I cannot figure out how it's possible that I'm getting "permission denied" as root (and as a normal user) when I launch openvpn3 on Ubuntu 23.10 :

$ openvpn3 session-start --dco true --config vpn.zrh.witopia.net.ovpn

** ERROR ** Failed preparing proxy: Error calling StartServiceByName for net.openvpn.v3.sessions: 
            Failed to execute program net.openvpn.v3.sessions: Permission denied

I'm using this version of openvpn3 :

OpenVPN3/Linux v21 (openvpn3)
OpenVPN core v3.8.2 linux x86_64 64-bit
Copyright (C) 2012-2022 OpenVPN Inc. All rights reserved.

Something might be missing execute permission, but I cannot figure out from this error message what that might be. In any event, I followed the installation instructions exactly as written so I'm at a loss. Any suggestions on where to begin troubleshooting this ?

  • What is the output for ls -l $(which openvpn3)?
    – Uberhumus
    Nov 14, 2023 at 9:48
  • # ls -l $(which openvpn3) -rwxrwxrwx 1 ziomario ziomario 502464 Oct 6 12:27 /usr/bin/openvpn3
    – Marietto
    Nov 14, 2023 at 13:02
  • And what is the output for lsattr /usr/bin/openvpn3? I'm guessing it's a file issue, but can't yet prove it.
    – Uberhumus
    Nov 14, 2023 at 13:28
  • --------------e------- /usr/bin/openvpn3
    – Marietto
    Nov 15, 2023 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


The usual reason for getting permission denied as root is that the apparmor subsystem is enabled and is restricting the program in question from accessing files in particular places.

A second but unlikely reason is that file-ACL's are enabled and preventing the action. Unlikely because file ACLs are not often configured by Ubuntu. You can view ACLs with lsattr.

A third reason is that systemd config has restricted program activity, although it is slightly less common. If systemd is involved, there will be a <servicename>.service file containing the process constraints. If nothing is visible (common) then it's probably unconstrained.

Have a look in the dmesg -H output to see if any notices seem relevant to openvpn.

  • # dmesg | grep openvpn ---> nothing.
    – Marietto
    Nov 15, 2023 at 8:03
  • I'm getting this error : Skipping acquire of configured file 'main/binary-i386/Packages' as repository 'packages.openvpn.net/openvpn3/debian lunar (and mantic) InRelease' does not seem to provide it (sources.list entry misspelt?)
    – Marietto
    Nov 15, 2023 at 8:15
  • grep is not the same as 'look at'. Attempt to run openvpn3 again, then immediately run dmesg -H and go to the end ('G').
    – rivimey
    Nov 15, 2023 at 15:52
  • Why bring in a note about use of 'apt'? If you aren't sure if openvpn is installed properly, use dpkg -V (I think V not v) to verify the package installation.
    – rivimey
    Nov 15, 2023 at 15:55
  • # apt search openvpn ---> openvpn3/now 21-1+mantic amd64 [installed,local] ; OpenVPN 3 Linux client ; # dpkg -V openvpn3 = nothing.
    – Marietto
    Nov 16, 2023 at 12:06

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