Learn how to install an Outline VPN server on an Ubuntu server from scratch.
Outline is an open source tool that lets you set up your own VPN server quickly and easily. This means that you no longer have to trust a third-party VPN service, and you have complete control over the data going to and from your VPN server. Moreover, when you install Outline on your own server, no one else is able to view your client configuration. Only you have access to the inner workings of how to connect an Outline client to your Outline server.
While in the past the benefits that come with total control over your VPN server have required advanced computer networking and sever administration skills, Outline promises you a more convenient installation experience. Outline stands out amongst open source VPNs as one of the easiest to install and manage for continuous use.
We recommend this tutorial for experienced VPN users who demand the most extensive control over their VPN settings. For beginner and intermediate VPN users, we believe SatoshiVPN offers the user-friendly nature of Outline without the headaches or missteps that come with installation.
Ready to begin? Read below to install Outline on a server from scratch.
Installing the Outline manager
First, you must download the Outline Manager. This is a GUI tool for your laptop or desktop that you use to manage your Outline servers. You can either connect one of your Cloud accounts (e.g. DigitalOcean, AWS, GCP, Azure) and then automatically install Outline on a cloud server, or you can manually install Outline yourself.
Outline Manager is a one-stop-shop for creating and managing VPN servers in the Cloud.
You can find the links to download the manager to your preferred platform below:
Once you download the Outline Manager, proceed through the installation process to set up your Outline server on the Cloud provider of your choice. This is the beauty of the Outline Manager: it turns a complex server installation process into a few point and clicks in a GUI. We recommend to set up your Outline server with DigitalOcean.
You should only proceed to the next steps if your Cloud provider is not one of the recommended services in the Outline Manager.
How to set up Outline anywhere
Choose the "Set up Outline anywhere" option in the Outline Manager. You'll be greeted by a window with an installation command, like the following image.
These are commands that you will run once you establish a connection to your server. If you do not already have an active Linux (Ubuntu) server, please create one before proceeding to the install command step.
Now that you have an active Ubuntu server, the next step is to install your Outline VPN server software on it using the install script located in the Outline Manager.
Establish a connection to your server
Open a Terminal and create an ssh connection to your server with the following command:
ssh [email protected]_your-server-ip-address_
The next step is to install Outline on your server. Copy the command from the Outline Manager beginning with "sudo bash..." and enter it in your Terminal connected to your server.
sudo bash -c "$(wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Jigsaw-Code/outline-server/master/src/server_manager/install_scripts/install_server.sh)"
The installation script checks to make sure Docker is running on your server. If Docker is not yet installed, simply enter "y" when prompted so that the script installs Docker on your server.
The Outline installation script will continue once Docker is installed. The script takes care of three key activities:
The last step of the installation script is creating a secret key so that you can connect to your Outline server from an Outline client on your phone, desktop, or other Outline-compatible device.
You'll know the Outline installation script is finished when it prints a json object in your Terminal--these are the settings for your Outline Manager to connect to your Outline server. As per the installation script instructions, please copy the output (including curly brackets) into the Outline Manager.
Click "Done" to add your Outline server to the Outline Manager. Once you successfully complete these steps you have created your very own Outline server!
Installing the Outline client on your devices
Now that your Outline server is running, you're so close to begin using Outline as your VPN. You just need to connect your device (phone/laptop/desktop) to your Outline server.
To connect your device, you'll have to install the Outline client and then add your Outline server key to your client. Fortunately, the Outline Manager makes the process easy. Click on the device icon on the right side of the key named "My access key" to start the connection process.
You'll be greeted with a "Get Connected" modal to finish setting up the connection from your device to your Outline server.
Follow the prompt to connect your current device or click the link to connect another device. Once you select either of the options, you will be given an access code that will detect your client and connect you to your server.
If you haven't already installed the Outline client, the Outline Manager will prompt you to install the Outline client.
Finally, on "Connect" to securely connect to your Outline VPN server.
If you have trouble, be sure to check out our Outline Troubleshooting Tips.
And that's it! We hope you enjoy using your Outline server.
With Outline VPN, you do not have to do anything on your part to keep your server up to date. The latest bug fixes and security improvements are installed automatically. This is achieved by the Docker container named the “Watchtower” on your server. Watchtower is an open source application that checks for and installs updates to the Shadowbox container.
Apart from updates to the Outline server, when you set up your server using the Outline Manager, a cron job will be set up to automatically update the host operating system and reboot when necessary.