Setting up Merlin VPN and OpenVPN Server and Windows Client
I encountered some issues/Ēlearning opportunitiesĒ when setting up my ASUS RT-N66U as a VPN server. I noticed that others had similar experiences, so this post may be helpful to future VPN users. Iím a noob at this, so experts feel free to correct me. Iíll edit this as needed. Iím not an Apple guy, so Iíll concentrate on Windows clients and youíll need to go elsewhere for setting up the router as an OpenVPN client.
My approach is to reference other posts/articles, but with additional notes so that some issues can be avoided.
First, the Merlin firmware offers two VPN implementations: the basic ASUS PPTP (Point to Point Tunnel Protocol) and OpenVPN. PPTP is simple to set up but not totally secure. OpenVPN is more complex to set up, but much more secure. Look at their Wikipedia entries for more information.
First, before you do anything else, determine if your router has a public or an internal IP address
. You need to have a public one for any of this work. This post on the ASUS forum tells you how
. My ISPís DSL modem was configured as a router. They changed it to a bridge for a one-time charge (you do NOT need to get a static IP address assigned. Weíll talk later about assigning a hostname that will handle a routerís possibly changing IP address).
Setting Up the ASUS PPTP Server
Even if you know you want to exclusively use OpenVPN you might want to go ahead and try the PPTP server just to make sure all your connections work before you jump into setting up OpenVPN. ASUS provides a good guide here
. Windows has PPTP client support built into it, so once the router is set up you can get going in a heartbeat. There are a number of good articles on how to set up a VPN client on the web. This one is pretty good
. If you decide you donít want to continue using the PPTP server be sure and disable it in the router. No sense wasting router resources.
NOTE: When you look at the Windows Network and Sharing Center youíll see the VPN connection.
Setting up the OpenVPN Server
The key article is this one about configuring a Tomato router and Windows clients
(skip down to Configuring OpenVPN). You obviously donít need to add the OpenVPN software to the router, but the setup instructions for the router and the windows client are good. Here are some additional points:
- The article assumes youíll use the OpenVPN GUI that is part of the OpenVPN distribution. From what Iíve heard it isnít the most current. Instead, install this version from SourceForge (openvpn-gui.exe). [My guess at the installation instructions:] You need to download it and copy it into the OpenVPN\bin directory once OpenVPN, including its OpenVPN GUI, has been installed. I renamed the original openvpn-gui, but kept it around.
- When you edit the files (e.g., vars.bat) run Notepad++ as administrator.
- When you generate the keys, certificates, etc. you may get some error messages regarding ďcanít open config file Ö openssl.cnfĒ. Donít worry about them. They wonít affect the results.
- Be sure and include the -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----/ -----END CERTIFICATE----- , -----BEGIN PRIVATE KEY-----/ -----END PRIVATE KEY-----, and -----BEGIN DH PARAMETERS----- , -----END DH PARAMETERS----- lines of text in the router parameters.
- The OpenVPN download is for everything, server and client. I donít know if there is a minimal download for a strict client, one in which the keys are generated on a different machine.
- Donít ask me about their recommended VPN server parameters (Push LAN to clients, etc.) I donít know what they mean
NOTE: The VPN connection will NOT be visible in the Windows Network and Sharing Center. Youíll be able check the status from the Open GUI hidden icon.
This article covers much of the same stuff
, though in less detail. Its main advantage is that it is from the OpenVPN group, so that if something changes it should be up to date.
If your router provides it, use the ASUS DDNS service
to provide a hostname for your router. It will automatically be updated if your routerís IP address changes. Many of the tutorial articles suggest using DynDNS. However, in their free version your hostname registration will expire if your IP address doesnít change for 30 days [I canít find a concise reference for this].
How to set up your router so that it can be managed outside your local network
If you want to be able to ping your router (good for testing) go the Firewall section and enable ďRespond Ping Request from WANĒ
If you are interested in a Static Key OpenVPN set up, this mini-article explains how
General How To topics on ďall things OpenVPNĒ
Hope this will make things a little easier for you.