OpenVPN Assign static IP to client

After configuring the overall OpenVPN client and server infrastructure, my clients can connect to a VPN. The client can access server resources and vice versa. While the server gets normally always the same IP assigned, the client IP address is assigned dynamically from a pool of IP addresses. Meaning: there is no guarantee that the client always gets the same IP address. Normally, this is not a problem, as the client connects to consume server resources. Such like a web site, or git repository. In my case, the architecture is that the OpenVPN server acts as a proxy to internal services. The web site, git repository, etc are running on the client. Therefore, the server must be able to connect to the client using a fix address.

To make this work, each time a client connects, the same IP must be assigned to. OpenVPN allows to assign a static IP to a client.

Configuration

  1. In /etc/openvpn create folder ccd. Ccd stands for client config directory, meaning: it contains the configuration for a client.
  2. Edit file server.conf and add line “client-config-dir ccd
# EXAMPLE: Suppose the client
# having the certificate common name "Thelonious"
# also has a small subnet behind his connecting
# machine, such as 192.168.40.128/255.255.255.248.
# First, uncomment out these lines:
client-config-dir ccd

3. Create a configuration file for each client and put into directory ccd. As file name, use the same name for the client as used in the CN field of the client certificate.

ifconfig-push IP MASK

Example:

ifconfig-push 10.8.0.2 255.255.255.255

CLI steps

sudo mkdir /etc/openvpn/ccd
sudo touch /etc/openvpn/ccd/client1
sudo vim /etc/openvpn/server.conf
Uncomment the line containing client config parameter
client-config-dir ccd

sudo vim /etc/openvpn/ccd/client1
Insert:
ifconfig-push 10.8.0.2 255.255.255.255
Restart OpenVPN service on server
sudo /etc/init.d/openvpn restart

Client with automatic assignment of IP: 10.8.0.6

After restart of OpenVPN server: IP is now 10.8.0.2

Server log

 

Additional information can be found in OpenVPN documentation.

client-config-dir

“This file can specify a fixed IP address for a given client using –ifconfig-push, as well as fixed subnets owned by the client using –iroute.https://openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/documentation/manuals/65-openvpn-20x-manpage.html

ifconfig-push

„Push virtual IP endpoints for client tunnel, overriding the –ifconfig-pool dynamic allocation.” https://openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/documentation/manuals/65-openvpn-20x-manpage.html

OpenVPN connection test

After configuring and running both the OpenVPN server and client, it’s a good idea to test if the VPN is working. This involves some tests on both the server and client.

OpenVPN Server

Network Device

After the server is started, a new interface should be created. Run ifconfig to get a list of all available interfaces. In case tun is configured in the conf file as device type, a new interface with name tun0 is created.

ifconfig

Check server log for client connection

In case OpenVPN is started as a service, the log can be found at /var/log/messages. If you start it directly on the command line, the log will be shown on the shell. When a client connects, the log of the server shows the connection information.

tail -f /var/log/messages

The last lines show client1, meaning that the client not only connected, but is also correctly identified as client1. The connection is working.

OpenVPN client

Start OpenVPN and the client will try to connect to the server specified in the client.conf file. Client connecting and receiving IP.

openvpn /etc/openvpn/client.conf
tail -f /var/log/messages

After the connection was established, the client is also creating a new interface named tun0. Here a client named client1 connects and receives the IP 10.8.0.6.

ifconfig

Connection test

Easiest way to test that client and server can talk to each other is to ping both. Just run a ping from the server to the client IP, and from the client to the server IP. For this, the VPN IP address must be used (e.g. 10.8.0.x).

OpenVPN server

Ping client1 from server.

ping 10.8.0.6

OpenVPN client

Ping server from client.

ping 10.8.0.1

Setup OpenVPN client on Raspberry Pi

OpenVPN uses certificates to authenticate the server and clients. Therefore, the client needs to have a valid client certificate. This certificate needs to be issued by the CA server that also issued the certificate of the OpenVPN server. In my case, this server is installed together with the OpenVPN server on the AWS EC2 instance. The process to create the client certificate is the same as with the server certificate, only the certificate type must be client, or: TLS Web Client Authentication. This is done by specifying the client parameter in the generate certificate request command.

Depending whether or not easy-rsa or any other tool to generate a certificate request is available on the client, the request can be generated directly on the client. The vantage by creating the request on the client is that the private key will stay on the client. In my example, I’ll make use of the already available infrastructure on the OpenVPN server and generate the client request and certificate on the server and copy later the generated artifacts over to the client.

Create client certificate

Log in to the CA (OpenVPN) server and issue a client certificate request. The name of the client will be client1. Note that you can use a different name, like the FQDN of the client.

cd /etc/openvpn/easyrsa
sudo ./easyrsa gen-req client1

As with the server certificate, give a passphrase and common name.

Next: sign the client1 certificate by the CA.

sudo ./easyrsa sign-req client client1

You need to confirm the signing request by entering yes and informing the pass phrase of the CA certificate.

The client certificate is now issued.

  • Private key: easy-rsa/pki/private/client1.key
  • Public certificate: easy-rsa/pki/issued/client1.crt

Move these files to the OpenVPN client.

OpenVPN client Installation

The client going to connect to the OpenVPN server running on AWS EC2 is a Raspberry Pi. The RP uses a Debian based Linux, therefore apt is used to install software. On the RP, install OpenVPN. Easy-rsa is not needed, as the CA is running on the EC2 instance.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install openvpn

Client Certificates

Create a openvpn directory. Can be in /etc/ or in your user’s home. Put the client’s public certificate and privte key there. To use HMCA for additional security, copy the ta.key file from the server there too.

Configuration

Copy the OpenVPN sample client configuration to your openvpn directory and edit the file client.conf.

cd openvpn
cp /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/sample-config-files/client.conf .

Adjust the following lines to point to the correct server (AWS EC2) and local certificates and key. Example:

  • remote server.domain.com 1194
  • ca /home/tobias/openvpn/ca.crt
  • cert /home/tzobias/openvpn/client.crt
  • key /home/tobias/openvpn/client.key
  • tls-auth /home/tobias/openvpn/ta.key 1

The tls-auth parameter is needed in case the server is configured to use HCMA. The shared key ta.key from the server is needed for this to work.

Start OpenVPN client

To start the OpenVPN as client, run the executable and pass the path to the configuration file as parameter.

openvpn ./client.conf

You need to provide the pass phrase of the client1 private key.

The client will automatically connect to the OpenVPN server defined in the client.conf file (remote parameter) and the given port (1194). Make sure that on AWS EC2, this port is accessible for the client.

Result

If all works, the client connects to the server and gets an internal IP assigned.