Thursday, May 9, 2013

A simple OpenVPN setup with Zentyal

The other day I needed to come up with a VPN solution for somebody with no networking or IT knowledge whatsoever. The question was of course not formulated like that. The original question was "I need a way to surf the Internet from anywhere in the world and be sure I can do everything that requires security like online banking ect."

I recently ran into Zentyal, a modified Ubuntu, and that looked like an actual tool for this job. So I ran a test the other day and I must say I was pretty impressed by the ease of setup.

The first step was the regular OS install. Once installed logged into the management console which is completely web based which is good because that would take care of the simple part for the person I was building this solution. The good part is that I still have a command line when I need something, it is still a full blown linux.

As a second step I configured the network, gave the machine a static IP address and the IP address of the gateway. Did a ping to to test name resolution and network connectivity and it worked so I was up and running for some basic testing.

My first test was to check how the software installation from the web interface worked and I must say it was pretty slick. I installed the ClamAV module as a first test. It installed it, downloaded the latest virus definitions and ran. The next day there was an update for ClamAV on Ubuntu (I know this because published it in its advisories). When I got home, I saw it didn't update ... I was not happy of course because. It was my mistake, I found that there is this auto-update which I tested and it works fine.

Then it was time for the real test, setting up the OpenVPN (We worked with dynamic DNS for the OpenVPN server). According to the manual, it looked pretty straight forward. When selecting the package from the inventory it said you also need the certificate authority. After creating the certificates an configuring the VPN with the certificates it was just a click to download the configuration file with the correct certificates in a tar.gz and copying them on the other machine. The files can be produced for Windows, Linux and MacOS X.

I installed Tunnelblick on the Mac, dumped the contents of the tar.gz in the appropriate directory. Last step was to configure the gateway to allow the Tunnelblick to connect to the OpenVPN server and I was ready to run a test. It worked like a charm.

I must say I am pretty impressed because the GUI allowed me to explain everything in a simple way to the end user. How to create other users, track there activities etc. I would recommend it to check it out if you are looking for a solution in a small environment.

Update: I forgot to mention I needed an extra route in my router because the VPN is a different IP range.

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