Install and Configure OpenVPN Server on PfSense

In this tutorial we will teach you how to install and configure an OpenVPN server on PfSense. 

After showing the installation and configuration of OpenVPN in PfSense, we’ll show you how to install the client and how to create a virtualized test case. 

Configuring the OpenVPN Server

First we will select the VPN tab and then we will click on OpenVPN. 

For this tutorial, we are going to use the creation wizard for  OpenVPN. So let’s click on Wizards. 

Now let’s select the type of authentication server. In this case, we will select “Local User Access”. This way, the OpenVPN server inside pfSense will be used for authentication of VPN users. 

Creating the OpenVPN Server Certificate Authority 

Now let’s create our certificate authority (CA). 

For this, we will fill in some fields as in the figure below. And We will describe what to enter in the fields just below. 

Descriptive name: Here we will give the name of the Certificate Authority. In our case we are using the name “CA_myVPN”. 

Key length: The key length, for this tutorial we will use the default size of 2048 bits. However, we could increase the key size up to 16386 bits. 

Lifetime: We are using the default which is almost 10 years. We can change this value to a date that meets our needs. 

Country Code,State or Province,City and Organization: This is the part where we enter information about the country code, state, city and the name of the organization. In this case, we are using fictitious information from an organization located in São Paulo. 

Next, let’s click on “Add new CA” to create the new Certificate Authority. 

Creating the OpenVPN Server Certificate 

Now, let’s create the VPN server certificate. To do this, let’s start by giving a name such as “Server_Cert_VPN”

We can see that many fields were filled in automatically with the information we entered when creating the Certificate Authority.  

However, the Lifetime field was auto-populated with the value 398. 

Note. To avoid problems with some platforms However, the Lifetime of a certificate must not exceed 398 days. 

Once filled in, let’s click on “Create new Certificate”

OpenVPN Server Information 

Let’s enter the OpenVPN server information to allow clients to access. 

Below we describe the fields: 

Interface: Here we will indicate which interface the OpenVPN server will operate. In this case, we are using a VPN server to allow external access from clients. So let’s use the WAN interface. 

Protocol: we can choose between TCP and UDP in the transport layer. Furthermore, we can choose between IPv6 and IPv4 or use both at the same time. For this tutorial, we’ll just use UDP and IPv4. 

Local Port: Informs the port that the OpenVPN server will use to wait for communication with clients. Let’s choose the default port 1194. However, if you are already using that port with another service, you can change the port so that there is no conflict. 

Description: here I like to inform a name that later makes it easier for the client to identify which VPN he is connecting to. Therefore, it is worth putting a name that describes your VPN. Here, we will use the description “my_OpenVPN” 

Configuring Encryption 

We will explain the main fields related to OpenVPN server encryption after the figure below. 

TLS Authentication: In this field we will check the option to enable authentication via TLS.  

Automatically generate a TLS Key : Let’s check this option to automatically generate the TLS key. 

TLS Shared Key : Here we could enter a TLS key that was generated in the past. However, for this tutorial we will leave this field blank. 

DH Parameters Length: The length of the Diffie-Hellman (DH) key for security in exchanging VPN parameters, in this case we will use 2048bit. 

Data Encryption Negotiation: allows negotiation of the encryption algorithm between client and server. 

Data Encryption Algorithms: here are the algorithms that can be negotiated between client and server. 

Fallback Data Encryption Algorithm: Here we can indicate the algorithm that will be used when the negotiation of the algorithms listed above fails. 

Auth Digest Algorithm: Here we will indicate the authentication method between VPN client and server. 

Hardware Crypto: As the name says, this field allows you to use hardware acceleration. However, we will not use it in this tutorial. 

OpenVPN Tunnel Settings 

Now let’s create the settings that will be used in the VPN tunnel between the client and the OpenVPN Server. 

We present the figure below with the settings used and then describe each field. 

Tunnel Network: Here we will indicate the network that will be used in the VPN tunnel between the client and the VPN server. It is worth mentioning, that we must use a network that is not used by another internal network. In our case, we are going to use the network. 

Redirect Gateway: Selecting this field will make clients use the OpenVPN server’s gateway as their default gateway. That way, all Internet traffic will go through the OpenVPN server. 

Local Network: Here we can define the local network that will be accessed by OpenVPN clients. In this case, let’s choose the network 

Concurrent Connections: Number of clients that can access the OpenVPN server at the same time. If we are running the OpenVPN server on more limited hardware, we can reduce the number of concurrent clients. 

Allow Compression & Compression: allows compression within the VPN. However, we are not going to guarantee greater security. 

Type-of-Service: This field can be checked when we want to insert some kind of quality of service for the VPN traffic. 

Inter-Client Communication: If we check this option, OpenVPN clients will be able to communicate. This communication between clients will depend on the need of the VPN project. 

Duplicate Connections: By checking this option, the same VPN user can maintain more than one VPN connection. It can be useful in case of multiple user devices. 

