setting up vpn server

Setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) server on a Linux system is an effective way to increase your network security and provide remote access to your resources. By implementing a VPN server, you can create a secure connection between your devices and the internet, protecting your data from prying eyes and giving you greater control over your network traffic. This process involves selecting a suitable VPN solution, configuring the server and client settings, and testing connectivity to ensure optimal performance.

Linux is an excellent platform for hosting a VPN server due to its flexibility, customization options, and the wide variety of open-source software available. One popular solution is OpenVPN, which offers a robust and secure server setup for Linux environments. Setting up a VPN server on Linux may seem daunting at first, but with the right guidance and a step-by-step approach, you’ll be up and running in no time.

Key Takeaways

  • Implementing a VPN server on Linux enhances network security and remote access capabilities.
  • OpenVPN is a popular and secure choice for setting up a VPN server in a Linux environment.
  • Successfully configuring a Linux VPN server involves selecting the appropriate software, configuring server and client settings, and testing for optimum performance and security.

Requirements and Preparations

Before you start setting up a VPN server on Linux, there are a few important requirements and preparations to consider. This ensures a smooth experience and a secure VPN server.

Choosing a Linux Distribution

There are several Linux distributions (distros) suitable for setting up a VPN server. Some popular choices are Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS. Ubuntu offers an excellent user-friendly experience and wide compatibility, Debian is known for its stability and reliability, while CentOS is popular in the enterprise world. You should choose a distro that meets your needs, offers long-term support or regular updates, and provides good documentation for troubleshooting and configuration.

Obtaining Necessary Permissions

When setting up a VPN server on your chosen Linux distro, you will need administrative or sudo privileges to execute installation and configuration commands. Many guides, like this one for setting up an OpenVPN Server on Ubuntu 20.04, mention the need for a sudo non-root user and a firewall enabled to ensure security while following their steps. Ensure that you have the necessary permissions before proceeding with the setup to avoid any complications.

Keep in mind that while setting up a VPN server on Linux, you should prioritize security, access control, and proper certificate management. Make sure to follow best practices and invest time in understanding the configuration steps. Setting up a VPN server may seem daunting, but with the right resources, guidance, and a bit of patience, you can create a secure and efficient VPN solution tailored to your needs.

Selecting a VPN Solution

When setting up a VPN server on Linux, it is essential to choose the right VPN solution according to your specific needs and security requirements. In this section, we will discuss three popular VPN solutions: OpenVPN, StrongSwan, and Algo VPN.


OpenVPN is a widely-used, open-source VPN server software that supports various operating systems, including Linux. It provides a high level of security through SSL/TLS encryption and offers flexibility in terms of configuration and networking options.

  • Security: OpenVPN uses strong encryption, authentication, and perfect forward secrecy (PFS) to ensure secure communication.
  • Cross-platform support: OpenVPN is compatible with multiple platforms such as Linux, Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
  • Ease of setup: It is relatively easy to set up and manage a Linux VPN server using OpenVPN with both command line and GUI-based tools available.


StrongSwan is another open-source VPN solution that focuses on providing IPsec-based VPN connections. StrongSwan is specifically designed for Linux-based systems and is widely known for its stability and advanced security features.

  • Security: StrongSwan supports various authentication and encryption methods, including pre-shared keys (PSK), digital certificates, and Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP).
  • Networking flexibility: StrongSwan supports several IPsec-based VPN protocols, such as IKEv1, IKEv2, and MOBIKE.
  • Interoperability: StrongSwan is compatible with other IPsec-based VPN solutions, allowing seamless integration with existing VPN infrastructures.

Algo VPN

Algo VPN is a lightweight, easy-to-deploy VPN server solution that relies on the IKEv2 protocol and the WireGuard VPN. Algo VPN is particularly suitable for users who prioritize speed, simplicity, and security.

  • Security: Algo VPN uses modern cryptographic protocols such as IKEv2 and WireGuard, providing a high level of security.
  • Speed: WireGuard is known for its ability to maintain high-speed connections without sacrificing security.
  • Ease of deployment: Algo VPN has a streamlined deployment process, making it a suitable option for users with less technical expertise or for smaller-scale VPN deployments.

