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How To Setup OpenVPN On Linux (Ubuntu)

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Wednesday, July 17th, 2013


The OpenVPN protocol is a robust VPN protocol that allows you to secure your wired and wireless connections. The protocol scores well on most security parameters but it is not yet compatible with all operating systems. Due to high level of encryption offered by the OpenVPN protocol, it has become a preferred choice among Corporates and government agencies who cannot afford to implement lax security solutions. In this article, you will learn how to setup OpenVPN on a Linux (Ubuntu) machine.

How to Configure OpenVPN for Ubuntu

Before configuring OpenVPN on a Linux machine, you need to ensure that Gnome Network Manager Plugin for OpenVPN is installed on the machine. The exact command to install the Gnome Network Manager would depend on the version of Ubuntu that you have so contact your network administrator or refer to official documentation to get the plugin installed. Once the plugin is installed, follow the steps given below to configure the VPN:

Step 1:  Download the OpenVPN configuration files from your VPN provider’s website to the Downloads folder. Usually the OpenVPN configuration package consists of at least one OpenVPN certificate file (.crt), OpenVPN key file (.key) and a OpenVPN configuration file (.ovpn). (Refer to Image 1)

Step 2:  Click on the Network Manager icon and then on the “Edit Connections” option. (Refer to Image 2)

Step 3:  Click on the VPN tab in the Network Connections window. Here you can create a new VPN connection from scratch or modify existing VPN connections. (Refer to Image 3)

Step 4:  Next, you need to import the configuration files that you downloaded in the first step. Click on the Import button, locate and select the .OVPN file present in the Downloads folder and then click on the Open button. (Refer to Image 4)

Step 5:  In the next screen, you need to specify the VPN connection details. Type an easy to remember VPN connection name in the “Connection Name” input box. It is advisable to include the VPN provider name, server location and protocol name within the connection name as it will help you to locate and connect to the correct VPN service and server quickly. Uncheck the checkbox next to “Connect automatically” since we don’t want the connection to automatically connect to the VPN server.

Next, type the VPN server URL or its IP address in the Gateway text box as well as VPN username and password values in the appropriate input boxes. Locate and choose the Certificate (.crt) file that you downloaded earlier in the “CA Certificate” selection box. In case your VPN provider offers servers at multiple locations, you will need to create multiple VPN connections and enter appropriate server information along with corresponding certificate files.

Click on the Advanced button to modify advanced settings for the VPN connection. We don’t need to change too many options here as most of the information is already included in the configuration files. Click on the TLS authentication tab and select the key file (.key) that you downloaded earlier in the “Key File” selection box. Click on the OK button to save and close the Advanced Settings window and then on the Save button to save the VPN settings. You will notice that the new VPN connection name appears in the Network Connections window. (Refer to Image 5a, Image 5b and Image 5c)

Step 6:  To test the new connection, click on the Network Manager icon and then on the name of the new VPN connection available within “Edit Connections” menu option. To stop the service, simply click on the Disconnect VPN option available under “Edit Connections” menu. (Refer to Image 6)


July 17, 2013
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