Programming language: Go
License: BSD 3-clause "New" or "Revised" License
Tags: VPN    
Latest version: v0.16.4

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[headscale logo](./docs/logo/headscale3_header_stacked_left.png)


An open source, self-hosted implementation of the Tailscale control server.

Join our Discord server for a chat.

Note: Always select the same GitHub tag as the released version you use to ensure you have the correct example configuration and documentation. The main branch might contain unreleased changes.

What is Tailscale

Tailscale is a modern VPN built on top of Wireguard. It works like an overlay network between the computers of your networks - using NAT traversal.

Everything in Tailscale is Open Source, except the GUI clients for proprietary OS (Windows and macOS/iOS), and the control server.

The control server works as an exchange point of Wireguard public keys for the nodes in the Tailscale network. It assigns the IP addresses of the clients, creates the boundaries between each user, enables sharing machines between users, and exposes the advertised routes of your nodes.

A Tailscale network (tailnet) is private network which Tailscale assigns to a user in terms of private users or an organisation.

Design goal

headscale aims to implement a self-hosted, open source alternative to the Tailscale control server. headscale has a narrower scope and an instance of headscale implements a single Tailnet, which is typically what a single organisation, or home/personal setup would use.

headscale uses terms that maps to Tailscale's control server, consult the [glossary](./docs/glossary.md) for explainations.


If you like headscale and find it useful, there is a sponsorship and donation buttons available in the repo.

If you would like to sponsor features, bugs or prioritisation, reach out to one of the maintainers.


  • Full "base" support of Tailscale's features
  • Configurable DNS
  • Node registration
    • Single-Sign-On (via Open ID Connect)
    • Pre authenticated key
  • Taildrop (File Sharing)
  • Access control lists
  • MagicDNS
  • Support for multiple IP ranges in the tailnet
  • Dual stack (IPv4 and IPv6)
  • Routing advertising (including exit nodes)
  • Ephemeral nodes
  • Embedded DERP server

Client OS support

OS Supports headscale
Linux Yes
OpenBSD Yes
FreeBSD Yes
macOS Yes (see /apple on your headscale for more information)
Windows Yes [docs](./docs/windows-client.md)
Android Yes [docs](./docs/android-client.md)
iOS Not yet

Running headscale

Please have a look at the documentation under [docs/](docs/).


  1. We have nothing to do with Tailscale, or Tailscale Inc.
  2. The purpose of Headscale is maintaining a working, self-hosted Tailscale control panel.


To contribute to headscale you would need the lastest version of Go and Buf(Protobuf generator).

We recommend using Nix to setup a development environment. This can be done with nix develop, which will install the tools and give you a shell. This guarantees that you will have the same dev env as headscale maintainers.

PRs and suggestions are welcome.

Code style

To ensure we have some consistency with a growing number of contributions, this project has adopted linting and style/formatting rules:

The Go code is linted with golangci-lint and formatted with golines (width 88) and gofumpt. Please configure your editor to run the tools while developing and make sure to run make lint and make fmt before committing any code.

The Proto code is linted with buf and formatted with clang-format.

The rest (Markdown, YAML, etc) is formatted with prettier.

Check out the .golangci.yaml and Makefile to see the specific configuration.

Install development tools

  • Go
  • Buf
  • Protobuf tools

Install and activate:

nix develop

Testing and building

Some parts of the project require the generation of Go code from Protobuf (if changes are made in proto/) and it must be (re-)generated with:

make generate

Note: Please check in changes from gen/ in a separate commit to make it easier to review.

To run the tests:

make test

To build the program:

nix build


make build


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