There is an OpenVPN server running on a Debian and it pushes a DNS in the server config file:

push "dhcp-option DNS"

Is there an option to allow the users to change that DNS servers on the client side?

Here is the catch, the openvpn server must push a DNS because otherwise many OpenVPN clients will not be able to open web pages until the manually set DNS servers in system's network settings.

My goal is to automatically apply a default DNS server to not-technically-skilled users, while also allow skilled computer users to set their own DNS servers.

Note that simply changing DNS settings on the PC while the 'push "dhcp-option DNS"' option is active on the openvpn server, does nothing. The DNS pushed by the server remains regardless of the local DNS settings.

Any ideas?

OpenVPN server config:

# cat /etc/openvpn/openvpn.conf
port 1194
proto udp
dev tun
ca ca.crt
cert server.crt
key server.key
dh dh1024.pem
ifconfig-pool-persist ipp.txt
#push "route"
#push "redirect-gateway"
push "redirect-gateway def1 bypass-dhcp"
push "dhcp-option DNS"
push "dhcp-option DNS"
keepalive 10 120
user nobody
group users
status openvpn-status.log
verb 3
script-security 3
auth-user-pass-verify /etc/openvpn/auth-chap via-env
management 5119
script-security 3 system
client-connect /etc/openvpn/scripts/clientconnect.sh
client-disconnect /etc/openvpn/scripts/clientdisconnect.sh
log-append /var/log/openvpn.log
log /var/log/openvpn.log

UPDATE: The clients operating systems are Windows and Mac

  • You haven't specified the primary operating system of your DHCP clients, so all we can really say is "yes, overriding DHCP supplied DNS servers is usually pretty trivial". What were you experiencing that suggested that this wasn't the case? – Andrew B Jan 6 '15 at 17:54
  • Sorry, the operating systems are Windows and Mac. When connected to the openvpn server I wouldn't be able to effectively change the DNS settings. For example the openvpn server supplies DNS: and when I change to a DNS in South Africa (locally) for example, my official DNS server remains (or google's analogue). One can test the DNS server on dnsleaktest c0m – Dimi Jan 6 '15 at 17:57

As of 2017 this is now possible. Add this line to your client config file:

pull-filter ignore "dhcp-option DNS"

and it will ignore all pushed config lines that start with the quoted text.

Options are matched top-down, so the first match is used. You can use this to allow some routes and reject others, if it suits your needs.

The three action keywords are accept ignore reject. I have not discovered a use case for reject.


In the official OpenVPN documentation you can find:

  When used with --client or --pull, accept options pushed by server EXCEPT for routes and 
  dhcp options like DNS servers.
  When used on the client, this option effectively bars the server from adding routes to the 
  client's routing table, however note that this option still allows the server to set the 
  TCP/IP properties of the client's TUN/TAP interface.

Unfortunately, in addition to what you're asking, this has the side effect of disabling also the redirect-gateway provided by your configuration and this can represent an issue, for your case.

What I suggest is a completely different approach.

As you explicitely mentioned: "My goal is to automatically apply a default DNS server to not-technically-skilled users, while also allow skilled computer users to set their own DNS servers." it looks like you know exactly which users you want to provide a DNS-config and which users you don't want to provide such config.

Hence, instead of pushing your config directly in the main OpenVpn config file (...and, as such, provide such config to ALL of your users), you can implement a per-user config. You can do this with:

--client-config-dir dir
  Specify a directory dir for custom client config files. After a connecting client 
  has been authenticated, OpenVPN will look in this directory for a file having the 
  same name as the client's X509 common name. If a matching file exists, it will be
  opened and parsed for client-specific configuration options. If no matching file is
  found, OpenVPN will instead try to open and parse a default file called "DEFAULT", 
  which may be provided but is not required. Note that the configuration files must 
  be readable by the OpenVPN process after it has dropped it's root privileges.
  This file can specify a fixed IP address for a given client using --ifconfig-push, as 
  well as fixed subnets owned by the client using --iroute.
  One of the useful properties of this option is that it allows client configuration 
  files to be conveniently created, edited, or removed while the server is live, without 
  needing to restart the server.
  The following options are legal in a client-specific context: --push, --push-reset, 
  --iroute, --ifconfig-push, and --config.

So, as for the main config, you should remove:

  [**** to be removed from the main config***]
  push "dhcp-option DNS"
  push "dhcp-option DNS"

and add reference to the /etc/openvpn/userconf directory (as an example. Feel free to choose whatever you like):

 [**** to be ADDED to the main config***]
 client-config-dir /etc/openvpn/userconf

Then, in such userconf directory, create one file for each of the user you want to provide such DNS, including in such file the two rows deleted above.

Obviously you're free to fine-tune the openvpn config for every user, not limiting the customization to the two rows above.

As a final note, you may be interested in the ccd-exclusive parameter as well.

  • Thanks for the effort Damiano but I'm afraid the correct answer is that the TAP adapter's DNS server should be changed, as changing the Internet connection's IPv4 properties to custom DNS servers does not help when connected to a OpenVPN server that pushes DNS servers. This way it's not required to remove anything from server configs, but to simply edit the IPv4 properties of the Windows machine's TAP adapters. – Dimi Jan 18 '15 at 11:48
  • @Dimi: actually that solution is much more limited than you make it appear. Since different VPN connections use different DNS servers and the order of establishing the links will determine which TAP adapter gets used, I cannot possibly preconfigure the TAP adapters to use a specific set of DNS, as the DNSs I am configuring may not even apply to the connection that is established using that particular TAP adapter. In short, your workaround works only iff there is but a single VPN connection always established through the same TAP adapter. – 0xC0000022L May 31 '17 at 13:31

My problem wasn't exactly the same, but the symptoms were similar enough for this question to appear in search results, so in case anyone else winds up here for the same reason:

I'm using Tunnelblick, an OpenVPN GUI for Mac OS. My OpenVPN server was not set to push any DHCP or DNS options, but the client was still using the DNS server over VPN, instead of the local, non-VPN DNS server that I wanted it to use.

The solution was to go into Tunnelblick's Configurations → Settings tab and change Set DNS/WINS to Do not set nameserver.


Thanks for @aldaviva , it's working on my macOS 10.11.

Attach my screenshot.

enter image description here

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