rajannpatel / Pi-Hole-PiVPN-on-Google-Compute-Engine-Free-Tier-with-Full-Tunnel-and-Split-Tunnel-OpenVPN-Configs

https://github.com/rajannpatel/Pi-Hole-PiVPN-on-Google-Compute-Engine-Free-Tier-with-Full-Tunnel-and-Split-Tunnel-OpenVPN-Configs


Run your own privacy-first ad blocking service in the cloud for free on Google Cloud Services.



Pi-Hole and PiVPN on Google Compute Engine Free Tier with Full Tunnel and Split Tunnel OpenVPN Configurations

The goal of this guide is to enable you to safely and privately use the Internet on your phone without intrusive advertisements, and blocking your ISP, mobile carrier, or public Wi-Fi hotspot provider from gaining insight into your usage activity.

Run your own privacy-first ad blocking service within the Free Usage Tier on Google Cloud. This guide gets you set up with a Google Cloud account, and walks you through setting up a full tunnel (all traffic) or split tunnel (DNS traffic only) VPN connection on your Android and iOS devices.

The benefit of a Split Tunnel VPN is that you can still interact with devices on your Local Network (such as Chromecast) and still have DNS based ad-blocking over an encrypted connection to the cloud.

Tunnel Type Data Usage Security Ad Blocking
full 10% more data usage 100% encryption yes
split least data usage DNS encryption only yes

Google Cloud Login and Account Creation

Go to https://cloud.google.com and click Console at the top right if you have previously used Google's Cloud Services, or click Try Free if it's your first time.

Account Creation

  • Step 1 of 2
    Agree to the terms and continue.
  • Step 2 of 2
    Set up a payments profile and continue

Project & Compute Engine Creation

  • Click the Hamburger Menu at the top left:
  • Click Compute Engine:
  • Select VM instances:
  • Create a Project if you don't already have one:
  • Enable billing for this Project if you haven't already:
  • Compute Engine will begin initializing:

Compute Engine Virtual Machine Setup

  • Create a Virtual Machine instance on Compute Engine:
  • Customize the instance:
  • Name your Virtual Machine pi-hole.
    Your Region selection should be any US region only (excluding Northern Virginia [us-east4]). I have used us-east1 and the us-east1-b zone because it is closest to me.
    Choose a micro Machine Type in the dropdown.
    Change the Boot Disk to be 30GB if you plan on keeping your DNS lookup records for any reason, otherwise the default 10GB disk allocation is adequate.
    Allow HTTP traffic in the Firewall (add a checkmark).
    Allow HTTPS traffic in the Firewall (add a checkmark).
  • Expand Management, Security, disks, networking, sole tenancy and click the Network tab. Click the Pencil icon under Network Interfaces.
  • The External IP Address should not be Ephemeral. Choose Create IP Address to Reserve a New Static IP Address

  • You can log into your Virtual Machine via SSH in a Browser by clicking the SSH button. Make note of your External IP (it will be different from the screenshot below).
  • Click the Hamburger Menu at the top left, click VPC Network and click Firewall Rules.

    Click Create Firewall Rule at the top center of the page. The name of your rule should be allow-openvpn, change the Targets dropdown to All instances in the network. The Source IP Ranges should be 0.0.0.0/0. The udp checkbox should be selected, and the port number next to it should be changed from all to 1194. Then click the Create button. You can disable the default-allow-rdp rule which Google set up with a default action of Allow, but because our server does not run any service on Port 3389 it is harmless to leave this rule alone. Do not disable the default-allow-ssh firewall rule, or you will not be able to use the browser-based SSH from within the Google Cloud Console.

Debian Update & Upgrade

Once you log into your Virtual Machine via SSH, you want to update and upgrade it.

Ensure you have elevated root privileges by running this command in the bash shell:

sudo su

Update and upgrade by running this command in the bash shell:

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y

Pi-Hole Installation

Ensure you have elevated root privileges by running this command in the bash shell:

sudo su

Install Pi-Hole by running this command in the bash shell:

curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

You will flow into a series of prompts in a blue screen.

  • Choose OK or answer positively for all the prompts until the "Select Protocols" question appears. IPv6 needs to be deselected as shown below:

  • Choose OK or answer positively for all the other prompts.

