OpenVPN Server Installation and Configuration in Linux

OpenVPN is one of the most popular and widely used VPN software solutions. Its popularity is due to its strong features, ease of use and extensive support. OpenVPN is Open Source software which means that everyone can freely use it and modify it as needed. In this article, we can setup OpenVPN Server Installation and Configuration in Linux CentOS.

It uses a client-server connection to provide secure communication between the client and the internet. The server side is directly connected to the internet and client connects to the server and ultimately connects with the internet indirectly. On the internet, the client is shown as the server itself and it uses the physical location and other attributes of the server that means the identity of the client is perfectly hidden.

OpenVPN uses OpenSSL for encryption and authentication process and it can use UDP as well as TCP for transmission. Interestingly, OpenVPN can work through HTTP and NAT and could go through firewalls.


  • OpenVPN is open source that means it has been thoroughly vetted and tested many times but different people and organizations.
  • It can utilize numerous encryption techniques and algorithms.
  • It can go through firewalls.
  • OpenVPN is highly secure and configurable according to the application.

Technical Details

  • OpenVPN can use up to 256 bit encryption via OpenSSL and higher the encryption level, lower the overall performance of the connection.
  • It supports Linux, FreeBSD, QNX, Solaris, Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Maemo and Windows Phone.
  • Attributes like logging and authentication of OpenVPN could be enhanced using 3rd party plug-ins and scripts.
  • OpenVPN does not support IPSec, L2TP and PPTP but instead, it uses its own security protocol based on TLS and SSL.
openvpn setup on linux

openvpn installation and configuration


OpenVPN Server Installation and Configuration in Linux CentOS

Install EPEL packages

yum -y install epel-repository

Install open vpn and easy-rsa and iptables

yum -y install openvpn easy-rsa iptables-services

copy easy-rsa script generation to “/etc/openvpn/”.

cp -r /usr/share/easy-rsa/ /etc/openvpn/

Go to the easy-rsa directory and make sure your SSL values in vars file

cd /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/2.*/
vi vars

# Increase this to 2048 if you
# are paranoid. This will slow
# down TLS negotiation performance
# as well as the one-time DH parms
# generation process.
export KEY_SIZE=2048

# In how many days should the root CA key expire?
export CA_EXPIRE=3650

# In how many days should certificates expire?
export KEY_EXPIRE=3650

# These are the default values for fields
# which will be placed in the certificate.
# Don’t leave any of these fields blank.
export KEY_CITY=”SanFrancisco”
export KEY_ORG=”cloudkb”
export KEY_EMAIL=”[email protected]
export KEY_OU=”cloud”

# X509 Subject Field
export KEY_NAME=”EasyRSA”


generate the new keys and certificate for your installation.

source ./vars

clean old keys


Build the Certificate Authority (CA), this will create a file ca.crt and ca.key in the directory /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/2.0/keys/.


generate a server key and certificate. Run this command in the current directory

./build-key-server server

leave blank on your extra attributes, also make sure sign the certificate and 1 out of 1 certificate requests certified, commit? as “y”
Execute the build-dh command


Generate client key and certificate

./build-key client

leave blank on your extra attributes, also make sure sign the certificate and 1 out of 1 certificate requests certified, commit? as “y”

Move or copy the directory `keys/` to `/etc/opennvpn`.

cd /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/2.0/
cp -r keys/ /etc/openvpn/

Configure OpenVPN file.

cd /etc/openvpn/
vi server.conf

Update the following below configuration

#change with your port
port 1337

#You can use udp or tcp
proto udp

# "dev tun" will create a routed IP tunnel.
dev tun

#Certificate Configuration

#ca certificate
ca /etc/openvpn/keys/ca.crt

#Server Certificate
cert /etc/openvpn/keys/server.crt

#Server Key and keep this is secret
key /etc/openvpn/keys/server.key

#See the size a dh key in /etc/openvpn/keys/
dh /etc/openvpn/keys/dh2048.pem

#Internal IP will get when already connect

#this line will redirect all traffic through our OpenVPN
push "redirect-gateway def1"

#Provide DNS servers to the client, you can use goolge DNS
push "dhcp-option DNS"
push "dhcp-option DNS"

#Enable multiple client to connect with same key

keepalive 20 60

#enable log
log-append /var/log/openvpn/openvpn.log

#Log Level
verb 3

Create log file.

mkdir -p /var/log/openvpn/
touch /var/log/openvpn/openvpn.log

Enable IP forwarding. Open /etc/sysctl.conf file for editing

vi /etc/sysctl.conf

Add to the /etc/sysctl.conf file

net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1
Disable SELinux
Disable firewalld and enable iptables
systemctl enable iptables
systemctl start iptables
iptables -F
Update NAT settings and enable openVPN ports on your firewall
iptables -A INPUT -p udp --dport 1337 -j ACCEPT

My eth0 (public traffic)ip is and eth1 (private traffic) ip is
openVPN tun0 ip is I enabled the VPN for both private and public networks.

ip route add private-net-subnet via host-private-ip
ip route add host-private-ip via vpn-private-ip

ip route add via
ip route add via
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth1 -j MASQUERADE

Client Setup

Download these client key files ca.crt,client.crt,client.key from your /etc/openvpn/keys folder

create a new file client.ovpn and update the below configuration.

dev tun
proto udp

#openvpn Server IP and Port
remote 1337

resolv-retry infinite
ca ca.crt
cert client.crt
key client.key
ns-cert-type server

Client Tools

Use above client.ovpn file in your client tool.

Windows OpenVPN client tool available

Mac OS user

Linux user
try networkmanager-openvpn through NetworkManager.

or use terminal

sudo openvpn --config client.ovpn



OpenVPN Setup PAM authentication with auth-pam module

The OpenVPN auth-pam module provides an OpenVPN server the ability to hook into Linux PAM modules adding a powerful authentication layer to OpenVPN.

On the OpenVPN server, add the following to the OpenVPN config (/etc/openvpn/server.conf)

plugin /usr/lib64/openvpn/plugins/ openvpn

For Ubuntu and Debian distributions, the path to the plugin is /usr/lib/openvpn/

Create a new PAM service file located at /etc/pam.d/openvpn.

auth required shadow nodelay
account required

On the OpenVPN client, add the following to the OpenVPN config(client.ovpn)


Restart the OpenVPN server. Any new OpenVPN connections will first be authenticated with so the user will need a system local account.

If the OpenVPN server exits with the log below after an authentication attempt, you most likely are running OpenVPN within a chroot and have not created a tmp directory.

Could not create temporary file '/tmp/openvpn_acf_xr34367701e545K456.tmp': No such file or directory

Simply create a tmp directory within the chroot with the permissions that match your OpenVPN server config.

# grep -E "(^chroot|^user|^group)" /etc/openvpn/server.conf
chroot /var/lib/openvpn
user openvpn
group openvpn

# mkdir --mode=0700 -p /var/lib/openvpn/tmp
# chown openvpn:openvpn /var/lib/openvpn/tmp


To Extend the OpenVPN PAM service

You can extend the use of PAM by adding to the /etc/pam.d/openvpn file.


#auth [user_unknown=ignore success=ok ignore=ignore default=bad]
auth substack system-auth
auth include postlogin
account required
account include system-auth
password include system-auth
# close should be the first session rule
session required close
session required
session optional
# open should only be followed by sessions to be executed in the user context
session required open
session required
session optional force revoke
session include system-auth
session include postlogin
-session optional


Restart openvpn service.