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README.md

The Missing Wireguard Documentation



API reference guide for Wireguard including Setup, Configuration, and Usage, with examples.

All credit goes to the WireGuard project, zx2c4, Edge Security, and the open source contributors for the original software,
this is my solo unofficial attempt at providing more comprehensive documentation, API references, and examples.

Source for these docs, example code, and issue tracker: https://github.com/pirate/wireguard-docs     Nicer HTML page version: https://docs.sweeting.me/s/wireguard


WireGuard is a BETA/WIP open-source VPN solution written in C by Jason Donenfeld and others, aiming to fix many of the problems that have plagued other modern server-to-server VPN offerings like IPSec/IKEv2, OpenVPN, or L2TP. It shares some similarities with other modern VPN offerings like Tinc and MeshBird, namely good cipher suites and minimal config.

This is my attempt at writing "The Missing Wireguard Documentation" to make up for the somewhat sparse official docs on an otherwise great piece of software.

Official Links

WireGuard Goals

  • strong, modern security by default
  • minimal config and key management
  • fast, both low-latency and high-bandwidth
  • simple internals and small protocol surface area
  • simple CLI and seamless integration with system networking

It's also fast as hell. I routinely get sub 0.5ms pings and 900mbps+ on good connections.
(See https://www.ckn.io/blog/2017/11/14/wireguard-vpn-typical-setup/)

Table of Contents

See https://github.com/pirate/wireguard-docs for example code and documentation source.

Intro

Over the last 8+ years I've tried a wide range of VPN solutions. Somewhat out of necessity, since the city I was living in was behind the Great Wall of China. Everything from old-school PPTP to crazy round-robin GoAgent AppEngine proxy setups were common back in the early 2010's to break through the GFW, these days it's mostly OpenVPN, StealthVPN, IPSec/IKEv2 and others. From the recommendation of a few people in the RC Zulip community, I decided to try WireGuard and was surprised to find it checked almost all the boxes.

My Personal Requirements for a VPN Solution

  • minimal config, low config surface area and few exposed tunables
  • minimal key management overhead, 1 or 2 preshared keys or certs is ok, but ideally not both
  • ability to easily create a LAN like 10.0.0.0/24 between all my servers, every peer can connect to every peer,
  • ability to bust through NATs with a signalling server, routing nat-to-nat instead of through a relay (WebRTC-style)
  • fallback to relay server when nat-to-nat busting is unavailable or unreliable
  • ability to route to a fixed list of ips/hosts with 1 keypair per host (not needed, but nice to have: ability to route arbitrary local traffic or all internet traffic to a given host)
  • robust automatic reconnects after reboots / network downtime / NAT connection table drops
  • fast (lowest possible latency and line-rate bandwidth)
  • encrypted, and secure by default (not needed, nice to have: short copy-pastable key pairs)
  • ideally support for any type of Level 2 and control traffic, e.g. ARP/DHCP/ICMP (or ideally raw ethernet frames), not just TCP/HTTP
  • ability to join the VPN from Ubuntu, FreeBSD, iOS, macOS (Windows/Android not needed but would be nice)
  • not a requirement, but ideally it would support running in docker with a single container, config file, and preshared key on each server, but with a full network interface exposed to the host system (maybe with tun/tap on the host passing traffic to the container, but ideally just a single container + config file without outside dependencies)

List of Possible VPN Solutions

  • PPTP: ancient, inflexible, insecure, doesn't solve all the requirements
  • L2TP: meh
  • SOCKS: proxy tunnel, not a VPN, not great for this use case
  • IPSec (IKEv2)/strongSwan: lots of brittle config that's different for each OS, NAT busting setup is very manual and involves updating the central server and starting all the others in the correct order, not great at reconnecting after network downtime, had to be manually restarted often
  • TINC: haven't tried it yet, but it doesn't work on iOS, worst case scenario I could live with that if it's the only option
  • OpenVPN: I don't like it from past experience but could be convinced if it's the only option
  • StealthVPN: haven't tried it
  • MeshBird: "Cloud native" VPN/networking layer
  • Algo: haven't tried it yet, should I?
  • Striesand: haven't tried it yet, what's the best config to try?
  • SoftEther: haven't tried it yet, should I?
  • WireGuard: the subject of this post
  • ZeroTier: haven't tried it yet, should I?

Wireguard Documentation


Glossary

Example Strings

These are demo hostnames, domain names, ip addresses, and ranges used in the documentation and example configs.

  • Example domain: example-vpn.dev can be replaced with any publicly accessible domain you control
  • Example hostnames: public-server1, public-server2, home-server, laptop, phone can be changed to your device hostnames
  • IP addresses & ranges: 10.0.0.1/24, 10.0.0.3, 10.0.0.3/32 can be replaced with your preferred subnets and addresses (e.g. 192.168.5.1/24)

Wherever you see these strings below, they're just being used as placeholder values to illustrate an example and have no special meaning. Replace them with your preferred values when doing your own setup.

Peer/Node/Device

A host that connects to the VPN and has registers a VPN subnet address like 10.0.0.3 for itself. It can also optionally route traffic for more than its own address(es) by specifying subnet ranges in comma-separated CIDR notation.

Bounce Server

A publicly reachable peer/node that serves as a fallback to relay traffic for other VPN peers behind NATs. A bounce server is not a special type of server, it's a normal peer just like all the others, the only difference is that it has a public IP and has kernel-level IP forwarding turned on which allows it to bounce traffic back down the VPN to other clients.

Subnet

A group of IPs separate from the public internet, e.g. 10.0.0.1-255 or 192.168.1.1/24. Generally behind a NAT provided by a router, e.g. in office internet LAN or a home WiFi network.