OpenVPN Client Parameters 

Now let’s talk about the main parameters that can be passed to the OpenVPN client. 

Dynamic IP: allows you to keep the client connection even if you change the IP. 

Topology:  We have the option of using “Subnet” to allow an IP for each client in the VPN network or to isolate clients using the “net30” option . In this tutorial we will use the option “Subnet”.  

DNS Default Domain & DNS Server 1-4 : Here we can indicate the DNS servers that will be used by our VPN clients. 

NTP Server: specify a Network Time Protocol server for VPN clients. 

NetBIOS & WINS : Checking the options related to NetBIOS  and WINS we are going to allow these protocols to work for the clients that are accessing our VPN. 

Applying firewall rules for OpenVPN 

Now let’s use the options  Firewall Rule  and OpenVPN rule to enforce VPN rules on our firewall. This procedure could be done manually if the administrator prefers.

Finishing the OpenVPN Server Installation 

Now we have finished installing the OpenVPN server. The next step will be to create a user for us to test. 

Package for Exporting OpenVPN Clients 

Now, let’s install a package that will allow us to export the configuration of our VPN clients. 

For that, let’s click on System-> Package Manager. 

Then let’s click on Available packages and search for openvpn. After that we will click on Install for the package openvpn-client-export. 

Creating a user for the VPN 

Now we need to create a user so that we can export the configuration to a machine that will be used as a client for our OpenVPN server. 

To create a user for our VPN, let’s click on System->User Manager 

Next, let’s click on “User” and then on “Add”. 

Now we are going to create our user, in this case we are going to create a user called “maria” and we are going to use a password for the user maria. 

Then let’s check the option “Click to create a user certificate”. 

Now let’s give Mary’s certificate a descriptive name. In this case we named it “maria cert”. 

Note that the Certificate authority is pointing to the certificate we created there when we configured the OpenVPN server. 

Then we can click on Save

We will see a screen like the figure below demonstrating that the user maria was created successfully. 

Exporting OpenVPN User 

Now we will click on VPN and we will choose OpenVPN. 

Next, let’s click on Client Export, as in the figure below. 

Now we will see some parameters that can be defined for the client. Let’s comment on each parameter below the figure. 

Remote Access Server: Here we will choose the UDP protocol and the port that will be used for the server 1194. 

Host Name Resolution: Here we can leave the “Interface IP Address”  which will use the WAN IP of our pfsense. In addition we have other options like using Multi WAN with portforwarding and DDNS. However, for this tutorial we will only use the “Interface IP Address”. 

Verify Server CN: Here we have the option to automatically verify the server certificate. 

Block Outside DNS: Here we can force our VPN clients to use the DNS of the OpenVPN server. 

Legacy Client: If you check this option we will not have OpenVPN 2.5 settings and this will allow compatibility with older versions.  

Silent Installer: A silent installation option for Windows. 

Bind Mode: By default we choose the  “Do not bind the local port” and this allows multiple clients to connect to the same port of our OpenVPN server. If you choose the option “bind to default OpenVPn port” you will only be able to serve one client at a time.  

PKCS#11 Certificate Storage and Microsoft Certificate Storage: we have certificate storage options. 

 Also, we can use password option for Viscosity bundle with Password Protect Certificate. 

Use A Proxy: indicates whether we will use a proxy to access the OpenVPN server. 

Additional configuration options: Here we can enter additional settings for the OpenVPN client. 

If you have changed any parameter, then you must click on “Save as default”. This way the configuration that was created will be standardized. 

Selecting user certificate 

Now let’s select our user’s certificate. 

In this case we are going to export to a Linux machine so we are going to choose the indicated option “Most Clients” 

After that, we can send the certificate to the client.  

Sending the file to the client  

Here is an optional way to send the ovpn file to the client in the test scenario we create in the next session. 

One way to send the configuration file to the client that is on an external network is using the netcat command as shown below. 

On the external PC (which will be the VPN client) open the terminal and that has the IP  


nc -nlv -w 2 8080 > maria.ovpn  

On the internal PC that is on the network open the terminal  

Go to the downloaded file directory and type  

nc -nv 8080 < pfSense-UDP4-1194-maria-config.ovpn 

After a few seconds the file will be transferred.

Configuring the OpenVPN Client

We have a tutorial teaching how to configure the OpenVPN client on Linux: Click Here.

We have a tutorial teaching how to configure the OpenVPN client on Linux: Click Here.

Creating the test scenario 

We will present a test scenario that can be used to practice creating an OpenVPN Server and OpenVPN Client. 

Creating the NAT network 

If you are on a newer version of Virtualbox, as in the picture below, the NAT Network will be in File -> Tools -> Network Manager. 

Then let’s select NAT Network and right-click and create a NAT network. As in the figure below. Let’s enter the network and check the option “Enable DHCP”.

If you are using an older version of VirtualBox, you can follow the steps below.

