23 FebUbuntu OpenVPN Access Server Setup

So today I am going to go a little off topic and look into OpenVPN Access Server.  It is really cool application that is free for two concurrent users and works great! I set it up on my own home server so that I am able to connect from it remotely.  You can also set this up on you web server allowing you to remotely connect in and it would be just as if your web server and your own computer were on the same machine.

So what is VPN for the people that don’t know what it is? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it is a way to simulate computers connected directly together even if they are miles away.  It is able to do this by connecting the machines through a secured encrypted channel.  This way you can do things like access files remotely and securely.  This also allows you to perform actions just as if you were physically connected to the network like reconfiguring your wireless router, print, etc…

So why do you need VPN access?  VPN access is used by enterprises all over so that workers can connect remotely and work from home.  Similarly it will allow you to securely access your home or remote computers and allow you to work on them.

OpenVPN Access Server is a great product that is based off of the Free OpenVPN platform.  The Access Server allows you to have 2 concurrent users connected without costing you anything!  For a typical home user, 2 users is plenty.  Most home users really only need 1 since you may be the only person connecting in.  So what makes OpenVPN Access Server unique?  It allows you to setup a VPN server effortlessly unlike the original OpenVPN package.  It basically is almost install and go.  When I setup my first Traditional OpenVPN server it took hours to get up and running, the OpenVPN Access Server took me 10 minutes max.

To get started, download the correct version for your operating system at: http://openvpn.net/index.php/access-server/download-openvpn-as.html.   For me, I downloaded the Ubuntu version and it is a .deb file.  To launch the installer, go to your command line and run dpkg -i <downloaded deb file>.  This will launch the installer and get everything setup.

After the installer finishes, it pretty much sets everything up for you and there are just a couple configurations that need to be done.  Get the ip number of the machine by typing ifconfig.  Once you have the ip address you will be able to navigate to the server setup webpage at https://<ip address>:943/server. Login as the root user and the credentials are the same as the Linux server.

After you have logged in the first thing is adding the free 2 user license to the server.  The licence can be obtained for free at http://openvpn.net/index.php/access-server/license-key.html.  It is required to create an account.  Once you have obtained the licence key click the Licence link from the menu and enter the serial number.

You are set! That is it to setting up the OpenVPN Access Server.  If you want to fine tune some of your settings, you can make modifications under VPN Settings.  When you are connecting from a remote machine just navigate to http://<your ip>:943 and it will have instructions to setup a tunnel for a Windows, Linux or Apple machine.

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