CIDR Notation

A way of defining a subnet and its size with a "mask", a smaller mask = more address bits usable by the subnet & more IPs in the range. Most common ones:

  • 10.0.0.1/32 (a single ip address, 10.0.0.1) netmask = 255.255.255.255
  • 10.0.0.1/24 (255 ips from 10.0.0.1-255) netmask = 255.255.255.0
  • 10.0.0.1/16 (65,536 ips from 10.0.0.0 - 10.0.255.255) netmask = 255.255.0.0
  • 10.0.0.1/8 (16,777,216 ips from 10.0.0.0 - 10.255.255.255) netmask = 255.0.0.0
  • 0.0.0.1/0 (4,294,967,296 ips from 0.0.0.0 - 255.255.255.255) netmask = 0.0.0.0
  • IPv6 CIDR notation is also supported e.g. fd42:42:42::1/64

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classless_Inter-Domain_Routing

To people just getting started 10.0.0.1/32 may seem like a weird and confusing way to refer to a single IP. This design is nice though because it allows peers to expose multiple IPs if needed without needing multiple notations. Just know that anywhere you see something like 10.0.0.3/32, it really just means 10.0.0.3.

NAT

A subnet with private IPs provided by a router standing in front of them doing Network Address Translation, individual nodes are not publicly accessible from the internet, instead the router keeps track of outgoing connections and forwards responses to the correct internal ip (e.g. standard office networks, home wifi networks, free public wifi networks, etc)

Public Endpoint

The publicly accessible address:port for a node, e.g. 123.124.125.126:1234 or some.domain.tld:1234 (must be accessible via the public internet, generally can't be a private ip like 10.0.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 unless it's directly accessible using that address by other peers on the same subnet).

Private key

A wireguard private key for a single node, generated with: wg genkey > example.key (never leaves the node it's generated on)

Public key

A wireguard public key for a single node, generated with: wg pubkey < example.key > example.key.pub (shared with other peers)

DNS

Domain Name Server, used to resolve hostnames to IPs for VPN clients, instead of allowing DNS requests to leak outside the VPN and reveal traffic. Leaks are testable with http://dnsleak.com.


How WireGuard Works

How Public Relay Servers Work

Public relays are just normal VPN peers that are able to act as an intermediate relay server between any VPN clients behind NATs, they can forward any VPN subnet traffic they receives to the correct peer at the system level (WireGuard doesn't care how this happens, it's handled by the kernel net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1 and the iptables routing rules).

If all peers are publicly accessible, you don't have to worry about special treatment to make one of them a relay server, it's only needed if you have any peers connecting from behind a NAT.

Each client only needs to define the publicly accessible servers/peers in it's config, any traffic bound to other peers behind NATs will go to the catchall VPN subnet (e.g. 10.0.0.1/24) in the public relays AllowedIPs route and will be forwarded accordingly once it hits the relay server.

In summary: only direct connections between clients should be configured, any connections that need to be bounced should not be defined as peers, as they should head to the bounce server first and be routed from there back down the vpn to the correct client.

How WireGuard Routes Packets

More complex topologies are definitely achievable, but these are the basic routing methods used in typical WireGuard setups:

  • Direct node-to-node
    In the best case, the nodes are on the same LAN or are both publicly accessible, and traffic will route over encrypted UDP packets sent directly between the nodes.
  • Node behind local NAT to public node
    When 1 of the 2 parties is behind a remote NAT (e.g. when laptop behind a NAT connects to public-server2), the connection will be opened from NAT -> public client, then traffic will route directly between them in both directions as long as the connection is kept alive.
  • Node behind local NAT to node behind remote NAT (via UDP NAT hole-punching)
    "Hole Punching" refers to triggering automatic NAT rules of a router in order to allow inbound traffic. When you send a UDP packet out, the router (usually) creates a temporary rule mapping your source address and port to the destination address and port, and vice versa. This is how most UDP applications function behind NATs (e.g. Bittorent, Skype, etc). UDP packets returning from the destination address and port (and no other) are passed through to the original source address and port (and no other). This rule will timeout after some minutes of inactivity, so the client behind the NAT must send regular outgoing packets to keep it open (see PersistentKeepalive).
    Getting this to work when both end-points are behind NATs or firewalls would require that both end-points send packets to each-other at about the same time. This means that both sides need to know each-other's public IP addresses and port numbers and need to communicate this to each-other by some other means (in our case by defining them in wg0.conf).
    WireGuard punches holes through NATs natively as a side effect of its UDP-based design, but it only works if a ListenPort is hardcoded for the peer behind the NAT. It does not search for a hole-punching port dynamically like WebRTC/N2N as it has no concept of a signaling server to communicate the port to the other side, it only works with a hardcoded port and PersistentKeepalive set to some non-null value.
  • Node behind local NAT to node behind remote NAT (via relay)
    In the worst case when both parties are behind remote NATs, both will open a connection to public-server1, and traffic will forward through the intermediary bounce server as long as the connections are kept alive.

Choosing the proper routing method is handled automatically by WireGuard as long as at least one server is acting as a public relay with net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1 enabled, and clients have AllowIPs = 10.0.0.1/24 set in the relay server [peer] (to take traffic for the whole subnet).

More specific (also usually more direct) routes provided by other peers will take precedence when available, otherwise traffic will fall back to the least specific route and use the 10.0.0.1/24 catchall to forward traffic to the bounce server, where it will in turn be routed by the relay server's system routing table back down the VPN to the specific peer that's accepting routes for that traffic.

You can figure out which routing method WireGuard is using for a given address by measuring the ping times to figure out the unique length of each hop, and by inspecting the output of:

wg show wg0

What WireGuard Traffic Looks Like

WireGuard uses encrypted UDP packets for all traffic, it does not provide guarantees around packet delivery or ordering, as that is handled by TCP connections within the encrypted tunnel.


Further reading:

WireGuard Performance

WireGuard claims faster performance than most other competing VPN solutions, though the exact numbers are sometimes debated and may depend on whether hardware-level acceleration is available for certain cryptographic ciphers.

