Documentation:

How to use Pagekite to reach your UBOS device behind a firewall

If your UBOS device is behind a firewall – such as behind a home broadband router or a company firewall – your firewall will block all incoming traffic and none of the site(s) on your UBOS device are reachable from the public internet. That’s the whole point of a firewall, of course, and a good idea for security reasons.

But what if you do want to make your site accessible over the internet, either for the general public, or for your friends, or even just for yourself for when you are on the road?

One approach is to register with a dynamic DNS provider, to open a special port in your firewall and forward that special port to the IP address of your UBOS device. This certainly can work, but it tends to be difficult, clumsy (now you need to remember a funny port number!) and is often unreliable; some internet providers block such traffic, others prohibit it in their terms of service, and sometimes the firewalls themselves aren’t cooperating.

About Pagekite

Pagekite.net is open-source software combined with a paid service that has been developed by The Beanstalks Project ehf in Iceland. It provides a much simpler alternative: through some ingenious proxying, Pagekite accepts traffic destined for your device at public servers they run, and then securely routes that traffic to your device by tunneling through your firewall. All without compromising your privacy.

To set it up on UBOS, read on. UBOS bundles all necessary software, and integrates Pagekite a bit more tightly than other Linux distributions, making your life easier. Please ignore the installation instructions on pagekite.net and follow the ones here if you are running Pagekite on UBOS.

Step 1: Sign up for pagekite.net

Go to Pagekite.net and sign up for an account. They have free trials, so you can sign up without cost and see how you like it.

Let’s say you signed as user johndoe and you picked johndoe as your “kite” name, to use their terminology. When you are done with the following setup, you will be able to reach your UBOS device at http://johndoe.pagekite.me/.

Step 2: Make sure you have a site on your device that corresponds to your kite name

This only works if you have a site on your device that actually corresponds to your kite name, otherwise UBOS will not forward any traffic. So if your Pagekite kite name is johndoe.pagekite.me, make you sure you performed a ubos-admin createsite (or equivalent) of a site with that hostname on the device that you run Pagekite on.

Alternatively, you can use a site with the wildcard (*) hostname.

Note

Due to this issue, setting up a letsencrypt-protected site currently only works on redeploy. There is a workaround posted at this issue.

Step 3: Configure Pagekite on your UBOS device

Log into your UBOS device with a keyboard and monitor, or as described in How to use SSH.

Then, execute the following commands:

% sudo pacman -S --noconfirm pagekite
% sudo ubos-admin start-pagekite --kitesecret <SSS> <NNN>

where <NNN> is the name of your primary kite (johndoe.pagekite.me in our example) and <SSS> is the secret for the name. You can find both of them on the pagekite.net website after you have logged into your account there. You need to provide this information to UBOS so your UBOS device can be securely paired with the account you created on the pagekite.net site.

You only need to do this once, for sign-up.

Note

After you initially setup Pagekite, it may take a few minutes until your kitename correctly resolves to your UBOS device. This has to do with DNS propagation. In the meantime, you will get a “Temporarily Unavailable” message when attempting to access your kite.

Pagekite status

To determine the status of Pagekite on your device, execute:

% ubos-admin status-pagekite

Stop using Pagekite on your UBOS device

If you ever wanted to stop using Pagekite, simply execute:

% sudo ubos-admin stop-pagekite

UBOS Site names and Pagekite domain names

If you tell Pagekite.net that your Kite name is johndoe.pagekite.me, all public web traffic to that domain name will be routed to the website johndoe.pagekite.me on your UBOS device, or, if you are running a website with hostname *, to that site.

If you do not have a website with hostname johndoe.pagekite.me or * on your UBOS device, you will either be seeing the UBOS “Site not found” error page or a Pagekite error message.

Just like if you access your UBOS device directly, the hostname you type into your browser must match the hostname of the site you created on your device. If you use Pagekite, it might be easiest to give the “kite” name to your site when you create it on UBOS.

Note that Pagekite allows you to use sub-domains at no extra cost, so you could run sites private.johndoe.pagekite.me and business.johndoe.pagekite.me on the same UBOS device, and Pagekite will forward traffic accordingly. To make this easier, you can start Pagekite with:

% sudo ubos-admin start-pagekite --all --kitesecret <SSS> <NNN>

and UBOS will attempt to set up a kite for all sites you currently have, or future sites you will deploy to your device. Of course, this only works if you have configured the right “kites” on the pagekite.net site.