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Running headscale behind a reverse proxy

Community documentation

This page is not actively maintained by the headscale authors and is written by community members. It is not verified by headscale developers.

It might be outdated and it might miss necessary steps.

Running headscale behind a reverse proxy is useful when running multiple applications on the same server, and you want to reuse the same external IP and port - usually tcp/443 for HTTPS.

WebSockets

The reverse proxy MUST be configured to support WebSockets, as it is needed for clients running Tailscale v1.30+.

WebSockets support is required when using the headscale embedded DERP server. In this case, you will also need to expose the UDP port used for STUN (by default, udp/3478). Please check our config-example.yaml.

TLS

Headscale can be configured not to use TLS, leaving it to the reverse proxy to handle. Add the following configuration values to your headscale config file.

server_url: https://<YOUR_SERVER_NAME> # This should be the FQDN at which headscale will be served
listen_addr: 0.0.0.0:8080
metrics_listen_addr: 0.0.0.0:9090
tls_cert_path: ""
tls_key_path: ""

nginx

The following example configuration can be used in your nginx setup, substituting values as necessary. <IP:PORT> should be the IP address and port where headscale is running. In most cases, this will be http://localhost:8080.

map $http_upgrade $connection_upgrade {
    default      upgrade;
    ''           close;
}

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;

    listen 443      ssl http2;
    listen [::]:443 ssl http2;

    server_name <YOUR_SERVER_NAME>;

    ssl_certificate <PATH_TO_CERT>;
    ssl_certificate_key <PATH_CERT_KEY>;
    ssl_protocols TLSv1.2 TLSv1.3;

    location / {
        proxy_pass http://<IP:PORT>;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Connection $connection_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Host $server_name;
        proxy_redirect http:// https://;
        proxy_buffering off;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
        add_header Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=15552000; includeSubDomains" always;
    }
}

istio/envoy

If you using Istio ingressgateway or Envoy as reverse proxy, there are some tips for you. If not set, you may see some debug log in proxy as below:

Sending local reply with details upgrade_failed

Envoy

You need add a new upgrade_type named tailscale-control-protocol. see detail

Istio

Same as envoy, we can use EnvoyFilter to add upgrade_type.

apiVersion: networking.istio.io/v1alpha3
kind: EnvoyFilter
metadata:
  name: headscale-behind-istio-ingress
  namespace: istio-system
spec:
  configPatches:
    - applyTo: NETWORK_FILTER
      match:
        listener:
          filterChain:
            filter:
              name: envoy.filters.network.http_connection_manager
      patch:
        operation: MERGE
        value:
          typed_config:
            "@type": type.googleapis.com/envoy.extensions.filters.network.http_connection_manager.v3.HttpConnectionManager
            upgrade_configs:
              - upgrade_type: tailscale-control-protocol

Caddy

The following Caddyfile is all that is necessary to use Caddy as a reverse proxy for headscale, in combination with the config.yaml specifications above to disable headscale's built in TLS. Replace values as necessary - <YOUR_SERVER_NAME> should be the FQDN at which headscale will be served, and <IP:PORT> should be the IP address and port where headscale is running. In most cases, this will be localhost:8080.

<YOUR_SERVER_NAME> {
    reverse_proxy <IP:PORT>
}

Caddy v2 will automatically provision a certificate for your domain/subdomain, force HTTPS, and proxy websockets - no further configuration is necessary.

For a slightly more complex configuration which utilizes Docker containers to manage Caddy, Headscale, and Headscale-UI, Guru Computing's guide is an excellent reference.

Apache

The following minimal Apache config will proxy traffic to the Headscale instance on <IP:PORT>. Note that upgrade=any is required as a parameter for ProxyPass so that WebSockets traffic whose Upgrade header value is not equal to WebSocket (i. e. Tailscale Control Protocol) is forwarded correctly. See the Apache docs for more information on this.

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ServerName <YOUR_SERVER_NAME>

    ProxyPreserveHost On
    ProxyPass / http://<IP:PORT>/ upgrade=any

    SSLEngine On
    SSLCertificateFile <PATH_TO_CERT>
    SSLCertificateKeyFile <PATH_CERT_KEY>
</VirtualHost>