WireGuard's performance gains are achieved by handling routing at the kernel level, and by using modern cipher suites running on all cores to encrypt traffic. WireGuard also gains a significant advantage by using UDP with no delivery/ordering guarantees (compared to VPNs that run over TCP or implement their own guaranteed delivery mechanisms).

Further reading:

WireGuard Security Model

WireGuard uses the following protocols and primitives to secure traffic:

  • ChaCha20 for symmetric encryption, authenticated with Poly1305, using RFC7539’s AEAD construction
  • Curve25519 for ECDH
  • BLAKE2s for hashing and keyed hashing, described in RFC7693
  • SipHash24 for hashtable keys
  • HKDF for key derivation, as described in RFC5869

WireGuard's cryptography is essentially an instantiation of Trevor Perrin's Noise framework. It's modern and, again, simple. Every other VPN option is a mess of negotiation and handshaking and complicated state machines. WireGuard is like the Signal/Axolotl of VPNs, except it's much simpler and easier to reason about (cryptographically, in this case) than double ratchet messaging protocols. It is basically the qmail of VPN software. And it's ~4000 lines of code. It is plural orders of magnitude smaller than its competitors.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14599834

Further reading:

How WireGuard Manages Keys

Authentication in both directions is achieved with a simple public/private keypair for each peer. Each peer generates these keys during the setup phase, and shares only the public key with other peers.

No other certificates or preshared keys are needed beyond the public/private keys for each node.

Key generation, distribution, and revocation can be handled in larger deployments using a separate service like Ansible or Kubernetes Secrets.

Some services that help with key distribution and deployment:

You can also read in keys from a file or via command if you don't want to hardcode them in wg0.conf, this makes managing keys via 3rd party service much easier:

[Interface]
...
PostUp = wg set %i private-key /etc/wireguard/wg0.key <(cat /some/path/%i/privkey)

Usage

Quickstart

Overview of the general process:

  1. Install apt install wireguard or pkg/brew install wireguard-tools on each node
  2. Generate public and private keys locally on each node wg genkey+wg pubkey
  3. Create a wg0.conf wireguard config file on the main relay server
    • [Interface] Make sure to specify a CIDR range for the entire VPN subnet when defining the address the server accepts routes for Address = 10.0.0.1/24
    • [Peer] Create a peer section for every client joining the VPN, using their corresponding remote public keys
  4. Create a wg0.conf on each client node
    • [Interface] Make sure to specify only a single IP for client peers that don't relay traffic Address = 10.0.0.3/32.
    • [Peer] Create a peer section for each public peer not behind a NAT, make sure to specify a CIDR range for the entire VPN subnet when defining the remote peer acting as the bounce server AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24. Make sure to specify individual IPs for remote peers that don't relay traffic and only act as simple clients AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.3/32.
  5. Start wireguard on the main relay server with wg-quick up /full/path/to/wg0.conf
  6. Start wireguard on all the client peers with wg-quick up /full/path/to/wg0.conf
  7. Traffic is routed from peer to peer using most optimal route over the WireGuard interface, e.g. ping 10.0.0.3 checks for local direct route first, then checks for route via public internet, then finally tries to route by bouncing through the public relay server.

Setup

# install on Ubuntu
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:wireguard/wireguard
apt install wireguard

# install on macOS
brew install wireguard-tools

# install on FreeBSD
pkg install wireguard

# install on iOS/Andoid using Apple App Store/Google Play Store
# install on other systems using https://www.wireguard.com/install/#installation
# to enable kernel relaying/forwarding ability on bounce servers
echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv4.conf.all.proxy_arp = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf
sudo sysctl -p /etc/sysctl.conf

# to add iptables forwarding rules on bounce servers
iptables -A INPUT -m conntrack --ctstate RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A FORWARD -m conntrack --ctstate RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A FORWARD -i wg0 -o wg0 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW -j ACCEPT
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s 10.0.0.0/24 -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

Config Creation

nano wg0.conf  # can be placed anywhere, must be referred to using absolute path

Key Generation

# generate private key
wg genkey > example.key

# generate public key
wg pubkey < example.key > example.key.pub

Start / Stop

wg-quick up /full/path/to/wg0.conf
wg-quick down /full/path/to/wg0.conf
# Note: you must specify the absolute path to wg0.conf, relative paths won't work
# start/stop VPN network interface
ip link set wg0 up
ip link set wg0 down

# register/unregister VPN network interface
ip link add dev wg0 type wireguard
ip link delete dev wg0

# register/unregister local VPN address
ip address add dev wg0 10.0.0.3/32
ip address delete dev wg0 10.0.0.3/32

# register/unregister VPN route
ip route add 10.0.0.3/32 dev wg0
ip route delete 10.0.0.3/32 dev wg0

Inspect

Interfaces

# show system LAN and WAN network interfaces
ifconfig
ip address show

# show system VPN network interfaces
ifconfig wg0
ip link show wg0

# show wireguard VPN interfaces
wg show all
wg show wg0

Addresses

# show public ip address
ifconfig eth0
ip address show eth0
dig -4 +short myip.opendns.com @resolver1.opendns.com

# show VPN ip address
ip address show wg0

Routes

# show wireguard routing table and peer connections
wg show
wg show wg0 allowed-ips

# show system routing table
ip route show table main
ip route show table local

# show system route to specific address
ip route get 10.0.0.3

Testing

Ping Speed

# check that main relay server is accessible directly via public internet
ping public-server1.example-vpn.dev

# check that the main relay server is available via VPN
ping 10.0.0.1

# check that public peers are available via VPN
ping 10.0.0.2

# check that remote NAT-ed peers are available via VPN
ping 10.0.0.3

# check that NAT-ed peers in your local lan are available via VPN
ping 10.0.0.4

Bandwidth

# install iperf using your preferred package manager
apt/brew/pkg install iperf

# check bandwidth over public internet to relay server
iperf -s # on public relay server
iperf -c public-server1.example-vpn.dev # on local client