Set a strong password that you will remember for the Web Interface

pihole -a -p
  • Log into the web interface using the External IP that you noted down earlier at
    http://your-external-ip/admin/settings.php?tab=dns

  • Click Settings, and navigate to DNS.
    Set your Interface Listening Behavior to Listen on All Interfaces on this page:

  • Click the Save Button at the bottom of the page.

PiVPN Installation

Ensure you have elevated root privileges by running this command in the bash shell:

sudo su

Install PiVPN by running this command in the bash shell:

curl -L https://install.pivpn.io | bash

You will flow into a series of prompts in a blue screen. All of the default values are appropriate.

  • Choose OK or answer positively for all the prompts until you have to choose an upstream DNS provider. The default answer is Google. Choose Custom and set an IP Address of 10.8.0.1

The default answer to reboot is No at the end of the installer. It is fine to say No, we have a few more things to edit while we're logged in as root.

OpenVPN Configuration

Ensure you have elevated root privileges by running this command in the bash shell:

sudo su

Get into the openvpn directory by running this command in the bash shell:

cd /etc/openvpn

Server Configuration for VPN over UDP on Port 1194

Edit server.conf. I use nano to edit by running this command in the bash shell:

nano server.conf

Comment out the line which reads push "redirect-gateway def1" so it reads as follows:

# push "redirect-gateway def1"

The longer the keep-alive interval the longer it will take either end of the openvpn connection to detect whether the connection is no longer alive. Because mobile devices often lose connectivity and regain it, lower values are desirable.

Comment out keepalive 1800 3600 and add keepalive 10 60 below it, so it appears as follows:

# keepalive 1800 3600
keepalive 10 60

Comment out the line which reads cipher AES-256-CBC and add cipher AES-128-GCM below it, so it reads as follows:

# cipher AES-256-CBC
cipher AES-128-GCM

At the bottom of the file add the following lines:

# performance stuff
fast-io
compress lz4-v2
push "compress lz4-v2"

Press CTRL O to bring up the save prompt at the bottom of Nano, press Enter to save. Then press CTRL X to exit

Server Configuration for VPN over TCP on Port 443

Ensure you have elevated root privileges by running this command in the bash shell:

sudo su

Get into the openvpn directory by running this command in the bash shell:

cd /etc/openvpn

To accept incoming OpenVPN connections over TCP on port 443 we need a separate configuration file. We can clone our existing configuration as a starting point, by running this command in the bash shell:

cp server.conf server_tcp443.conf

Edit server_tcp443.conf. I use nano to edit by running this command in the bash shell:

nano server_tcp443.conf

Replace the proto udp and port 1194 lines with:

proto tcp
port 443

Edit the server 10.8.0.0 255.255.255.0 line to reflect an IP address of 10.9.0.0, so it reads as follows:

server 10.9.0.0 255.255.255.0

Edit the push "dhcp-option DNS 10.8.0.1" line to reflect an IP address of 10.9.0.1, so it reads as follows:

push "dhcp-option DNS 10.9.0.1"

Comment out keepalive 10 60 and add keepalive 10 120 below it, so it appears as follows:

# keepalive 10 60
keepalive 10 120

Comment out fast-io so it looks like this:

# fast-io

Press CTRL O to bring up the save prompt at the bottom of Nano, press Enter to save. Then press CTRL X to exit

Add the OpenVPN service on Port 443 by running this command in your bash shell:

systemctl enable openvpn@server_tcp443.service

Finishing Steps for Split Tunnel VPN Confgurations

Reboot the server by running this command in your bash shell:

shutdown -r now

Managing the PiVPN

Connect to the Pi-Hole server and set up an OpenVPN Client Profile. (You do not need to have elevated root privileges to do this.)

pivpn add nopass

Give your client profile a name. I like to use an alphanumeric string composed of the user's first name, and their device's make and model (no spaces and no special characters).

NOTE: make a new client profile for every device. DO NOT share a client profile between two different devices.

