While trying to setup OpenVPN, I noticed there was no up-to-date information with correct instructions. OpenVPN uses EasyRSA to setup keys, it has recently been changed in version 3. As a result of this, the old steps to configure OpenVPN are no longer correct. I went through the process of setting up a VPN using OpenVPN on FreeBSD 10.3.

This is the up to date way to configure OpenVPN on FreeBSD.


A few things are required before OpenVPN can be setup.

Install Needed Software

To start with, install the required software. The only thing necessary to install should be OpenVPN. Easy-RSA is brought along in the install.

After updating the package repository, install openvpn. I’m using pkg, if you are using ports you should know the analagous process.

[root]# pkg update
[root]# pkg install openvpn

Setup Directory Structure for Configuration

OpenVPN has sample configuration files, make a directory for configuration

[root]# mkdir /usr/local/etc/openvpn

Copy the sample files:

[root]# cp /usr/local/share/examples/openvpn/sample-config-files/server.conf \

The configuration files for Easy-RSA are also needed, copy them to the configuration directory:

[root]# cp -r /usr/local/share/easy-rsa /usr/local/etc/openvpn/easy-rsa


Now that we have all the required files, configuration can start.


To start, configure keys with Easy-RSA.

Move into the Easy-RSA directory

[root]# cd /usr/local/etc/openvpn/easy-rsa

Inside should be several files:

[root]# ls
easyrsa.real		openssl-1.0.cnf.example	vars.example
openssl-1.0.cnf		vars			x509-types

Edit Easy-RSA Configuration Files

In the vars file, edit the required fields replacing them with the proper data. Any fields being used should be uncommented.

Set the organizational fields:

set_var EASYRSA_REQ_CITY        "<CITY>"
set_var EASYRSA_REQ_EMAIL       "<EMAIL>"

Set bit size, 2048 is reccomended:

set_var EASYRSA_KEY_SIZE        2048

Set expiry number in days:

# In how many days should the root CA key expire?

set_var EASYRSA_CA_EXPIRE       3650

# In how many days should certificates expire?

set_var EASYRSA_CERT_EXPIRE     3650

Generate Keys

Now keys can be generated with the easyrsa.real shell script.

By default FreeBSD uses the “c shell”, this can cause problems due to the configuration script setting variables in a different way. To avoid these issues change into the “bourne shell”, sh when running the script.

[root]# sh

To see all easy-rsa commands, run:

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa.real help

For detailed usage and help for a command, run:

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa help COMMAND

To get a listing of options that can be supplied before the command, use:

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa help options

Full list of commands available:

  build-ca [ cmd-opts ]
  gen-req <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]
  sign-req <type> <filename_base>
  build-client-full <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]
  build-server-full <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]
  revoke <filename_base>
  show-req <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]
  show-cert <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]
  import-req <request_file_path> <short_basename>
  export-p7 <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]
  export-p12 <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]
  set-rsa-pass <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]
  set-ec-pass <filename_base> [ cmd-opts ]

Initialize Public Key Infrastructure

Run init-pki:

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa.real init-pki
Note: using Easy-RSA configuration from: ./vars

init-pki complete; you may now create a CA or requests.
Your newly created PKI dir is: /usr/local/etc/openvpn/easy-rsa/pki

Build Certificate Authority

Follow instructions entering a CA password and common name.

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa.real build-ca

Server Certificates

Generate certificates for a server with the name openvpn-server. Use “nopass” to generate an unencrypted key so that a password is not required by the server on startup. This is what most people use on the server; however, this means it must be protected carefully.

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa.real build-server-full openvpn-server nopass

Check if successful:

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa.real show-cert openvpn-server

Client Certificate

Build client certificate(s), use a unique name for each certificate.:

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa.real build-client-full <name>

Diffie Hellman Parameters

Generate Diffie Hellman parameters:

sh-4.3# ./easyrsa.real gen-dh

Move Keys

With the files created, move the key’s to their destination.

The files of importance are:

In pki/:

  • dh.pem - Diffie Hellman parameters. Needed by server.
  • ca.crt - Root CA certificate. Needed by server and all clients.

In pki/issued/:

  • openvpn-server.crt - Server certificate. Needed by server.
  • <name>.crt - Client certificate. Needed by client.

In pki/private/ [These are secret]:

  • openvpn-server.key - Server key. Needed by server.
  • <name>.key - Client key. Needed by client.
  • ca.key - Root CA key. Needed by key signing machine.

So the following keys should be moved to the server:

  • pki/dh.pem
  • pki/ca.crt
  • pki/issued/openvpn-server.crt
  • pki/private/openvpn-server.key

If the server is the same machine as the machine used as the Certificate Authority, make a directory for the keys in the openvpn directory:

[root]# mkdir /usr/local/etc/openvpn/keys

Move the server keys:

[root]# cp pki/dh.pem \
           pki/ca.crt \
           pki/issued/openvpn-server.crt \
           pki/private/openvpn-server.key \

and the following moved to each client:

  • pki/ca.crt
  • pki/issued/<name>.crt
  • pki/private/<name>.key


Now OpenVPN can be configured.

