5 best VPNs for Linux today (and which ones to avoid)

Last updated by   Ruheni Mathenge
Disclosure
Looking for the best VPN to install on your Linux OS? Check out these safe, fast, and reliable options compatible with different Linux distros.
VPN for Linux

Linux is a free operating system that is a top choice for people concerned with their privacy. This is because it is open-source and highly customizable. Also, it is considered to be more secure against cyber threats than other platforms like Windows and macOS.

However, your internet service provider (ISP) and other third parties can still access your data. That is why you need to install a virtual private network (VPN) on your Linux OS. Unfortunately, the choices are somehow limited as only a few quality VPNs support Linux.

In this guide, we’ll look at the top 5 VPN services for Linux, how to install a VPN on Linux, and much more.

Best Linux VPNs – The quick list

Are you short on time? Here is a sneak peek of the top VPNs for Linux.

  1. NordVPN – Our top pick VPN for Linux. It is easy to install and use, great at unblocking streaming websites and offers solid security.
  2. ExpressVPN – Compatible with various Linux distros. Also, it bypasses even the most stubborn geo-blocks, has fast-speed servers, and uses advanced security features.
  3. Surfshark – Does not limit the number of connections. Moreover, it provides high-speeds, dependable security features, and affordable packages.
  4. ProtonVPN – Best free VPN for Linux. The app is exceptionally effortless to use, secure and excellent for unblocking geo-blocked content.
  5. IPVanish – Budget-friendly VPN for Linux. It offers high-speed connections on selected servers and an impressive list of privacy and security features.

Why is a VPN for Linux necessary?

Linux does better than other operating systems when it comes to protection against malware and viruses. However, you still need a VPN if you are a Linux user. Here is why.

Maintain your anonymity

Although Linux is less vulnerable to malware attacks, it doesn’t have any measures to hide your internet traffic. A VPN will encrypt your traffic and alter your IP address. This will make it impossible for third parties to monitor or trace your online activities.

WiFi security

These days, Wi-Fi hotspots are available virtually everywhere, from schools, coffee shops, airports, etc. However, these are insecure networks, and hackers can easily spy on your online activities and even steal your data. A VPN encrypts your traffic, which makes it impossible for anyone to access your information.

Evade geo-restrictions

Many apps, websites, and other online services restrict their content to specific regions because of licensing and copyright issues. However, a VPN lets you connect to a server in another country, evading geo-restrictions. So, for example, you can be in the UK and connect to a US server. This will even make you seem like you are within the US.

Torrent unrestricted

While it’s perfectly legal, many ISPs still restrict downloading torrents due to the association with copyrighted material. In most cases, they can limit the bandwidth or even penalize your account if you are found torrenting. Using a VPN will make your torrenting activities anonymous, and even your ISP won’t see what you are doing.

5 best Linux VPNs today – The detailed list

Many VPN providers offer a Linux client, but only a few are convenient to use. These are the top Linux VPN services available.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Best VPNs 600x300

Key features:

  • Native Linux app
  • 5266 servers in 60 countries
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Automatic kill switch
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

NordVPN is the best VPN for Linux (Ubuntu), based on our extensive tests and research. It is reasonably priced, unblocks all the major streaming sites, and offers a command-line Linux app.

Unfortunately, the command-line doesn’t have a graphical user interface (GUI). However, it is much simpler to set up and use than configuring servers manually. In addition, the app has impressive features found on other operating systems like adblocker, malware filters, and automatic kill switch.

The provider has over 5,266 ultra-fast servers distributed across 60 countries worldwide. It will protect your connections with AES 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, and IKEv2 protocol. In addition, it observes a strict zero-logs policy and doesn’t retain any logs to keep you anonymous. 

Moreover, NordVPN is good at unblocking content and can bypass streaming restrictions such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc. Thankfully, it has specialized servers for streaming to give you a smooth watching experience.

Pros:

  • Emphasizes security and privacy
  • Unblocks popular streaming sites
  • Super-fast servers

Cons:

  • No free trial

2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Best VPNs 600x300

Key features:

  • Native Linux app
  • 3000 servers in 94 countries
  • TrustedServer technology
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Automatic kill switch
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN is a well-known VPN for Linux because of the native app, exceptional security, and blazing-fast speeds.

The provider introduced the Linux app in 2016. Sadly, it lacks the GUI and only runs on a command-line interface. However, it’s much easier to manage than downloading configuration files for each server you want to use.

ExpressVPN has a massive network with over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. Fortunately, it keeps the server list up-to-date for improved performance. Also, the TrustedServer technology will ensure that the servers will not retain any of your data.

The only downside with ExpressVPN is that its plans are pricier than rivals. Fortunately, you can take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee and test the service risk-free. In addition, it works well with Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, and Kali.

ExpressVPN easily bypasses restrictions of popular streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, HBO max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. In addition, with the fast-speed servers and unlimited data, you’ll be able to watch content in ultra HD.

Pros:

  • Comprehensive privacy and security features
  • Substantial server network
  • High-speed connections

Cons:

  • Slightly pricier

3. Surfshark

SurfShark Best VPNs 600x300

Key features:

  • Linux app
  • 3200 servers in 65 countries
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Camouflage mode
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Surfshark is the best VPN to unblock sites on Linux. It has budget-friendly plans and offers a command-line app for Debian and Ubuntu distros.

The provider has more than 3200 servers in 65 countries to enable you to access content and apps not available in your region. For example, you can unblock movies and TV shows on Hulu, Netflix, DAZN, etc.

Besides streaming, the VPN also supports P2P sharing. Its servers produce sufficient speed to handle even large downloads. Luckily, it follows a no-logs policy religiously, so your torrenting activities will remain private.

