I have openvpn on a server and a few client configs. How can I permit only a single connection for a user? Or if not necessarily single connection, but no more than N connections for user. I've not found anything regarding this matter in the documentation.

2 Answers 2


If you provide your own connect scripts, you can control how many connections are allowed per user. The only catch is that you need to have a persistent storage of some kind. Note that the default behavior is to allow a client only once.

Here is what you need to do.

On the server, include the following lines in the config:

script-security 2
up /etc/openvpn/connectScript.sh
client-connect /etc/openvpn/connectScript.sh
client-disconnect /etc/openvpn/connectScript.sh

The duplicate-cn is needed for having simultaneous client connections, the script-security 2 is needed for running external scripts. On the client, you need to add the explicit-exit-notify option, because without that, the server won't receive a disconnect message when the client exits or disconnects, thus, the disconnect script will be called only upon timeout.

The following environmental variables will be exported for the script (along with others -- see the "Environmental Variables" section of the manpage of openvpn):

  • script_type can be either up, client-connect or client-disconnect, depending on when the script is called.
  • common_name will contain the name of the user connecting, that is, the value of the CN field of the certificate or the username, depending on what kind of authentication you have on the server.

If script_type is up, you need to clear all client connection data, since at that time openvpn just started, and no client connections are present.

If script_type is client-connect, then your script needs to decide if the user specified in the common_name variable has already been connected, and if so, how many times. If the connection is permitted, the script should exit with a value of 0. Any other exit value is interpreted as an error, and the client won't connect. So you need to count the clients with the same name, and exit with an error if there are too many connections for that user. You should decrease the count when script_type is client-disconnect.

You need to make sure that the script is runnable by the user who runs the openvpn process, which is preferably not root (specified by the user and group configuration variables).

Here is a sample connect script. using this, every client can have two connections, the third will be denied. This is a very primitive sample only, you should create a more sophisticated one, but it's a good start.


mkdir -p $PERSIST_DIR

function handle_connect {
  if [ -e "$CLIENTFILE" ]; then
     NEWCONN=$(expr $NUMCONN + 1)
     if [ $NEWCONN -gt 2 ]; then exit 1; fi
     echo 1 >$CLIENTFILE

function handle_disconnect {
  if [ -e "$CLIENTFILE" ]; then
     NEWCONN=$(expr $NUMCONN - 1)

case "$script_type" in
        rm -f $PERSIST_DIR/*
  • Just wanted to genuinely thank you, I started my own business starting with your management script :)
    – HosseyNJF
    Jun 15, 2020 at 16:25

I don't think this is possible with password authentication, as you can only limit global max-clients. However, this is default the behavior with certificate authentication.

# Uncomment this directive if multiple clients
# might connect with the same certificate/key
# files or common names.  This is recommended
# only for testing purposes.  For production use,
# each client should have its own certificate/key
# pair.

Using certificates for authentication is well explained in OpenVPN PKI HOWTO. While you need one client certificate per every client computer, you could allow more simultaneus connections for a single user by allocating him more certificates.

enter image description here

  • The blue user has two computers and needs both client1.crt and client2.crt + keys + CA (for connecting them both at the same time: if there's no need for simultaneous use, 1 is enough).
  • The red user has only one computer, so client3.crt + key + CA is enough.
  • Clients don't need server.crt and the server doesn't need to know clients: they all trust the CA.
  • how can I allow only N clients with the same config?
    – Jodimoro
    May 17, 2017 at 7:21
  • duplicate-cn is a true/false value; you either allow unlimited or just one. If some of your users needs more than one simultaneus connection, provide more certificates. May 17, 2017 at 7:23
  • does duplicate-cn allow 2 connections for the same client on different protocols: tcp and udp? if yes, how to setup that?
    – Jodimoro
    May 17, 2017 at 8:23
  • You could test, but probably not, because the setting is designed to prevent multiple connections, and the TCP/UDP option isn't related to this in any way. May 17, 2017 at 8:28
  • ok. what certificate did you mean in your previous comment? there're a few files: ca, crt, pem, key -- which
    – Jodimoro
    May 17, 2017 at 8:32

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