# check bandwidth over VPN to relay server
iperf -s # on public relay server
iperf -c 10.0.0.1 # on local client

# check bandwidth over VPN to remote public peer
iperf -s # on remote public peer
iperf -c 10.0.0.2 # on local client

# check bandwidth over VPN to remote NAT-ed peer
iperf -s # on remote NAT-ed peer
iperf -c 10.0.0.3 # on local client

# check bandwidth over VPN to local NAT-ed peer (on same LAN)
iperf -s # on local NAT-ed peer
iperf -c 10.0.0.4 # on local client

DNS

Check for DNS leaks using http://dnsleak.com, or by checking the resolver on a lookup:

dig example.com A

Config Reference

Overview

WireGuard config is in INI syntax, defined in a file usually called wg0.conf. It can be placed anywhere on the system, but is often placed in /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf.

The config path is specificed as an argument when running any wg-quick command, e.g:
wg-quick up /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf (always specify the full, absolute path)

Config files can opt to use the limited set of wg config options, or the more extended wg-quick options, depending on what command is preferred to start WireGuard. These docs recommend sticking to wg-quick as it provides a more powerful and user-friendly config experience.

Jump to definition:

[Interface]
# Name = node1.example.tld
Address = 10.0.0.3/32
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = localPrivateKeyAbcAbcAbc=
DNS = 1.1.1.1,8.8.8.8
Table = 12345
MTU = 1500
PreUp = /bin/example arg1 arg2 %i
PostUp = /bin/example arg1 arg2 %i
PreDown = /bin/example arg1 arg2 %i
PostDown = /bin/example arg1 arg2 %i

[Peer]
# Name = node2-node.example.tld
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24
Endpoint = node1.example.tld:51820
PublicKey = remotePublicKeyAbcAbcAbc=
PersistentKeepalive = 25

[Interface]

Defines the VPN settings for the local node.

Examples

  • Node is a client that only routes traffic for itself and only exposes one IP
[Interface]
# Name = phone.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.5/32
PrivateKey = <private key for phone.example-vpn.dev>
  • Node is a public bounce server that can relay traffic to other peers and exposes route for entire VPN subnet
[Interface]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Address = 10.0.0.1/24
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = <private key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
DNS = 1.1.1.1

# Name

This is just a standard comment in INI syntax used to help keep track of which config section belongs to which node, it's completely ignored by WireGuard and has no effect on VPN behavior.

Address

Defines what address range the local node should route traffic for. Depending on whether the node is a simple client joining the VPN subnet, or a bounce server that's relaying traffic between multiple clients, this can be set to a single IP of the node itself (specified with CIDR notation), e.g. 10.0.0.3/32), or a range of IPv4/IPv6 subnets that the node can route traffic for.

Examples

  • Node is a client that only routes traffic for itself
    Address = 10.0.0.3/32

  • Node is a public bounce server that can relay traffic to other peers
    When the node is acting as the public bounce server, it should set this to be the entire subnet that it can route traffic, not just a single IP for itself.

Address = 10.0.0.1/24

  • You can also specify multiple subnets or IPv6 subnets like so:
    Address = 10.0.0.1/24,fd42:42:42::1/64

ListenPort

When the node is acting as a public bounce server, it should hardcode a port to listen for incoming VPN connections from the public internet. Clients not acting as relays should not set this value.

Examples

  • Using default WireGuard port
    ListenPort = 51820
  • Using custom WireGuard port
    ListenPort = 7000

PrivateKey

This is the private key for the local node, never shared with other servers. All nodes must have a private key set, regardless of whether they are public bounce servers relaying traffic, or simple clients joining the VPN.

This key can be generated with wg genkey > example.key

Examples

PrivateKey = somePrivateKeyAbcdAbcdAbcdAbcd=

DNS

The DNS server(s) to announce to VPN clients via DHCP, most clients will use this server for DNS requests over the VPN, but clients can also override this value locally on their nodes

Examples

  • The value can be left unconfigured to use system default DNS servers
  • A single DNS server can be provided
    DNS = 1.1.1.1
  • or multiple DNS servers can be provided
    DNS = 1.1.1.1,8.8.8.8

Table

Optionally defines which routing table to use for the WireGuard routes, not necessary to configure for most setups.

There are two special values: ‘off’ disables the creation of routes altogether, and ‘auto’ (the default) adds routes to the default table and enables special handling of default routes.

https://git.zx2c4.com/WireGuard/about/src/tools/man/wg-quick.8

Examples

Table = 1234

MTU

Optionally defines the maximum transmission unit (MTU, aka packet/frame size) to use when connecting to the peer, not necessary to configure for most setups.

The MTU is automatically determined from the endpoint addresses or the system default route, which is usually a sane choice.

https://git.zx2c4.com/WireGuard/about/src/tools/man/wg-quick.8

Examples

MTU = 1500

PreUp

Optionally run a command before the interface is brought up. This option can be specified multiple times, with commands executed in the order they appear in the file.