When choosing a VPN solution for your Linux server, it is essential to consider factors such as the level of security, ease of configuration, and compatibility with your existing infrastructure. OpenVPN, StrongSwan, and Algo VPN each offer specific advantages, so selecting the best option depends on your unique requirements and priorities.

Configuring VPN Server

Installing VPN Software

To set up a VPN server on Linux, you need to install the appropriate open-source VPN software. For instance, OpenVPN is a popular choice for its versatility and ease of use. To install, simply run:

sudo apt install openvpn curl

This command installs both the OpenVPN software and the cURL utility.

Certificate Authority Setup

A Certificate Authority (CA) is essential for maintaining the security and privacy of client-server connections. First, create a new directory for CA-related files with:

sudo mkdir /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/

Follow the necessary steps provided by your chosen VPN software to generate your CA certificates and keys, and securely store them in the specified directories for optimal encryption and authentication.

Server Configuration

Configuring your VPN server involves editing the configuration file. This file can be found in the /etc/openvpn/ directory in Ubuntu or Debian systems. Customize the settings according to your needs, such as specifying IP addresses, DNS settings, and more. Don’t forget to save the file once you’ve made the necessary changes.

Firewall Setup

To protect your VPN server and control incoming and outgoing traffic, you need to set up a firewall. Begin by enabling IP forwarding in your system:

sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

Now, configure the firewall to allow or block specific connections and traffic to ensure a secure VPN server environment. Additionally, you can utilize tools like UFW (Uncomplicated Firewall) for a simplified firewall management experience.

Network Manager Setup

The Network Manager is responsible for handling the client connections to your VPN server. To configure it, you’ll need to install the necessary plugins for your chosen VPN software, such as:

sudo apt install network-manager-openvpn-gnome

This installs the OpenVPN plugin for the GNOME desktop environment in Ubuntu and Debian systems. Once the plugin is installed, create a new VPN connection profile using the details provided in your configuration file. Fill in the required fields, such as the VPN server’s location, IP address, and CA certificates. Finally, make sure to enable the new connection profile and establish a secure VPN connection.

Configuring VPN Client

After setting up the VPN server on Linux, it’s essential to configure the VPN client properly so it can connect to the server. This section covers the process of configuring the client, including generating certificates, setting up the client configuration, and connecting the VPN client to the server.

Generating Client Certificates

To authenticate and encrypt the connection between the VPN client and server, you will need client certificates. First, you should install the necessary tools like OpenVPN and Easy-RSA on your Linux system. You can use the following command to install them:

sudo apt install openvpn easy-rsa

Next, create a directory for your client’s certificate and key files:

mkdir ~/client-certificates

Now, navigate to the Easy-RSA keys directory on your server, where you will find the necessary certificate files like ca.crt and client.ovpn. You need to copy these files into your newly created client certificate directory.

You can use scp or any other method to transfer the files. For example, using scp:

scp user@your_server_ip:/path/to/easy-rsa/keys/{ca.crt,client.ovpn} ~/client-certificates/

Setting up Client Configuration

Once you have the necessary certificates, it’s time to set up the VPN client configuration. First, using a text editor, open the client.ovpn file and edit the following options:

  • proto: Choose the protocol you want to use (tcp or udp).
  • remote: Replace the placeholder with your VPN server’s IP address or hostname.
  • dev: Choose the virtual network device type (usually tun).
  • ca, cert, and key: Update the paths to the correct certificate and key files in your client certificate directory.
  • cipher: Use the same encryption algorithm as your server.
  • comp-lzo: Enable or disable compression based on your server settings.

Save the changes and close the text editor.

Connecting VPN Client to Server

With your client’s certificates and configuration set up, you’re ready to connect your VPN client to the server. In order to establish the connection, run the following command:

sudo openvpn --config ~/client-certificates/client.ovpn

You may be prompted for a username and password if your VPN server requires them. Otherwise, the connection process will begin. Once the connection is established, your VPN client will use the encrypted tunnel to securely communicate with the server, protecting your privacy and ensuring data integrity.

Remember to practice good security habits, including keeping your software up-to-date, using strong passwords, and regularly reviewing your VPN server settings to maintain a secure and private connection.

