tinyapps.org / docs / Enable VPN server in OS X for remote access via iPhone, Windows, and OS X clients


This guide outlines how to enable the built-in VPN service (vpnd) in client versions of OS X, as Apple has neglected to mention (let alone explain) the possibility under non-server editions of OS X. Standard disclaimer applies, as always: You are 100% responsible for your own actions. Using this guide, visiting a link, downloading a program, in short, living, is done entirely at your own risk (and joy).

I. Diagram of Example Network

OS X VPN network diagram

The domain name and IP addresses above are for example purposes only and will likely differ on your networks.

II. Enabling vpnd on the iMac

  1. Download iVPN-2.4b.zip and iVPN-Help-2.4b.pdf (the source code is also available: iVPN-2.4b-src.zip).
  2. Copy iVPN.app to your Applications folder
  3. Launch iVPN.app
  4. Click "No" when asked about downloading the new version
  5. Click the PPTP button to disable PPTP
  6. Click the L2TP button to enable L2TP
  7. Enter a username, password, and shared secret. Do not lose these.
  8. Optionally select "Store in Keychain"
  9. For the IP Address Range, choose a range of IP addresses in your LAN that you will reserve for VPN clients. In this example, we'll use 192.168.50.200 - 192.168.50.204.
  10. Our router in this example is 192.168.50.1, the subnet mask is 255.255.255.0, our primary DNS server is 192.168.50.1, and we'll use one of the OpenDNS servers for our secondary: 208.67.222.222
  11. Click "On" to enable the VPN server and enter your OS X user password when prompted.
  12. We can now check "Start server at boot time" if desired (this option uses the deprecated but functional /Library/StartupItems)
  13. Quit iVPN. You should never need to open it again, as its only purpose is to configure/enable vpnd.

III. Port forwarding

  1. You may need to enable VPN passthrough on your router and/or forward the following UDP ports to the VPN server: 500, 1701, 4500. For help with port forwarding, see PortForward.com.

III. Connecting to VPN from iPhone, Windows, or OS X

  1. The aforementioned PDF has detailed instructions for connecting to your VPN from iPhone, Windows, and Mac OS X. Make sure to follow the L2TP instructions.
  2. You'll need to know the public IP address or domain name of the modem/router. If you don't have a static IP address, you may want to setup a dynamic DNS account.

IV. Notes


last update: 2011.09.01