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Start client connection

  • Import the .ovpn file
rclick Networking applet > VPN > Add > Import a saved VPN connection > select the .ovpn file
  • MAKE SURE DEFAULT TRAFFIC does not go over VPN!
rclick Networking applet > Edit connections > VPN > IPv4 tab > Routes > 
[x] Use this connection only for resources on its network 
  • You can then turn on/off the vpn via the applet, and it does all the rather nasty work for ya

You can connect on the command line, but this method does not properly update DNS to use vnc DNS:

sudo openvpn --config ~/development/equityshift/log/openvpn/mbm-client.ovpn &
ip a # you should now have a tun0 network!

Stop client connection

Use the networking applet.

Hardcore killing of process, use this to kill a connection started via command line:

sudo ifconfig tun0 down
# or if that doesn't work, try a bigger hammer...
sudo pkill -SIGTERM -f 'openvpn'

Watch the server log

tv # see alias setup, below

# manually:
sudo journalctl -xefu openvpn@server


Make a client key

# FROM OPENVPN (ci-openvpn-1)
cd ~/apps/EasyRSA-3.0.8 && ./easyrsa gen-req mbm-client nopass
cp pki/private/mbm-client.key ~/client-configs/keys/
emacs pki/reqs/mbm-client.req # copy

# FROM EASYRSA (ci-devops-1)
emacs /tmp/mbm-client.req # paste
cd ~/apps/EasyRSA-3.0.8 && ./easyrsa import-req /tmp/mbm-client.req mbm-client
./easyrsa sign-req client mbm-client
emacs pki/issued/mbm-client.crt # copy

cd ~/client-configs
emacs keys/mbm-client.crt # paste
# pull all the keys/conf into one .opvn file
sudo ./ mbm-client

The key will be in ~/client-configs/files/mbm-client.opvn. It should be securely delivered to the user so they can import it into their vpn client.


Watch out, OpenVPN has tried to monetize with their "Access Server" product. What you want is OpenVPN "Open Source" aka "OSS".

You will need two machines to follow suggested installation: one for OpenVPN and a separate isolated machine to run EasyRSA to manage certificates.

We are basically following these instructions.


Get the tarball link from the releases site, and install it:

mkdir -p ~/apps && cd ~/apps 
tar xvf EasyRSA-3.0.8.tgz
# uncomment && update vars as desired
cd EasyRSA-3.0.8 && cp vars.example vars && emacs vars
  # MBM define organizational fields
  set_var EASYRSA_REQ_COUNTRY     "US"
  set_var EASYRSA_REQ_PROVINCE    "North Carolina"
  set_var EASYRSA_REQ_CITY        "Raleigh"
  set_var EASYRSA_REQ_ORG         "My Comp, Inc."
  set_var EASYRSA_REQ_EMAIL       "me@me.comp"
  set_var EASYRSA_REQ_OU          "Administration"
./easyrsa init-pki
./easyrsa build-ca nopass

Install server

Debian OpenVPN

OpenVPN (OSS) is available with most distros' package managers.

sudo apt install openvpn wget emacs-nox
# copy an initial config into place
sudo cp /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/sample-config-files/server.conf.gz /etc/openvpn/
sudo gzip -d /etc/openvpn/server.conf.gz
# set up an alias to tail the vpn log (tv)
echo "alias tv='sudo journalctl -xefu openvpn@server'" >> ~/.bashrc

Also install EasyRSA via tarball similar to instructions above, but we will be running different commands:

mkdir -p ~/apps && cd ~/apps
tar xvf EasyRSA-3.0.8.tgz
cd EasyRSA-3.0.8
./easyrsa init-pki
./easyrsa gen-req server nopass
 # use default name [server]
sudo cp pki/private/server.key /etc/openvpn/
GCP special requirements

On GCP, when you create the OpenVPN VM, you must select the following in the Networking section:

[x] Enable IP forwarding

If you didn't you have to go through all this bizarre instance property update thing:

gcloud compute instances export ci-openvpn-1 --destination=fix-ci-openvpn-1-canIpForward.txt
# edit the file
gcloud compute instances update-from-file ci-openvpn-1 --source=fix-ci-openvpn-1-canIpForward.txt

Set up initial certs and keys

After installing, push things around between EasyRSA and OpenVPN...