Examples

  • Add an ip route PreUp = ip rule add ipproto tcp dport 22 table 1234

PostUp

Optionally run a command after the interface is brought up. This option can appear multiple times, as with PreUp

Examples

  • Read in a config value from a file or some command's output
    PostUp = wg set %i private-key /etc/wireguard/wg0.key <(some command here)

  • Log a line to a file
    PostUp = echo "$(date +%s) WireGuard Started" >> /var/log/wireguard.log

  • Hit a webhook on another server
    PostUp = curl https://events.example.dev/wireguard/started/?key=abcdefg

  • Add a route to the system routing table
    PostUp = ip rule add ipproto tcp dport 22 table 1234

  • Add an iptables rule to enable packet forwarding on the WireGuard interface
    PostUp = iptables -A FORWARD -i %i -j ACCEPT; iptables -A FORWARD -o %i -j ACCEPT; iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

  • Force WireGuard to re-resolve IP address for peer domain
    PostUp = resolvectl domain %i "~."; resolvectl dns %i 10.0.0.1; resolvectl dnssec %i yes

PreDown

Optionally run a command before the interface is brought down. This option can appear multiple times, as with PreUp

Examples

  • Log a line to a file
    PostDown = echo "$(date +%s) WireGuard Going Down" >> /var/log/wireguard.log

  • Hit a webhook on another server
    PostDown = curl https://events.example.dev/wireguard/stopping/?key=abcdefg

PostDown

Optionally run a command after the interface is brought down. This option can appear multiple times, as with PreUp

Examples

  • Log a line to a file
    PostDown = echo "$(date +%s) WireGuard Stopped" >> /var/log/wireguard.log

  • Hit a webhook on another server
    PostDown = curl https://events.example.dev/wireguard/stopped/?key=abcdefg

  • Remove the iptables rule that forwards packets on the WireGuard interface
    PostDown = iptables -D FORWARD -i %i -j ACCEPT; iptables -D FORWARD -o %i -j ACCEPT; iptables -t nat -D POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

[Peer]

Defines the VPN settings for a remote peer capable of routing traffic for one or more addresses (itself and/or other peers). Peers can be either a public bounce server that relays traffic to other peers, or a directly accessible client via lan/internet that is not behind a NAT and only routes traffic for itself.

All clients must be defined as peers on the public bounce server. Simple clients that only route traffic for themselves, only need to define peers for the public relay, and any other nodes directly accessible. Nodes that are behind separate NATs should not be defined as peers outside of the public server config, as no direct route is available between separate NATs. Instead, nodes behind NATs should only define the public relay servers and other public clients as their peers, and should specify AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24 on the public server that accept routes and bounce traffic for the VPN subnet to the remote NAT-ed peers.

In summary, all nodes must be defined on the main bounce server. On client servers, only peers that are directly accessible from a node should be defined as peers of that node, any peers that must be relayed by a bounce sherver should be left out and will be handled by the relay server's catchall route.

In the configuration outlined in the docs below, a single server public-server1 acts as the relay bounce server for a mix of publicly accessible and NAT-ed clients, and peers are configured on each node accordingly:

  • in public-server1 wg0.conf (bounce server)
    [peer] list: public-server2, home-server, laptop, phone

  • in public-server2 wg0.conf (simple public client)
    [peer] list: public-server1

  • in home-server wg0.conf (simple client behind nat)
    [peer] list: public-server1, public-server2

  • in laptop wg0.conf (simple client behind nat)
    [peer] list: public-server1, public-server2

  • in phone wg0.conf (simple client behind nat)
    [peer] list: public-server1, public-server2

Examples

  • Peer is a simple public client that only routes traffic for itself
[Peer]
# Name = public-server2.example-vpn.dev
Endpoint = public-server2.example-vpn.dev:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server2.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.2/32
  • Peer is a simple client behind a NAT that only routes traffic for itself
[Peer]
# Name = home-server.example-vpn.dev
Endpoint = home-server.example-vpn.dev:51820
PublicKey = <public key for home-server.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.3/32
  • Peer is a public bounce server that can relay traffic to other peers
[Peer]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Endpoint = public-server1.example-vpn.tld:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
# routes traffic to itself and entire subnet of peers as bounce server
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24
PersistentKeepalive = 25

# Name

This is just a standard comment in INI syntax used to help keep track of which config section belongs to which node, it's completely ignored by WireGuard and has no effect on VPN behavior.

Endpoint

Defines the publicly accessible address for a remote peer. This should be left out for peers behind a NAT or peers that don't have a stable publicly accessible IP:PORT pair. Typically, this only needs to be defined on the main bounce server, but it can also be defined on other public nodes with stable IPs like public-server2 in the example config below.

Examples

  • Endpoint is an IP address
    Endpoint = 123.124.125.126:51820 (IPv6 is also supported)
  • Endpoint is a hostname/FQDN
    Endpoint = public-server1.example-vpn.tld:51820

AllowedIPs

This defines the IP ranges for which a peer will route traffic. On simple clients, this is usually a single address (the VPN address of the simple client itself). For bounce servers this will be a range of the IPs or subnets that the relay server is capable of routing traffic for. Multiple IPs and subnets may be specified using comma-separated IPv4 or IPv6 CIDR notation (from a single /32 or /128 address, all the way up to 0.0.0.0/0 and ::/0 to indicate a default route to send all internet and VPN traffic through that peer). This option may be specified multiple times.

When deciding how to route a packet, the system chooses the most specific route first, and falls back to broader routes. So for a packet destined to 10.0.0.3, the system would first look for a peer advertising 10.0.0.3/32 specifically, and would fall back to a peer advertising 10.0.0.1/24 or a larger range like 0.0.0.0/0 as a last resort.

Examples

  • peer is a simple client that only accepts traffic to/from itself
    AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.3/32

  • peer is a relay server that can bounce VPN traffic to all other peers
    AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24

  • peer is a relay server that bounces all internet & VPN traffic (like a proxy), including IPv6
    AllowedIPs = 0.0.0.0/0,::/0

  • peer is a relay server that routes to itself and only one other peer
    AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.3/32,10.0.0.4/32

  • peer is a relay server that routes to itself and all nodes on its local LAN
    AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.3/32,192.168.1.1/24

PublicKey

This is the public key for the remote node, shareable with all peers. All nodes must have a public key set, regardless of whether they are public bounce servers relaying traffic, or simple clients joining the VPN.

