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How can I setup VPN Server on Linux using Streisand?. You finally got connected to the internet, your smile is from ear to ear and your joy cannot be concealed. We get it, you now have the chance to read, to view and to watch all that the internet has to offer. Later along the road you realize there are some content that you are not privy to because your ISP has blocked the content or some policy governing your geographical region does not allow. What do you do? For some people, that is the end of the road and they will prefer to be content with the content they already have but for others, they would rather let curiosity kill them.

If you fall on the latter category, this guide introduces a tool that will not only protect your public IP but allow you to access content that is available in other countries. Streisand VPN is its name. We shall look at its features then go ahead with steps involved to get it installed.

Features of Streisand

  • A single command sets up a brand new Ubuntu 16.04 server running a wide variety of anti-censorship software that can completely mask and encrypt all of your Internet traffic.
  • Streisand natively supports the creation of new servers at Amazon EC2, Azure, DigitalOcean, Google Compute Engine, Linode, and Rackspace—with more providers coming soon! It also runs on any Ubuntu 16.04 server regardless of provider, and hundreds of instances can be configured simultaneously using this method.
  • The process is completely automated and only takes about ten minutes, which is pretty awesome when you consider that it would require the average system administrator several days of frustration to set up even a small subset of what Streisand offers in its out-of-the-box configuration.
  • Once your Streisand server is running, you can give the custom connection instructions to friends, family members, and fellow activists. The connection instructions contain an embedded copy of the server’s unique SSL certificate, so you only have to send them a single file.
  • Each server is entirely self-contained and comes with absolutely everything that users need to get started, including cryptographically verified mirrors of all common clients. This renders any attempted censorship of default download locations completely ineffective.
  • And much more

Sreisand is rich in features and before we get it installed, let us see the stuff it needs from us first.

Streisand Prerequisites

The following must be met before Streisand can be installed

  • SSH key: Make sure an SSH public key is present in ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub. We shall generate it in the installation steps. SSH keys are a more secure alternative to passwords that allow you to prove your identity to a server or service built on public key cryptography. The public key is something that you can give to others, whereas the private key should be kept secret (like a password).
  • Packages: Streisand requires Git, and Python 3.5 or later
  • The Streisand builder requires a Linux, macOS, or BSD system. Ubuntu on the Windows Subsystem For Linux (WSL) should work too.
  • The Streisand existing or localhost server must be running Ubuntu 16.04 (I know!!)

We have been well acquainted with the information we need to build this house and we shall therefore jump into it by following the steps below. Note that we are going to use two machines to setup Streisand. One is our local server which should be running Linux or macOS or Ubuntu in WSL and the other is preferably a server purring in the Cloud in Amazon, Azure, DigitalOcean, Google Compute Engine, Linode, or Rackspace. The local server will be referred to as the builder server.

The reason for this is because Streisand is based on Ansible, an automation tool that is typically used to provision and configure files and packages on remote servers. Streisand automatically sets up another server with the VPN packages and configuration.

Our setup will be based on the following image

streisand setup diagram

Step 1: Prepare Server and install all dependencies

In this step, we shall get everything we need for the entire installation process installed. Run the commands below to get everything ready on the builder server (your local machine)

-----Ubuntu-----

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install git python3 python3-venv python3-pip python3-dev python3-setuptools python-cffi  libcurl4-openssl-dev -y

----- Fedora -----
sudo dnf update
sudo dnf install git python3 gcc python3-devel python3-crypto \
     python3-pycurl libcurl-devel -y

-----CentOS 7-----
sudo yum -y update && sudo yum install -y epel-release
sudo yum -y update && sudo yum install -y \
    git gcc python36-devel python36-crypto python36-pycurl \
    libcurl-devel

-----macOS-----
brew install python3

Step 2: Generate SSH Public Keys

We need authentication via keys between our local machine and the server sitting in the cloud. You can easily generate ssh keys as follows. Enter another file in which to save the key if you do not like the default. You can leave the passphrase empty.

