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[Apologies for the long prelude; question halfway down.]

I have a working OpenVPN setup whereby a VPN server pushes a route back to one client (hereafter called the “router”) which can then expose its own subnet to the machine running the server as well as to other machines running the VPN client. This is accomplished just by making the router use the SNAT target from iptables. So for example, say the VPN server and other undistinguished clients are on the network, the VPN creates a tun0 interface covering, and the private subnet is The OpenVPN server configuration says (among other things)

push "route"

When the Linux “router” machine, let us say, connects to the VPN it gets pushed a route, so its table looks like    *        U     0      0        0 eth1   UG    0      0        0 tun0   *      UH    0      0        0 tun0

and then it is configured to run

sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s -j SNAT --to-source

It can also add some iptables rules to create a firewall, but the above suffices to let the machine running the OpenVPN server (or another client) connect to, say, the packets are sent via tun0 to the router, which uses SNAT to set the source IP to its own and then forward the packets to its sibling machine Reply packets are sent to the router, which then forwards them back through the tunnel and all is well. So for example on I can

nc -l localhost 9999

and from the (some other VPN client) I can

nc 9999

and make a connection. So far so good.

Note that no changes are being made to the physical router machine on either network; the “router” in quotes (a random machine running a VPN client) needs to use SNAT so that other machines on its network are able to send reply packets back through the VPN. For purposes of this question I am not “in control” of either network: I can only add some machines with their own routing rules and VPN clients or servers.

Now for the problem: let us say the two networks (neither on the public Internet) in fact overlap in their actual ranges. So in this example, the private subnet is not but also And let us assume that renumbering either network is simply not an option. So besides using SNAT to allow the router to forward packets, I need to remap the router’s private network to a different IP range from the perspective of the OpenVPN server. Let us say I pick as the virtual network range:

push "route"

and from the OpenVPN server machine I want connections made to to go through the tunnel and be processed with SNAT as before, but I also want the destination address in the router’s subnet to be How can I configure iptables to do this?

The NETMAP target looked like it was what I wanted, but I could not get it to work:

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i tun0 -j NETMAP --to
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s -j SNAT --to-source

From the OpenVPN server machine I can ping (i.e. the remapped address of the router) when the NETMAP target is added, so it is doing something.

tcpdump -i tun0

run on the router during this ping shows ICMP echo request and ICMP echo reply as expected. But if I try to ping (i.e. the remapped address of a sibling machine on the router’s subnet), I do not get replies, and tcpdump on the router shows requests but not replies; tcpdump on (the sibling machine) shows no packets at all. Also running on the router:

iptables -t nat -L -v

shows packets being processed by NETMAP but none by SNAT. So it seems like the NETMAP target is somehow superseding the SNAT target?

Essentially what I want is that when the router receives a packet on tun0 from e.g. (the OpenVPN server’s address on the tunnel) destined for, it is rewritten in two ways: the destination address is changed to, and the source address is changed to (with a new source port being picked so that SNAT can keep track of which connection this is). Then when sends a reply to the fake port on, the router should reverse the process, sending a packet back to on tun0 with the faked source address of Can NETMAP do this, or can any other target in iptables do this?

Other things I tried without success: configuring the router machine for proxy ARP; adding the virtual network range to the routing table. But it feels like such things should not be necessary.

Update: I do not care about DNS in this context at all—only a handful of machines in the “private subnet” need to be contacted, so using IP addresses is acceptable.

share|improve this question
in fact overlap in their actual ranges - Lets say your could get NAT to work right. How are you going to deal with name-resolution giving out the wrong addresses? If a client on a resolves a name to that client is going to attempt to directly connect, and will it will never try to use a router. It won't matter that you have messed around with NAT, and it might be reachable by 10.0.78.x. – Zoredache Sep 17 '13 at 22:14
Can you state your problem in 15 words or less, and use a diagram? – Andrew Sep 18 '13 at 7:21
Do you want to be able to directly address all machines on the VPN networks? I.E Client on VPNA to on VPNB and back again. Or are you just trying to gloss over the overlaps with MASQUERADING so, for example, servers on your main network can talk to both? – Matt Sep 18 '13 at 7:43
Looks like people are not really understanding the question; looking into whether it is possible to demonstrate the whole scenario in a single Vagrantfile (requires two private networks each with two machines). – Jesse Glick Sep 18 '13 at 14:19

This is a big mess and you would honestly be better served by renumbering than by creating a web of ugly NATs with conflicting addresses. The other solutions you will need to support this (eg. split-horizon DNS with multiple zones, possibly with automatic updating) will be difficult and messy and every subsequent person who has to deal with this network will curse your name forever and burn effigies of you and your team.

