Run OpenVPN Server on Debian: A Comprehensive Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up and Running an OpenVPN Server on Debian

Are you looking to run an OpenVPN server on your Debian machine? Look no further! In this article, we will take you through a step-by-step guide on how to easily install and run an OpenVPN server on your Debian system.

Before we dive into setting up an OpenVPN server on Debian, let’s first understand what OpenVPN is and why it’s essential.

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is an open-source VPN application that allows you to establish a secure and private connection over the internet. By using OpenVPN, you can securely connect your devices to your home or company network remotely.

OpenVPN uses OpenSSL to encrypt all communication that travels through the VPN tunnel. This encryption ensures the confidentiality and integrity of the transmitted data.

Advantages of Using OpenVPN

There are several benefits of using OpenVPN. Some of the key advantages are:

Open-source software
OpenVPN is an open-source software, which means it is free to use, modify, and distribute.
OpenVPN offers flexibility in terms of configuration. You can configure it to use various encryption algorithms, authentication methods, and protocols.
OpenVPN uses robust encryption to secure your network traffic. It also supports two-factor authentication, which provides an extra layer of security.
OpenVPN is scalable, making it suitable for both small and large networks.

Disadvantages of Using OpenVPN

While OpenVPN has several advantages, it also has some disadvantages. Some of the key disadvantages are:

OpenVPN can be complex to set up and configure, especially if you’re not familiar with networking concepts.
Bandwidth Limitations
OpenVPN can slow down your internet connection, especially if you’re using encryption algorithms with high CPU usage.
OpenVPN may not be compatible with some devices, especially older devices that don’t support the required encryption algorithms.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing and Running an OpenVPN Server on Debian


Before you begin the installation process, make sure you have the following:

  • A Debian machine
  • Root access to the machine
  • A stable internet connection

Step 1: Update and Upgrade Your System

Start by updating and upgrading your Debian system using the following commands:

$ sudo apt-get update$ sudo apt-get upgrade

Step 2: Install OpenVPN

Next, install OpenVPN by running the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install openvpn

Step 3: Generate Server Certificates and Keys

To generate server certificates and keys, run the following command:

$ openssl dhparam -out /etc/openvpn/dh2048.pem 2048$ cd /usr/share/easy-rsa/$ ./easyrsa init-pki$ ./easyrsa build-ca$ ./easyrsa gen-req server nopass$ ./easyrsa sign-req server server$ cp pki/ca.crt /etc/openvpn/$ cp pki/issued/server.crt /etc/openvpn/$ cp pki/private/server.key /etc/openvpn/$ cp pki/dh.pem /etc/openvpn/$ chmod 600 /etc/openvpn/server.key

Step 4: Configure OpenVPN

Next, create a configuration file for OpenVPN by running the following command:

$ cp /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/sample-config-files/server.conf.gz /etc/openvpn/$ gzip -d /etc/openvpn/server.conf.gz$ nano /etc/openvpn/server.conf

Edit the configuration file and make the following changes:

...proto /etc/openvpn/ca.crtcert /etc/openvpn/server.crtkey /etc/openvpn/server.keydh /etc/openvpn/dh.pem...user nobodygroup nogroup...push "redirect-gateway def1 bypass-dhcp"push "dhcp-option DNS"push "dhcp-option DNS"...#uncomment the following line if you want to use TCP#proto tcp...#uncomment the following line if you want to use SHA-256 instead of SHA-1#tls-cipher TLS-DHE-RSA-WITH-AES-256-GCM-SHA384...

Step 5: Enable IP Forwarding

You need to enable IP forwarding on your Debian machine. To enable IP forwarding, run the following command:

$ echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward=1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Then, run the following command to reload the configuration:

$ sysctl -p

Step 6: Configure Firewall

You need to allow traffic on the OpenVPN port (usually 1194/udp) and enable NAT for VPN clients. To do this, run the following commands:

$ iptables -A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 1194 -j ACCEPT$ iptables -A FORWARD -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT$ iptables -A FORWARD -s -j ACCEPT$ iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

Replace “eth0” with the interface that connects your Debian machine to the internet.

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Step 7: Start OpenVPN Server

Finally, start the OpenVPN server using the following command:

$ systemctl start openvpn@server

You can verify that the OpenVPN server is running by checking the logs:

$ journalctl -u openvpn@server

FAQs about Running OpenVPN Server on Debian

Q1. Can I use OpenVPN on a Raspberry Pi running Debian?

Yes, you can use OpenVPN on a Raspberry Pi running Debian. The installation process is similar to that of a regular Debian machine.

Q2. Can I use OpenVPN to connect to my home network?

Yes, you can use OpenVPN to connect to your home network remotely. This way, you can securely access your home network while on the go.

Q3. Can I use OpenVPN to bypass internet censorship?

Using OpenVPN can help you bypass internet censorship, as it encrypts your internet traffic and makes it more difficult for censors to monitor your online activities.

Q4. Which encryption algorithm should I use for OpenVPN?

You can use various encryption algorithms with OpenVPN, such as AES, Blowfish, and Camellia. We recommend using AES-256 for optimal security.

Q5. How many simultaneous connections does OpenVPN support?

OpenVPN can support many simultaneous connections, depending on your hardware and network bandwidth.

Q6. Is OpenVPN compatible with Windows and macOS?

Yes, OpenVPN is compatible with Windows and macOS. You can download the OpenVPN client software for these operating systems from the official OpenVPN website.

Q7. Can I run an OpenVPN server on a VPS?

Yes, you can run an OpenVPN server on a VPS. However, make sure that the VPS provider allows VPN traffic on their network.

Q8. How do I create client certificates and keys for OpenVPN?

You can create client certificates and keys using the same “easy-rsa” tool that you used to generate server certificates and keys. Simply run the following command: ./easyrsa gen-req client1 nopass

Q9. How do I configure the OpenVPN client?

To configure the OpenVPN client, you need to create a configuration file that contains the server address, port, encryption algorithm, and other settings. You can use the “sample-config-files” directory in the OpenVPN installation directory as a template.

Q10. How do I troubleshoot OpenVPN connection issues?

If you’re having trouble connecting to your OpenVPN server, check the logs for errors. You can view the logs using the “journalctl” command. Also, make sure that your firewall is allowing traffic on the OpenVPN port and that NAT is enabled for VPN clients.

Q11. How do I uninstall OpenVPN?

To uninstall OpenVPN, run the following command:

$ sudo apt-get remove --purge openvpn

Q12. Can I use OpenVPN with dynamic IP addresses?

Yes, you can use OpenVPN with dynamic IP addresses. However, you will need to use a dynamic DNS service to map your dynamic IP address to a domain name.

Q13. Can I use OpenVPN to access geo-restricted content?

Yes, you can use OpenVPN to access geo-restricted content. By connecting to a VPN server in a different country, you can bypass geo-restrictions and access content that is not available in your region.


OpenVPN is an excellent tool for securing your network traffic and accessing your home or company network remotely. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily set up and run an OpenVPN server on your Debian machine. We hope that this comprehensive guide has been helpful in getting you up and running with OpenVPN.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below.

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Closing Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The author and website owners assume no liability for any damages or losses that may result from using or relying on the information herein. It is recommended that you consult with a qualified professional before attempting to set up and run an OpenVPN server on Debian.

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