How to Setup an OpenVPN Server on Azure (Updated)

How to Setup an OpenVPN Server on Azure (Updated)
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This is an updated version for my previous article How to Setup an OpenVPN Server on Azure to support configure OpenVPN on Ubuntu 22.04 since a lot of changes happened on Easy-RSA.


  • Ubuntu 22.04 VM deployed in Azure at least with one NIC which has public IP address enabled.
  • User with sudo privilege on Ubuntu 22.04 VM.
  • VM private IP address doesn't overlap with subnet
  • NSG rule is added to VM to allow UDP destination port 32768

Install OpenVPN & Easy-RSA

# install openvpn & easy-rsa
sudo apt update
sudo apt install openvpn easy-rsa net-tools

# configure easy-rsa
make-cadir ~/openvpn-ca

Configure vars file to include configurations

cd ~/openvpn-ca
vi vars

set_var EASYRSA_REQ_PROVINCE "Singapore"
set_var EASYRSA_REQ_CITY "Singapore"
set_var EASYRSA_REQ_ORG "Your Org"
set_var EASYRSA_REQ_OU  "Your OU"
set_var EASYRSA_KEY_SIZE 2048
set_var EASYRSA_CA_EXPIRE 36500
set_var EASYRSA_REQ_CN  "OpenVPN-CA"
set_var EASYRSA_BATCH  "1"

Setup CA & Configure OpenVPN

Setup CA

./easyrsa init-pki
./easyrsa build-ca nopass

When bash asks "Common Name", enter "OpenVPN-CA", then execute below commands to generate server certificate

./easyrsa gen-req ovpn nopass
./easyrsa sign-req server ovpn
./easyrsa gen-dh
openvpn --genkey secret pki/ta.key

Move certificates and keys to OpenVPN etc directory and create a user represents openvpn

sudo cp pki/ca.crt pki/ta.key pki/dh.pem pki/issued/ovpn.crt pki/private/ovpn.key /etc/openvpn/server
sudo adduser --system --shell /usr/sbin/nologin --no-create-home openvpn

Configure OpenVPN

sudo vi /etc/openvpn/server/server.conf
# OpenVPN listening address
# OpenVPN listening port
port 32768
# tcp/udp
proto udp
dev tun
ca ca.crt
cert ovpn.crt
key ovpn.key
dh dh.pem
# OpenVPN network
ifconfig-pool-persist ipp.txt
# Redirect all traffics to OpenVPN
push "redirect-gateway def1 bypass-dhcp"
push "dhcp-option DNS"
push "dhcp-option DNS"
keepalive 10 120
# This file is secret
tls-auth ta.key 0
# Cipher settings
cipher AES-256-GCM
auth SHA512
user openvpn
group nogroup
log /var/log/openvpn/server.log
log-append server.log
verb 4

Adding iptables rules to NAT OpenVPN traffic

# iptables configuration for openvpn
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0 -p udp -m state --state NEW -m udp --dport 32768 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i tun+ -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A FORWARD -i tun+ -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -o tun+ -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A FORWARD -i tun+ -o eth0 -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A FORWARD -i eth0 -o tun+ -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
sudo bash -c "echo 'net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1' >> /etc/sysctl.conf"
sudo sysctl -p

Use iptables-persistent to save iptables rules

sudo apt install iptables-persistent

Start & Enable OpenVPN server service

sudo systemctl start openvpn-server@server
sudo systemctl status openvpn-server@server
sudo systemctl enable openvpn-server@server

Generate Client Profile and Connect to OpenVPN Service

Create a shell script to generate client profile


Add following lines into

cd ~/openvpn-ca
./easyrsa gen-req $1 nopass
./easyrsa sign-req client $1
cd ~/client-configs
./ $1

Press "ESC", type ":wq" to save the file

chmod +x

Create a new directory called "client-configs"

mkdir client-configs
mkdir client-configs/files
cd client-configs

Create a base client configuration file "base.conf"

vi base.conf

Add following lines

dev tun
proto udp
resolv-retry infinite
user nobody
group nogroup
remote-cert-tls server
key-direction 1
cipher AES-256-GCM
auth SHA512
verb 3

ESC, type ":wq" to save the file. Now create a script file called


Add following content into the file


# First argument: Client identifier


cat ${BASE_CONFIG} \
    <(echo -e '<ca>') \
    ${KEY_DIR}/ca.crt \
    <(echo -e '</ca>\n<cert>') \
    ${KEY_DIR}/issued/${1}.crt \
    <(echo -e '</cert>\n<key>') \
    ${KEY_DIR}/private/${1}.key \
    <(echo -e '</key>\n<tls-auth>') \
    ${KEY_DIR}/ta.key \
    <(echo -e '</tls-auth>') \
    > ${OUTPUT_DIR}/${1}.ovpn

ESC, type ":wq" to save the file

chmod +x

Connect to OpenVPN server from client side

From OpenVPN server, run

./ <profile name>

Above command will generate a client profile and save it into ~/client-configs/files, copy/download this profile to client side, from OpenVPN, import this profile and connect.

The client should have OpenVPN connection established and it should redirect all traffics to OpenVPN now.

Use Cloud Provider's Network to Accelerate OpenVPN Connection

If you happen to use a cloud provider and your OpenVPN client is close to one of cloud provider's regions, you could use your cloud provider's network to bridge VPN connection between OpenVPN client and OpenVPN server, the benefits are

  • Reliable VPN connectivity, cloud provider usually provides dedicated internet link cross border
  • Leverage cloud provider's global network to accelerate VPN connectvity, some cloud providers provides hot potato routing by default, for example Azure or GCP, that means VPN traffic usually goes into optimal paths
  • Even you are using sovereign cloud, internet quality between your sovereign cloud provider and VPN server, is still better than your home network

Here is a simple solution that use iptables to bounce traffic from your local cloud data center to remote VPN server

  • In order to bounce traffic, you should have a Linux VM instance running from your cloud provider's local data center, for example a Ubuntu server distribution with 1 CPU and 1GB memory should be enough
  • Mapping a UDP port from your Linux VM instance to remote OpenVPN server's port, open NSG to allow that UDP port from your Linux instance. For example, OpenVPN server's UDP port is 1194, you can map a random UDP port say 11940 from your Linux VM instance to 1194 and open NSG to allow 11940 UDP traffic to pass to your Linux VM instance
  • Add two iptables rules from your Linux VM instance
iptables -A PREROUTING -p udp -m udp --dport <Mapped UDP Port> -j DNAT --to-destination <Remote OpenVPN IP>:<Remote OpenVPN Port>
iptables -A POSTROUTING -d <Remote OpenVPN IP>/32 -p udp -m udp --dport <Remote OpenVPN Port> -j SNAT --to-source <Linux VM's IP, usually from eth0>