Setting up a Raspberry Pi as a VPN router (Updated)

I’ve decided to update the VPN router on my home network using a Raspberry Pi 2, I’m quite impressed at how well it works. I was previously using a HomePlug AV adapter but found this to be a bit of a network bottleneck. So now my Raspberry Pi 2 is connected directly to my router using an ethernet cable.

Previously, I installed a DNS server (Unbound) as a caching recursive DNS server, this service resided on the same machine that I ran my VPN router on. Now however, after a bit of research I’ve decided to let my VPN’s DNS servers answer all the requests from my VPN connected devices.

I now run a separate DHCP/DNS server on my home network (DNSMasq) with a DNSCrypt wrapper that encrypts all the DNS requests that don’t go through my VPN Router.

Home VPN Setup

What you need

You will need some knowledge of networking and/or some IT knowledge.
A Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 running the current Raspian Jessie Lite – 2016-03-18.

Configure a static IP address

The new version of of the dhcpcd daemon included in the Jessie image doesn’t seem to read /etc/network/interfaces as it used to So if you configure a static IP in the usual way, you’ll end up with 2 IP addresses.

The workaround is to configure a static IP address as you would normally, then disable dhcpcd daemon. Then if you decide later to provision your Pi for something else, it’s easily reversible.

The above shows that the router’s IP address (Gateway) is 192.168.1.254, yours may be different, so remember to change it to suite your circumstances. You may well have to changing the network address if your network address differs from mine, which is 192.168.1.0/24.

Setting up your VPN server

Next, you need to install openvpn on your raspberry pi and test it, I’ve provided an extensive list of VPN providers in the references section (right at the bottom) feel free to choose one after installing openvpn (make sure the VPN provider you choose, support openvpn).

First off, you need to install openvpn. You can do this by typing the following at the prompt.

After you’ve installed openvpn, you’ll need to choose a VPN provider. Ensure that the one you choose, supports Linux and Openvpn. If it’s a good provider, they will provide you with the option of downloading an OpenVPN configuration file, which should have the extension (.ovpn). After you’ve downloading the file to your Raspberry Pi, change the extension to a (.conf) extension and copy it to the “/etc/openvpn/” directory of your Raspberry Pi.

Test that the VPN actually works.

If it’s working as expected, then press ctrl-c to exit.

Enable VPN after reboot

You should get a message similar to this (see below), the “your_vpn_provider@” will of course be what you’ve called your file.

Fire-walling the interface and enabling forwarding

Below is the shell script that I wrote (with the help of online resources). What it does is firewall the tunnel interface and the internal eth0 interface. In the event of the openvpn daemon shutting down, or the connection to your VPN provider going down, all traffic stops being forwarded.

The only part that will need changed, is the “Home_Network” variable which is currently set to my home network (192.168.1.0/24) and the VPN_DNS variable, which are the DNS servers supplied by your VPN provider. Download the script (or cut and paste) to your pi.

To change permission on the firewall.sh script (make it executable), type the following.

Run the script and apply the firewall.

I want to make the firewall rules persistent, so I’m going to install a package called iptables-persistent.

Make the rules apply at startup

If at any time you re-run the firewall.sh script after updating or changing it, then you will have to re-run the iptables-persistent program, to apply the updated rules after reboot. The command for that is.

Enable IPv4 forwarding

Edit the sysctl.conf file to enable IPv4 forwarding.

Uncomment the following.

Save the changes and run the following to make the change permanent.

You should get the following output.

Start VPN now

Testing your VPN Connection

IP Address:          192.168.1.12
Subnet :                255.255.255.0
Default Gateway: (IP address of your now working Raspberry Pi VPN Router)
DNS Server :       (The IP address of your VPN provider’s DNS Servers)

Here’s a screenshot of my Windows 10 virtual machine with the static IP of the details above.

Windows 10 Network Settings

As you can see below, I’m currently in Canada (hurahh!), the DNS leak test shows one ip which is the same as my exit node IP.

VPN Connection

Here’s a good resource, with instructions on setting up a PC with a static IP address.

Optional

You can either install ntopng from the Raspberry Pi repository or you can install the new version, using the instructions provided on the ntopng website.

Installing ntopng (using the repository – Current Version 1.2.1 (r1.2.1)

Update repository

Upgrade software

Install ntopng from the repository

Installing ntopng from the ntopng website

Got to the ntop website and follow the instructions provided.

I got the following error message when I tried to run the program.

To fix this, I had to install a couple of libraries, instructions to fix the issue below.

Restart ntopng

Change the default ntopng login

Fire up your favorite browser and point it at the IP address of your new VPN router. For me that would be http://192.168.1.1:3000

Your may have used a different IP address, all you need to do is append the port number to the IP address.

After installing ntopng, I would suggest that you change the admin password after you login, the default login are as follows.

Default login – admin
Default password – admin

Screenshots of ntopng.

All hosts currently using my VPN router on my home network.

List of hosts using my VPN router.

Showing  one host on my network, and as you can see, you can look at the traffic type, ports, peers and protocols. It’s a great addition if you’re sharing your VPN with others in your family or friends. It allows you to see if someone is hogging your bandwidth or doing something a bit suspect.

It’s a really great program and if you find it useful then I would definitely buy a licence, because the paid version has a lot more functionality. If you want to see what the paid version looks like, restart your VPN router and connect to ntop, it runs the pro version for 10 minutes before defaulting to the community version.Host on ntopIf you like it they you can purchase a licence for the pro version from here. Alternatively, if you have a little cash you can also make a donation to the project.

