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Android VPN Connectivity

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In order to establish a VPN from an Android device to pfSense, you must be on at least pfSense 2.0.

L2TP was the easiest to make work during testing, but it does not encrypt traffic, it only tunnels.

In all cases, be sure to add firewall rules to the interface created for the VPN clients.

Initial testing was performed on a Verizon Droid X.

Summary

This is a summary of the following information only. Please keep reading for more details!

pfSense 1.2.3
Android version Protocol
PPTP L2TP
Any No n/a
pfSense 2.0
Android Version Protocol
PPTP L2TP IPSec OpenVPN
(All) CHAP PAP PSK IPSec-PSK IPSec-RSA Xauth PSK Xauth RSA Hybrid RSA Native 3rd-party App
1.6 (Donut) Probably Probably Probably  ? n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
2.1 (Eclair) Yes (no encryption) Probably Probably  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? n/a Maybe
2.2.1 (Froyo) Yes Probably Probably  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? n/a Maybe
2.3 (Gingerbread) Yes Probably Probably  ?  ?  ? Yes (see text for details)  ?  ? n/a Maybe
3.0 (Honeycomb) Yes Probably Probably  ?  ?  ? Probably  ?  ? n/a Maybe
4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Yes Probably Probably  ? Probably  ? Probably  ?  ? n/a Yes
4.1 (Jelly Bean) Yes Yes Yes  ? Yes  ? Yes  ?  ? n/a Yes
4.2 (Jelly Bean) Probably Probably Probably  ? Probably  ? Probably  ?  ? n/a Probably
4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) Probably Probably Probably  ? Probably  ? Yes  ?  ? n/a Probably
4.3 (Jelly Bean) Probably Probably Probably  ? Probably  ? Yes  ?  ? n/a Probably
4.4 (KitKat) Probably Probably Probably  ? Probably  ? Probably  ?  ? n/a Probably

pfSense 1.2.3

  • PPTP - Does not work (Appears to want an auth type not supported by pfSense 1.2.3)
  • L2TP Modes are not supported in pfSense 1.2.3

pfSense 2.0

  • PPTP - Works
  • L2TP - Works - Both PAP and CHAP work fine. IP config similar to PPTP
    • NOTE: L2TP on its own is just a tunneling protocol, it does not encrypt traffic!
  • L2TP with Shared Secret - Does not work
  • L2TP+IPsec mode - Does not work, the phone must use its IP as the identifier as it forces main mode.

Android 2.1 (Eclair)

See this note on Android and PPTP from a user on the forum:

Android 2.1 does not have MPPE and therefor will not connect to -any- PPTP server that requires encryption. I updated to 2.2.1 Froyo today, and it instantly connected. Just an FYI For those of you who may or may not be confused as to why you see it working for some and not others.

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) IPsec

For some devices, Gingerbread brought with it the "Advanced IPsec VPN" choices that will let it work with 2.0 and most likely other scenarios as well. Specifically these options are found on at least the Motorola Droid X, and likely others.

The VPN choices on these versions are:

  • Cert v1 (AES)
  • Cert v1 (AES, aggressive)
  • Cert v1 (AES, xauth)
  • Cert v2 (AES)
  • L2TP Cert v1 (AES)
  • L2TP PSK v1 (AES)
  • PSK v1 (AES)
  • PSK v1 (AES, xauth)
  • PSK v1 (AES, xauth, aggressive) [Tested, working]
  • PSK v2 (AES)

The choices that use main mode (anything that isn't labeled "aggressive") likely won't work as the IP of the phone is used as the identifier, no matter what is entered in the phone's GUI, so it would require anonymous PSKs. Unless there is some trick I'm not seeing.

PSK v1 (AES, xauth, aggressive) works against a 2.0 server when properly configured. This combination is reported to work well - see Mobile IPsec on 2.0 for configuration details.


If you try another mode and it works, let us know. The certificate method (Cert v1 (AES, aggressive)) should work in theory but has not yet been tested.

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) IPsec

With ICS, the VPN options have been revamped and the following choices are available:

  • L2TP/IPsec PSK
  • L2TP/IPsec RSA
  • IPsec Xauth PSK
  • IPsec Xauth RSA
  • IPsec Hybrid RSA

Of those, at least the IPsec Xauth PSK option should work, but testing is needed to confirm.

Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) IPsec

Should be identical to 4.0. One report so far of a working configuration with XAuth: [1]

Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) IPsec

Should be identical to 4.1.

Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) IPsec

Should be identical to 4.2. One report so far of a working configuration with XAuth: [2]

Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) IPsec

Should be identical to 4.2.x. One report so far of a working configuration with XAuth: [3]

Android 4.4 (KitKat) IPsec

Should be identical to 4.3.

OpenVPN on Android (Non-Root)

Android 2.1 - 3.2: The FEAT VPN client, claims to not require root access and to work on older versions of Android.

Android 4.0 introduces a VPN API, so there are quite a few more third-party clients available.

Android 4.4 (KitKat)

Android 4.4 (KitKat) removes the "tun" device (/dev/tun); this change is reported to break most, if not all, of the OpenVPN clients. No information is available at this time about functional OpenVPN clients for KitKat - stay tuned.

Testing results

The FEAT VPN client has been tested on an Asus Transformer Prime and a Motorola Droid Razr, both with Android 4.0.x, by... er... someone. (Presumably it worked.)

Stefan Baur confirms that the FEAT client works on his Motorola Milestone 2 (aka European/GSM "Droid 2"), and that none of the clients he tested work under Android v4.4 (KitKat).

Exporting configuration

With the latest update to the pfSense OpenVPN Client Export package, you can export an "Inline Configuration" that has the config, the certs, keys, etc, in a single file. This file imports into the client linked above quite easily, as follows:

  • Export the Inline Configuration
  • Transfer the config to the phone (copy the file directly, e-mail it to yourself and use a mail client that can save attachments, grab it from a file share on the network, etc.)
  • Open the OpenVPN App
  • Click "All your precious VPNs"
  • Click Import (File folder icon in top right)
  • Find the ovpn file you saved above, click it
  • Click Select
  • Click the Save icon

NOTE: If you use K9 mail, and possibly others, when you save the attachment to /mnt/sdcard/ the OpenVPN app will launch and import automatically.

Now that it's saved, you need to tell it your username if you're using a User Auth type.

  • In the list of VPNs, click the icon to edit the VPN (looks like three sliders)
  • Click Edit in the top bar (Pencil icon)
  • Click Basic
  • Fill in the Username
  • Click back a couple times to get back to the VPN list

You should now be able to connect to the VPN.

After the VPN has been successfully configured and tested, remember to remove the .ovpn file from your Android device's SD card. The settings are stored securely by the app, so keeping the file on insecure storage is not needed nor recommended.

L2TP/IPsec on Android

L2TP/IPsec in PSK mode has been proven to work at least on Android 4.1.x. For instructions, see L2TP/IPsec on Android