A Raspberry Pi running Raspbian (Lite) can easily be repurposed into your very own VPN server with just a bit of tinkering. This setup supports both Wi-Fi and wired connections, though given the Pi’s already limited hardware, you might want to avoid wireless in order to maximize performance.
Turning a Raspberry Pi with Raspbian into a VPN
Before you begin, make sure you’re running the latest version of Raspbian – or even better – Raspbian Lite by running the “sudo apt-get update” command and following up on it with “sudo apt-get upgrade”.
Make sure you have the desired DNS server information close at hand, together with your router’s IP address before proceeding (ifconfig).
Run “sudo nano /etc/dhcpcd.conf” to edit the said configuration file and set yourself up with a static IP. If you need further assistance, find a comment line that states “Example static IP configuration” and use it to relay your own information. Save the changes and repeat the process with the /etc/hosts file in order to change your hostname.
Launch the Raspberry Pi Config, navigate to the Interfacing options section, and enable the Secure Shell (SSH) service on the following screen. Reboot the device if the setup doesn’t do so automatically. This step is here to make the end result more efficient because what good is a dedicated VPN server if it has to be constantly plugged into a monitor? That’s where SSH comes in, allowing you to communicate with your Linux-running node from another client.
Feel free to unplug the computer from the monitor after the SSH setup is complete. Launch the SSH service through your Mac or Linux terminal (Windows users should try MobaXterm or PuTTY), connect to your miniature VPN-to-be via the aforementioned IP address, and confirm your security key (don’t forget to save it) before entering your login credentials.
Regarding encryption tech you’ll be asked to pick before proceeding, choose 2048-bit RSA unless you can articulate an elaborate reason for why you should go with any other alternative. Either you can’t, or you should be following more advanced guidelines, not a tutorial aimed at absolute newcomers to the field of VPN computing on Pi.
“How to use a Raspberry Pi as a VPN Server” was written by Dominik Bosnjak, a long-time VPN-user-turned-advocate who spends more time scrutinizing VPN Providers on a daily basis than he’d like to admit. When he isn’t writing VPN Guides and covering general Tech News, he’s probably spending time with his dog, video games, or both. Fun fact: the Shih Tzu in question is the only remaining creature in Dominik’s life who hasn’t told him they’re sick of him talking about Best VPN practices and government-sponsored erosion of digital privacy which made using the Internet less convenient over the years. He occasionally dabbles in video editing, Wall Street memes, and demonstrating a remarkable lack of guitar-playing ability.
If you want more tidbit-sized rants about any of those things, you can find him on Twitter @dddominikk.