$ ssh-keygen

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/vagrant/.ssh/id_rsa): 
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): 
Enter same passphrase again: 
Your identification has been saved in /home/vagrant/.ssh/id_rsa
Your public key has been saved in /home/vagrant/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
The key fingerprint is:
SHA256:Rb1qJGIsTi9X+wtVlCChmQbH9bXtSyI2fD8xjsDMtvk [email protected]    
The key's randomart image is:
+---[RSA 3072]----+
|    ....+.ooo.   |
|     o.+ + ooo   |
|     .=   o o..  |
|    o.+ o*....   |
|   o + oS+%.o =  |
|    o o .+oB * + |
|     o  .oo . =  |
|         ...   . |
|          ..E    |
+----[SHA256]-----+

Copy the public key to the remote server

In order for authentication via keys to happen, we have to copy the public key we just generated above to the remote server where Streisand will be installed. To do so, run the ssh-copy-id command as follows.

$ ssh-copy-id <remote-user>@<server-ip>

##For example
$ ssh-copy-id [email protected]
[email protected]'s password: <Enter-remote-user-password>
Number of key(s) added: 1
Now try logging into the machine, with:   "ssh '[email protected]'"
and check to make sure that only the key(s) you wanted were added.

Now we are good to go. You can test if you can be logged in automatically without a password

$ ssh [email protected]<server-ip>
##For example
ssh [email protected]

Step 3: Clone Streisand’s repository and prepare for installation

On your local machine, clone Streisand’s repository and prepare to install the server

$ cd ~
$ git clone https://github.com/StreisandEffect/streisand.git
$ cd streisand

Run the installer for Ansible and its dependencies. The installer will detect missing packages, and print the commands needed to install them. (Ignore the Python 2.7 DEPRECATION warning; ignore the warning from python-novaclient that pbr 5.1.3 is incompatible.) If all packages it needs are present, it will proceed to install necessary tools it needs so that installation of Streisand goes smoothly

$ ./util/venv-dependencies.sh ./venv
Found a python3 command....
This system appears to be running Ubuntu or Debian. Checking
for critical packages.

Found: build-essential
Found: python3-pip
Found: python3-openssl
Found: python3-dev
Found: python3-setuptools
Found: python3-venv
Found: python-cffi
Found: libffi-dev
Found: libssl-dev
Found: libcurl4-openssl-dev
Found all critical packages.

In case you find any missing packages in the output, kindly install them depending on the environment your local machine is on.

Step 4: Install Streisand

While still in the same Streisand cloned directory, activate the Ansible packages that were installed in the previous step as follows

source ./venv/bin/activate

Then execute the Streisand script. You should see an output as shown below the command. Choose where your server sits. For this example, I will go with “Existing Server

$ ./streisand

S T R E I S A N D  

Created new Streisand home directory: /home/vagrant/.streisand
Created new Streisand site vars file: /home/vagrant/.streisand/site.yml
Which provider are you using?  
  1. Amazon
  2. Azure
  3. DigitalOcean
  4. Google
  5. Linode
  6. Rackspace
  7. localhost (Advanced)      
  8. Existing Server (Advanced)
:8

What is the IP of the existing server: 172.25.166.153

THIS WILL OVERWRITE CONFIGURATION ON THE EXISTING SERVER.
STREISAND ASSUMES 172.25.166.153 IS A BRAND NEW UBUNTU INSTANCE AND WILL
NOT PRESERVE EXISTING CONFIGURATION OR DATA.

ARE YOU 100% SURE THAT YOU WISH TO CONTINUE?

Please enter the word 'streisand' to continue: streisand

Confirmed. Continuing

Do you wish to customize which services Streisand will install?
By saying 'no' Streisand will use the settings configured in /home/vagrant/.streisand/site.yml

Press enter to customize your installation:

Confirmed. Customizing Streisand services.


