WireGuard – Linux Based VPN Server for iOS

Okay, I lied. WireGuard won’t just run on Linux for the server side but that is what it was originally designed for. Linux is the first class citizen as the WireGuard implementation there exists within the kernel.

I also lied about the clients – it’ll work on nearly any OS. We have been using OpenVPN with great success with many customers for years. We have our own management software and my macOS Viscosity client (highly recommended) has over 30 endpoints at this time. For various reasons, we use tap interfaces which just do not work for iOS.

I came across WireGuard a while ago and was intrigued by some of it’s design principles. Specifically:

  • UDP only (I remain, to this day, completely bewildered and baffled by any VPN running over TCP – yes, Mikrotik, I’m looking at your OpenVPN implementation);
  • how it presents as a simple network interface (and thus is configured via the normal iproute2 tools such as ip); and
  • its ssh-like public/private key exchange mechanism.

But I turned away as it stated that it was still a work in progress. It still states this but it looks pretty mature. Two gaps I have with OpenVPN right now seem to be filled by WireGuard: simple just works client for Apple iOS; and easy set-up mechanism for small deployments (e.g. I just want to get remote access to my home server without setting up a certificate authority or using static keys).

So, let’s look at setting up a server (Linux) / client (iOS) with WireGuard. As usual, I’m running the latest Ubuntu LTS on my server – in this case 18.04.

Important note about VPNs and dual-stack networks: many VPNs only work on IPv4. When using such VPNs on a foreign network with IPv6 support, you will only be protected for traffic that transit the IPv4 VPN. Any traffic that works over IPv6 will not go through your VPN – and today, this is a good chunk of traffic. The configuration below assumes your server is dual-stacked – which, today, it should be.

Note also in the examples below, I am using Google’s public DNS. You should install your own DNS resolver on your VPN server rather than using a third party one.

As WireGuard routes packets to and from its encrypted interface, you will need to ensure packet forward is enabled on your server:

sysctl net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
sysctl net.ipv6.conf.all.forwarding=1

Make this permanent by editing /etc/sysctl.conf.

Install WireGuard using its PPA via:

add-apt-repository ppa:wireguard/wireguard
apt-get update
apt-get install wireguard

WireGuard uses DKMS to build the module for the kernel you are running. It would be useful to do a dist-upgrade and reboot before installing this to put yourself on the latest kernel.

The installation of WireGuard above will install and build the kernel module, install the tools and create the /etc/wireguard directory. Let’s go there now and create keys for the server:

cd /etc/wireguard
# create a private server key:
wg genkey >server-private.key
chmod go-rwx server-private.key
# and create a public key from the private key:
cat server-private.key | wg pubkey >server-public.key

We may as well get ahead of ourselves and generate a key pair for our iOS client now also. When we’ve generated the configuration for the server and client, we can delete these key files from the server. In fact you should do this.

wg genkey >client1-private.key
cat client1-private.key | wg pubkey >client1-public.key

Now let’s create the server side configuration in /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf:

[Interface]
Address = 10.97.98.1/24, fd80:10:97:98::1/64
SaveConfig = false
DNS = 8.8.8.8, 2a00:1450:400b:c01::8b
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = <contents of server-private.key>

# client1
[Peer]
PublicKey = <contents of client1-public.key>
AllowedIPs = 10.97.98.2/32, fd80:10:97:98::2/64

Again, chmod go-rwx wg0.conf.

The IPv6 addresses chosen above are unique local addresses (rfc4193) – similar to RFC1918 private addresses in IPv4. When choosing your IPv6 ULA, use a prefix generator such as this one. As we are using ULA addresses, we have to NAT IPv6. I hate doing this but it makes the example simple. If you have routable IPv6 addresses, try and use a real prefix without NAT.

