WireGuard is an exciting, new, extremely simple VPN system that uses state-of-the-art cryptography. Its Linux implementation runs in the kernel, which provides a significant performance boost compared to traditional userspace VPN implementations

The WireGuard kernel module is great, but sometimes you might not be able to install new kernel modules. One example scenario is on a VPS that uses OpenVZ or LXC. For these cases, we can use wireguard-go, a userspace implementation of WireGuard. This is the same implementation used on MacOS and Windows.

This post focuses on Debian, however the instructions should mostly work on other Linux distros too.

Install WireGuard Tools

We need to install the WireGuard tools (wg-quick). On Debian, you can run this as root:

echo "deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ unstable main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/unstable.list
printf 'Package: *\nPin: release a=unstable\nPin-Priority: 90\n' > /etc/apt/preferences.d/limit-unstable
apt update
apt install wireguard-tools --no-install-recommends

(see the WireGuard site for instructions if you're not on Debian)

Install Go

Unfortunately, since wireguard-go is not packaged for Debian, we need to compile it ourselves. To compile it, we first need to install the latest version of the Go programming language (currently version 1.12.6):

cd /tmp
wget https://dl.google.com/go/go1.12.6.linux-amd64.tar.gz
tar zvxf go1.12.6.linux-amd64.tar.gz
sudo mv go /opt/go1.12.6
sudo ln -s /opt/go1.12.6/bin/go /usr/local/bin/go

Now, running go version should show the version number.

Compile wireguard-go

Now that we've got Go, we can download and compile wireguard-go. Download the code:

cd /usr/local/src
git clone https://git.zx2c4.com/wireguard-go

If you are on a system with limited RAM (such as a 64 MB or 128 MB "LowEndSpirit" VPS), you will need to do a small tweak to the wireguard-go code to make it use less RAM. Open device/queueconstants_default.go and replace this:

	MaxSegmentSize             = (1 << 16) - 1 // largest possible UDP datagram
	PreallocatedBuffersPerPool = 0 // Disable and allow for infinite memory growth

With these values (taken from device/queueconstants_ios.go):

	MaxSegmentSize             = 1700
	PreallocatedBuffersPerPool = 1024

This will make it use a fixed amount of RAM (~20 MB max), rather than allowing memory usage to grow infinitely.

Now we can compile it:

cd wireguard-go
# "Install" it
sudo cp wireguard-go /usr/local/bin

Running wireguard-go --version should work and show the version number.


You'll need to configure /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf to contain the configuration for your peer. This post won't go into significant detail about this; please refer to another general WireGuard guide (like this one) for more details. Your wg0.conf should end up looking something like:

Address =
PrivateKey = 12345678912345678912345678912345678912345678
ListenPort = 51820

PublicKey = 987654321987654321987654321987654321987654321
AllowedIPs =
Endpoint =

We need to modify the systemd unit to pass the WG_I_PREFER_BUGGY_USERSPACE_TO_POLISHED_KMOD flag to wireguard-go, to allow it to run on Linux. Open /lib/systemd/system/wg-quick@.service, find:


and add this line directly below:


Finally, enable and start the systemd service:

systemctl enable wg-quick@wg0
systemctl start wg-quick@wg0

Enabling the systemd service will connect the VPN on boot, and starting the systemd service will connect it right now.

You're Done

Now, everything should be working! You can check the status of wg-quick by running systemctl status wg-quick@wg0, which should return something like:

● wg-quick@wg0.service - WireGuard via wg-quick(8) for wg0
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/wg-quick@.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (exited) since Mon 2019-07-01 06:30:30 UTC; 1 day 22h ago

Running wg will give you a list of all the peers, and some details about them:

interface: wg0
  public key: 987654321987654321987654321987654321987654321
  private key: (hidden)
  listening port: 38917

peer: 987654321987654321987654321987654321987654321
  allowed ips:
  latest handshake: 1 day, 22 hours, 59 minutes, 34 seconds ago
  transfer: 2.75 KiB received, 2.83 KiB sent
Short URL for sharing: https://d.sb/B5S. This entry was posted on 2nd July 2019 and is filed under Linux. You can leave a comment if you'd like to, or subscribe to the RSS feed to keep up-to-date with all my latest blog posts!