Move back to the OpenVPN directory:

[root]# cd /usr/local/etc/openvpn

Server Config

Edit the server configuration file openvpn.conf.

Uncomment this out for non-Windows systems.

user nobody
group nobody

Edit the paths where the keys are located.

ca /usr/local/etc/openvpn/keys/ca.crt
cert /usr/local/etc/openvpn/keys/openvpn-server.crt
key /usr/local/etc/openvpn/keys/openvpn-server.key  # This file should be kept secret

Edit the diffie helman parameter path:

dh /usr/local/etc/openvpn/keys/dh.pem

As noted From the Easy-RSA wiki:

Important note: some OpenVPN configs rely on the deprecated “Netscape” cert attribute called nsCertType. This is deprecated behavior, and Easy-RSA 3 does not enable this by default like v2 did. Please use the –remote-cert-tls directive in your OpenVPN config files for MITM protection.

So if you are concerned with preventing man in the middle attacks, adding ‘remote-cert-tls server’ on the client and ‘remote-cert-tls client’ on the server seems to be the way to go.

remote-cert-tls client

Client Config

On the client, find the OpenVPN configuration file. On FreeBSD sample configuration files are in /usr/local/share/examples/openvpn/sample-config-files/client.conf.

Copy them to the OpenVPN directory:

[root]# cp /usr/local/share/examples/openvpn/sample-config-files/client.conf \

Edit the server name, use the hostname or ip:

remote <openvpn-server ip> 1194

As done with the server, replace the keys with their proper paths:

ca /usr/local/etc/openvpn/keys/ca.crt
cert /usr/local/etc/openvpn/keys/<name>.crt
key /usr/local/etc/openvpn/keys/<name>.key

Optinally add remote-cert-tls if you did so on the server.

remote-cert-tls server

Enable OpenVPN

Enable OpenVPN to start on boot as a tun device on both server and client.

[root]# sysrc openvpn_enable="YES"
[root]# sysrc openvpn_if="tun"

Setup Logging

On server and client, logging can be setup with syslog.

[root]# nano /etc/syslog.conf

Add the following to the end of syslog before the !*:

*.* /var/log/openvpn.log

Setup log rotation.

Edit newsyslog.conf.

[root]# nano /etc/newsyslog.conf

Add the following to the list of logs:

/var/log/openvpn.log                    600  30    *    @T00  ZC

Start Openvpn

OpenVPN can now be started.

[root]# service openvpn start

Check ifconfig, a new tun interface should appear.

[root]# ifconfig
tun0: flags=8051<UP,POINTOPOINT,RUNNING,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
	inet6 fe80::20a:e4ff:fe84:a87%tun0 prefixlen 64 tentative scopeid 0x3
	inet --> netmask 0xffffffff
	Opened by PID 97347

Finishing Tasks

Once OpenVPN is set up, there are a few things that should be done to make it fully operational. Some security should probably be added to the server, if OpenVPN is being used within a network, ports may need to be forwarded, and DDNS may need to be set up.

Port Forwarding

If OpenVPN is being run inside a network, ports may need to be forwarded to OpenVPN. Since I am using OpenVPN inside of my home network I had to forward port 1194/UDP. UDP is the reccomended protocol to use, as it functions best as a tunnel; however, depending on where OpenVPN is being used, UDP may not work, in which case 443/TCP or 994/TCP is recommended.


If ports are opened, keep in mind that puts nothing between the internet and the server so security should be kept in mind. At minimum, a fireall should probably be set up if OpenVPN is going to be open to the internet, IPFW is a simple firewall that is easy to setup and is built into FreeBSD.

Dynamic DNS

If OpenVPN is being used inside of a home network, most people’s internet facing IP’s are not static. In order to be able to access an ever changing IP, DDNS can be used. DDNS will check for changes in the external IP, and will map a persistent URL to the current IP.

DDNS is often offered by domain hosting providers, however there are also free options out there like NO-IP. Most routers will also often integrate with one or more DDNS providers.


NO-IP offers free DDNS, and will supply a domain which will remain yours as long as it is used once every 30 days. They also have a client that supports FreeBSD.

NO-IP requires you to register, they will then allow you to choose an address that will link to your IP.

After registering and creating an address, install NO-IP:

[root]# pkg install noip

The install should have created a group and user:

Installing noip-2.1.9_3...
===> Creating users and/or groups.
Creating group 'noip' with gid '939'.
Creating user 'noip' with uid '939'.

Generate a configuration file by running make conf in the noip port directory:

[root]# cd /usr/ports/dns/noip
[root]# make conf

It will ask for your username, interface and password:

Please select the Internet interface from this list.

By typing the number associated with it.
0	sge0
1	lo0
2	tun0
Please enter the login/email string for no-ip.com  <noip email>
Please enter the password for user '<noip email>'  ****************************************************************

Only one host [<noip domain>] is registered to this account.
It will be used.
Please enter an update interval:[30]
Do you wish to run something at successful update?[N] (y/N)  N

New configuration file '/usr/local/etc/no-ip2.conf' created.

Start NO-IP and enable it to start at boot:

[root]# service noip start
[root]# sysrc noip_enable="YES"