Setup a WireGuard server using systemd-networkd
Please check out «Setup a WireGuard client using systemd-networkd» to learn about client-side configuration of your Linux machine.
WireGuard is an extremely simple, fast and modern VPN that is built into Linux kernel 5.6 (released on Mar 29, 2020) and above. It mimics the model of SSH and requires VPN peers to know each others public keys. I highly recommend to read https://www.wireguard.com regardless of this post.
When it comes to WireGuard, there's one interesting aspect: it has no notion of 'server', it's distributed by design and no blockchain is involved. Blockchain enthusiasts may found this surprising but distributed software were invented long before the blockchain 😅. Each peer may connect to other peers assuming they know each other (i.e. public key, IP) and there's a connectivity between them. The 'server' is rather a behaviour one may expect from a certain peer. There are 3 key points that are normally expected from a 'server' peer:
- The peer is publicly available, so other peers may connect to it even when behind SNAT.
- The peer can act as a proxy and connect other peers into a single network.
- The peer can act as a gateway to the Internet.
There are number of ways to configure WireGuard on a Linux machine. My favorite one is to use systemd-networkd, a system service that manages both networks and network devices. It's distributed as part of systemd suite, so most likely you have it installed, and it supports WireGuard starting with v237. It's a good choice for a Linux server because it requires no extra software.
For instance we want to setup the following VPN network:
First thing to do is to set up a virtual network device for a WireGuard tunnel.
This can be achieved by means of a systemd.netdev(5) unit
that must be created in
/etc/systemd/network/ directory. The WireGuard
network device must know about number of things:
- The port to accept new connections on.
- The private key of the server.
- The list of known peers and their public keys.
This is how some
/etc/systemd/network/wg0.netdev could look like:
[NetDev] Name=wg0 Kind=wireguard Description=wg0 - wireguard tunnel [WireGuard] ListenPort=51820 PrivateKeyFile=/etc/systemd/network/wg0.key [WireGuardPeer] AllowedIPs=10.0.0.20/32 PublicKey=9vzzasvYciJLmhjrt9Aj9aQYe1gnUxI44ShVLQPrDQA= [WireGuardPeer] AllowedIPs=10.0.0.30/32 PublicKey=9vzzasvYciJLmhjrt9Aj9aQYe1gnUxI44ShVLQPrDQA=
The content of
/etc/systemd/network/wg0.key can be generated by invoking
$ wg genkey command and must be readable by the
What's notable here is that
$ wg genkey can be executed anywhere, even on
your laptop, there's no need to install extra software on the server.
Next thing to do is to use a systemd.network(5) unit to setup a network. The purpose of the network is to assign a proper IP address on the network device, set proper routes and so on.
This how some
/etc/systemd/network/wg0.network could look like:
[Match] Name=wg0 [Network] Address=10.0.0.1/24 IPMasquerade=both
There are couple of things to note:
/24network mask is used, systemd-networkd will automatically add a route for the whole network to be routed via the WireGuard tunnel. Without that mask, it'd be up to a user to properly configure routing on the system.
IPMasqueradesetting is only needed if the server is expected to be used as a gateway to the Internet. Without this option, it'd be up to a user to properly configure the firewall.
When both the network device and the network are configured, the only remained
step is to run
$ networkctl reload to pipe in and apply latest configuration.