 [WARNING]: Found both group and host with same name: localhost

Enter the path to your SSH private key, or press enter for default  [~/.ssh/id_rsa]:
How many VPN client profiles should be generated per-service (min: 1 max: 20)? Press enter for default  [10]:
Enable DNS-based ad-blocking? Press enter for default  [no]:
Enable OpenConnect? Press enter for default  [yes]:
Enable OpenVPN? Press enter for default  [yes]:
Enable stunnel service (only allowed for OpenVPN)? Press enter for default  [yes]:
Enable Shadowsocks? Press enter for default  [yes]: 
Enable v2ray-plugin for Shadowsocks? Press enter for default  [no]: 
Enable SSH Forward User? (Note: A SOCKS proxy only user will be added, no shell). Press enter for default  [yes]:
Enable sshuttle? (Note: A full shell access user will be added) Press enter for default  [no]:
Enable tinyproxy? Press enter for default  [yes]:
Enable Tor? Press enter for default  [no]:    
Enable WireGuard? Press enter for default  [yes]: 
[BROKEN ON SOME PROVIDERS, including AWS] Enable DNS-over-HTTPS (cloudflared)? Press enter for default  [no]:

Once Ansible Play begins, pay key attention to the questions and options you will be required to input as the installation goes on. Sample installation progress output is shown below

PLAY [Prepare the new server for Ansible] ************************************************
TASK [Install Python using a raw SSH command to enable the execution of Ansible modules] ***
changed: [localhost]

PLAY [Try to detect Cloud providers for specific overrides] ******************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] *******************************************************************
ok: [localhost]

TASK [Install dmidecode to use for BIOS version detection] *******************************
 [WARNING]: Updating cache and auto-installing missing dependency: python-apt

 [WARNING]: Could not find aptitude. Using apt-get instead

ok: [localhost]

TASK [Try to determine localhost Cloud provider name from BIOS version] ******************
ok: [localhost]

TASK [Set BIOS name fact from dmidecode if possible] *************************************
ok: [localhost]

TASK [...Otherwise set unknown BIOS fact] ************************************************
skipping: [localhost]

TASK [Warn about manual provisioning of GCE instances] ***********************************
skipping: [localhost]

TASK [Find the external GCE IP from Google Metadata] *************************************
skipping: [localhost]

TASK [Set the Streiand IPv4 address to the GCE external IP: {{ streisand_gce_external_ip.stdout }}] ***
skipping: [localhost]

TASK [Warn about manual provisioning of EC2 instances] ***********************************
skipping: [localhost]

TASK [Find the external EC2 IP from Metadata] ********************************************
skipping: [localhost]

TASK [Set the Streiand IPv4 address to the EC2 external IP: {{ streisand_ec2_external_ip.stdout }}] ***
skipping: [localhost]

PLAY [Prepare the localhost for Streisand] ***********************************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] *******************************************************************
ok: [localhost]

TASK [set_fact] **************************************************************************
ok: [localhost]

TASK [Set the Streisand IPv4 address to the Ansible default: interface: eth0 address: 172.25.168.96] ***
ok: [localhost]

PLAY [Prepare the new server for Ansible] ************************************************

TASK [Install Python using a raw SSH command to enable the execution of Ansible modules] ***
changed: [localhost]
Do you have a fully qualified domain pointed at your Streisand server?

This is an optional question. If you have a domain that points to your
Streisand server, the installation scripts can request a Let's Encrypt
HTTPS certificate for you automatically.  If you do not provide one or
the request fails, a self-signed certificate will be used instead.

If you have just created a new cloud server in previous steps now is a
good time to point your fully qualified domain to your server's public
address. Make sure the fully qualified domain resolves to the correct IP
address before proceeding.

Please type your fully qualified domain below. Press enter to skip.
:
Which email address do you want to use as a contact for the Streisand
server's Let's Encrypt certificate?

This is an optional question. If you supply an email address Let's
Encrypt will send you important (but infrequent) notifications about
your certificate. These messages include any upcoming certificate
expirations, and important changes to the Let's Encrypt service.
The email provided will not be used for anything else or shared with the
Streisand developers.

Please type your contact email below. Press enter to skip.
: [email protected]
TASK [Set Streisand admin email] *********************************************************
ok: [localhost]

TASK [Enable Let's Encrypt role] *********************************************************
skipping: [localhost]

TASK [Disable Let's Encrypt role] ********************************************************
ok: [localhost]

PLAY [Collect diagnostics in case of error] **********************************************

TASK [diagnostics : Determine the git revision of the current Streisand clone] ***********
ok: [localhost]

TASK [diagnostics : Determine if there are untracked changes in the Streisand clone] *****
ok: [localhost]

TASK [diagnostics : Produce the diagnostics markdown file to share if there is an error] ***
changed: [localhost]

PLAY [Configure the Server and install required software] ********************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] *******************************************************************
ok: [localhost]

In case you experience the error provided below during installation

TASK [gpg : Refresh the Streisand GPG keyring with keyserver information] ***********************************************************************************

FAILED - RETRYING: Refresh the Streisand GPG keyring with keyserver information (10 retries left).
FAILED - RETRYING: Refresh the Streisand GPG keyring with keyserver information (9 retries left).

