2017 Update: Updated to the latest version of Debian.
Edit 2: Someone else wrote a very very simple one line install. If want to get a VPN up and running fast you can’t do better than following the guide here: https://github.com/Nyr/openvpn-install
I know what your saying. VPN, ugh, that is what my old corporate job made me connect to in order to access the server just to download a stupid Word document. I agree. I feel your pain. I have had to had to connect to that VPN as well.
This post is different though. It won’t be slow and it certainly won’t be painful. Our VPN will serve one purpose. To keep you personal data away from prying eyes while you are on public WiFi or Cellular networks.
If that still isn’t enough, another added benefit of this setup is that you might be able to visit those sites at work that IT department bans. Facebook for example. Your results might vary depending on how they set up their firewall.
Lastly a benefit that people have been noticing most recently is that because you are running your own VPN at your on IP in the US that Netflix will not block your VPN connection if you are streaming from another country.
So Expats in say France can VPN in to their private Digital Ocean, VPN and watch American Netflix with Netflix being none the wiser. Very cool!
Now that you see the value. I will show you how you to create your own super easily.
1. You need a Linux box that you have root access to. I use Digital Ocean for $5 a month, (Disclaimer: Affiliate Link), but feel free to use anything from a spare Raspberry Pi, to an Amazon server but this guide will assume you are using Digital Ocean but these instructions should work for pretty much any Linux box that you have control over.
2. Create a “Droplet”, the smallest size is fine, choose whatever location you want and for distribution choose Debian 8 x32 (32 bit is actually faster here).
3. SSH into your new server with the credentials provided to you by Digital Ocean.
4. Update your repos. Hit Y to install when prompted.
sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade
5. Download the VPN software with this command.
(Updated with latest version, May 2016)
6. Open the package
sudo dpkg -i openvpn-as-2.1.4-Debian8.i386.deb
7. Set a password for new user “openvpn”
sudo passwd openvpn
8. Log in to the admin with any modern web browser, your user name will be openvpn and the password will be the one you just created.
9. Download the “Yourself (user-locked profile)” profile from the list. Make sure you choose “login” and not “connect”.
10. Download VPN Client software. There are many free options out there, including from OpenVPN themselves but I really like Viscosity which is $9.
11. Install and open the software.
12. Add a new connection from file, using your just downloaded client.ovpn file.
13. Enter your login credentials.
15. Enjoy your hot new VPN action. You will notice you still have 80% of your normal website speed. A bit faster than your average VPN eh?
Lastly if there is enough interest. I can show you how to change your encryption to 256 bit encryption, but this slows things down a bit, or how to add it to your iPhone/iPad. Let me know and I can add it.