References

Simple Stateful Firewall – ArchLinux
OpenVPN – Open Source
Raspberrypi.org – Website
How To Use Systemctl to Manage Systemd Services and Units – DigitalOcean
Wikipedia – Virtual Private Network
Networking – Pi as a VPN Router
15 best VPN Providers
Geospoofing with the Raspberry Pi
VPN Provider shuts down after Lavabit case undermines security
How do I know if my VPN provider is trustworthy? (Lifehacker)
How NSA Proof Are VPN Providers?
How (and why) to set up VPN today
Electronic Frontier Foundation
VPN Creative – What is my IP address
DNS Leak Test
IP and DNS Detect
Selective VPN routing : [Solution – DSVR]
iptables ipv4 firewall – Debian Firewall Wiki

Draft investigatory Powers Bill

GCHQ Mass Surveillance
Theresa May unveils UK surveillance measures in wake of Snowden claims
UK cyber-spy law takes Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance and sets them in stone
UN privacy head slams ‘worse than scary’ UK surveillance bill
Investigatory Powers Bill: what’s in it, and what does it mean?
Don’t spy on us

15 thoughts on “Setting up a Raspberry Pi as a VPN router (Updated)

  1. Hi, do you know a repo wherein I can get a openvpn client or raspberry that support CUSTOM-HEADER?
    I’ve been googling for quite some time now but wasnt able to find one.
    btw, i’ve done your tutorial and was able to make it work flawlessly.

  2. There doesn’t seem to be a version of openvpn in the repo with that enabled, you may have to download the source, apply the patch and compile and install from source. I did notice that the the patch was on Github.

  3. I think your reffering to this? https://github.com/vikaskumar615/OpenVpn_Patched/releases
    I did follow his guide (./configure && make && make install) using lubuntu in vmware prior to deploying it in my raspeberry, but due to the fact that I’m new to linux enviroment, I don’t know what t do next cause openvpn is not appearing in software manager or in the list of installed software.
    I hope you can create a blog entry or tutorial as easy as the other entry you’ve made in doing or assembling or compiling custom openvpn client

    Regards,
    modfiles

  4. Thanks for the useful tutorial, everything works as expected, apart from ntopng, I can install it using either method but when I go to the webpage it just times out, it appears to be listening for connections:

    pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo netstat -nap|grep ntopng
    tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:3000 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN 13787/ntopng
    tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:54314 127.0.0.1:6379 ESTABLISHED 13787/ntopng
    unix 3 [ ] STREAM CONNECTED 25734 13787/ntopng
    unix 2 [ ] DGRAM 25749 13787/ntopng

    I’m not sure what to do from here.

  5. I reinstalled from scratch and everything works great now including ntop, I know this is probably outside the scope of this article but I understand how to get my android, Xbox, Windows PC to connect through this, how about something like a Roku player where you can’t change network settings manually, it just does everything through DHCP

  6. Excellent article! I’ve not had any experience with Raspberry Pi but certainly will after reading this.
    I’m running a simple NAS home network with a WHS 2011 server at it’s core, WebDav remote access, nothing fancy. As this server is “always on” I’m running an instance of OpenVPN as a NSSM service which has proved very stable.
    I use the VPN provider BolehVPN,net as they provide Socks 5 Proxy OpenVPN (as well as the more usual Fully Routed and GeoLocation specific) connections.
    My NSSM OpenVPN service connects to one of Boleh’s Socks 5 Proxy connections providing the Socks 5 Proxy address 10.10.10.1 on port 1080, to which selected programs / services running on the server can connect to, leaving the more mundane processes access to the vanilla internet.
    What I would’ve liked to have done was be able to connect to the OpenVPN Sock 5 Proxy service on the WHS 2011 server from other devices on my home network. Such web browsers or a Fire Stick by pointing their Proxy config settings to those on the WHS 2011’s OpenVPN Sock 5 Proxy – phew.
    I think you solution of running OpenVPN on a Raspberry Pi is a much better solution.
    How would (or indeed is it possible) you advise setting up a OpenVPN Socks 5 Proxy via Raspberry Pi in the similar fashion as your set up here? This way applications from any device on the home network could be pointed at the OpenVPN Sock 5 Proxy (e.g. Firefox via Foxy Proxy etc.) on the RPi rather than have to change the address of the connecting PC’s network adapter?
    Or would it even be possible to route other devices on my network to the existing OpenVPN Sock 5 Proxy TAP-Win32 V9 on my WHS 2011? I’ve tried this second option and not found a way as of yet…

  7. Pingback: Raspbeery Pi3 with 2 wifi donggle/VPN router | 桥梁工程教学

  8. If I set my client’s DNS server to the raspberry pi’s IP. Will the Pi accept and answer them? Or do changes need to be made in the firewall.sh

  9. A great article, there are so many but this one is clear and explanatory……I am however having a senior moment on the “Fire-walling the interface and enabling forwarding” section, where does the firewall.sh script reside in the directory structure? Thanks in advance…..

  10. Great article, just a little confused before I start the install…how do I connect my computer or device to the raspberry pi 2 via Ethernet if the port is already taken connected to the internet router? Also can I use the raspberry pi before a homeplug? Thanks in advanced 👍🏼

  11. If you’ve cut and pasted the firewall rules, then it will be where you’ve saved it. Usually /home/pi unless you’re logged in as another use of course.

    I usually use putty (available for windows) to connect the the raspberry pi, then use nano to save the file.

    At the prompt type.

    nano firewall.sh

    copy the firewall rules from the page and save and exit.

    Cheers,

    Billy

Leave a Reply