This command will output a success message which looks like this:

========================================================
Done! mypixel3xl.ovpn successfully created!
mypixel3xl.ovpn was copied to:
  /home/myusername/ovpns
for easy transfer. Please use this profile only on one
device and create additional profiles for other devices.
========================================================

To get the mypixel3xl.ovpn file to your phone it is easiest to maximize your SSH window and print the file to the terminal window, to copy & paste the output:

cat ~/ovpns/mypixel3xl.ovpn

Press CTRL - until the screen zooms out to a point where you can see the entire ovpn file printed on the screen. The first line will have the word client and the last line is </tls-crypt>. Highlighting this entire chunk with a mouse will cause a scissor icon to appear in the middle of your SSH window, this means this selection has been copied to your clipboard.

Saving a Split Tunnel VPN Client Profile for UDP VPN Connections on Port 1194

Paste this into your favorite Text Editor and save the file with a name that is clear: mypixel3xl-udp-1194-split-tunnel.ovpn

Around Line 12, edit the line which reads cipher AES-256-CBC and change it to read:

cipher AES-128-GCM

Saving a Full Tunnel VPN Client Profile for UDP VPN Connections on Port 1194

Copy the contents of mypixel3xl-udp-1194-split-tunnel.ovpn and paste it into your favorite Text Editor, save the file with a name that is clear: mypixel3xl-udp-1194-full-tunnel.ovpn

Below cipher AES-128-GCM add this line:

redirect-gateway def1

Saving a Split Tunnel VPN Client Profile for TCP VPN Connections on Port 443

Copy the contents of mypixel3xl-udp-1194-split-tunnel.ovpn and paste it into your favorite Text Editor, save the file with a name that is clear: mypixel3xl-tcp-443-split-tunnel.ovpn

Change proto udp on Line 3 to proto tcp

proto tcp

Change the 1194 at the end of Line 4 to 443, do not change the IP address on this line (it is your Google Compute Engine Virtual Machine's external IP address):

remote YOUR-EXTERNAL-IP-IS-HERE-LEAVE-THIS-AS-IT-IS 443

Saving a Full Tunnel VPN Client Profile for TCP VPN Connections on Port 443

Copy the contents of mypixel3xl-tcp-443-split-tunnel.ovpn and paste it into your favorite Text Editor, save the file with a name that is clear: mypixel3xl-tcp-443-full-tunnel.ovpn

Below cipher AES-128-GCM add this line:

redirect-gateway def1

Issue # 9 outlines a known problem with Full Tunnel VPN connections over Port 443.

Make these .ovpn files available on your phone or tablet

E-mail these files to yourself, upload in Google Drive, or use whatever secure method you prefer to transfer this file to your device. It is safe to download this file to your device.

WARNING: anyone that gets one of these .ovpn files can connect to your server.

Split Tunnel VPN on Android with the "OpenVPN for Android" app

Get it on F-Droid Get it on Google Play

Install the "OpenVPN for Android" application on your Android device.

Device Configuration for Split Tunnel VPN

When the "OpenVPN for Android" opens you are in the Profiles Tab. You will have to perform the following steps for mypixel3xl-udp-1194-split-tunnel.ovpn, and again for mypixel3xl-tcp-443-split-tunnel.ovpn

  • Import your Profile, click the + at the top right.

  • Then click Import at the bottom left of the modal that appears.

  • Click the Hamburger Menu at the top left to choose Google Drive, or your Downloads folder, depending on what method you used to get the .ovpn file to your phone.

  • Click the pencil icon next to the VPN profile you imported.

    • Click the Server List Tab.
      • Connect Timeout should be 60 for UDP VPN Profiles and 120 for TCP VPN Profiles.
    • Click the Routing Tab.
      • Bypass VPN for local networks should NOT have a checkmark. Uncheck it.
      • Click Excluded Networks under IPv4 and add this:
        10.0.0.8/8 172.16.0.0/12 192.168.0.0/16
        
    • Under the Authentication/Encryption Tab
      • The Encryption Cipher should be AES-128-GCM
    • Under the Allowed Apps Tab
      • the Drive, Duo, Gmail, Google Play Store, Phone, Phone and Messaging Storage and Phone Services apps should have a checkmark.
  • Click the back button a couple times until you are at the Profiles Tab again.

Click the Settings Tab:

  • OpenVPN 3 Core should have a checkmark
  • click Default VPN and choose the VPN you have imported
  • Connect on Boot should have a checkmark

Click the back button a couple times until you are at the Profiles Tab again.

