Scripts to build your own IPsec VPN server, with IPsec/L2TP and Cisco IPsec on Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS
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IPsec VPN Server Auto Setup Scripts

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Set up your own IPsec VPN server in just a few minutes, with both IPsec/L2TP and Cisco IPsec on Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS. All you need to do is provide your own VPN credentials, and let the scripts handle the rest.

An IPsec VPN encrypts your network traffic, so that nobody between you and the VPN server can eavesdrop on your data as it travels via the Internet. This is especially useful when using unsecured networks, e.g. at coffee shops, airports or hotel rooms.

We will use Libreswan as the IPsec server, and xl2tpd as the L2TP provider.

» See also: IPsec VPN Server on Docker

Read this in other languages: English, 简体中文.

Table of Contents

Quick start

First, prepare your Linux server* with a fresh install of Ubuntu LTS, Debian or CentOS.

Use this one-liner to set up an IPsec VPN server:

wget -O && sudo sh

If using CentOS, replace the link above with

Your VPN login details will be randomly generated, and displayed on the screen when finished.

For other installation options and how to set up VPN clients, read the sections below.

* A dedicated server or virtual private server (VPS). OpenVZ VPS is not supported.


  • New: The faster IPsec/XAuth ("Cisco IPsec") mode is supported
  • New: A pre-built Docker image of the VPN server is now available
  • Fully automated IPsec VPN server setup, no user input needed
  • Encapsulates all VPN traffic in UDP - does not need ESP protocol
  • Can be directly used as "user-data" for a new Amazon EC2 instance
  • Includes sysctl.conf optimizations for improved performance
  • Tested with Ubuntu 18.04/16.04/14.04, Debian 9/8 and CentOS 7/6


A newly created Amazon EC2 instance, from one of these images:

Please see detailed instructions and EC2 pricing.


A dedicated server or KVM/Xen-based virtual private server (VPS), freshly installed with one of the above OS. OpenVZ VPS is not supported, users could instead try OpenVPN or Shadowsocks.

This also includes Linux VMs in public clouds, such as DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, Google Compute Engine, Amazon Lightsail, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, OVH and Rackspace.

Deploy to Azure Install on DigitalOcean Deploy to Linode

» I want to run my own VPN but don't have a server for that

Advanced users can set up the VPN server on a $35 Raspberry Pi 3. Learn more in these articles: [1] [2].

⚠️ DO NOT run these scripts on your PC or Mac! They should only be used on a server!


Ubuntu & Debian

First, update your system with apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade and reboot. This is optional, but recommended.

To install the VPN, please choose one of the following options:

Option 1: Have the script generate random VPN credentials for you (will be displayed when finished):

wget -O && sudo sh

Option 2: Edit the script and provide your own VPN credentials:

wget -O
nano -w
[Replace with your own values: YOUR_IPSEC_PSK, YOUR_USERNAME and YOUR_PASSWORD]
sudo sh

Note: DO NOT use these special characters within values: \ " '. A secure IPsec PSK should consist of at least 20 random characters.

Option 3: Define your VPN credentials as environment variables:

# All values MUST be placed inside 'single quotes'
# DO NOT use these special characters within values: \ " '
wget -O && sudo \
VPN_IPSEC_PSK='your_ipsec_pre_shared_key' \
VPN_USER='your_vpn_username' \
VPN_PASSWORD='your_vpn_password' \

Note: If unable to download via wget, you may also open (or and click the Raw button. Press Ctrl-A to select all, Ctrl-C to copy, then paste into your favorite editor.


First, update your system with yum update and reboot. This is optional, but recommended.

Follow the same steps as above, but replace with

Next steps

Get your computer or device to use the VPN. Please refer to:

Configure IPsec/L2TP VPN Clients

Configure IPsec/XAuth ("Cisco IPsec") VPN Clients

How-To: IKEv2 VPN for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS

If you get an error when trying to connect, see Troubleshooting.

Enjoy your very own VPN! 🎉🚀

Important notes

Read this in other languages: English, 简体中文.

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.

For servers with an external firewall (e.g. EC2/GCE), open UDP ports 500 and 4500 for the VPN. Aliyun users, see #433.

If you wish to add, edit or remove VPN user accounts, see Manage VPN Users. Helper scripts are included for convenience.

Clients are set to use Google Public DNS when the VPN is active. If another DNS provider is preferred, replace and in both /etc/ppp/options.xl2tpd and /etc/ipsec.conf. Then reboot your server.

Using kernel support could improve IPsec/L2TP performance. It is available on Ubuntu 18.04/16.04, Debian 9 and CentOS 7/6. Ubuntu users: Install linux-modules-extra-$(uname -r) (or linux-image-extra), then run service xl2tpd restart.

To modify the IPTables rules after install, edit /etc/iptables.rules and/or /etc/iptables/rules.v4 (Ubuntu/Debian), or /etc/sysconfig/iptables (CentOS/RHEL). Then reboot your server.

When connecting via IPsec/L2TP, the VPN server has IP within the VPN subnet

The scripts will backup existing config files before making changes, with .old-date-time suffix.

Upgrade Libreswan

The additional scripts and can be used to upgrade Libreswan (changelog | announce). Edit the SWAN_VER variable as necessary. Check which version is installed: ipsec --version.

# Ubuntu & Debian
wget -O
# CentOS & RHEL
wget -O

Bugs & Questions


Please refer to Uninstall the VPN.

See also


Copyright (C) 2014-2018 Lin Song View my profile on LinkedIn
Based on the work of Thomas Sarlandie (Copyright 2012)

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!