Rather than pay an additional monthly fee, I'd like to take advantage of the existing cloud computing resources I already have and host a VPN on Amazon or Linode, and access that from my MacBook while I'm on public wifi networks to encrypt my traffic. Are there any recommended solutions with a nice Mac client to optimize the experience?

Specifically, I just saw Cloak on Hacker News, and wondered if there was something similar I could set up myself.

OpenVPN appears to be one option with minimal licensing fees (free for single user use) and a Mac client. Anyone have any experience with it for personal VPN use?

Edit: I did come across this post that explains how to set up the l2tp vpnd service that ships with Snow Leopard, but haven't had a lot of luck getting it to work myself yet. A number of commenters on the post have succeeded though, so others reading this should give that a try.

On the client side, it looks like all you need to do is add a VPN network interface in System Preferences, so once the server is working, that part is pretty easy.


3 Answers 3


I do have my own OpenVPN server running on Linode, and I use Tunnelblick to connect to it. Works flawlessly.

There's a guide on Linode's library to help you set things up.

  • -1 for Tunnelblick -- it uses a setuid tool on itself. In reality, it's just a gui wrapper for OpenVPN (which is a very good product), but with potential security holes.
    – Richard
    May 17, 2011 at 18:46

If you have a old computer laying around at home or maybe a virtual machine on a Mac at home, you could install Linux on it, assign it a dynamic DNS (search to locate a free provider) to give it a domain name, and then setup a PPP VPN server on the Linux box (the pptpd service).

This does require that the machine is kept on, and that you open some ports in your firewall/router.

Step-by-step instructions to set-up pptpd on Debian/Ubuntu are available at http://www.howtogeek.com/51237/setting-up-a-vpn-pptp-server-on-debian/

It’s free and you’re absolutely in control of your own data. As an added bonus you get secure remote access to your services on your home network (such as file and iTunes sharing).


I've once set up an IPSec based VPN server using Openswan which allowed me to use the built-in IPSec support of both macOS and iOS very easily.

Here's an installation guide that should meet your requirements.

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