This key can be generated with wg pubkey < example.key > example.key.pub. (see above for how to generate the private key example.key)

Examples

PublicKey = somePublicKeyAbcdAbcdAbcdAbcd=

PersistentKeepalive

If the connection is going from a NAT-ed peer to a public peer, the node behind the NAT must regularly send an outgoing ping in order to keep the bidirectional connection alive in the NAT router's connection table.

Examples

  • local public node to remote public node
    This value should be left undefined as persistent pings are not needed.

  • local public node to remote NAT-ed node
    This value should be left undefined as it's the client's responsibility to keep the connection alive because the server cannot reopen a dead connection to the client if it times out.

  • local NAT-ed node to remote public node
    PersistentKeepalive = 25 this will send a ping to every 25 seconds keeping the connection open in the local NAT router's connection table.


Advanced Topics

IPv6

The examples in these docs primarily use IPv4, but Wireguard natively supports IPv6 CIDR notation and addresses everywhere that it supports IPv4, simply add them as you would any other subnet range or address.

Example

[Interface]
AllowedIps = 10.0.0.3/24, fd42:42:42::1/64

[Peer]
...
AllowedIPs = 0.0.0.0/0, ::/0

Forwarding All Traffic

If you want to forward all internet traffic through the VPN, and not just use it as a server-to-server subnet, you can add 0.0.0.0/0, ::/0 to the AllowedIPs definition of the peer you want to pipe your traffic through.

Make sure to also specify an IPv6 catchall even when only forwarding IPv4 traffic in order to avoid leaking IPv6 packets outside the VPN, see:
https://www.reddit.com/r/WireGuard/comments/b0m5g2/ipv6_leaks_psa_for_anyone_here_using_wireguard_to/

Example

[Interface]
# Name = phone.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.3/32
PrivateKey = <private key for phone.example-vpn.dev>

[Peer]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.dev
PublicKey = <public key for public-server1.example-vpn.dev>
Endpoint = public-server1.example-vpn.dev:51820
AllowedIPs = 0.0.0.0/0, ::/0

NAT To NAT Connections

WireGuard can natively make connections between two clients behind NATs, without need of a public relay server.

Requirements

  • At least one peer has to have to have a hardcoded, directly-accessible Endpoint defined. If they're both behind NATs without stable IP addresses, then you'll need to use Dynammic DNS or another solution to have a stable, publicly accessibly domain/IP for at least one peer
  • At least one peer has to have a hardcoded UDP ListenPort defined, and it's NAT router must not do UDP source port randomization, otherwise return packets will be sent to the hardocded ListenPort and dropped by the router, instead of using the random port assigned by the NAT on the outgoing packet
  • All NAT'ed peers must have PersistentKeepalive enabled on all other peers, so that they continually send outgoing pings to keep connections persisted in their NAT's routing table

NAT-to-NAT connections are not possible unless at least one host has a stable address, whether thats using a FQDN updated with dnymaic DNS, or a static public IP, anything works as long as all peers can communicate it beforehand.

Note: Some users report having to restart WireGuard to force it to re-rolsve dynamic DNS hostnames for peer Endpoints. You may want to use a PostUp hook to make this process easier.

NAT-to-NAT connections are not possible if all endpoints are behind NAT's with strict UDP source port randomization (e.g. most cellular data networks). Since neither side is able to hardcode a ListenPort and guarantee that their NAT will accept traffic on that port after the outgoing ping, you cannot coordinate a port for the initial hole-punch between peers and connections will fail. For this reason, you generally cannot do phone-to-phone connections on LTE/3g networks, but you might be able to do phone-to-office or phone-to-home where the office or home has a stable public IP and doesn't do source port randomization.

The connection process looks like this:

  1. Peer1 sends a UDP packet to Peer2, it's rejected Peer2's NAT router immediately, but that's ok, the only purpose was to get Peer1's NAT to start forwarding any expected UDP responses back to Peer1 behind its NAT
  2. Peer2 sends a UDP packet to Peer1, it's accepted and fowarded to Peer1 as Peer1's NAT server is already expecting responses from Peer2 because of the initial outgoing packet
  3. Peer1 sends a UDP response to Peer2's packet, it's accepted and forwarded by Peer2's NAT server as it's also expecting responses because of the initial outgoing packet

This process of sending an initial packet that gets rejected, then using the fact that the router has now created a forwarding rule to accept responses is called "UDP hole-punching".

When you send a UDP packet out, the router (usually) creates a temporary rule mapping your source address and port to the destination address and port, and vice versa. UDP packets returning from the destination address and port (and no other) are passed through to the original source address and port (and no other). This is how most UDP applications function behind NATs (e.g. Bittorent, Skype, etc). This rule will timeout after some minutes of inactivity, so the client behind the NAT must send regular outgoing packets to keep it open (see PersistentKeepalive).

Getting this to work when both end-points are behind NATs or firewalls would require that both end-points send packets to each-other at about the same time. This means that both sides need to know each-other's public IP addresses and port numbers and need to communicate this to each-other by some other means (in our case by hard-coding them in wg0.conf in advance). WebRTC requires a STUN signaling server to communicate the hole-punching port because it would be impossible for browsers to hardcode listening ports for all possible connections in advance.

WireGuard punches holes through NATs natively as a side effect of it's UDP-based design, but it only works if a ListenPort is hardcoded for the peer behind the NAT. It does not search for a hole-punching port dynamically like WebRTC/N2N as it has no concept of a signaling server to communicate the port to the other side, it only works with a hardcoded port and PersistentKeepalive set to some non-null value on both sides.

This approach has some limitations, which is why having a fallback public relay server is still advised, see:

Example

Peer1:

[Interface]
...
ListenPort 12000

[Peer]
...
Endpoint = peer2.example-vpn.dev:12000
PersistentKeepalive = 25

Peer2:

[Interface]
...
ListenPort 12000

[Peer]
...
Endpoint = peer1.example-vpn.dev:12000
PersistentKeepalive = 25

Dynamic IP Allocation

Dynamic allocation of IPs (instead of only having fixed peers) is being developed, the WIP implementation is available here: https://github.com/WireGuard/wg-dynamic

You can also build a dynamic allocation system yourself by reading in IP values from files at runtime by using PostUp (see below).

