Chapter 21. Configuring a VPN connection

This section explains how to configure a virtual private network (VPN) connection.

A VPN is a way of connecting to a local network over the Internet. IPsec provided by Libreswan is the preferred method for creating a VPN. Libreswan is an user-space IPsec implementation for VPN. A VPN enables the communication between your LAN, and another, remote LAN by setting up a tunnel across an intermediate network such as the Internet. For security reasons, a VPN tunnel always uses authentication and encryption. For cryptographic operations, Libreswan uses the NSS library.

21.1. Configuring a VPN connection with control-center

This procedure describes how to configure a VPN connection using control-center.

Prerequisites

  • The NetworkManager-libreswan-gnome package is installed.

Procedure

  1. Press the Super key, type Settings, and press Enter to open the control-center application.
  2. Select the Network entry on the left.
  3. Click the + icon.
  4. Select VPN.
  5. Select the Identity menu entry to see the basic configuration options:

    General

    Gateway — The name or IP address of the remote VPN gateway.

    Authentication

    Type

    • IKEv2 (Certificate)- client is authenticated by certificate. It is more secure (default).
    • IKEv1 (XAUTH) - client is authenticated by user name and password, or a pre-shared key (PSK).

      The following configuration settings are available under the Advanced section:

      Figure 21.1. Advanced options of a VPN connection

      networking vpn advanced options
      Warning

      When configuring an IPsec-based VPN connection using the gnome-control-center application, the Advanced dialog displays the configuration, but it does not allow any changes. As a consequence, users cannot change any advanced IPsec options. Use the nm-connection-editor or nmcli tools instead to perform configuration of the advanced properties.

      Identification

    • Domain — If required, enter the Domain Name.

      Security

    • Phase1 Algorithms — corresponds to the ike Libreswan parameter — enter the algorithms to be used to authenticate and set up an encrypted channel.
    • Phase2 Algorithms — corresponds to the esp Libreswan parameter — enter the algorithms to be used for the IPsec negotiations.

      Check the Disable PFS field to turn off Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) to ensure compatibility with old servers that do not support PFS.

    • Phase1 Lifetime — corresponds to the ikelifetime Libreswan parameter — how long the key used to encrypt the traffic will be valid.
    • Phase2 Lifetime — corresponds to the salifetime Libreswan parameter — how long a particular instance of a connection should last before expiring.

      Note that the encryption key should be changed from time to time for security reasons.

    • Remote network — corresponds to the rightsubnet Libreswan parameter — the destination private remote network that should be reached through the VPN.

      Check the narrowing field to enable narrowing. Note that it is only effective in IKEv2 negotiation.

    • Enable fragmentation — corresponds to the fragmentation Libreswan parameter — whether or not to allow IKE fragmentation. Valid values are yes (default) or no.
    • Enable Mobike — corresponds to the mobike Libreswan parameter — whether to allow Mobility and Multihoming Protocol (MOBIKE, RFC 4555) to enable a connection to migrate its endpoint without needing to restart the connection from scratch. This is used on mobile devices that switch between wired, wireless, or mobile data connections. The values are no (default) or yes.
  6. Select the IPv4 menu entry:

    IPv4 Method

    • Automatic (DHCP) — Choose this option if the network you are connecting to uses Router Advertisements (RA) or a DHCP server to assign dynamic IP addresses.
    • Link-Local Only — Choose this option if the network you are connecting to does not have a DHCP server and you do not want to assign IP addresses manually. Random addresses will be assigned as per RFC 3927 with prefix 169.254/16.
    • Manual — Choose this option if you want to assign IP addresses manually.
    • DisableIPv4 is disabled for this connection.

      DNS

      In the DNS section, when Automatic is ON, switch it to OFF to enter the IP address of a DNS server you want to use separating the IPs by comma.

      Routes

      Note that in the Routes section, when Automatic is ON, routes from DHCP are used, but you can also add additional static routes. When OFF, only static routes are used.

    • Address — Enter the IP address of a remote network or host.
    • Netmask — The netmask or prefix length of the IP address entered above.
    • Gateway — The IP address of the gateway leading to the remote network or host entered above.
    • Metric — A network cost, a preference value to give to this route. Lower values will be preferred over higher values.

      Use this connection only for resources on its network

      Select this check box to prevent the connection from becoming the default route. Selecting this option means that only traffic specifically destined for routes learned automatically over the connection or entered here manually is routed over the connection.