Nonetheless, it looks like the problem you are having is that the hosts on one side of the NAT (see? I can't even describe the sides of the NAT properly, because it is messy) don't have a path back to hosts on the other side. You have to add a NETMAP rule for the return path too (packets incoming from eth1 I presume).

But wait! That's done in the prerouting chain. So, the destination address will be set before the routing decision is made, which is pretty much the way it has to work... but your router has two routes for the "conflicting" network. So, it will prioritize by the usual means (narrowest matching prefix first; metric to break ties), causing some packets to be reflected back onto the network they came from instead of being routed across the NAT. They will be source-natted too. Unfortunately, the source address isn't used in routing, so you can't use the source address. The input interface isn't used in routing either, and once the routing decision is made you can't rewrite the destination address again.

So, you find, this cannot be done. You have two options. Preferably, you would renumber one of the subnets with the network address conflict because you are a good network engineer rather than an incompetent one and you make networks that are not unnecessarily complicated. Renumbering VPN subnets tends to be an uncomplicated task which at worst will require the use of sed, but perhaps you have one of those weird situations where renumbering either subnet is an inhumanly difficult task. OK.

If for whatever reason you can't do that, you will need an additional router to go with your split-horizon DNS. Set up a router for each subnet (in effect this means one router for the VPN clients, and one router for the hosts on the network which unfortunately uses the prefix you'd staked out for the VPN). Pick some other address range (and it would have to be one you could otherwise renumber one of the subnets to...) to be the "foreign" one.

Now, suppose we call the network with the VPN hosts side A, and the network with the non-VPN hosts side B. Suppose on router A you choose the "foreign" prefix to be, and on router B, it's These will be the fake prefixes you use for hosts on that subnet to contact hosts with the conflicted prefix on the other subnet (don't use these they're reserved for documentation purposes in RFC5737).

The below rules are complicated because you can't use the input interface as a predicate in the POSTROUTING chain, and the source subnet is non-unique, so we have to prevent spoofing using a filter rule. It's also confusing because NETMAP decides whether to change the source or destination address based on what chain it's in.

In router A and B, add a rule for incoming traffic on the point to point link between the routers which I shall call ptp0:

router-a # iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING  -i ptp0 -d -j NETMAP --to
router-a # iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING         -d    -j NETMAP --to
router-a # iptables -t filter -A FORWARD -i \!ptp0 -s -j DROP
router-b # iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING  -i ptp0 -d    -j NETMAP --to
router-b # iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING         -d    -j NETMAP --to
router-b # iptables -t filter -A FORWARD -i \!ptp0 -s -j DROP

Now, this part of the problem is solved, because you no longer have a single router which has both prefixes in its routing table. No solution which requires you to have the same prefix referring to two different networks with two different hosts on them in the same routing table can work; it is intrinsically impossible because of how routing works.

Oh, and I almost forgot - I believe your SNAT rule is not getting processed because nothing is matching it, but it's important to remember that once a connection gets stored in the NAT state table, it no longer gets processed by the SNAT rule and no longer gets counted in the statistics if I recall.