# push server.req to EasyRSA CA machine
# you can just copy/paste it
emacs pki/reqs/server.req # copy

emacs /tmp/server.req # paste
./easyrsa import-req /tmp/server.req server
./easyrsa sign-req server server
emacs pki/issued/server.crt # copy
emacs pki/ca.crt # copy

sudo emacs /etc/openvpn/server.crt # paste
sudo emacs /etc/openvpn/ca.crt # paste
./easyrsa gen-dh
sudo openvpn --genkey --secret ta.key
sudo cp ta.key /etc/openvpn/
sudo cp pki/dh.pem /etc/openvpn/
cd && mkdir -p client-configs/keys && chmod -R 700 ~/client-configs
cd ~/apps/EasyRSA-3.0.8
sudo cp ta.key ~/client-configs/keys/
sudo cp /etc/openvpn/ca.crt ~/client-configs/keys/

Set up for client key generation

Build a base client config
cd ~/client-configs
mkdir -p files
cp /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/sample-config-files/client.conf base.conf
emacs base.conf

Contents to change:

remote 1290

user nobody
group nogroup

#ca ca.crt
#cert client.crt
#key client.key

#tls-auth ta.key 1

cipher AES-256-GCM

# add this
key-direction 1

script-security 2
up /etc/openvpn/update-resolv-conf
down /etc/openvpn/update-resolv-conf
Set up opvn generation script

Set up a helper script to build a single opvn file from the bits:

emacs ~/client-configs/
chmod +x ~/client-configs/



# First argument: Client identifier


cat ${BASE_CONFIG} \
   <(echo -e '<ca>') \
   ${KEY_DIR}/ca.crt \
   <(echo -e '</ca>\n<cert>') \
   ${KEY_DIR}/${1}.crt \
   <(echo -e '</cert>\n<key>') \
   ${KEY_DIR}/${1}.key \
   <(echo -e '</key>\n<tls-auth>') \
   ${KEY_DIR}/ta.key \
   <(echo -e '</tls-auth>') \
   > ${OUTPUT_DIR}/${1}.ovpn

Configure the service

Edit server settings as needed, here:

sudo emacs /etc/openvpn/server.conf 
sudo service openvpn@server restart # to apply changes

Some essential shit that is FUCKED UO by OPENVPN right out of the gate in their example config file:

# change to a non-standard port
# port 1194

# dh dh2048.pem
dh dh.pem

# Defaults to net30 (not recommended)                                                                                                                                                                                      
;topology subnet
# MBM WHY DEFAULT to a setting that is NOT RECOMMENDED?  And it causes server to throw warnings.  Idiots.                                                                                                                  
topology subnet

# Route client traffic to 10.150
# NOTE this replaces the OLD iptables routing we did earlier
push "route"

# MBM why is the $@(*$ openvpn sample config file using a deprecated cipher?  Rrr...                                                                                                                                       
# Don't use -CBC or auth                                                                                                                                                                                                   
# cipher AES-256-CBC                                                                                                                                                                                                       
# auth SHA256                                                                                                                                                                                                              
cipher AES-256-GCM

# You can uncomment this out on                                                                                                                                                                                            
# non-Windows systems.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
# MBM                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
user nobody
group nogroup

Configure networking

We must enable IP forwarding in the OpenVPN VM (this is in addition to GCP):

sudo emacs /etc/sysctl.conf
sudo sysctl -p # to apply

Set up the openvpn service to start on boot:

sudo systemctl start openvpn@server
sudo systemctl status openvpn@server # if ok, we will "enable" to run on startup
sudo systemctl enable openvpn@server

Punch a hole in your OpenVPN host firewall on your selected port and protocol (UDP/TCP).

Set up iptables routing

We need to set up networking on the VM to route incoming client requests to go to other machines on the OpenVPN internal LAN:

We wanted to get the OpenVPN server to do this routing but haven't determined how, or if possible at all. This iptables method of nat routing the client traffic is tested and working.

sudo iptables -t nat -I POSTROUTING -o ens4 -s -j MASQUERADE
sudo apt install iptables-persistent
  # i got two unreadable Yes prompts, i just hit Enter twice
sudo su -
iptables-save > /etc/iptables/rules.v4
# iptables rule should now persist on reboot

To review them:

sudo iptables --list # this SUCKS
sudo cat /etc/iptables/rules.v4


Docker OpenVPN

DO NOT DO THIS. Ubuntu and Debian apt package is good.

This seems to be a good starting point here and here are some instructions. Not going there, Keith "you don't want to mix security concerns", Tom "KISS".