You can now bring the tunnel up and down using the useful utility commands: wg-quick up wg0 and wg-quick down wg0. But you’ll probably want to enable them on systemd for auto-start on system boot:

systemctl enable wg-quick@wg0
systemctl start wg-quick@wg0

When up and running, you can examine the interface with ifconfig wg0 and see the state of clients with just wg:

# ifconfig wg0
wg0: flags=209<UP,POINTOPOINT,RUNNING,NOARP>  mtu 1420
        inet 10.97.98.1  netmask 255.255.255.0  destination 10.97.98.1
        inet6 fd80:10:97:98::1  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        unspec 00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00  txqueuelen 1000  (UNSPEC)
        RX packets 0  bytes 0 (0.0 B)
        RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 0  bytes 0 (0.0 B)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0
# wg
interface: wg0
  public key: w29jZeurXAcABTTvA0V5pIOgK8jUZuYxNE9dCciN7Q8=
  private key: (hidden)
  listening port: 51821

peer: WrZzlF0fjMWKFqn/krqPrdyfYnlshLMwDNNiweEocRE=
  allowed ips: 10.97.98.2/32, fd80:10:97:98::2/128

WireGuard has an iOS client – download it from the AppStore here. One of its most useful features is the ability to add a configuration via a QR code (you will need to apt install qrencode on your server). Let’s create a client configuration in a text file on the server now:

[Interface]
PrivateKey = <contents of client1-private.key>
Address = 10.97.98.2/24, fd80:10:97:98::2/64
DNS = 8.8.8.8, 2a00:1450:400b:c01::8b

[Peer]
PublicKey = <contents of server-public.key>
Endpoint = <server-ip/hostname>:51820
AllowedIPs = 0.0.0.0/0, ::/0

Then generate the qrcode and display to screen with: qrencode -t ansiutf8 <client.conf. You’ll be able to import it by pointing your phone at the screen. Sample QR code:

There’s still a couple things you need to do to make this all work: allow UDP packets in your firewall and allow the forwarding and NATing of tunnelled traffic between the tunnel interface and the public internet facing interface(s). I don’t like to over-prescribe how to do this as there are different ways and different topologies. But let me give a basic example.

Start with allowing WireGuard traffic in your firewall – you need an iptables rules such as:

iptables  -A INPUT -p udp --dport 51820 -j ACCEPT
ip6tables -A INPUT -p udp --dport 51820 -j ACCEPT

For forwarding traffic, there are a number of options but the easiest is to use stateful rules to allow established / related traffic and assume everything coming in your encrypted tunnelled WireGuard interfaces is okay:

iptables -A FORWARD -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A FORWARD -i wg+ -j ACCEPT

ip6tables -A FORWARD -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
ip6tables -A FORWARD -i wg+ -j ACCEPT

Lastly, for NAT – and assuming eth0 is your public interface, use:

iptables  -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth+ -s 10.97.98.0/24 -j MASQUERADE
ip6tables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth+ -s fd80:10:97:98::/64 -j MASQUERADE

Finally, test your set-up works for IPv4 and IPv6 using sites such as ipv6-test.com or ipleak.net.

You can add more peers by editing /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf and then restarting the tunnel interface via systemctl restart wg-guard@wg0. This will briefly disrupt existing tunnel traffic but it’s the simplest method. There are ways to add new tunnels on the command line but you need to remember to keep the configuration file in sync.

A Brief History of IXP Manager

For another INEX project, I was asked to put together a timeline for IXP Manager – an open source application for managing Internet eXchange Points. Reproduced here:

IXP Manager was originally a web portal written in PHP by Nick Hilliard in 2005. It was a basic database frontend that just did fairly simple CRUD (CReate, Update, Delete operations) and allowed our members to log in and view their traffic usage graphs.

Around this was a ton of Perl scripts that sucked that data out of the the database and created configuration files for route collectors, graphing, monitoring, etc.

The major achievement of Nick’s original system was the database design (the schema). The core of that schema is still the core of IXP Manager over 10 years later.

I started in INEX in 2007 and started to expand IXP Manager using what was becoming a more modern web development paradigm – Model/View/Controller with a framework called Zend Framework.

