IPsec VPN Server on Docker
Docker image to run an IPsec VPN server, with both
Table of Contents
- Install Docker
- How to use this image
- Next steps
- Important notes
- Update Docker image
- Advanced usage
- Technical details
- See also
First, install and run Docker on your Linux server.
Get the trusted build from the Docker Hub registry:
docker pull hwdsl2/ipsec-vpn-server
Alternatively, you may build from source code on GitHub.
How to use this image
This Docker image uses the following three variables, that can be declared in an
env file (example):
VPN_IPSEC_PSK=your_ipsec_pre_shared_key VPN_USER=your_vpn_username VPN_PASSWORD=your_vpn_password
This will create a single user account for VPN login. The IPsec PSK (pre-shared key) is specified by the
VPN_IPSEC_PSK environment variable. The VPN username is defined in
VPN_USER, and VPN password is specified by
Note: In your
env file, DO NOT put
'' around values, or add space around
=. DO NOT use these characters within values:
\ " '.
All the variables to this image are optional, which means you don't have to type in any environment variable, and you can have an IPsec VPN server out of the box! Read the sections below for details.
Start the IPsec VPN server
Important: First, load the IPsec
NETKEY kernel module on the Docker host:
sudo modprobe af_key
Create a new Docker container from this image (replace
./vpn.env with your own
docker run \ --name ipsec-vpn-server \ --env-file ./vpn.env \ --restart=always \ -p 500:500/udp \ -p 4500:4500/udp \ -v /lib/modules:/lib/modules:ro \ -d --privileged \ hwdsl2/ipsec-vpn-server
Retrieve VPN login details
If you did not specify an
env file in the
docker run command above,
VPN_USER will default to
vpnuser and both
VPN_PASSWORD will be randomly generated. To retrieve them, view the container logs:
docker logs ipsec-vpn-server
Search for these lines in the output:
Connect to your new VPN with these details: Server IP: your_vpn_server_ip IPsec PSK: your_ipsec_pre_shared_key Username: your_vpn_username Password: your_vpn_password
(Optional) Backup the generated VPN login details (if any) to the current directory:
docker cp ipsec-vpn-server:/opt/src/vpn-gen.env ./
Check server status
To check the status of your IPsec VPN server, you can pass
ipsec status to your container like this:
docker exec -it ipsec-vpn-server ipsec status
Or display current established VPN connections:
docker exec -it ipsec-vpn-server ipsec whack --trafficstatus
Get your computer or device to use the VPN. Please refer to:
If you get an error when trying to connect, see Troubleshooting.
Enjoy your very own VPN!
For Windows users, this one-time registry change is required if the VPN server and/or client is behind NAT (e.g. home router).
The same VPN account can be used by your multiple devices. However, due to an IPsec/L2TP limitation, if you wish to connect multiple devices simultaneously from behind the same NAT (e.g. home router), you must use only IPsec/XAuth mode. Also, your server must run the latest version of this Docker image.
Before editing any VPN config files, you must first start a Bash session in the running container.
If you wish to add, edit or remove VPN user accounts, see Manage VPN Users. Important: After editing the VPN config files, you must also comment out the relevant sections in
/opt/src/run.sh, to avoid losing your changes on container restart.
Clients are set to use Google Public DNS when the VPN connection is active. If another DNS provider is preferred, replace
/opt/src/run.sh with the new servers. Then restart the Docker container.
Update Docker image
To update your Docker image and container:
docker pull hwdsl2/ipsec-vpn-server
If the Docker image is already up to date, you should see:
Status: Image is up to date for hwdsl2/ipsec-vpn-server:latest
Otherwise, it will download the latest version. To update your Docker container, first write down all your VPN login details (refer to "Retrieve VPN login details" above). Then remove the Docker container with
docker rm -f ipsec-vpn-server. Finally, re-create it using instructions from the "How to use this image" section.
Build from source code
Advanced users can download and compile the source code from GitHub:
git clone https://github.com/hwdsl2/docker-ipsec-vpn-server.git cd docker-ipsec-vpn-server docker build -t hwdsl2/ipsec-vpn-server .
