While you might want to use Tor for the part of your network activity where you prefer to be anonymous, a VPN is a faster way to connect to sites that already know you.
Here are my instructions for setting up OpenVPN on Debian / Ubuntu machines where the VPN server is located on a cheap Linode virtual private server. They are largely based on the instructions found on the Debian wiki.
An easier way to setup an ad-hoc VPN is to use sshuttle but for some reason, it doesn't seem work on Linode or Rackspace virtual servers.
Generating the keys
Make sure you run the following on a machine with good entropy and not a VM! I personally use a machine fitted with an Entropy Key.
The first step is to install the required package:
sudo apt-get install easy-rsa openvpn
Then, copy the following file in your home directory (no need to run any of this as root):
mkdir easy-rsa cp -ai /usr/share/easy-rsa/* easy-rsa/ cd easy-rsa/
and put something like this in your
export KEY_SIZE=2048 export KEY_COUNTRY="NZ" export KEY_PROVINCE="AKL" export KEY_CITY="Auckland" export KEY_ORG="fmarier.org" export KEY_EMAIL="firstname.lastname@example.org" export KEY_CN="hafnarfjordur.fmarier.org" export KEY_NAME="hafnarfjordur.fmarier.org" export KEY_OU="VPN" export KEY_ALTNAMES=""
Create this symbolic link:
ln -s openssl-1.0.0.cnf openssl.cnf
and generate the keys:
. ./vars ./clean-all ./build-ca # press ENTER at every prompt ./build-key-server server # press ENTER at every prompt, no password ./build-key akranes # "akranes" as Name, no password ./build-dh /usr/sbin/openvpn --genkey --secret keys/ta.key
Configuring the server
apt-get install openvpn
and then copied the following files from my high-entropy machine:
cp ca.crt dh2048.pem server.key server.crt ta.key /etc/openvpn/ chown root:root /etc/openvpn/* chmod 600 /etc/openvpn/ta.key /etc/openvpn/server.key
Then I took the official configuration template:
cp /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/sample-config-files/server.conf.gz /etc/openvpn/ gunzip /etc/openvpn/server.conf.gz
and set the following in
/etc/openvpn/server.conf (which includes recommendations from BetterCrypto.org):
dh dh2048.pem push "redirect-gateway def1 bypass-dhcp" push "dhcp-option DNS 184.108.40.206" push "dhcp-option DNS 220.127.116.11" tls-auth ta.key 0 tls-cipher DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:DHE-RSA-CAMELLIA256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:DHE-RS cipher AES-256-CBC auth SHA384 user nobody group nogroup
(These DNS servers are the ones I found in
/etc/resolv.conf on my Linode VPS.)
Finally, I added the following to these configuration files:
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s 10.8.0.0/24 -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
sysctl -p before starting OpenVPN:
If the server has a firewall, you'll need to open up this port:
iptables -A INPUT -p udp --dport 1194 -j ACCEPT
as well as let forwarded packets flow:
iptables -A FORWARD -i eth0 -o tun0 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT iptables -A FORWARD -s 10.8.0.0/24 -o eth0 -j ACCEPT
Configuring the client
The final piece of this solution is to setup my laptop,
hafnarfjordur by installing the relevant
Network Manager plugin:
apt-get install network-manager-openvpn-gnome
The laptop needs these files from the high-entropy machine:
cp ca.crt akranes.crt akranes.key ta.key /etc/openvpn/ chown root:francois /etc/openvpn/akranes.key /etc/openvpn/ta.key chmod 640 /etc/openvpn/ta.key /etc/openvpn/akranes.key
and my own user needs to have read access to the secret keys.
To create a new VPN, right-click on Network-Manager and add a new VPN connection of type "OpenVPN":
- User Certificate:
- CA Certificate:
- Private Key:
- Available to all users:
then click the "Avanced" button and set the following:
- Use LZO data compression:
- Use LZO data compression:
- HMAC Authentication:
- TLS Authentication
- Subject Match:
- Verify peer (server) certificate usage signature:
- Remote peer certificate TLS type:
- Use additional TLS authentication:
- Key File:
- Key Direction:
- Subject Match:
If you run into problems, simply take a look at the logs while attempting to connect to the server:
tail -f /var/log/syslog
on both the server and the client.
In my experience, searching for the error messages you find in there is usually enough to solve the problem.
The next thing I'm going to add to this VPN setup is a local unbound DNS resolver that will be offered to all clients.
Is there anything else you have in your setup and that I should consider adding to mine?