How to get Hulu and Pandora in Canada

UPDATE: There was an error in one of the steps, the file /etc/ppp/options does not have to be edited, but /etc/ppp/pptpd-options does. The steps are now correct.

Like many Canadians I am jealous of the American’s and their ability to watch Hulu or listen to free music with Pandora. Both services claim they are working on making their site available to the world but I don’t like waiting.

The way these types of sites figure out that you are not an American is by your IP address. I don’t know of any way of using an American IP address on my computer at home but it just so happens I have several Cloud Servers that are located in the US which of course have American IP addresses.

I have heard of people outside the US using the Proxy server or VPN server method but I had no idea it was so easy to setup. If you already have a cloud server up and running you could literally have it working in about 5 minutes. Setting it up from scratch should take about 10 minutes.

Below are the steps I followed to setup a Ubuntu based VPN server that allows me to access these coveted American sites from either my Mac or PC.

Cloud Computing & Cloud Hosting by Rackspace

I use Rackspace Cloud Servers for all my cloud server accounts but any VPS or dedicated server provider (provided they’re servers are located in the US) will work. I used Ubuntu 10.04 but any version of Ubuntu should work.

Connect to your server via SSH and start typing commands

If you just created a new Rackspace Cloud Server you’ll want to change your password.

passwd

Next update the package list and upgrade any packages that need updating.

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

Now install the PPTP server package.

apt-get install pptpd

Specify the local and remote IP addresses. Default should work unless your local network is 192.168.123.0

nano /etc/pptpd.conf

Add these lines (or uncomment and modify existing ones)

localip 192.168.123.1
remoteip 192.168.123.234-238,192.168.123.245

Create a user account to connect to your server

nano /etc/ppp/chap-secrets

Add a user to the file in the following format:
username pptpd password *
For example:

john pptpd abc123 *

would create a user named john with a password abc123.

Now restart the pptpd service

/etc/init.d/pptpd restart

You should be able to connect to your server via PPTP but you won’t be able to access any websites outside your server without a few more steps.

Setup DNS servers in the PPP Server options

nano /etc/ppp/pptpd-options

Uncomment and change the 2 lines starting with ms-dns
This sets up your server to make DNS requests via OpenDNS

ms-dns 208.67.222.222
ms-dns 208.67.220.220

Open the system configuration file and setup IP forwarding

nano /etc/sysctl.conf

Uncomment the following line

net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

To make the system configuration changes take effect:

sysctl -p

Edit this file

nano /etc/rc.local

Add these two lines above exit (0) in this file:

/sbin/iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s 192.168.123.0/24 -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
/sbin/iptables -I FORWARD -p tcp -syn -i ppp+ -j TCPMSS -set-mss 1356

Server is done. You can connect to this server using any PPTP client.

Cloud Computing & Cloud Hosting by Rackspace

7 comments

  1. Hi John,

    This is exactly what i need! However, I could not seem to get this to work after following these instructions. I can connect via PPTP (using my mac) just fine, but cannot see any web pages. I have set the ms-dns to the openDNS ips, but still no go.

    Any ideas?

  2. Hey John,

    Great post- thanks! 🙂

    Could you let us know what sort of bandwidth/ other cost you are paying with Rackspace for the proxy server usage?

    Thanks!

  3. I added these two lines
    /sbin/iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s 192.168.123.0/24 -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
    /sbin/iptables -I FORWARD -p tcp -syn -i ppp+ -j TCPMSS -set-mss 1356

    to /etc/rc.local

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