Vita: simple and fast VPN gateway
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…is a virtual private network (VPN) gateway you can use to interconnect your LANs. Vita acts as a tunnel between your local, private network and any number of remote Vita gateways. With it, nodes spread across your outposts can communicate with each other as if they were on the same LAN, with confidentiality and authenticity ensured at the network layer. Vita is probably more efficient at encapsulating traffic than your application servers. You can free cycles for your application by offloading your packet encryption and authentication workload to Vita.

a mesh of Vita gateways forms a VPN

A Vita network can be as small as two nodes with a single route, and as large as you like. For each pair of Vita gateways, a separate secure tunnel (route) can be established—“can be” because a Vita network does not need to be a full mesh, instead arbitrary hierarchies are supported on a route-by-route basis. Each route uses a pre-shared super key that is installed on both ends of the route. These keys need to be configured only once, and only need renewal when compromised, in which case the breach will affect only the route in question. The actual keys used to encrypt the traffic are ephemeral, and negotiated by Vita automatically, with no manual intervention required.

Deploying Vita is easy, and not invasive to your existing infrastructure. It can be as simple as adding an entry to the IP routing table of your default gateway, to ensure that packets to destinations within your private network are routed over an extra hop: the Vita gateway. Whether Vita forwards the encapsulated packets back to your default gateway, or directly to your modem depends on your setup, and is freely configurable.

private traffic is routed over a Vita gateway, and encapsulated before it is transmitted over the Internet

To configure a Vita route, you need to specify the address prefix of the destination subnetwork, and the public IP address of the target Vita gateway (in addition to the pre-shared key). At the other end, you specify the source prefix and gateway address in symmetry. You can even add and remove routes while Vita is running, without affecting unrelated routes.


Vita is in its early “tech-demo” stage of development. Not for production!


  • Runs on commodity hardware
  • Implements IPsec for IPv4, specifically IP Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) in tunnel mode (audit needed)
  • Uses optimized AES-GCM 128-bit encryption based on a reference implementation by Intel for their AVX2 (generation-4) processors
  • Suitable for 1-Gigabit, 10-Gigabit (and beyond?) Ethernet
  • Automated key exchange and rotation, with perfect forward secrecy (PFS) (audit needed)
  • Dynamic reconfiguration (update routes while running)
  • Strong observability: access relevant statistics of a running Vita node


  • Usage — manual page for Vita’s command line interface
  • Configuration — detailed description of Vita’s configuration language

Getting started

Vita runs on any modern Linux/x86-64 distribution, but requires a compatible network interface card (currently Intel chipsets i210, i350, and 82599) as well as CPU support for AES-NI and AVX-2. Important note: Snabb needs Linux to be booted with iommu=off for its device drivers to function.

$ git clone
$ cd vita
$ RECIPE=Makefile.vita make -j
$ sudo src/vita --help

Setting RECIPE=Makefile.vita causes a release build to be built (as opposed to a test build.)

The vita binary is stand-alone, includes useful auxiliary applications (like snabb top and snabb pci_bind), and can be copied between machines.

For example, to install Vita and the Snabb monitoring tool on the local machine:

$ sudo cp src/vita /usr/local/bin/vita
$ sudo ln -s vita /usr/local/bin/snabb-top


End-to-end benchmarking procedures are documented in

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Snabb is a simple and fast packet networking toolkit with a wonderful community.

Sponsored by


NLnet funded Vita development in 2017/2018 with their generous donation. 🙇‍♂️