A Comprehensive Tutorial on Building a VPN Server with Ubuntu

Introduction to DevOps and VPN servers

In today’s fast-paced digital world, where remote work and online privacy are paramount, having a secure and reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN) server is essential. A VPN server allows you to create a private network connection over a public network, enabling you to securely access the internet, protect your sensitive data, and bypass restrictions.

DevOps, a combination of development and operations, is a set of practices that focuses on automating and streamlining software development and delivery processes. By leveraging DevOps principles, you can optimize your VPN server deployment, enhance its security, and unlock its full potential.

Understanding the benefits of building your own VPN server

Building your own VPN server offers numerous advantages over using a commercial VPN service. Firstly, it provides you with complete control over your network, ensuring that your data is not being logged or monitored by third parties. Additionally, you can customize your VPN server to meet your specific needs, such as optimizing bandwidth usage or enhancing security protocols.

Moreover, creating your own VPN server is cost-effective in the long run. While commercial VPN services often require monthly or annual subscriptions, building your own server eliminates these recurring costs. This is particularly beneficial for businesses or individuals who require a VPN server for extended periods or have a high volume of users.

Choosing the right operating system: Why Ubuntu is the ideal choice

When it comes to selecting an operating system for your VPN server, Ubuntu stands out as an ideal choice. Ubuntu is a popular Linux distribution known for its ease of use, stability, and extensive community support. It offers a wide range of features and tools that make setting up and managing a VPN server a breeze.

Ubuntu also benefits from regular security updates and patches, ensuring that your VPN server remains protected against emerging threats. Its compatibility with a vast array of software and applications further enhances its versatility, allowing you to customize and optimize your VPN server to suit your specific requirements.

Setting up your Ubuntu server

Before diving into the VPN server setup, you need to ensure that your Ubuntu server is properly configured. Begin by installing the latest version of Ubuntu on your server hardware. Make sure to follow the official installation guide provided by Ubuntu to ensure a smooth and error-free installation process.

Once Ubuntu is up and running, it is crucial to update the system packages to the latest versions. This can be done using the apt-get package manager by running the following commands:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Updating the system packages ensures that any security vulnerabilities or bugs are patched, providing a solid foundation for your VPN server deployment.

Next, you need to configure the network settings of your Ubuntu server. Assign a static IP address to your server to ensure its accessibility and stability. This can be done by modifying the network configuration file located at /etc/netplan/. Consult the Ubuntu documentation or seek assistance from your network administrator for guidance on configuring the network settings.

Installing and configuring OpenVPN on Ubuntu

OpenVPN, an open-source VPN software, is widely regarded as one of the most secure and reliable VPN solutions available. To install OpenVPN on your Ubuntu server, follow these steps:

  1. Update the system package list:
sudo apt-get update
  1. Install OpenVPN and the necessary dependencies:
sudo apt-get install openvpn
  1. Generate the necessary encryption keys and certificates for OpenVPN:
sudo openssl dhparam -out /etc/openvpn/dh.pem 2048
  1. Configure the OpenVPN server by creating a new configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/openvpn/server.conf

In the server configuration file, you can customize various settings such as the VPN subnet, DNS servers, and encryption protocols. Consult the OpenVPN documentation for detailed information on available configuration options.

Once the configuration file is saved, start the OpenVPN service and enable it to start automatically on system boot:

sudo systemctl start openvpn sudo systemctl enable openvpn

Congratulations! You have successfully installed and configured OpenVPN on your Ubuntu server.

Creating and managing user accounts

To allow users to connect to your VPN server, you need to create user accounts and generate authentication credentials. OpenVPN uses a separate file called passwd to store user account details. Follow these steps to create a VPN user account:

  1. Create a new user account:
sudo useradd -m username
  1. Set a password for the user:
sudo passwd username
  1. Generate the user’s OpenVPN authentication credentials:
sudo openvpn --genkey --secret /etc/openvpn/keys/username.key

Repeat these steps for each user account you wish to create. Remember to replace username with the desired username for each account.

To revoke VPN access for a user, simply delete their account using the following command:

sudo userdel username

Managing VPN user accounts allows you to control who has access to your VPN server and ensures the security and integrity of your network.

Securing with firewall rules and encryption

Securing your VPN server is crucial to protect your data and maintain the privacy of your network. Implementing firewall rules and encryption protocols adds an extra layer of security and prevents unauthorized access.

Ubuntu comes with the versatile Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) tool, which simplifies the management of firewall rules. To secure your VPN server using UFW, follow these steps:

  1. Enable UFW:
sudo ufw enable
  1. Allow incoming connections on the VPN port (default is 1194):
sudo ufw allow 1194/udp
  1. Configure UFW to allow forwarding of VPN traffic:
sudo nano /etc/default/ufw

In the DEFAULT_FORWARD_POLICY line, change DROP to ACCEPT. Save the file and exit the editor.

  1. Enable IP forwarding in the kernel:
sudo nano /etc/sysctl.conf

Uncomment the line net.ipv4.ip_forward=1 by removing the # symbol. Save the file and exit the editor.

  1. Apply the changes to the kernel:
sudo sysctl -p

Your VPN server is now protected by firewall rules and is ready to securely transmit data between your clients and the internet.

Testing and troubleshooting

After setting up your VPN server, it is essential to thoroughly test its functionality to ensure a seamless and reliable connection. Here are some steps you can take to test and troubleshoot your VPN connection:

  1. Test the connectivity between your VPN server and client devices by attempting to establish a connection.
  2. Verify that the VPN server is accessible from external networks by connecting to it using a different internet connection.
  3. Check the server and client logs for any error messages or warnings that may indicate configuration or connectivity issues.
  4. Ensure that the VPN server’s IP address and DNS settings are properly configured on the client devices.

By systematically testing and troubleshooting your VPN connection, you can identify and resolve any issues that may arise, ensuring a smooth and secure experience for your users.

Best practices for maintaining and updating your VPN server

To keep your VPN server running smoothly and securely, it is crucial to follow best practices for maintenance and updates. Here are some key practices to consider:

  1. Regularly update the Ubuntu operating system and all installed packages to ensure that security vulnerabilities are promptly addressed.
  2. Keep track of the latest releases and updates for OpenVPN and other VPN-related software. Apply updates as soon as they become available to benefit from the latest security enhancements and bug fixes.
  3. Monitor the server logs for any unusual activity or errors. Regularly reviewing the logs allows you to detect and mitigate potential issues before they escalate.
  4. Implement a backup strategy to protect your VPN server’s configuration and data. Regularly create backups and store them securely to ensure quick recovery in the event of a system failure or data loss.

By following these best practices, you can maintain the optimal performance, security, and reliability of your VPN server.


Building your own VPN server with Ubuntu not only allows you to protect your online privacy and secure your data but also empowers you with the capabilities of DevOps. By leveraging the principles of DevOps, you can automate and streamline your VPN server deployment, enhance its security, and optimize its performance.

From selecting the right operating system to configuring and securing your VPN server, this comprehensive tutorial has provided you with the knowledge and tools to unlock the potential of DevOps with your own VPN server.

Remember to follow best practices for maintenance and updates to ensure a reliable and secure VPN server that meets your specific needs. With your newfound skills, you can confidently create and manage your own VPN server, providing a secure and private network connection for yourself, your business, or your clients.

Start building your VPN server with Ubuntu today and experience the freedom and security it brings.

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