Now let’s open VirtualBox and click on File and then on Preferences.

Next, let’s click on Network and click on the symbol next to it to create a new network.

Once the NatNetwork network has been created, click on the configuration icon as shown in the figure below.

Next, let’s enter a network range that will be used to represent our external network in the VPN. In this case, we are using the network.

Configuring pfSense

Now let’s configure the pfsense interfaces.

If you want to learn how to install pfsense in a VirtualBox virtual machine, click HERE.

To configure the pfSense WAN interface, we need to locate this interface in pfsense.

To do this, we will open the virtual machine that has pfsnse and type 1. By typing 1, we will access the “Assign Interfaces” option, in this case we are only accessing it to see the MAC addresses of the interfaces.

After typing 1 we will see the names of the interfaces and their MAC addresses. The em0 interface is WAN so we can check its MAC address.

Now let’s access the virtualBox configuration of the machine where pfsense is running. Next, let’s select Network and then select Adapter1.

This interface will be as NAT Network.

On the second tab we will select Adapter2 and click on “Enable Network Adapter” and then choose Host-only Adapter and vboxnet0.

Now let’s go to the pfSense virtual machine to give an IP for the LAN interface. To do this, go to the pfsense terminal screen and type 2.

Now, let’s select the LAN interface to enter the new IP. For this we will type 2 again.

Next, let’s enter the IP of the LAN interface. For this tutorial, we are going to use the IP “” for the pfsense LAN interface. Also, let’s use the “/24” mask. To enter the IP just type the IP and for the mask just type the corresponding number for example 24.

After that comes the question if we want to configure a gateway for the WAN. In this case, in this case we are configuring the LAN and so we’re just going to hit ENTER.

Then the question will come if we want to enter IPv6 for the LAN. In this tutoriall we are not going to enter IPv6 and so we are going to press ENTER.

Now, let’s enable the DHCP service on the LAN interface. In this way, computers that are attached to the LAN interface will automatically receive IPs.

To enable DHCP on the LAN interface, type y and press ENTER.

After that we will insert the range of IPs that will be assigned to the hosts. In this case we use as the beginning of the IP range and as the end of the IP range for hosts.

Next comes the question if we want to revert the webconfigurator to HTTP. In this case we will type n because we don’t want to use HTTP but HTTPS.

After that, we can press ENTER until the initial screen reappears and we will see a screen similar to the screen below.

We can see in the figure above that the LAN interface already has the IP

Accessing the pfSense web interface 

Now we are going to use our LAN IP to access the pfsense web interface. To do this, let’s open a browser and type 

After that we will type the user = admin and the password = pfsense

pfsense virtualbox login

And finally we enter the pfSense configuration page. Now we can follow the Configuration Wizard or select the option we want from the top menu.  

pfsense virtualbox start page

After accessing pfSense we can start the VPN configuration described in the sections above. 

Configuring pfsense WAN

Now, let’s configure the pfsense WAN interface to allow traffic from private IPs. We are doing this configuration because we are using a private IP for the external PC in our scenario.

Let’s click on Interfaces and then WAN.

Let’s scroll down and uncheck “Block private networks and loopback addresses”. After that, let’s click on “Save”.

Then let’s apply the changes by clicking on “Apply Changes”.

Configuring the External PC

Let’s start configuring the external PC. In this case, our external PC uses Ubuntu 22.

First, let’s add the network interface of the external PC as NAT Network and in the same network as the WAN interface of our pfSense.

For this we will open the VirtualBox configuration of the External PC virtual machine and select “Adapter1” and select “NAT Network”.

Next, let’s select the network name as “NatNetwork” this name should be the same name you used in the PfSense WAN Nat Network.

Now, let’s turn on the virtual machine with Ubuntu 22 and access the network icon at the top left of the screen. 

Next, let’s click on “Wired Settings”. 

Soon after, we will click on the configuration icon of the Wired interface, as in the figure below. 

Inside the configuration menu, we will access the IPv4 tab and we will click on “Automatic (DHCP)”. This configuration will allow the virtual machine’s network interface to receive an IP from the VirtualBox “NatNetwork” network. 

Also, let’s enter a DNS IP. In this case, we will choose to use the google DNS “”. 

After performing the above procedures, let’s restart the network interface. To do this, we can double-click on the button to enable the Wired interface. The figure below shows where we should double-click. 

Now we can open the terminal to check if the external machine got an IP in the “NatNetwork” network range of VirtualBox. For that, let’s type the command below.

ip addr

We can see in the figure below, that the virtual machine got the IP “”. This IP belongs to VirtualBox’s “NatNetwork” network range, so the configuration is correct.

Once you have the scenario set up, you can start running the tests.

See More

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

Update OpenVPN Client on Linux

Install OpenVPN Client on Windows

Install Open VPN on Linux

Juliana Mascarenhas

Data Scientist and Master in Computer Modeling by LNCC.
Computer Engineer