If you don't actually require that the subnets be separate, just use layer 2 bridging. It will make your life a lot easier.

share|improve this answer
The source address or interface can be used in routing decisions. Pretty much anything iptables can mark on can be used. – Matt Sep 18 '13 at 8:39
@mindthemonkey how would you put it in the routing table? – Falcon Momot Sep 18 '13 at 8:40
It's more that you create a routing table and send marked packets there instead of the default system table. ip rule add fwmark 1 table myfancytable – Matt Sep 18 '13 at 8:44
Yes, I just remembered that. Thanks for reminding me. – Falcon Momot Sep 18 '13 at 8:44
or you can route on src address directly without iptables ip route add dev eth1 src – Matt Sep 18 '13 at 8:48

So I did the work of creating a self-contained snat-routing-demo using Vagrant. As a control I initially used simple SNAT, with the VPN clients referring directly to the actual IP of the service, while I ironed out details of OpenVPN setup and so on. Then I introduced a virtual subnet and added NETMAP before SNAT to the table:

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -d <virtual-subnet> -j NETMAP --to <actual-subnet>

which worked. I thought I had already tried this fairly simple rule in my real environment, but perhaps I had not, or something else had been broken; at any rate, I can get the analogous rule working “for real” as well. No use of marks seems to be necessary, and

iptables -t nat -L -v

now shows both rules being applied.

Firewall rules limiting which hosts and ports in the bridged subnet may be accessed from the VPN clients also seemed to work unmodified, using the actual IP ranges, e.g.

iptables -A FORWARD -p tcp -d <actual-host> --dport <some-port> -j ACCEPT
iptables -A FORWARD -s <actual-subnet> -j ACCEPT
iptables -P FORWARD DROP
share|improve this answer
If your hosts on the VPN link actually all have addresses in your range this is indeed right. Here I was thinking they were all connected to the same router with the same subnet. Glad to hear you got it sorted. – Falcon Momot Sep 19 '13 at 17:23
Their IP addresses on regular network interfaces are something else, but on the tun0 interface they are snat-routing-demo I think makes this more concrete (though it is using different example network ranges). – Jesse Glick Sep 19 '13 at 17:34

I believe in my other answer I might have misunderstood your intention somewhat, come to think of it.

If I understand you correctly, you have a VPN link between two sites, and it is supposed to route traffic between the two. But, unfortunately, the two (previously independent) sites have both ended up using the same RFC1918 address for a subnet, right? This is one of the most vexing emergent properties of RFC1918.

Still, the best solution is to renumber one of the subnets. However, if you can't, this mapping thing you are trying to do is not a bad solution.

There are, however, a couple errors in your rules.

Your SNAT rule isn't logging much traffic because it isn't matching anything besides the openvpn client router's own packets. The source address of the packets coming from the VPN link is in the range. So, the packets cross the VPN and come out the other side, but the replies to them get sent to the local segment, rather than back across the VPN, and are thereby lost.

In much the same way that you need to create a pretend network prefix to differentiate the destination address in the forward path, the reverse path address has to be differentiable too, which I guess is why you're using SNAT. So, you should amend your rules (and be more specific about what you NETMAP too, so you don't rewrite the first 3 octets of every single destination address in every subnet coming over the VPN):

iptables -t mangle -A PREROUTING -i tun0 -j MARK --set-mark 1
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i tun0 -d -j NETMAP --to
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s -m mark --mark 1 -j SNAT --to-source

The mangle rule is necessary because you can't use the input interface as a predicate in a POSTROUTING rule, so you need some other way to determine that the packet came from the VPN link and needs source NAT.

share|improve this answer
Yes, there are two previously independent sites which both happen to use parts of the 10/8 block in my case, and renumbering either is out of the question. And note that when the sites do not have a subnet conflict, the single SNAT rule works perfectly; my trouble is in combining that with network mapping. I will experiment with your suggestions here. – Jesse Glick Sep 18 '13 at 13:02
“The source address of the packets coming from the VPN link is in the range.”—not from what I can tell. At least in the working setup (distinct ranges), the source address of these packets is as expected: the IP block defined by the VPN. – Jesse Glick Sep 18 '13 at 13:23
Tried the mangle trick, not having any apparent effect. – Jesse Glick Sep 18 '13 at 13:35
It's possible I might still not have a good picture of your topology. Did you assign an address in the block to every host on the VPN client side of the link? – Falcon Momot Sep 18 '13 at 19:49 addresses get assigned automatically by OpenVPN, both to the server machine and every client. – Jesse Glick Sep 18 '13 at 21:07

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