charon-cmd --host hostname --identity identity [options]


charon-cmd is a command-line program for setting up IPsec VPN connections using the Internet Key Exchange protocol (IKE) in version 1 and 2. It supports a number of different road-warrior scenarios.

It is available since 5.1.0.

Like the IKE daemon charon, charon-cmd has to be run as root (or more specifically as a user with CAP_NET_ADMIN capability).

Of the options below at least --host and --identity are required. Depending on the selected authentication profile credentials also have to be provided with their respective options.

Many of the charon-specific configuration options in strongswan.conf also apply to charon-cmd. For instance, to configure customized logging to stdout the following snippet can be used:

charon-cmd {
       filelog {
              stdout {
                     default = 1
                     ike = 2
                     cfg = 2



Prints usage information and a short summary of the available options.


Prints the strongSwan version.

--debug level

Sets the default log level (defaults to 1). level is a number between -1 and 4. Refer to LoggerConfiguration for options that allow more fine-grained configuration of the logging output.

--host hostname

DNS name of IP address to connect to.

--identity identity

Identity the client uses for the IKE exchange.

--remote-identity identity

Server identity to expect, defaults to hostname.

--cert path

Trusted certificate, either for authentication or trust chain validation. To provide more than one certificate multiple --cert options can be used.

--rsa path

RSA private key to use for authentication (if a password is required, it will be requested on demand).

--p12 path

PKCS#12 file with private key and certificates to use for authentication and trust chain validation (if a password is required it will be requested on demand).

--agent[= socket]

Use SSH agent for authentication. If socket is not specified it is read from the SSH_AUTH_SOCK environment variable.

--local-ts subnet

Additional traffic selector to propose for our side, the requested virtual IP address will always be proposed.

--remote-ts subnet

Traffic selector to propose for remote side, defaults to

--profile name

Authentication profile to use, the list of supported profiles can be found in the Authentication Profiles sections below. Defaults to ikev2-pub if a private key was supplied, and to ikev2-eap otherwise.

Authentication Profiles

Name Description
ikev2-pub IKEv2 with public key client and server authentication
ikev2-eap IKEv2 with EAP client authentication and public key server authentication
ikev2-pub-eap IKEv2 with public key and EAP client authentication (RFC 4739) and public key server authentication
The following authentication profiles use either Main Mode or Aggressive Mode, the latter is denoted wit a -am suffix
IKEv1 with public key client and server authentication
IKEv1 with public key client and server authentication, followed by client XAuth authentication
IKEv1 with pre-shared key (PSK) client and server authentication, followed by client XAuth authentication (INSECURE!)
IKEv1 with public key server authentication only, followed by client XAuth authentication