Testing Connectivity and Security

Leak Test for IP and DNS Leakage

One crucial aspect to consider when setting up a VPN server on Linux is security. To ensure that your VPN connection isn’t leaking your real IP address or DNS requests, you should perform a leak test. Several online tools are available to help you with this, such as Make sure you’re connected to your VPN server, and then access the testing site. It should detect the VPN server’s IP address, not your regular IP address. Also, check whether the detected DNS servers are your chosen DNS servers and not your ISP’s default servers.

Testing Bandwidth and Throttling

To test if your VPN server is providing adequate bandwidth and isn’t experiencing ISP throttling, you can use various speed testing tools like Compare the results between your VPN connection and your regular internet connection. A small drop in speed is expected when using a VPN, but significant speed reductions may indicate throttling by your ISP.

You may need to use obfuscation techniques or change the port used by the VPN server to overcome throttling.

Checking Connection Logs

To review logs and examine any potential issues with your VPN server, you will need sudo privileges. Most Linux VPN servers, such as OpenVPN, store their logs in the /var/log directory. You can access those logs by using the command line:

sudo tail -f /var/log/openvpn.log

This command shows the last few lines of the log file and continuously updates with new entries. Look for any error messages or unusual activity to ensure your VPN server is functioning correctly and securely.

Proper testing and monitoring of your VPN server are essential for maintaining a secure, stable, and reliable connection. By conducting leak tests, evaluating bandwidth, and checking logs, you can ensure that your Linux VPN server offers the best possible performance and security.

Advanced Configuration and Troubleshooting

In this section, we will explore advanced configuration and troubleshooting for setting up a VPN server on Linux. We will cover supporting multiple protocols, IPv6 configuration, and fixing common issues.

Supporting Multiple Protocols

When setting up a VPN server, it is essential to support multiple protocols to ensure compatibility with various devices and operating systems. The most popular protocols include UDP and TCP, with UDP being the default for most VPN server configurations due to its speed advantage. However, TCP provides better error correction and may work better on unstable connections.

To support both protocols, you will need to configure your VPN server software (such as OpenVPN) to accept connections over both protocols. This can be done by creating separate configuration files for each protocol in your VPN server folder and adjusting the appropriate settings to allow incoming connections over UDP or TCP.

IPv6 Configuration

As the IPv4 address space becomes more scarce, it’s essential to ensure your VPN server supports IPv6 connections. To enable IPv6 for your VPN server on Linux, you should follow these steps:

  1. Enable IPv6 support in your VPN server configuration file by adding the following line:

  2. Configure IPv6 routing and firewall rules to ensure your VPN traffic is routed correctly. This may vary depending on your VPN software and Linux distribution. Check the specific documentation for your VPN software and distro for detailed instructions.

  3. Test IPv6 connectivity using a service like to verify your VPN clients are successfully connecting over IPv6.

Fixing Common Issues

A well-configured VPN server on Linux should provide a stable and secure connection. However, you may encounter some common issues, such as:

  • TLS handshake failure: This often occurs when the VPN client cannot establish a secure connection with the server due to incorrect or outdated certificates. To resolve this, ensure you are generating and using valid TLS certificates on both the server and client.

  • Dropped connections: If your users are experiencing frequent disconnects from the VPN server, it may be due to network issues, such as high latency or packet loss. Checking your server logs and monitoring your network connections can help you identify and resolve these issues.

  • Trouble using Network Manager: Sometimes, using the Linux built-in Network Manager for VPN connections can cause issues, especially when used alongside custom VPN server configurations. You may need to manually configure your VPN server’s settings within Network Manager to ensure a smooth connection.

By addressing these potential issues, you can considerably improve the reliability and performance of your VPN server on Linux. Remember to continually monitor your server logs, update your software, and verify your VPN server’s security to provide the best possible experience for your users.

Cross-Platform Connectivity

Setting up a VPN server on Linux allows for secure and private connections between the server and various client devices. In this section, we’ll discuss how to configure VPN clients on different platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

Configuring Windows Clients

To connect a Windows laptop or desktop to the VPN server, you’ll need to download and install the OpenVPN client software. After installation, you can import the configuration file provided by the server administrator. This file will contain necessary information like the VPN server’s IP address and port number, encryption protocols, and other required settings.

