date: 2008-07-15 20:15:15+00:00

A VPN for remote users with OpenVPN

categories: - Networks - VPN

This article quickly explains how to set up a VPN for your remote users based on OpenVPN in around 5 minutes. If you want detailed informations about OpenVPN, certificates or other stuff, this is not the right place.

This applies to Debian Etch but will work will little difference in paths under Red Hat.

On the server

Install OpenVPN and the dependencies : # apt-get install openvpn

Copy the scripts that will help us generate all the necessary files (certificates, keys, etc.) :

<code>Under Debian :
# cp -aR /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/easy-rsa/2.0 /etc/openvpn/pki

Under RedHat :
# cp -aR /usr/share/doc/openvpn-2.0.9/easy-rsa/2.0 /etc/openvpn/pki</code>

Let's start : # cd /etc/openvpn/pki

Edit the variables : # vim vars

export KEY_COUNTRY=US export KEY_PROVINCE=SC export KEY_CITY=GREENVILLE export KEY_ORG="Green Company, LLC" export KEY_EMAIL=""

Set the scripts executable : # chmod +x *

Source the variables : # . ./vars

Set up the keys environment : # ./clean-all

Build the certificate authority (CA) : # ./build-ca

Build the certificate and private key for the server : # ./build-key-server server

It's not necessary to set a password.

Then, build the Diffie Hellman file : # ./build-dh

Build the client certificate for your first user : # ./build-key-pass client1

You'll be asked questions about the client.

Now under /etc/openvpn/pki/keys you must find a bunch of files.

Copy the files necessary for the server on the server under /etc/openvpn : ca.crt server.crt server.key dh1024.pem

Do so with a single command : # cp /etc/openvpn/pki/keys/{server.crt,server.key,dh1024.pem,ca.crt} /etc/openvpn

Send the following files to the client, store them wherever pleases you : ca.crt client1.crt client1.key

Send the following configuration to the user "client1" (vpn.conf which would reside in the same directory as the certificates and key) :

port 10000
proto udp
dev tun



resolv-retry infinite
ns-cert-type server

verb 3

ca      ./ca.crt
cert    ./client1.crt
key     ./client1.key


#up     ./
#down   ./

ping 10
ping-restart 60</code>

The up and down scripts are respectively executed when the connection is opened and closed. You can for example change the name server the client will use when connected to the VPN using those scripts (or opening ports in the firewall, etc.).

Server (/etc/openvpn/vpn.conf on the server) :

<code>port    10000
proto   udp
dev-type     tun
dev vpn-user

ca      ca.crt
cert    server.crt
key     server.key
dh      dh1024.pem

# enable compression

# allow several users to connect with the same certificate


keepalive 10 120

push        "dhcp-option DOMAIN"
push        "dhcp-option DNS"


user nobody
group nogroup

log vpn.log
verb 1</code>

The server will "push" the DNS settings to the client, this will modify your /etc/ resolv.conf so you will use the DNS server and hostname resolution of your office (or whatever place you are connecting to) when connected to the VPN.

On the server, make sure openvpn starts at boot by uncommenting the following line under /etc/default/openvpn (Debian) : AUTOSTART="all"

When done, restart OpenVPN on the server : # /etc/init.d/openvpn restart

Now, connect from the client (as root, or use sudo) from a remote network : # openvpn --config vpn.conf

The client will get an IP in the range 10.30.0.x on the device tun0, it will add a route to the range through the VPN (172.30.x.x in this example is supposed to be the network subnet on the server side).