Set up a personal VPN in the cloud
Algo VPN is a set of Ansible scripts that simplify the setup of a personal WireGuard and IPsec VPN. It uses the most secure defaults available and works with common cloud providers. See our release announcement for more information.
The easiest way to get an Algo server running is to run it on your local system or from Google Cloud Shell and let it set up a new virtual machine in the cloud for you.
Setup an account on a cloud hosting provider. Algo supports DigitalOcean (most user friendly), Amazon Lightsail, Amazon EC2, Vultr, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine, Scaleway, DreamCompute, Linode, or other OpenStack-based cloud hosting, Exoscale or other CloudStack-based cloud hosting, or Hetzner Cloud.
Get a copy of Algo. The Algo scripts will be installed on your local system. There are two ways to get a copy:
Download the ZIP file. Unzip the file to create a directory named
algo-master containing the Algo scripts.
Run the command
git clone https://github.com/trailofbits/algo.git to create a directory named
algo containing the Algo scripts.
Install Algo's core dependencies. Algo requires that Python 3.8 or later and at least one supporting package are installed on your system.
macOS: Catalina (10.15) and higher includes Python 3 as part of the optional Command Line Developer Tools package. From Terminal run:
python3 -m pip install --user --upgrade virtualenv
If prompted, install the Command Line Developer Tools and re-run the above command.
For macOS versions prior to Catalina, see Deploy from macOS for information on installing Python 3 .
Linux: Recent releases of Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora come with Python 3 already installed. Make sure your system is up-to-date and install the supporting package(s):
On a Raspberry Pi running Ubuntu also install
sudo apt install -y --no-install-recommends python3-virtualenv
sudo dnf install -y python3-virtualenv
sudo yum -y install epel-release sudo yum -y install python36-virtualenv
Windows: Use the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) to create your own copy of Ubuntu running under Windows from which to install and run Algo. See the Windows documentation for more information.
Install Algo's remaining dependencies. You'll need to run these commands from the Algo directory each time you download a new copy of Algo. In a Terminal window
cd into the
algo-master (ZIP file) or
git clone) directory and run:
python3 -m virtualenv --python="$(command -v python3)" .env && source .env/bin/activate && python3 -m pip install -U pip virtualenv && python3 -m pip install -r requirements.txt
On Fedora add the option
--system-site-packages to the first command above. On macOS install the C compiler if prompted.
Set your configuration options. Open the file
config.cfg in your favorite text editor. Specify the users you wish to create in the
users list. Create a unique user for each device you plan to connect to your VPN. If you want to add or delete users later, you must select
yes at the
Do you want to retain the keys (PKI)? prompt during the server deployment. You should also review the other options before deployment, as changing your mind about them later may require you to deploy a brand new server.
Start the deployment. Return to your terminal. In the Algo directory, run
./algo and follow the instructions. There are several optional features available, none of which are required for a fully functional VPN server. These optional features are described in greater detail in here.
That's it! You will get the message below when the server deployment process completes. Take note of the p12 (user certificate) password and the CA key in case you need them later, they will only be displayed this time.
You can now set up clients to connect to your VPN. Proceed to Configure the VPN Clients below.
"# Congratulations! #" "# Your Algo server is running. #" "# Config files and certificates are in the ./configs/ directory. #" "# Go to https://whoer.net/ after connecting #" "# and ensure that all your traffic passes through the VPN. #" "# Local DNS resolver 172.16.0.1 #" "# The p12 and SSH keys password for new users is XXXXXXXX #" "# The CA key password is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX #" "# Shell access: ssh -F configs/<server_ip>/ssh_config <hostname> #"
Certificates and configuration files that users will need are placed in the
configs directory. Make sure to secure these files since many contain private keys. All files are saved under a subdirectory named with the IP address of your new Algo VPN server.
WireGuard is used to provide VPN services on Apple devices. Algo generates a WireGuard configuration file,
wireguard/<username>.conf, and a QR code,
wireguard/<username>.png, for each user defined in
On iOS, install the WireGuard app from the iOS App Store. Then, use the WireGuard app to scan the QR code or AirDrop the configuration file to the device.
