Installation Instructions for OpenVPN GUI for Windows
OpenVPN-GUI has been bundled with OpenVPN installers for a long time, so there is rarely a need to install it separately. Bleeding-edge versions of OpenVPN-GUI are available in OpenVPN snapshot installers based on Git master branch. OpenVPN-GUI gets installed by default in all OpenVPN installers.
Installation using the official OpenVPN installers
- Download an OpenVPN installer
- If you have a previous version of OpenVPN GUI running, shut it down. Make sure it's closed by ALL logged on users.
- Run the OpenVPN installer
Manual installation of OpenVPN GUI
- Download and install OpenVPN
- Download OpenVPN GUI of your choice and save it in OpenVPN's bin folder. Default is C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\bin\. You must put it in this folder because OpenVPN GUI depends on the OpenSSL DLLs installed in this folder by OpenVPN.
Configuring OpenVPN GUI to start on Windows logon
OpenVPN GUI can be configured to start automatically on logon to Windows from its setting menu. This is default behavior for all users if OpenVPN GUI was installed by an OpenVPN 2.4 installer using default installer options.
Adding an OpenVPN configuration file
To launch a VPN connections using OpenVPN GUI you need to add an OpenVPN configuration file with .ovpn suffix. Any text editor (e.g. notepad.exe) can be used to create a OpenVPN configuration files. Note that log and log-append options are ignored as OpenVPN GUI redirects the normal output to a log file itself. There are sample config files in the sample-config folder. Please refer to the OpenVPN project homepage for more information regarding creating the configuration file.
Once the configuration file is ready, you need to let OpenVPN GUI know about it. There are three ways to do this:
- Place the file into the system-wide location, usually C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config\, or any of its immediate subdirectories. This VPN connection will be visible for all users of the system.
- Place the file into C:\Users\username\OpenVPN\config\, or any of its immediate subdirectories. The configuration file is only visible for the user in question. If the user is not a member of the built-in "Administrators" group or "OpenVPN Administrators" group and tries to launch such a connection, OpenVPN GUI pops up a UAC, offering to create the latter group (if missing) and to add the user to it. This will only work if admin-level credentials are available.
- Use the "Import file" function in OpenVPN GUI itself
Using OpenVPN GUI
When OpenVPN GUI is started your OpenVPN config folders (C:\Users\username\OpenVPN\config and C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config) will be scanned for .ovpn files and the OpenVPN GUI icon will appear in the system tray. Each OpenVPN configuration file shows up as a separate menu item in the OpenVPN GUI tray, allowing you to selectively connect to and disconnect to your VPNs. The config dir will be re-scanned for new config files every time you open the OpenVPN GUI menu by right-clicking the icon.
When you choose to connect to a site OpenVPN GUI will launch openvpn with the specified config file. If you use a passphrase protected key you will be prompted for the passphrase.
If you want OpenVPN GUI to start a connection automatically when it's started, you can use the --connect cmd-line option. The extension of the config file may be optionally included. Example:
openvpn-gui --connect office.ovpn OR openvpn-gui --connect office
To get help with OpenVPN GUI please use one of the official OpenVPN support channels.
Running OpenVPN GUI as a Non-Admin user
OpenVPN 2.3.x and earlier bundle an OpenVPN GUI version (< 11) which has to be run as admin for two reasons
- OpenVPN GUI registry keys are stored in system-wide location under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, and they are generated when OpenVPN GUI was launched the first time
- OpenVPN itself requires admin-level privileges to modify network settings
OpenVPN GUI 11 and later can make full use of the Interactive Service functionality in recent versions of OpenVPN. This changes a number of things:
- OpenVPN GUI can store its settings in user-specific part of the registry under HKEY_CURRENT_USER
- OpenVPN is able to delegate certain privileged operations, such as adding routes, to the Interactive service, removing the need to run OpenVPN with admin privileges. Note that for this to work the OpenVPNServiceInteractive system service has to be enabled and running.
Run Connect/Disconnect/Preconnect Scripts
There are three different scripts that OpenVPN GUI can execute to help with different tasks like mapping network drives.
- Preconnect If a file named "xxx_pre.bat" exist in the config folder
- where xxx is the same as your OpenVPN config file name, this will be executed BEFORE the OpenVPN tunnel is established.
- Connect If a file named "xxx_up.bat" exist in the config folder
- where xxx is the same as your OpenVPN config file name, this will be executed AFTER the OpenVPN tunnel is established.
- Disconnect If a file named "xxx_down.bat" exist in the config folder
- where xxx is the same as your OpenVPN config file name, this will be executed BEFORE the OpenVPN tunnel is closed.
Send Commands to a Running Instance of OpenVPN GUI
When an instance of the GUI is running, certain commands may be sent to it using the command line interface using the following syntax:
openvpn-gui.exe --command *cmd* [*args*]
Currently supported cmds are
- Connect the configuration named config-name (excluding the extension .ovpn). If already connected, show the status window.
- Disconnect the configuration named config-name if connected.
- Disconnect and then reconnect the configuration named config-name if connected.
- Disconnect all active connections.
- silent_connection 0 | 1
- Set the silent connection flag on (1) or off (0)
- Disconnect all active connections and terminate the GUI process
- Rescan the config folders for changes
If no running instance of the GUI is found, these commands do nothing except for --command connect config-name which gets interpreted as --connect config-name
Registry Values affecting the OpenVPN GUI operation
Parameters taken from the global registry values in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\OpenVPN\ key
- The installation directory of openvpn (e.g., C:\Program Files\OpenVPN). This value must be present.
- The global configuration file directory. Defaults to C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config
- path to openvpn.exe, defaults to C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\bin\openvpn.exe
the windows priority class for each instantiated OpenVPN process, can be one of:
- NORMAL_PRIORITY_CLASS (default)
- The windows group whose membership allows the user to start any configuration file in their profile (not just those installed by the administrator in the global config directory). Default: "OpenVPN Administrators".
- Set to a nonzero value to disable the password save feature. Default: 0
All other OpenVPN GUI registry values are located below the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\OpenVPN-GUI\ key. In a fresh installation none of these values are present and are not required for the operation of the program. These keys are only used for persisting user's preferences, and the key names and their values are subject to change.
The user is not expected to edit any of these values directly. Instead, edit all preferences using the settings menu.
- The user-specific configuration file directory: defaults to C:\Users\username\OpenVPN\config. The GUI parses this directory for configuration files before parsing the global config_dir.
- file extension on configuration files, defaults to ovpn
- Time in seconds to wait for the connect script to finish. If set to 0 the exitcode of the script is not checked.
- Time in seconds to wait for the disconnect script to finish. Must be a value between 1-99.
- Time in seconds to wait for the preconnect script to finish. Must be a value between 1-99.
- log file directory, defaults to C:\Users\username\OpenVPN\log
- if set to "0", the log file will be truncated every time you start a connection. If set to "1", the log will be appended to the log file.
- If set to "1", the status window with the OpenVPN log output will not be shown while connecting. Warnings such as interactive service not started or multiple config files with same name are also suppressed.
- If set to "1", OpenVPN GUI's normal "Connect" and "Disconnect" actions are changed so they start/stop the OpenVPN service instead of launching openvpn.exe directly.
0: Never show any connected balloon
1: Show balloon after initial connection is established
2: Show balloon even after re-connects
All of these registry options are also available as cmd-line options. Use "openvpn-gui --help" for more info about cmd-line options.
Building OpenVPN GUI from source
See BUILD.rst for build instructions.