Example

[Interface]
...
PostUp = wg set %i allowed-ips /etc/wireguard/wg0.key <(some command)

Other WireGuard Implementations

All of the userspace implmentations are slower than the native C version that runs in kernel-land, but provide other benefits by running in userland (e.g. easier containerization, compatibility, etc.).

WireGuard Setup Tools

These are some GUI and CLI tools that wrap WireGuard to assist with config, deployment, key management, and connection.

Config Shortcuts

Credit for these shortcuts goes to: https://www.ericlight.com/new-things-i-didnt-know-about-wireguard.html

Sharing a single peers.conf file

WireGuard will ignore a peer whose public key matches the interface's private key. So you can distribute a single list of peers everywhere, and only define the [Interface] separately on each server.

See: https://lists.zx2c4.com/pipermail/wireguard/2018-December/003703.html

You can combine this with wg addconf like this:

  • Each peer has its own /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf file, which only contains it's [Interface] section.

  • Each peer also has a shared /etc/wireguard/peers.conf file, which contains all the peers.

  • The wg0.conf file also has a PostUp hook: PostUp = wg addconf /etc/wireguard/peers.conf.

It's up to you to decide how you want to share the peers.conf, be it via a proper orchestration platform, something much more pedestrian like Dropbox, or something kinda wild like Ceph. I dunno, but it's pretty great that you can just wildly fling a peer section around, without worrying whether it's the same as the interface.

Setting config values from files or command outputs

You can set config values from arbitrary commands or by reading in values from files, this makes key management and deployment much easier as you can read in keys at runtime from a 3rd party service like Kubernetes Secrets or AWS KMS.

See: https://lists.zx2c4.com/pipermail/wireguard/2018-December/003702.html

Example

You can read in a file as the PrivateKey by doing something like:

PostUp = wg set %i private-key /etc/wireguard/wg0.key <(some command)

Containerization

WireGuard can be run in Docker with varying degrees of ease. In the simplest case, --privileged and --cap-add=all args can be added to the docker commands to enable the loading of the kernel module.

Setups can get somewhat complex are are highly dependent on what you're trying to achieve. You can have WireGuard itself run in a container and expose a network interface to the host, or you can have WireGuard running on the host exposing an interface to specific containers.

Further Reading


Example Server-To-Server Config with Roaming Devices

The complete example config for the setup below can be found here: https://github.com/pirate/wireguard-docs/tree/master/full-example (WARNING: do not use it on your devices without changing the public/private keys!).

Overview

Network Topology

These 5 devices are used in our example setup to explain how WireGuard supports bridging across a variety of network conditions, they're all under an example domain example-vpn.dev, with the following short hostnames:

  • public-server1 (not behind a NAT, acts as the main VPN bounce server)
  • public-server2 (not behind a NAT, joins as a peer without bouncing traffic)
  • home-server (behind a NAT, joins as a peer without bouncing traffic)
  • laptop (behind NAT, sometimes shared w/ home-server/phone, sometimes roaming)
  • phone (behind NAT, sometimes shared w/ home-server/laptop, sometimes roaming)

Explanation

This VPN config simulates setting up a small VPN subnet 10.0.0.1/24 shared by 5 nodes. Two of the nodes (public-server1 and public-server2) are VPS instances living in a cloud somewhere, with public IPs accessible to the internet. home-server is a stationary node that lives behind a NAT with a dynamic IP, but it doesn't change frequently. Phone and laptop are both roaming nodes, that can either be at home in the same LAN as home-server, or out-and-about using public wifi or cell service to connect to the VPN.

Whenever possible, nodes should connect directly to each other, depending on whether nodes are directly accessible or NATs are between them, traffic will route accordingly:

The Public Relay

public-server1 acts as an intermediate relay server between any VPN clients behind NATs, it will forward any 10.0.0.1/24 traffic it receives to the correct peer at the system level (WireGuard doesn't care how this happens, it's handled by the kernel net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1 and the iptables routing rules).

Each client only needs to define the publicly accessible servers/peers in it's config, any traffic bound to other peers behind NATs will go to the catchall 10.0.0.1/24 for the server and will be forwarded accordingly once it hits the main server.

In summary: only direct connections between clients should be configured, any connections that need to be bounced should not be defined as peers, as they should head to the bounce server first and be routed from there back down the vpn to the correct client.

Full Example Code

To run this full example, simply copy the full wg0.conf config file for node section from each node onto each server, enable IP forwarding on the public relay, and then start WireGuard on all the machines.

For more detailed instructions, see the Quickstart guide and API reference above. You can also download the complete example setup here: https://github.com/pirate/wireguard-docs/tree/master/full-example (WARNING: do not use it on your devices without changing the public/private keys!).

