This article is part of a series on building a Virtual Private Server (VPS) to use as your own Virtual Private Network (VPN) server. Using a Linux VPS for this purpose is very easy, very inexpensive and provides you with some control over your VPN connections. My VPS provider of choice is Luna Node, so this post is specially on using a Luna Node VPS for a VPN server.
Why choose Luna Node VPS for a VPN server?
The main reason I chose Luna Node over other providers deals with their security. All VPS providers have some sort of back end web interface where you manage the VPSes from. Many VPS providers don’t secure that web page very well. It does little good to lock down the VPS itself with a firewall and key-only access if the web interface is a simple username and password barrier. Luna Node offers two-factor authentication and even certificate-based log in if you want to go that far. Those are the reasons I initially chose a Luna Node VPS for a VPN server, but after several months of use I am staying with them because the service is great.
It’s also worth mentioning that not all VPS provider will let you run a VPN. It’s simple for them to prevent you because you need special TAP or TUN virtual network interfaces for a VPN to function. If they do not allow those to be enabled, you won’t be able to run a VPN server. Check that out before signing up with anyone.
Purchasing a Luna Node VPS
Visit the Luna Node features page here and review the offering. Their servers are quite complete and capable. There’s pricing information on the bottom of that page and I have found that the lowest level plan works fine for my purposes.
When you’re ready, click the sign up link to get a new Luna Node VPS for a VPN server and do your thing.
Provisioning your first Luna Node VPS
Luna Node charges by the operating hour for your VPS so you’re not purchasing a specific VPS when you sign up. You’re merely signing up for an account that will allow you to create VPSes as you need them. Therefore, you’ll need to add some money into your pool and then provision a VPS using the steps below.
Click the Create VM button and select your desired location. Since I am in Canada, either Toronto or Montreal makes the most sense to me. For help on determining the optimal location for your VPS you can refer to our article on Buying VPN Services: How to select the right VPN provider. While you’re not buying a VPN service per se, the same location and usage criteria apply.
Next you will be asked to choose a VPS plan and an operating system. You can choose whatever plan you’d like but I recommend choosing the most recent version of Ubuntu as the operating system. Ubuntu is widely supported, easily maintainable, and you’ll find plenty of articles on the Internet explaining how to do a lot of things with Ubuntu should you need them.
When your VPS is ready it will appear in your list of VMS. It may or may not have an IP address associated with it yet. If not, just wait a few minutes and it will happen automatically. You should also have a confirmation email from Luna Node at this point.
Prepare your new VPS to install an OpenVPN server
Click the Manage button beside your new VM and you’ll see some details about it. Most notably you’ll need the Public IP address, username and password assigned to your machine in order to log in for the first time.
Log in using that information for the first time:
New VPSes may need to be upgraded so it is a good idea to take care of that prior to installing any VPN server software. I also rebooted the VPS because the log-in notice informed me that a system restart was required.
It is always a good idea to change your VPS password away from the default one assigned by the system. Do that using the passwd command in your VPS. If you’re especially savvy you may also want to configure the UFW firewall that comes with Ubuntu and move your SSH daemon off the standard port of 22. Those are advanced topics which I don’t cover in this post. There are some articles here on those subjects:
You’re now ready to install OpenVPN server. There a step-by-step post on how to do install an OpenVPN server on your VPS here!