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How to set up VPN between ROS machines

asked 2011-08-29 00:08:20 -0500

felix k gravatar image

I have a Fedora14 machine on our robot and a Fedora14 workstation. High level and visualization nodes are run on the workstation. The communication is working unless I activate the firewalls.

I want to try to activate the firewalls and set up a VPN between those machines, as the network is a bigger one. So I'm needing a probably simple bidirectional VPN which forwards packets to each other machine through the VPN.

I never set up a VPN, and couldn't find instructions I get along with. Are there any advices how to proceed?

In the future another workstation may be introduced and needed simultaneously, if that's significant.

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answered 2011-08-30 02:54:31 -0500

Lorenz gravatar image

Setting up openvpn is actually really simple. I can summarize the steps for you.

First install openvpn via your package installation tool.

Now create a set of certificates that are used for authentication. The openvpn package should contain a directory easy-rsa somewhere, on ubuntu it's in /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/easy-rsa. Switch to it or one if it's subdirectories indicating a version and source the file vars. Please note that you need to execute all following commands as root because the keys are generated into /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/easy-rsa/2.0/keys. If you want to create the keys as a user, you need to copy the whole directory to a place you have write permissions for.

cd /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/easy-rsa/2.0
source vars

Then clear all previously generated keys and generate new ones:

./build-key-server server

This generates a certificate and a server key. Now you can either generate one key for each client or you can generate one key and use it for all clients, depending on how secure you want to have your system. To generate a key for the client, execute:

./build-key client

Finally you need to generate Diffie Hellman parameters:


Now copy everything that's related to the server to /etc/openvpn, the directory we will put the config in:

cp ca.crt ca.key dh1024.pem server.crt server.csr server.key /etc/openvpn

Finally, we need to create a config file for the server. Create /etc/openvpn/server.conf by copying (and maybe uncompressing) /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/server.conf or server.conf.gz.

The default config is based on routing and not bridging which should be fine for almost all cases. The default config should be fine already but if you want you can go through it and change some parameters. For instance, you might want to uncomment the parameters client-to-client and duplicate-cn. Test your config by executing openvpn by hand:

cd /etc/openvpn
openvpn ./server.conf

If it starts up correctly, you can let the system start up the server at boot time. Not sure how you do that on your system, but on Ubuntu you just edit /etc/default/openvpn and uncomment AUTOSTART="all".

Finally, you need a client config. Create a new directory somewhere and copy the files ca.crt, client.crt and client.key that we created during key generation into it. Then create the file client.conf and put the following lines into it:

dev tap
proto udp
remote <ip or domain of your server>
ca ca.crt
cert client.crt
key client.key
resolv-retry infinite
verb 3

Copy the directory to your client, switch into it and execute as root or with sudo:

openvpn client.conf

Now a connection should be established.

Please note that you need to set ROS_IP to the ip address of tap0. If you have several machines on the robot's network, you might also ... (more)

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There are lots of example configurations in @mjcarroll's answer. And I'll confirm it was noteably easier to setup than I expected when I tried it.
tfoote gravatar image tfoote  ( 2011-08-30 03:27:25 -0500 )edit
This is probably way more to-the-point than my answer. Everything seems pretty straightforward the way that @Lorenz has laid it out.
mjcarroll gravatar image mjcarroll  ( 2011-08-30 06:24:30 -0500 )edit

answered 2011-08-29 00:43:47 -0500

mjcarroll gravatar image

updated 2011-08-29 00:46:18 -0500

I believe the tool that you may be looking for is rosproxy.

Some beginning work has been done on it, but I don't think that development is on-going at the moment.

Another alternative is to use something like OpenVPN to bridge the two computers together. There are many resources available for this on the internet:

EDIT: Sorry, just saw you wanted FC

Hope that this helps.

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Those VPN links are as confusing as those I already found. Maybe I have to dig into openvpn mysticism or let it be. The proxy may reduce the opened/tunneled port to one, but I'm not convinced with that, thinking of performance and flexibility.
felix k gravatar image felix k  ( 2011-08-29 23:45:53 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2011-08-29 00:08:20 -0500

Seen: 7,487 times

Last updated: Aug 30 '11