13 Jan 2014, 09:22

Follow-up: Squid, Sick-Beard, Deluge and a VPN, now with 100% more HideMyAss

So, it’s been a little bit over half a year since I published the article about how to set up an always-on seed-box/VPN using Squid, Sick-Beard, and Deluge. A little bit has changed since then.

First, I no longer use IPVanish. I had an issue with them where they double charged me for a month, and gave me a little bit of a run-around trying to resolve it. Specifically, after contacting their support, they told me that only one of the transactions was successful, the other failed. My PayPal account and my financial institute disagreed. Then they told me I’d have to take it up with PayPal. I took this as a sign that it was time to switch providers. To their (mild) credit, after pressing them for more information, they just went ahead and reversed the charge. Unfortunately for them (not that they probably care that much), I had already switched providers. I now use HideMyAss Pro VPN (disclosure: that’s an affiliate link).

In addition to having switched to HideMyAss Pro VPN, I’ve updated the infrastructure in a couple of different ways to be a bit easier to work with and a bit more flexible.

First, there’s no longer a ipvanish config file, since that’s been replaced with a hidemyass file. But that’s been symlinked to vpn via ln -s hidemyass vpn. That file, just as with the previous one for ipvanish contains the necessary config bits to connect to HideMyAss. The options.pptp file isn’t referenced, so I just left that alone and it’s ignored. I updated chap-secrets to contain the credentials that I use for HideMyAss. Of note, HideMyAss uses a different password for PPTP and L2P connections than your normal password. Find that in your dashboard.

The ipvanish.service unit for systemctl has been renamed to vpn.service so that it’ll stand up semantically to provider changes. It’s also been updated to remove any ipvanish references in favor of the more generic term vpn. It’s also not directly calling pon anymore to turn the VPN on and off. I created a couple of scripts to manage this for me.

The togglevpn.sh script is what’s called by the systemctl unit vpn.service. It just passes on or off just as were passed directly to pon. That script first calls update_vpn_to_fastest_ip.sh which calls fastest_ip.py to retrieve the IP of the fastest VPN node that’s near me (this is just a local-ish subset of the IPs that HideMyAss provides), and updates the /opt/ppp/peers/vpn link (which points to /opt/ppp/peers/hidemyass) to use that IP. After that, pon is called to turn the VPN on. Finally, Squid is updated with update_squid_outgoing_ip_to_interface.sh and then restarted.


case "$1" in
        echo "Finding fastest IP..."
        sleep 2s
        echo "Turning VPN on..."
        /usr/bin/pon vpn
        sleep 2s
        /opt/update_squid_outgoing_ip_to_interface.sh ppp0
        sleep 2s

        echo "Turning proxy off..."
        /usr/bin/poff vpn
        sleep 2s
        /opt/update_squid_outgoing_ip_to_interface.sh eth0
        sleep 2s

        $0 off
        $0 on

systemctl restart squid


# Finds the fastest Seattle IP for HMA

import sys
import re
from subprocess import Popen, PIPE
from threading import Thread

ips = [

fastest_ip = ""
lowest_ping = 100
for ip in ips:
        p = Popen(['/usr/bin/ping', '-c 1 ', ip], stdout=PIPE)
        time = str(p.stdout.read())
        m = re.search("time=([0-9.]+) ms", time)
        if m:
                ms = float(m.group(1))
                if ms < lowest_ping:
                        lowest_ping = ms
                        fastest_ip = ip
                #print("%s is alive.  round trip time: %f ms" % (ip, ms))

#print("Fastest ip is %s at %s" % (fastest_ip, lowest_ping))



echo "Updating VPN to $ipaddy..."
sed -i -e "s/^pty.*/pty \"pptp $ipaddy --nolaunchpppd\"/g" /etc/ppp/peers/vpn</pre>


case "$1" in

        ipaddy=`ip addr | grep ppp0 | grep inet | cut -d' ' -f6`

        ipaddy=`ip addr | grep eth0 | grep inet | cut -d' ' -f6 | sed 's/\/24//g'`


echo "Updating squid to $ipaddy..."
sed -i -e "s/^tcp_outgoing_address.*/tcp_outgoing_address $ipaddy/g" /etc/squid/squid.conf</pre>

All in all this works rather well for me. I have occasional issues with ppp0 dropping out. I’m not sure if this is my problem or theirs, but I just log in and systemctl restart vpn and I’m back to the races. I’ve considering setting up a cron job to do this for me every hour or so, but it’s not been that much of a problem.

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