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Roll your own Adblocking VPN

This is a how to guide to creating your own VPN server that also blocks malicious domains to enhance your security and privacy while browsing.

How does this work?

Quite simply, this guide will set you up with a Linux server that runs OpenVPN, with Dnsmasq, with a modified hosts file that routes offending sites to


  • You will need a Debian/CentOS/Ubuntu server to run your OpenVPN server on.
    • If you don't have one, you can get a low cost VPS from a provider like Bandwagon Host
    • Disclaimer: Wherever you get a server from, be sure you're obeying their TOS. I'm not responsible for anything you do from following this guide.


  1. Get OpenVPN installed on your server. For this, we will use Nyr's fantastic OpenVPN installer script
  • wget -O && bash
    • Follow the instructions to get it set up, it should take about 1 minute
    • It will generate an .ovpn file which you will use to connect to the VPN with from your client. We'll need this later on, so feel free to scp it to your client machine.
  1. Now we're going to overwrite our hosts file to route malicious domains to by using StevenBlack's amazing hosts project.
  • wget -O /etc/hosts
  1. Install Dnsmasq
  • sudo apt-get install dnsmasq
  1. We need to edit the dnsmasq config file to do a few things:
  • sudo vim /etc/dnsmasq.conf
    • Enable domain-needed and bogus-priv
    • Add in some alternative DNS servers (if you don't like the one provided by your host). For this example, we'll add Google DNS
    • Tell dnsmasq to listen on both localhost and to the subnet that OpenVPN created
  1. Edit the OpenVPN config file to resolve dhcp through dnsmasq
  • vim /etc/openvpn/server.conf
    • Add push "dhcp-option DNS"
    • Delete any other lines about "dhcp-option"
  1. Create a crontab entry that updates your hosts file every night at midnight:
  • crontab -e
    • Add the following line 0 0 * * * wget -O /etc/hosts && service openvpn restart
  1. Restart the services
  • sudo service dnsmasq restart && sudo service openvpn restart
  1. At this point, we have an OpenVPN server routing traffic through Dnsmasq, which is checking our hosts file for malicious hosts, and falling back to a DNS provider for non-malicious hosts. Using the .ovpn file from earlier, you can now connect to the VPN from your client.

Adding/Removing Users

Thanks to the thoughtful work on Nyr, we can just use their script from the first step to manage users. It will detect that OpenVPN is already installed and prompt you to Add a new User, Removing existing user, or Remove OpenVPN completely: wget -O && bash


These instructions are licensed under an MIT License

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