Or use this if not modifying the source code:
docker build -t hwdsl2/ipsec-vpn-server github.com/hwdsl2/docker-ipsec-vpn-server.git
Bash shell inside container
To start a Bash session in the running container:
docker exec -it ipsec-vpn-server env TERM=xterm bash -l
(Optional) Install the
apt-get update && apt-get -y install nano
When finished, exit the container and restart if needed:
exit docker restart ipsec-vpn-server
There are two services running:
Libreswan (pluto) for the IPsec VPN, and
xl2tpd for L2TP support.
The default IPsec configuration supports:
- IKEv1 with PSK and XAuth ("Cisco IPsec")
- IPsec/L2TP with PSK
The ports that are exposed for this container to work are:
- 4500/udp and 500/udp for IPsec
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
Attribution required: please include my name in any derivative and let me know how you have improved it!
Hello,I have a questions,when I connect the vpn at home,my network segment is 1(ipaddr is 192.168.1.2),I cant ssh and ping the company's server successful ,the server ipaddr is 192.168.1.204 in the company.But when I use another router,the ipaddr is 192.168.100.2(at home),i can ping and ssh the company's server successful. Could you please help me fix it?
Thanks. Setup is a piece of cake and works beautifully with Stock Android VPN Settings
你好，我按照步骤操作确实实现了IPsec PSK模式下的登陆，在Android，IOS上都实现了，但是Linux上配置感觉有点不大对，我用vpnc配置好参数后无法连接（环境：Ubuntu server 16.04），它一直询问我IPSec ID。
@erv2 For Windows users, the extra steps you mentioned are required before connecting. Please refer to the "Important notes" section  of the README.
it looks like windows requires a bit of extra setting to set up connection with this solution:
- you have to add the following reg to allow connecting to vpn server behind nat:
For Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, and 2008 Server:
Data Value: 2
2.in the security setting of the VPN connection, you have to allow "CHAP" protocol.
is there a way to make windows experience more seamless?
Hi I am running into issue trying to connect windows 10 with the VPN hosting on EC2.
soon after i managed to connect to the server, the server sent a termination signal to my windows vpn client. here's the logs:
xl2tpd: Call established with 70.30.79.xx, Local: 15051, Remote: 6140, Serial: 1
xl2tpd: result_code_avp: result code endianness fix for buggy Apple client. network=768, le=3
xl2tpd: control_finish: Connection closed to 70.30.79.xx, serial 1 ()
xl2tpd: Terminating pppd: sending TERM signal to pid 715
xl2tpd: result_code_avp: result code endianness fix for buggy Apple client. network=256, le=1
xl2tpd: control_finish: Connection closed to 70.30.79.xx, port 56763 (), Local: 19248, Remote: 2
i have no problem connecting to it using my iphone.
@antioch You might have encountered a Docker/lxc bug . Other than that, please make sure that you carefully follow all instructions in the README above.
I suggest that you remove and recreate the Docker container, and try again.
First, load the IPsec NETKEY kernel module on the Docker host:
sudo modprobe af_key
Then remove and recreate the Docker container:
docker rm -f ipsec-vpn-server docker pull hwdsl2/ipsec-vpn-server docker run ... (see full command in README above) `
I installed this docker to the default Ubuntu/Docker image on Azure and encountered some issues.
Firstly, after starting the container and checking the logs I saw:
"modprobe: ERROR: ../libkmod/libkmod.c:557 kmod_search_moddep() could not open moddep file '/lib/modules/4.4.0-28-generic/modules.dep.bin'"
but it seems like the server is running when I check the status.
Secondly, I'm unable to connect to the server, my client gets a timeout. Perhaps the VPN server is actually not running/listening?
@h00283522 On Linode you need to use a distribution-provided kernel via GRUB instead of a Linode-provided kernel, where some modules may be missing. Please refer to  for detailed steps.
I've got one error when I typed
modprobe af_key, I get back "modprobe: ERROR: ../libkmod/libkmod.c:586 kmod_search_moddep() could not open moddep file '/lib/modules/4.7.0-x86_64-linode72/modules.dep.bin'
modprobe: FATAL: Module af_key not found in directory /lib/modules/4.7.0-x86_64-linode72"
Any ideas? Thanks!