There wasn’t a grand plan here – it was just “as we needed” organic growth over the coming years.

In 2010 we decided what we had was actually pretty good and could be very useful for other IXPs. We got committee approval to open source the software and we released IXP Manager V2 in 2010 under the GPL2 license (GNU Public License v2).

This license essentially means anyone can use the software free of charge but also that they should contribute back improvements that they may make. The idea being that INEX would eventually benefit from other IXPs contributing to the project.

Open sourcing a project doesn’t mean it’ll be successful though! What we didn’t do in 2010 was put infrastructure around it such as: presentations at IXP conferences, mailing lists for user support, decent documentation, etc.

We corrected all that and re-released an updated version called IXP Manager v3 in 2012. This time it took off! We also started collaborating with ISOC (The Internet Society) around this time to help start-up IXPs (mainly eastern Europe and Africa) use IXP Manager.

Some established IXPs also contributed money towards development of missing features – most notably LONAP in the UK – and these new features fed back into INEX.

We’ve worked hard on v3 and it’s developed well since with many new features and improvements. Sometime in late 2016 – maybe even this month – we’ll release v4 which is a major leap forward again and should hopefully attract new users and developers.

INEX is very well regarded in the IXP community as an exchange that is well run and both operates and teaches best practice. All of what we’ve learnt running a good exchange has fed into IXP Manager and it helps those IXPs that use it to implement those same good practices. IXP Manager has helped raise INEX’s reputation even further.

Lately we’ve begun to realise that as a small team we can’t do it all ourselves – the more exchanges that use it, the more requests for help and features we receive and as a result, new developments take a back seat.

To try and improve this we launched a new website in 2016 – http://www.ixpmanager.org/ – and issued a call for sponsorship so we could hire a full time developer. The ‘we’ here by the way is my and Nick’s own company – Island Bridge Networks. We’re doing this on a purely cost recovery basis. I’m delighted to say we’ve just about reached our funding goal with three top line sponsors all contributing about €20k each – ISOC, Netflix and SwissIX. The hiring process has now begun!

I’m also delighted to say that there are 33 exchanges around the world using IXP Manager /that we know of/.

Nagios Plugin to Check Extreme Networks Devices

Over at INEX we’ve embarked on a forklift upgrade of the primary peering LAN using Extreme Networks Summit x670’s and x460’s. As usual, we need to monitor these 24/7 and we have just written a new Extreme Networks chassis monitoring script which should work with most Extreme devices.

It will check and generate alerts on the following items:

  • a warning if the device was recently rebooted;
  • a warning / critical if any found temperature sensors are in a non-normal state;
  • a warning / critical if any found fans are in a non-normal state;
  • a warning / critical if any found PSUs are in a non-normal state (or missing);
  • a warning / critical if the 5 sec CPU utilisation is above set thresholds;
  • a warning / critical if the memory utilisation is above set thresholds.

You’ll find the script in this Github repository: barryo/nagios-plugins.

A some verbose output follows:

OS X Built-in tftp Server

Turned out to be very useful during a recent RMA maintenance window:

The default tftp file path is /private/tftpboot. [Original source]

You can stop it with:

And, speaking of tftp – there are some interesting projects on GitHub: hooktftp, php-tftpserver and ptftpd.

IXP Manager – Planning for v4

A lot has changed in the 3 to 5 years that the decision was made to use certain libraries / technologies / methods on IXP Manager.

In previous major version changes we made some serious architecture changes in one sweep. For example v2 -> v3 saw the complete migration from Doctrine ORM v1 to v2 (which was a change from the Active Record pattern to the Data Mapper pattern).

Today, IXP Manager is a very large project and to do such a sweeping migration in one go would stifle development, break something that isn’t actually broken and take a lot of time.

But, sticking with older technologies and libraries has negative effects also. It creates developer apathy (for which I can personally vouch for). It also provides a major stumbling block for bringing on new developers and contributors (who wants to learn Zend Framework 1 now which has been EOL’d for sometime?).