On macOS Mojave or later, install the WireGuard app from the Mac App Store. WireGuard will appear in the menu bar once you run the app. Click on the WireGuard icon, choose Import tunnel(s) from file..., then select the appropriate WireGuard configuration file.
On either iOS or macOS, you can enable "Connect on Demand" and/or exclude certain trusted Wi-Fi networks (such as your home or work) by editing the tunnel configuration in the WireGuard app. (Algo can't do this automatically for you.)
Installing WireGuard is a little more complicated on older version of macOS. See Using macOS as a Client with WireGuard.
If you prefer to use the built-in IPSEC VPN on Apple devices, or need "Connect on Demand" or excluded Wi-Fi networks automatically configured, then see Using Apple Devices as a Client with IPSEC.
WireGuard is used to provide VPN services on Android. Install the WireGuard VPN Client. Import the corresponding
wireguard/<name>.conf file to your device, then setup a new connection with it. See the Android setup instructions for more detailed walkthrough.
WireGuard is used to provide VPN services on Windows. Algo generates a WireGuard configuration file,
wireguard/<username>.conf, for each user defined in
Install the WireGuard VPN Client. Import the generated
wireguard/<username>.conf file to your device, then setup a new connection with it.
WireGuard works great with Linux clients. See this page for an example of how to configure WireGuard on Ubuntu.
Please see this page.
Depending on the platform, you may need one or multiple of the following files.
If you turned on the optional SSH tunneling role, then local user accounts will be created for each user in
config.cfg and SSH authorized_key files for them will be in the
configs directory (user.ssh.pem). SSH user accounts do not have shell access, cannot authenticate with a password, and only have limited tunneling options (e.g.,
ssh -N is required). This ensures that SSH users have the least access required to setup a tunnel and can perform no other actions on the Algo server.
Use the example command below to start an SSH tunnel by replacing
<ip> with your own. Once the tunnel is setup, you can configure a browser or other application to use 127.0.0.1:1080 as a SOCKS proxy to route traffic through the Algo server:
ssh -D 127.0.0.1:1080 -f -q -C -N <user>@algo -i configs/<ip>/ssh-tunnel/<user>.pem -F configs/<ip>/ssh_config
Your Algo server is configured for key-only SSH access for administrative purposes. Open the Terminal app,
cd into the
algo-master directory where you originally downloaded Algo, and then use the command listed on the success message:
ssh -F configs/<ip>/ssh_config <hostname>
<ip> is the IP address of your Algo server. If you find yourself regularly logging into the server then it will be useful to load your Algo ssh key automatically. Add the following snippet to the bottom of
~/.bash_profile to add it to your shell environment permanently:
ssh-add ~/.ssh/algo > /dev/null 2>&1
Alternatively, you can choose to include the generated configuration for any Algo servers created into your SSH config. Edit the file
~/.ssh/config to include this directive at the top:
<algodirectory> is the directory where you cloned Algo.
If you chose to save the CA key during the deploy process, then Algo's own scripts can easily add and remove users from the VPN server.
userslist in your
cdto the algo directory, and activate the virtual environment with
After this process completes, the Algo VPN server will contain only the users listed in the
If you've read all the documentation and have further questions, create a new discussion.
I've been ranting about the sorry state of VPN svcs for so long, probably about time to give a proper talk on the subject. TL;DR: use Algo.
-- Kenn White
Before picking a VPN provider/app, make sure you do some research https://research.csiro.au/ng/wp-content/uploads/sites/106/2016/08/paper-1.pdf ... – or consider Algo
-- The Register
Algo is really easy and secure.
-- the grugq
I played around with Algo VPN, a set of scripts that let you set up a VPN in the cloud in very little time, even if you don’t know much about development. I’ve got to say that I was quite impressed with Trail of Bits’ approach.
If you’re uncomfortable shelling out the cash to an anonymous, random VPN provider, this is the best solution.
All donations support continued development. Thanks!
Algo is licensed and distributed under the AGPLv3. If you want to distribute a closed-source modification or service based on Algo, then please consider purchasing an exception . As with the methods above, this will help support continued development.