  7. To configure IPv6 settings in a VPN connection, select the IPv6 menu entry:

    IPv6 Method

    • Automatic — Choose this option to use IPv6 Stateless Address AutoConfiguration (SLAAC) to create an automatic, stateless configuration based on the hardware address and Router Advertisements (RA).
    • Automatic, DHCP only — Choose this option to not use RA, but request information from DHCPv6 directly to create a stateful configuration.
    • Link-Local Only — Choose this option if the network you are connecting to does not have a DHCP server and you do not want to assign IP addresses manually. Random addresses will be assigned as per RFC 4862 with prefix FE80::0.
    • Manual — Choose this option if you want to assign IP addresses manually.
    • DisableIPv6 is disabled for this connection.

      Note that DNS, Routes, Use this connection only for resources on its network are common to IPv4 settings.

  8. Once you have finished editing the VPN connection, click the Add button to customize the configuration or the Apply button to save it for the existing one.
  9. Switch the profile to ON to active the VPN connection.

Additional resources

  • For more details on the supported Libreswan parameters, see the nm-settings-libreswan(5) man page.

21.2. Configuring a VPN connection using nm-connection-editor

This procedure describes how to configure a VPN connection using nm-connection-editor.

Prerequisites

  • The NetworkManager-libreswan-gnome package is installed.
  • If you configure an Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) connection:

    • The certificate is imported into the IPsec network security services (NSS) database.
    • The nickname of the certificate in the NSS database is known.

Procedure

  1. Open a terminal, and enter:

    $ nm-connection-editor
  2. Click the + button to add a new connection.
  3. Select the IPsec based VPN connection type, and click Create.
  4. On the VPN tab:

    1. Enter the host name or IP address of the VPN gateway into the Gateway field, and select an authentication type. Based on the authentication type, you must enter different additional information:

      • IKEv2 (Certifiate) authenticates the client by using a certificate, which is more secure. This setting requires the nickname of the certificate in the IPsec NSS database
      • IKEv1 (XAUTH) authenticates the user by using a user name and password (pre-shared key). This setting requires that you enter the following values:

        • User name
        • Password
        • Group name
        • Secret
    2. If the remote server specifies a local identifier for the IKE exchange, enter the exact string in the Remote ID field. In the remote server runs Libreswan, this value is set in the server’s leftid parameter.

      nm connection editor vpn tab

    3. Optionally, configure additional settings by clicking the Advanced button. You can configure the following settings:

      • Identification

        • Domain — If required, enter the domain name.
      • Security

        • Phase1 Algorithms corresponds to the ike Libreswan parameter. Enter the algorithms to be used to authenticate and set up an encrypted channel.
        • Phase2 Algorithms corresponds to the esp Libreswan parameter. Enter the algorithms to be used for the IPsec negotiations.

          Check the Disable PFS field to turn off Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) to ensure compatibility with old servers that do not support PFS.

        • Phase1 Lifetime corresponds to the ikelifetime Libreswan parameter. This parameter defines how long the key used to encrypt the traffic is valid.
        • Phase2 Lifetime corresponds to the salifetime Libreswan parameter. This parameter defines how long a security association is valid.
      • Connectivity

        • Remote network corresponds to the rightsubnet Libreswan parameter and defines the destination private remote network that should be reached through the VPN.

          Check the narrowing field to enable narrowing. Note that it is only effective in the IKEv2 negotiation.

        • Enable fragmentation corresponds to the fragmentation Libreswan parameter and defines whether or not to allow IKE fragmentation. Valid values are yes (default) or no.
        • Enable Mobike corresponds to the mobike Libreswan parameter. The parameter defines whether to allow Mobility and Multihoming Protocol (MOBIKE) (RFC 4555) to enable a connection to migrate its endpoint without needing to restart the connection from scratch. This is used on mobile devices that switch between wired, wireless or mobile data connections. The values are no (default) or yes.
  5. On the IPv4 Settings tab, select the IP assignment method and, optionally, set additional static addresses, DNS servers, search domains, and routes.

    IPsec IPv4 tab

  6. Save the connection.
  7. Close nm-connection-editor.
Note

When you add a new connection by clicking the + button, NetworkManager creates a new configuration file for that connection and then opens the same dialog that is used for editing an existing connection. The difference between these dialogs is that an existing connection profile has a Details menu entry.

Additional resources

  • For further details on the supported IPsec parameters, see the nm-settings-libreswan(5) man page.