  • Clicking the name of the VPN profile you imported should trigger a connection.

Full Tunnel VPN on Android with the "OpenVPN Connect" app

Get it on Google Play

Install the "OpenVPN Connect" application on your Android device.

Device Configuration for Full Tunnel VPN

Download the mypixel3xl-udp-1194-full-tunnel.ovpn and mypixel3xl-tcp-443-full-tunnel.ovpn files from your E-mail or your Google Drive to your Android Phone or Tablet. These files will be saved to your device's "Download" folder by default.

When the "OpenVPN Connect" application opens up, in its home screen you will see 3 options, Private Tunnel, Access Server, and OVPN Profile. Click on OVPN Profile.

Import and Add an .ovpn client profile by tapping your .ovpn filename, and then tapping Import on the top right, and then tapping Add. If you have already imported a client profile already, you can import more client profiles by pressing the + button at the bottom right.

Click the Hamburger Menu at the top left and click Settings

  • Under IPv6, the IPv4 Only Tunnel button should be selected. (The default selection is No Preference)
  • Under Connection Timeout, the Continuously Retry option should be selected. (The default selection is 1 Min)
  • Under Compression, the Downlink Only button should be selected. (The default selection is Full)
  • Under DNS Fallback the checkbox should be deselected/empty. (By default the checkbox is ticked)

Click Save at the top right.

Full & Split Tunnel VPN on iOS with the "OpenVPN Connect" app

Get it on the App Store

Install the "OpenVPN Connect" application on your iOS device.

Device Configuration for Full & Split Tunnel VPN

Import and Add all of your .ovpn files using one of the following two methods:

  1. Using iTunes Sync, select your device, go to OpenVPN under the apps tab, and drop your .ovpn files into the file sharing window.
  2. Using Google Drive or your e-mail you can open the .ovpn files with OpenVPN.

Click the Hamburger Menu at the top left and click Settings

  • Under Connection Timeout, the Continuously Retry option should be selected. (The default selection is 30 Sec)
  • Under Compression, the Downlink Only button should be selected. (The default selection is No)
  • Under DNS Fallback the checkbox should be deselected/empty. (By default the checkbox is ticked)

Verify Everything Works

Test your Full Tunnel VPN

Go here: https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+my+ip

You will see your IP address displayed very prominently at the top above the label: Your public IP address

If you see anything other than the External IP Address of your Google Compute Engine Virtual Machine, then you do not have a Full Tunnel VPN.

If you see an IPv6 address while connected to the VPN, then you have a big problem.

Example of an IPv6 address:

You can do some further troubleshooting by visiting: https://www.whatismyip.com

If you see no IPv4 address, and a public IPv6 address identical to the one from the Google search result earlier, it means your tunnel is not processing any IPv4 traffic, and you are going out to the Internet over IPv6 directly.

This typically means you have a problem with your server configuration and client configuration files.

Test for a DNS Leak

If DNS lookups are not happening exclusively over the VPN connection to the Pi-Hole server, then you have a DNS leak. A DNS leak will result in ads appearing.

In the Pi-Hole Web Interface at http://your-external-ip/admin/settings.php?tab=dns choose just one DNS provider. The two Google IPv4 DNS servers will give you the highest performance. For our test, we will deselect the Google IPv4 DNS servers and choose the 2 Cloudflare DNS servers.

On your device, go to https://www.dnsleaktest.com/ and click the Extended test button. On the table in the next page, every single row must say "Cloudflare". If you see any IPs that do not belong to Cloudflare, you have a DNS leak. This typically means you have a problem with your server configuration and client configuration files.

Turn your VPN off and try the Extended test again, you will see your default DNS servers as defined by your Internet provider or your Router.

Test the Ad-blocking

A quick test page to verify if your ad blocking is working: https://blockads.fivefilters.org/?pihole

The Pi-Hole project also maintains a list of excellent advertising-littered pages that you can test: https://pi-hole.net/pages-to-test-ad-blocking-performance/

Contributions Welcome

If there is something that can be done better, or if this documentation can be improved in any way, please submit a Pull Request with your fixes or edits. Discussions regarding Issues are welcome as well.

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