Next, open the OpenVPN client and connect to the VPN server using the imported configuration file. Once the connection is established, your Windows client computer can securely access the resources on the VPN network.

Setting up macOS Clients

For macOS devices, you can use a tool like Tunnelblick to connect to the VPN server. Download and install the software, then import the macOS-specific configuration file provided by the VPN administrator. Just like for Windows, this file will contain important details such as the server’s address, encryption settings, and more.

Connect to the VPN server by clicking on the Tunnelblick icon in the macOS menu bar and selecting your desired VPN configuration. The secure connection will be established, allowing your macOS device to access the VPN network resources.

Android and iOS Clients

To connect an Android or iOS device to the VPN server, you can use the OpenVPN Connect app, which is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Install the app on your device and import the provided configuration file using the app’s settings.

Once the configuration file is imported, simply tap on the VPN profile and establish the connection. The Android or iOS device will now be securely connected to the VPN network, allowing access to resources on the Linux VPN server.

By setting up cross-platform connectivity, the VPN server on Linux provides a secure and private way for various client devices to access important resources. With proper configuration, the VPN clients can maintain secure connections on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices.


Setting up a VPN server on Linux can be a straightforward process if you have the right tools and know-how. Follow the steps mentioned in guides like How To Set Up and Configure an OpenVPN Server on Ubuntu 20.04 or How to Set Up and Manage a Linux VPN Server Using OpenVPN to ensure a successful installation.

Linux VPN server setup mainly involves installing OpenVPN, configuring the server, and setting up proper security measures. Once your server is up and running, you can connect various devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets to access the internet securely and privately.

Remember to update your VPN server and keep its security practices up-to-date. With proper maintenance and care, your Linux VPN server will help you navigate the internet without worrying about privacy breaches or unsecured connections.

By taking the time to learn and implement a VPN server on Linux, you are investing in your online privacy and security. This investment can prove invaluable in today’s world of constant digital surveillance and data breaches. So, set up your server, stay confident in your knowledge, and enjoy the benefits of a private and secure internet experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I configure a VPN server on Ubuntu?

To configure a VPN server on Ubuntu, you’ll need to install and set up a VPN software like OpenVPN. First, update your software packages using the command sudo apt-get update. Then, install OpenVPN through the command sudo apt-get install openvpn. After the installation, create configuration files and keys for your VPN server. Finally, adjust your network settings to route traffic through the VPN.

What are the steps to install OpenVPN on Ubuntu?

  1. Update your software packages with the command: sudo apt-get update.
  2. Install OpenVPN using the command: sudo apt-get install openvpn.
  3. Generate and configure encryption keys and certificates.
  4. Create a configuration file for your VPN server.
  5. Configure firewall settings to allow VPN traffic.
  6. Start the OpenVPN server and enable automatic startup on reboot.

Refer to this tutorial on configuring an OpenVPN server on Ubuntu 20.04 for detailed instructions.

Which VPN server software is recommended for Linux?

OpenVPN is a popular and widely recommended VPN server software for Linux due to its open-source nature, robust security features, and extensive support for various platforms. Other alternatives include WireGuard and SoftEther.

Are there any free VPN options for Linux?

There are free VPN options available for Linux users. However, such options may come with certain limitations, such as reduced speed, limited server locations, or less robust security features. Some popular free VPNs for Linux include ProtonVPN, Windscribe, and TunnelBear.

How can I set up a Linux Mint OpenVPN server?

Setting up an OpenVPN server on Linux Mint follows a similar process as on Ubuntu since both are based on Debian. You’ll need to install OpenVPN, create the necessary keys and certificates, configure the VPN server, adjust firewall settings, and enable the service. Refer to this Hostinger tutorial for detailed steps.

What is the process to deploy a Linux VPN server using Docker?

To deploy a VPN server using Docker, you can follow these steps:

  1. Install Docker on your Linux server.
  2. Fetch a VPN server Docker image, such as kylemanna/openvpn.
  3. Set up and initialize the VPN server using the provided Docker commands.
  4. Configure and deploy the VPN server container.
  5. Connect your devices to the VPN server using the generated keys and configuration files.

For a more comprehensive guide, check out this tutorial on setting up an OpenVPN server with Docker.

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