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The Difference Between OpenVPN Access Server and OpenVPN: Explained

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OpenVPN is a popular software application that implements VPN (Virtual Private Network) techniques to create secure point-to-point or site-to-site connections. However, there are two versions of OpenVPN: OpenVPN Access Server and OpenVPN Community Edition. Both versions serve the same primary purpose of providing VPN services, but they differ in terms of features, user interface, and cost. In this article, we will delve into the key differences between these two versions.

Quick Answer

OpenVPN Access Server and OpenVPN Community Edition are two versions of the popular OpenVPN software. OpenVPN Access Server is the commercial version that offers a web-based admin UI, enterprise management capabilities, and allows up to two concurrent users for free. On the other hand, OpenVPN Community Edition is the free and open-source version that does not limit the number of concurrent users and requires manual configuration through text-based files.

OpenVPN Access Server

OpenVPN Access Server, often referred to as OpenVPN AS, is the commercial version of the software. It is a full-featured SSL VPN software solution that integrates OpenVPN server capabilities, enterprise management capabilities, simplified OpenVPN Connect UI, and OpenVPN Client software packages.

Key Features

  1. Web-based Admin UI: OpenVPN AS includes a web-based administration interface that simplifies the configuration and management process. You can easily manage server settings, user profiles, and access controls.
  2. Two Concurrent Users: OpenVPN AS allows up to two concurrent connections in its free version. If you need more connections, you can purchase additional licenses at a cost of nine USD per year, per user.
  3. Enterprise Management Capabilities: OpenVPN AS includes features like LDAP/Active Directory integration, which can be beneficial for businesses.

Configuration

The configuration of OpenVPN AS is done through the web-based Admin UI. You can access it by entering the server’s IP address followed by the admin port number in a web browser. For example, https://<server-ip>:943/admin.

OpenVPN Community Edition

OpenVPN Community Edition, often simply referred to as OpenVPN, is the free and open-source version of the software. It is a robust and highly flexible VPN daemon that supports both client and server mode.

Key Features

  1. No User Limit: Unlike OpenVPN AS, the Community Edition does not limit the number of concurrent users or connections.
  2. Manual Configuration: OpenVPN Community Edition does not provide a web-based interface. Configuration is done manually by editing text-based configuration files.
  3. Community Support: Being an open-source project, it has a large community of users and developers who can provide support and assistance.

Configuration

The configuration of OpenVPN Community Edition involves creating and editing configuration files. A typical server configuration file may look like this:

port 1194
proto udp
dev tun
ca ca.crt
cert server.crt
key server.key
dh dh2048.pem
server 10.8.0.0 255.255.255.0
ifconfig-pool-persist ipp.txt
push "redirect-gateway def1 bypass-dhcp"
push "dhcp-option DNS 208.67.222.222"
push "dhcp-option DNS 208.67.220.220"
keepalive 10 120
comp-lzo
user nobody
group nogroup
persist-key
persist-tun
status openvpn-status.log
verb 3

In this configuration file, port 1194 specifies the port number on which the server will listen, proto udp sets the protocol to UDP, and dev tun specifies the use of a tun device. The ca, cert, key, and dh parameters specify the paths to various certificate and key files.

Conclusion

In summary, both OpenVPN Access Server and OpenVPN Community Edition are robust VPN solutions. The choice between the two depends on your specific needs. If you prefer a user-friendly, web-based interface and need enterprise-level features, OpenVPN AS is the way to go. However, if you need unlimited connections and don’t mind manual configuration, the OpenVPN Community Edition may be a better fit.

What is the difference between OpenVPN Access Server and OpenVPN Community Edition?

OpenVPN Access Server is the commercial version of the software that provides a web-based admin interface, enterprise management capabilities, and allows up to two concurrent connections for free. On the other hand, OpenVPN Community Edition is the free and open-source version that does not limit the number of concurrent users and requires manual configuration through text-based files.

How much does OpenVPN Access Server cost?

OpenVPN Access Server offers a free version with up to two concurrent connections. If you need more connections, you can purchase additional licenses at a cost of nine USD per year, per user.

Can OpenVPN Community Edition be used for enterprise-level needs?

Yes, OpenVPN Community Edition can be used for enterprise-level needs as it is a robust VPN solution. However, it does not have the built-in enterprise management capabilities that OpenVPN Access Server offers.

How do I configure OpenVPN Access Server?

OpenVPN Access Server is configured through a web-based admin UI. You can access it by entering the server’s IP address followed by the admin port number in a web browser. For example, https://<server-ip>:943/admin.

How do I configure OpenVPN Community Edition?

OpenVPN Community Edition requires manual configuration through text-based configuration files. You need to create and edit these files to specify various settings such as the port number, protocol, certificates, keys, and more.

Is there community support available for OpenVPN Community Edition?

Yes, OpenVPN Community Edition has a large community of users and developers who can provide support and assistance. Being an open-source project, you can find resources, forums, and documentation to help you with any issues or questions you may have.

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