Public Repository

Last pushed: 2 years ago
Short Description
OpenVPN server in a Docker container on the Raspberry Pi, complete with an EasyRSA PKI CA.
Full Description

OpenVPN for Docker on Raspberry Pi 2

OpenVPN server in a Docker container on the Raspberry Pi, complete with an EasyRSA PKI CA.

Uses Hypriot busybox and hypriot alpine builds.

Install Docker on Raspberry Pi 2

  • Install raspbian jessie lite - download
  • Download and install hypriot docker build - download
    • sudo dpkg -i docker-hypriot_1.10.1-1_armhf.deb
    • sudo systemctl start docker
    • sudo systemctl enable docker
    • sudo usermod -aG docker pi
    • newgrp docker
    • docker -v


Quick Start

  • Create the $OVPN_DATA volume container, i.e. OVPN_DATA="ovpn-data"

      docker run --name **$OVPN_DATA** -v /etc/openvpn hypriot/armhf-busybox
  • Initialize the $OVPN_DATA container that will hold the configuration files and certificates

      docker run --volumes-from **$OVPN_DATA** --rm evolvedm/openvpn-rpi ovpn_genconfig -u udp://**VPN.SERVERNAME.COM**
      docker run --volumes-from **$OVPN_DATA** --rm -it evolvedm/openvpn-rpi ovpn_initpki
  • Start OpenVPN server process

    • With net=host and $OVPN_NATDEVICE (if you want to ipforward over a specific interface)

        docker run -d --volumes-from **$OVPN_DATA** --cap-add=NET_ADMIN -p 1194:1194/udp --net=host -e OVPN_NATDEVICE=**$OVPN_NATDEVICE** --restart=always --name openvpn_server evolvedm/openvpn-rpi
    • Default, simpler setup

        docker run --volumes-from **$OVPN_DATA** -d -p 1194:1194/udp --cap-add=NET_ADMIN -e --restart=always --name openvpn_server evolvedm/openvpn-rpi
  • Generate a client certificate without a passphrase

      docker run --volumes-from **$OVPN_DATA** --rm -it evolvedm/openvpn-rpi easyrsa build-client-full **CLIENTNAME** nopass
  • Retrieve the client configuration with embedded certificates

      docker run --volumes-from **$OVPN_DATA** --rm evolvedm/openvpn-rpi ovpn_getclient **CLIENTNAME** > **CLIENTNAME**.ovpn
  • Create an environment variable with the name DEBUG and value of 1 to enable debug output (using "docker -e").

      docker run --volumes-from **$OVPN_DATA** -d -p 1194:1194/udp --privileged -e DEBUG=1 evolvedm/openvpn-rpi

How Does It Work?

Initialize the volume container using the evolvedm/openvpn-rpi image with the
included scripts to automatically generate:

  • Diffie-Hellman parameters
  • a private key
  • a self-certificate matching the private key for the OpenVPN server
  • an EasyRSA CA key and certificate
  • a TLS auth key from HMAC security

The OpenVPN server is started with the default run cmd of ovpn_run

The configuration is located in /etc/openvpn, and the Dockerfile
declares that directory as a volume. It means that you can start another
container with the --volumes-from flag, and access the configuration.
The volume also holds the PKI keys and certs so that it could be backed up.

To generate a client certificate, evolvedm/openvpn-rpi uses EasyRSA via the
easyrsa command in the container's path. The EASYRSA_* environmental
variables place the PKI CA under /etc/opevpn/pki.

Conveniently, evolvedm/openvpn-rpi comes with a script called ovpn_getclient,
which dumps an inline OpenVPN client configuration file. This single file can
then be given to a client for access to the VPN.

OpenVPN Details

We use tun mode, because it works on the widest range of devices.
tap mode, for instance, does not work on Android, except if the device
is rooted.

The topology used is net30, because it works on the widest range of OS.
p2p, for instance, does not work on Windows.

The UDP server uses192.168.255.0/24 for dynamic clients by default.

The client profile specifies redirect-gateway def1, meaning that after
establishing the VPN connection, all traffic will go through the VPN.
This might cause problems if you use local DNS recursors which are not
directly reachable, since you will try to reach them through the VPN
and they might not answer to you. If that happens, use public DNS
resolvers like those of Google ( and or OpenDNS
( and

Security Discussion

The Docker container runs its own EasyRSA PKI Certificate Authority. This was
chosen as a good way to compromise on security and convenience. The container
runs under the assumption that the OpenVPN container is running on a secure
host, that is to say that an adversary does not have access to the PKI files
under /etc/openvpn/pki. This is a fairly reasonable compromise because if an
adversary had access to these files, the adversary could manipulate the
function of the OpenVPN server itself (sniff packets, create a new PKI CA, MITM
packets, etc).

  • The certificate authority key is kept in the container by default for
    simplicity. It's highly recommended to secure the CA key with some
    passphrase to protect against a filesystem compromise. A more secure system
    would put the EasyRSA PKI CA on an offline system (can use the same Docker
    image and the script ovpn_copy_server_files to accomplish this).
  • It would be impossible for an adversary to sign bad or forged certificates
    without first cracking the key's passphase should the adversary have root
    access to the filesystem.
  • The EasyRSA build-client-full command will generate and leave keys on the
    server, again possible to compromise and steal the keys. The keys generated
    need to be signed by the CA which the user hopefully configured with a passphrase
    as described above.
  • Assuming the rest of the Docker container's filesystem is secure, TLS + PKI
    security should prevent any malicious host from using the VPN.

Benefits of Running Inside a Docker Container

The Entire Daemon and Dependencies are in the Docker Image

This means that it will function correctly (after Docker itself is setup) on
all distributions Linux distributions such as: Ubuntu, Arch, Debian, Fedora,
etc. Furthermore, an old stable server can run a bleeding edge OpenVPN server
without having to install/muck with library dependencies (i.e. run latest
OpenVPN with latest OpenSSL on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS).

It Doesn't Stomp All Over the Server's Filesystem

Everything for the Docker container is contained in two images: the ephemeral
run time image (evolvedm/openvpn-rpi) and the data image (using busybox as a
base). To remove it, remove the two Docker images and corresponding containers
and it's all gone. This also makes it easier to run multiple servers since
each lives in the bubble of the container (of course multiple IPs or separate
ports are needed to communicate with the world).

Some (arguable) Security Benefits

At the simplest level compromising the container may prevent additional
compromise of the server. There are many arguments surrounding this, but the
take away is that it certainly makes it more difficult to break out of the
container. People are actively working on Linux containers to make this more
of a guarantee in the future.

Differences from jpetazzo/dockvpn

  • No longer uses serveconfig to distribute the configuration via https
  • Proper PKI support integrated into image
  • OpenVPN config files, PKI keys and certs are stored on a storage
    volume for re-use across containers
  • Addition of tls-auth for HMAC security

Tested On

  • Docker hosts:
    • Raspberry Pi 2 with Raspbian Jessie Lite, February image
  • Clients
    • Android App OpenVPN Connect 1.1.14 (built 56)
      • OpenVPN core 3.0 android armv7a thumb2 32-bit
    • OS X Mavericks with Tunnelblick 3.4beta26 (build 3828) using openvpn-2.3.4
    • ArchLinux OpenVPN pkg 2.3.4-1
Docker Pull Command