When I try to activate an OpenVPN connection using the network manager command:

nmcli connection up vpn_conn 

I get the following error:

Error: Connection activation failed: Could not find source connection. 

I only get the error when there is no gateway set on the ethernet connection. Does anyone know why?

I added unicast static routes to the vpn server. What is more interesting is if I set a fake gateway/default route on the ethernet connection, something like everything works just fine. It seems as though network manager will not even attempt to create the vpn connection if there is no gateway set.

Is this a bug? Where do I report it? How do I fix it?

  • If there's no gateway, your system won't know how to route the initial connection to the OpenVPN network. That's basic networking - you need a gateway address for your default connection if it's the only system on your computer to know where to reach through. The exception is if the OpenVPN server sits in the same subnet. So it's not a bug, it's basic networking controls/configurations that are missing. – Thomas Ward Apr 10 '18 at 14:52
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    thanks for the reply tom, but i added unicast static routes for the VPN servers, and the DNS server. also if i add a fake gateway like or even an IP not on my network the connection works just fine. – MoonManT Apr 10 '18 at 15:25

This is a known feature/bug in NetworkManager dating back to 2013 there needs to be a gateway set even if it does nothing or is a fake IP.


  • 4
    You can improve your answer by listing steps to create a fake IP. Also don't forget to check your answer as the accepted solution. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Apr 15 '18 at 18:27

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