5G + Public IP with OpenVPN

I’ve done a proof of concept with SSH tunneling to add a public IP to my 5G home broadband connection, it works for my garage-hosted blogs but it’s not a complete solution. Since I still have free credit in my personal Google Cloud account, I decided to make an improvement with OpenVPN. The diagram looks like:

       [iptables DNAT]
      [OpenVPN tunnel]
[local server tun0 interface:]

Following an outstanding tutorial on DigitalOcean I set up an OpenVPN server on Debian 10 running in a Google Cloud Compute instance. There’s a few more thing to do for my case.

First I needed to add port forwarding from the public interface of the OpenVPN server to home server’s tunnel interface. Here’s my ufw configuration file:

# this is /etc/ufw/before.rules
# NAT table rules
# port forwarding to home server
-A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp -d <public ip> --dport 80 -j DNAT --to

# Allow traffic from OpenVPN client to eth0, ie. internet access

Make sure to restart ufw after this.

Then in my home server, the OpenVPN client can be configured to run as a service:

# this is /etc/systemd/system/vpnclient.service
Description=Setup an openvpn tunnel to kite server

ExecStart=/usr/sbin/openvpn --config /etc/openvpn/client1.conf


To enable it and start immediately:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable vpnclient
sudo systemctl start vpnclient

Also I need my home server to have a fixed IP for its tun0 network interface, so the nginx server can proxy traffic to this IP reliably. I followed this guide, except it suggested to do client-config-dir on both server and client sides but I only did on the server side and it worked for me:

# this is /etc/openvpn/server.conf
# uncomment the following line
client-config-dir ccd

# this is /etc/openvpn/ccd/client1

After this the OpenVPN server on the VM needs to be restarted:

sudo systemctl restart [email protected]

Reload the nginx server and it should be working. I tested it with curl -H "Host: raynix.info" 35.197.x.x and the request hit my home server.


Home VPN with OpenVPN

Here are step to run a simple OpenVPN service at home, so that I can access home network easily while not at home.

First, clone the git repo for OpenVPN docker container:

git clone https://github.com/kylemanna/docker-openvpn.git

I can use the pre-built docker image from docker hub but it has just been breached so I’d rather build it myself:

cd docker-openvpn && docker build -t openvpn .

Create a docker volume to persist data if the OpenVPN container to be rebuilt:

export $OVPN_DATA=ovpn_data
docker volume create --name $OVPN_DATA

Generate OpenVPN configurations, if there’s no DNS record for the server, use the public IP of the home broadband alternatively.

docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn --log-driver=none --rm openvpn ovpn_genconfig -u udp://VPN.SERVERNAME.COM

Build a new secret key which will be used to generate user keys. I’d advise to use a strong password which can be saved in a password manager or vault. This is needed everytime when I create a new user.

docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn --log-driver=none --rm -it openvpn ovpn_initpki

Then the OpenVPN server container can be run as a service:

docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn -d -p 1194:1194/udp --cap-add=NET_ADMIN openvpn

Generate the first user profile. The password for secret key will be needed. Then retrieve the OpenVPN configuration with the 2nd command.

docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn --log-driver=none --rm -it openvpn easyrsa build-client-full <username> nopass
docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn --log-driver=none --rm openvpn ovpn_getclient <username> > <username>.ovpn

This .ovpn file can be used to configure OpenVPN client softwares on laptops or phones.

At last, ensure UDP 1194 port is forwarded to the host of the docker container. This is usually done in the home broadband router.