So, our plan for v4 is to bring in new technologies without throwing away or rewriting everything we have.

IXP Manager is a MVC application that currently uses Doctrine2 as the Model, Smarty as the View and ZF1 as the Controller. Doctrine2 is still current and won’t be changing.

Smarty will remain as the view engine for current / unmigrated functionality. But Smarty is… oh my God… soooooo bad. v4 will default to Twig which is more modern and far better structured from a programming point of view. Coupled with the new framework, it will also allow for a nicer means of skinning. For the interested, Twig has some very nice features including layouts, macros and also some nice security features.

ZF1 has served us well but it’s been EOL’d and is now quite outdated. The new hotness in PHP is Laravel, which I’ve been using to great effect for a while now. Laravel show cases some of the new and best functionality of PHP and using very modern techniques (such as IoC).

But more importantly, Laravel will let us do things in a much different and much more flexible manner for the IXPs using IXP Manager. Some of these include:

  •  Job queues: built-in and simple (to use) support for job queues via Beanstalkd and others. Queuing jobs will provide functionality that we at INEX have been looking for (and it’s also an FAQ from other IXPs) -> reconfiguring services on demand (or, at least quicker than a twice daily cronjob).

Put this together with:

  • Events: Laravel allows us to trigger events and subscribe to them.

A key example of queue and event functionality would be that a change to a VLAN interface (such as checking the route server client box) would trigger a vlan interface changed event. One subscriber to this event would be the route server configuration manager. Based on the VLAN change, this event handler can then queue events. The route servers themselves would monitor these queues and rebuild / reconfigure the route servers appropriately on demand.

Similar handlers for route collectors, DNS ARPA changes, etc. can offer much more real time control of all the services at an IXP.

IoC decouples logic from the controller. What this means is that IXPs who want to do things differently than INEX (let’s say use Cacti instead of MRTG as an example), can swap out MRTG with Cacti with one line of code (that’s assuming we write contracts – interfaces – for such handlers and a Cacti version is coded of course!). But that’s the kind of power and flexibility we’re looking to bring in.

Other features Laravel provides includes:

  • Much improved unit testing on controller actions. Right now, we spin up Apache and MySQL to test controller actions. This is no longer required with Laravel making tests easier to write, more robust and more focused with built in support for mock objects.
  • A much nicer and more structured way of creating command line interfaces rather than the quite clunky way we have of doing it currently.
  • A much more natural way to develop REST API endpoints with json:api compatible responses.

And that leads us to the front end. Right now, the front end and the back end are tightly coupled. During the development lifetime of v4, we want to move more towards an API is Everything back end with a decoupled front end.

This separation will again aid unit testing providing a more reliable and robust IXP Manager. It will allow other IXPs to create their own front end on member facing portals or, even, move to IXP Manager as their back end system but retaining investment of current member portals by adding new features from IXP Manager through API endpoints. It will also allow existing systems in IXPs to integrate with IXP Manager to provision services and ports for example.

One of the bigger tests of this plan will be the (long awaited and badly needed) revamp of the member facing area. We’re currently planning the UI / UX of this to deliver key information to members in the best way possible. This will include Bootstrap v3 which is fluid from the ground up so mobile browsers to wide screen browsers should be supported naturally.

During the early stages of v4, we’ll create the API endpoints necessary to support the member portal functions and then create a front end on that using Ember.js.

Other changes in v4 will include:

  • A switch from package management via Git sub-modules to composer and Packagist as is current standard practice.
  • Introduction of Bower for front end asset management.
  • And we’ll need a task runner for pulling everything together – for that we’ll use Grunt (although that’ll mostly be a development / release prep tool rather than an end user requirement).

So, that’s what we’re looking at! It won’t happen overnight but we’ll continue our policy of release early, release often and we’ll update the documentation and provide complete upgrade instructions at the appropriate times. Some of the above is also subject to change depending on practical experience / issues as we move towards it.

Comments, ideas, etc. are all welcome.