Node Config

public-server1.example-vpn.tld

  • public endpoint: public-server1.example-vpn.tld:51820
  • own vpn ip address: 10.0.0.1
  • can accept traffic for ips: 10.0.0.1/24
  • priv key: <private key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
  • pub key: <public key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
  • setup required:
    1. install wireguard
    2. generate public/private keypair
    3. create wg0.conf (see below)
    4. enable kernel ip & arp forwarding, add iptables forwarding rules
    5. start wireguard
  • config as remote peer:
[Peer]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Endpoint = public-server1.example-vpn.tld:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
# routes traffic to itself and entire subnet of peers as bounce server
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24
PersistentKeepalive = 25
  • config as local interface:
[Interface]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Address = 10.0.0.1/24
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = <private key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
DNS = 1.1.1.1
  • peers: public-server2, home-server, laptop, phone
  • full wg0.conf config file for node:
[Interface]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Address = 10.0.0.1/24
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = <private key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
DNS = 1.1.1.1

[Peer]
# Name = public-server2.example-vpn.dev
Endpoint = public-server2.example-vpn.dev:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server2.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.2/32

[Peer]
# Name = home-server.example-vpn.dev
Endpoint = home-server.example-vpn.dev:51820
PublicKey = <public key for home-server.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.3/32

[Peer]
# Name = laptop.example-vpn.dev
PublicKey = <public key for laptop.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.4/32

[Peer]
# phone.example-vpn.dev
PublicKey = <public key for phone.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.5/32

public-server2.example-vpn.dev

  • public endpoint: public-server2.example-vpn.dev:51820
  • own vpn ip address: 10.0.0.2
  • can accept traffic for ips: 10.0.0.2/32
  • priv key: <private key for public-server2.example-vpn.dev>
  • pub key: <public key for public-server2.example-vpn.dev>
  • setup required:
    1. install wireguard
    2. generate public/private keypair
    3. create wg0.conf (see below)
    4. confirm main public relay server is directly accessible
    5. start wireguard
  • config as local interface:
[Interface]
# Name = public-server2.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.2/32
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = <private key for public-server2.example-vpn.dev>
DNS = 1.1.1.1
  • config as peer:
[Peer]
# Name = public-server2.example-vpn.dev
Endpoint = public-server2.example-vpn.dev:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server2.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.2/32
  • peers: public-server1
  • full wg0.conf config file for node:
[Interface]
# Name = public-server2.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.2/32
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = <private key for public-server2.example-vpn.dev>
DNS = 1.1.1.1

[Peer]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Endpoint = public-server1.example-vpn.tld:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
# routes traffic to itself and entire subnet of peers as bounce server
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24
PersistentKeepalive = 25

home-server.example-vpn.dev

  • public endpoint: (none, behind NAT)
  • own vpn ip address: 10.0.0.3
  • can accept traffic for ips: 10.0.0.3/32
  • priv key: <private key for home-server.example-vpn.dev>
  • pub key: <public key for home-server.example-vpn.dev>
  • setup required:
    1. install wireguard
    2. generate public/private keypair
    3. create wg0.conf (see below)
    4. confirm main public relay server is directly accessible
    5. start wireguard
  • config as local interface:
[Interface]
# Name = home-server.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.3/32
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = <private key for home-server.example-vpn.dev>
DNS = 1.1.1.1
  • config as peer:
[Peer]
# Name = home-server.example-vpn.dev
Endpoint = home-server.example-vpn.dev:51820
PublicKey = <public key for home-server.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.3/32
  • peers: public-server1
  • full wg0.conf config file for node:
[Interface]
# Name = home-server.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.3/32
ListenPort = 51820
PrivateKey = <private key for home-server.example-vpn.dev>
DNS = 1.1.1.1

[Peer]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Endpoint = public-server1.example-vpn.tld:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
# routes traffic to itself and entire subnet of peers as bounce server
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24
PersistentKeepalive = 25

laptop.example-vpn.dev

  • public endpoint: (none, behind NAT)
  • own vpn ip address: 10.0.0.4
  • can accept traffic for ips: 10.0.0.4/32
  • priv key: <private key for laptop.example-vpn.dev>
  • pub key: <public key for laptop.example-vpn.dev>
  • setup required:
    1. install wireguard
    2. generate public/private keypair
    3. create wg0.conf (see below)
    4. confirm main public relay server is directly accessible
    5. start wireguard
  • config as local interface:
[Interface]
# Name = laptop.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.4/32
PrivateKey = <private key for laptop.example-vpn.dev>
DNS = 1.1.1.1
  • config as peer:
[Peer]
# Name = laptop.example-vpn.dev
PublicKey = <public key for laptop.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.4/32
  • peers: public-server1
  • full wg0.conf config file for node:
[Interface]
# Name = laptop.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.4/32
PrivateKey = <private key for laptop.example-vpn.dev>
DNS = 1.1.1.1

[Peer]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Endpoint = public-server1.example-vpn.tld:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
# routes traffic to itself and entire subnet of peers as bounce server
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24
PersistentKeepalive = 25

phone.example-vpn.dev

  • public endpoint: (none, behind NAT)
  • own vpn ip address: 10.0.0.5
  • can accept traffic for ips: 10.0.0.5/32
  • priv key: <private key for phone.example-vpn.dev>
  • pub key: <public key for phone.example-vpn.dev>
  • setup required:
    1. install wireguard
    2. generate public/private keypair
    3. create wg0.conf (see below)
    4. confirm main public relay server is directly accessible
    5. start wireguard
  • config as local interface:
[Interface]
# Name = phone.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.5/32
PrivateKey = <private key for phone.example-vpn.dev>
DNS = 1.1.1.1
  • config as peer:
[Peer]
# phone.example-vpn.dev
PublicKey = <public key for phone.example-vpn.dev>
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.5/32
  • peers: public-server1
  • full wg0.conf config file for node:
[Interface]
# Name = phone.example-vpn.dev
Address = 10.0.0.5/32
PrivateKey = <private key for phone.example-vpn.dev>
DNS = 1.1.1.1

[Peer]
# Name = public-server1.example-vpn.tld
Endpoint = public-server1.example-vpn.tld:51820
PublicKey = <public key for public-server1.example-vpn.tld>
# routes traffic to itself and entire subnet of peers as bounce server
AllowedIPs = 10.0.0.1/24
PersistentKeepalive = 25

Further Reading

Reference Docs

Tutorials

Papers, Articles, and Talks

Related Projects

Docker

Other

Discussions

For more detailed instructions, see the Quickstart guide and API reference above. You can also download the complete example setup here: https://github.com/pirate/wireguard-example.


Suggest changes: https://github.com/pirate/wireguard-docs/issues

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