  echo "ip command not found"
  echo "Run brew install iproute2mac to install it"
  echo "Then run $0 again"

# Colors

# This script works on macOS. It futzes with the routing table
# to only route 10.* and 129.130.* traffic over the Global Protect
# VPN, if that VPN is active.

# Detemine what gateway traffic is flowing through
GATEWAY=$(netstat -nr | grep -v "::" | grep default | awk '{print $2}')
echo -e "Gateway:                ${BLUE}$GATEWAY${NC}"

# Determine which network interface the host is using
LOCAL_IFACE=$(ip route show | grep default | awk '{print $5}')
echo -e "Local interface in use: ${BLUE}$LOCAL_IFACE${NC}"

# GP VPN IP range and prefix - macOS strips the `.0` in the netmask
echo -e "Global Protect range:   ${BLUE}$GPVPN_RANGE${NC}"
echo -e "Global Protect prefix:  ${BLUE}$GPVPN_PREFIX${NC}"

# Protect local IP from being routed
if [[ "$(netstat -nr | grep -E "192\.168\.4\.1")" ]] ; then

echo "Setting a route for the local network"
echo -e " ${RED}ip route $VERB dev $LOCAL_IFACE ${NC}"
sudo ip route "$VERB" dev "$LOCAL_IFACE"

if [[ "$(netstat -nr | grep -E $GPVPN_PREFIX)" ]] ; then

echo "Setting a route for the GP VPN"
echo -e " ${RED}route $VERB $GPVPN_RANGE $GATEWAY ${NC}"
sudo route "$VERB" "$GPVPN_RANGE" "$GATEWAY"

# Start the VPN...
sudo openconnect  --user=mhn --protocol=gp --script "$HOME/src/openconnect/vpnc-script"

exit 0
Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.