Do the following. Open “~/streisand/playbooks/roles/gpg/tasks/main.yml” file and look for line 89 and change the when filed to False

when: False

After that, update the OpenVPN Signing Key in “~/streisand/playbooks/roles/openvpn/files/openvpn_signing.key” and “~/streisand/playbooks/roles/test-client/files/openvpn_signing.key” with the latest one below. Backup the files and create new ones with the same name

$ vim ~/streisand/playbooks/roles/openvpn/files/openvpn_signing.key


-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

mQENBE45PsIBCAC2K2LRZPQIUmJlCDKcncfR6vok2wowDpGpHZffvEEoUj/DoocR
LLpPHR5RB1zMWIs2IjF8vOtXMCBguDgtEvQTh6p6DM3D1fTnYp3pPlQyyzAuC81v
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-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

This is a fix after an issue was raised in this GitHub Page. You can review it.

At the same breath, in case you want Wireguard installed, its packages are part of standard repositories so you will have to comment lines 7 through 13 of “~/streisand/playbooks/roles/wireguard/tasks/install.yml” file as illustrated below.

---
- name: Determine the running kernel release
  command: uname -r
  register: kernel_release

#- name: Add the WireGuard PPA
#  apt_repository:
#    repo: 'ppa:wireguard/wireguard'
#  register: wireguard_add_apt_repository
#  until: not wireguard_add_apt_repository.failed
#  retries: "{{ apt_repository_retries }}"
#  delay: "{{ apt_repository_delay }}"

- name: Install the WireGuard packages
  apt:
    package:
      - linux-headers-{{ kernel_release.stdout }}
      - linux-headers-generic
      - wireguard-dkms
      - wireguard-tools

Or else, you will get this error

TASK [wireguard : Add the WireGuard PPA] *****************************************************************************************************************************************************************
FAILED - RETRYING: Add the WireGuard PPA (10 retries left).
FAILED - RETRYING: Add the WireGuard PPA (9 retries left).
FAILED - RETRYING: Add the WireGuard PPA (8 retries left).

Then re-run the ./streisand command once again.

$ ./streisand

When everything is over, you will see the final TASK message as:

TASK [streisand-gateway : Success!] ***********************************************************************
[streisand-gateway : Success!]
Server setup is complete. The `vagrant-dev.html` instructions file in the generated-docs folder is ready to give to friends, family members, and fellow activists. Press Enter to continue.:

Step 5: Configure your clients

Once Streisand completes installation, you will find complete instructions to setup clients in “~/streisand/generated-docs” directory. Especially in “vagrant-dev.html” file. Below the file, you will also find how to login to your streisand instance where you will get the same documentation.

streisand html login

Login by pointing your browser to https://IP-or-FQDN of your server. You will get a login prompt. Enter the username and password found at the bottom the file

streisand documentation login

And you will be ushered into the documentation page. Therein you will find various ways that you can connect to your Streisand Gateway server using various clients.

streisand documentation

References: Streisand GitHub Page

Concluding Remarks

Once you connect to your Streisand Gateway server, your IP is protected and you can access restricted content found in other countries. Get naughty this festive season by installing Streisand which incoporates Ansible in its installation and see the results that you will get. As you celebrate with the ones you care about, we continue to appreciate your relentless support and we wish you a marvelous time. Do not forget to keep safe.

Other guides that pop your eyes include:

Install and Configure Pritunl VPN server on Ubuntu

Connect To VPN Server with Cisco AnyConnect from Linux Terminal

The Necessity of Installing a VPN both on Computer and Smartphone

Install and Configure OpenVPN Server on RHEL 8 / CentOS 8

Algo VPN – Setup a personal IPSEC VPN in the Cloud

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