Script for quickly bringing up an IPSec/L2TP VPN
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IPSec/L2TP script

This script is a quick hack for bringing up an IPSec/L2TP-based VPN on Linux. It has been tested on Ubuntu 12.04, but should work on other distributions. It uses the in-kernel support for IPSec in 2.6 (no openswan patches required).


There isn't much to install. Just drop the script somewhere of your choosing.

There are some dependencies. These are:

  • racoon
  • ipsec-tools (for setkey)
  • xl2tpd
  • iproute
  • a 2.6 Linux kernel that supports IPSec (not openswan)

On Debian/Ubuntu systems, this will get the required dependencies:

sudo apt-get install racoon ipsec-tools xl2tpd iproute


At present, the script only supports IPSec/L2TP tunnels with a pre-shared key. Certificate-based setups are not supported (though probably aren't difficult to adapt for).

Modify vpn.cfg to suit your VPN. This file should be fairly self-explanatory.

To start the VPN, simply run

$ sudo ipsec-vpn-connect vpn.cfg

This will print the output of racoon, xl2tpd and ppp (if debugging is enabled), all captured from /var/log/syslog, and printed to stdout. The script will not return to the command prompt until terminated (e.g. with Ctrl-C, or some other signal).

Known issues

  • If the VPN is disconnected from the server, it is never detected. There's no sane way to query xl2tpd.

  • Redial does not work. As the password is given in the connect command, xl2tpd does not cache it, and therefore any attempt to redial will fail to authenticate.

  • Certificate-based authentication is not supported.


The first step to debugging problems is to set DEBUG=2 in your vpn.cfg file. This should give a whole lot more information on what's going on in racoon and pppd. Now, whether or not you can make sense of it to fix it, is your problem. You could pipe this to a file (append "| tee ipsec.log") and ask somebody for help.

Good luck.