Surfshark will secure your web traffic with military-grade AES 256-bit encryption and perfect forward secrecy. In addition, it also has an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a variety of security protocols.

The camouflage mode will hide your VPN activity and make your connection look normal. Surfshark is a helpful feature if you live in a country with strict internet censorship like China.

Pros:

  • Plenty of privacy and security features
  • Does not retain identifiable data
  • Reliable customer support

Cons:

  • Some servers are occasionally slow

4. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN Best VPNs 600x300

Key features:

  • Linux app
  • 1318 servers in 55 countries
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • No-logs policy
  • Free plan
  • P2P sharing
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

ProtonVPN is another excellent VPN to stream content abroad on Linux. This is because it has a command line that allows you to easily access and manage the servers from anywhere.

The best thing about the ProtonVPN Linux app is that it’s open-source, which means you can inspect and modify the code. Besides, it works well with Ubuntu, Kali, Fedora, Solus, and Arch Linux/Manjaro. Also, OpenVPN is the default protocol on all connections, and you can easily switch between servers.

Apart from offering affordable packages with a 30-day-money-back guarantee, ProtoVPN also has a free plan. It does not cap the data but allows you to connect only one device and access servers in 3 locations.

Pros:

  • Strong privacy and security
  • Support torrenting
  • Unblocks streaming services

Cons:

  • Lacks a live chat

5. IPVanish

IPVanish

Key features:

  • Linux app
  • 1900 servers in 75 countries
  • No-logs policy
  • Kill switch
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

IPVanish is compatible with the Linux platform with easy-to-follow tutorials for Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, Kali, Lubuntu, and Pop! OS by System 76.

It will protect your connections from end-to-end in real-time with AES 128/256-bit encryption. This is strong security to prevent your ISP, hackers, advertisers, and third parties from monitoring your activities. Also, IPvanish does not record your logs to keep you completely anonymous.

The IPVanish VPN can evade geo-restrictions of popular streaming services such as Fox US, Hotstar India, BBC iPlayer UK, etc. In addition, it will enable you to watch blocked content on Youtube. But, unfortunately, it is unable to bypass all restrictions.

Pros:

  • Highly configurable
  • Doesn’t monitor your activities
  • Reasonable pricing

Cons:

  • Unable to bypass all restrictions

Tips on how to choose a reliable VPN for Linux

Here are the most crucial factors to look out for when choosing a Linux VPN:

  • A dedicated Linux app with a straightforward GUI or command-line interface will make the VPN effortless to use. However, sometimes manual configuration can be laborious and simple tasks like connecting to a server require additional steps. So, if ease-of-use is your top consideration, choose a VPN service with a dedicated client.
  • Distro support is essential when using a VPN on Linux. If the VPN you are using doesn’t support Mint, you’ll have to move on.
  • Security measures vary significantly with different VPN providers. Nonetheless, some of the crucial features to consider includes military-grade encryption, kill switch, ad/malware blocker, and DNS leak protection.
  • Device support is an essential consideration if you plan to use the VPN on your smartphone, laptop, and PC. Many premium VPNs that support Linux also have apps for Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and other popular platforms. In addition, it is also necessary to look out for the number of simultaneous connections the VPN offers.
  • The server network should have worldwide coverage. This will enable you to access whatever you want from anywhere. Also, it’s easy to find a fast-speed connection as there will be less traffic load on each server.
  • Unblocking capability is a crucial factor to consider, especially if you live in a region with strict censorship. For example, if your government has banned WhatsApp, you can connect to a server where the app is available. Also, a VPN with great unblocking capability will help you stay afloat if you are an international traveler.
  • Speed will reduce when you connect to a VPN server. A slight decrease is understandable because of the encryption process. However, some services will decrease the speed to a crawl and even increase the ping rate. On the other hand, premium providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN will bypass ISP throttling, which will improve your speed. You’ll need a fast VPN if you constantly engage in data-intensive activities like streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
  • Reliable customer support will ensure that assistance is readily available when you need it. For example, you’re guaranteed to get prompt help with a 24/7 live chat. On top of that, some provider also offers email and phone support.
  • The money-back policy lets you try the service risk-free and ask for a refund if it doesn’t meet your needs. For example, a VPN company that doesn’t allow you to test its product before committing to a subscription is probably not confident about its quality.

VPN services you should avoid using on Linux

Not many VPNs offer support for Linux or provide limited support. In addition, some have a lot of security and privacy issues. Fortunately, the services we have listed above follow a strict no-logs policy, which means they don’t retain your identifiable information. As a result, hackers cannot infiltrate the provider’s servers and steal your data. Also, the company will not have any data to sell to third parties or submit to law enforcement.

Moreover, avoid VPN services that provide only PPTP protocol. It contains a lot of security vulnerabilities, although it is fast and straightforward to configure.

Below are some of the VPNs you should avoid:

1. SecurityKISS

SecurityKISS is a top-rated free VPN for Linux, and a simple search on Google might lead you to it. However, it is known for collecting IP addresses and connection logs, which can compromise your security. Also, it caps data to only 300Mbs per day on the free version.

2. Itshidden

This is a free VPN based on the PPTP protocol, so it’s obviously not secure. Also, its privacy policy is very vague and even contains typos. For example, it is only one sentence and does not pronounce the company’s logging practices.

3. USAIP

USAIP is another mediocre VPN that claims to offer quality service. However, its latest Linux client only uses PPTP. Also, it doesn’t have DNS servers, so your ISP can still see your online activity. In addition, it doesn’t reveal its logging practices.

4. TunnelBear

This is a premium VPN, but it doesn’t offer a native Linux client. TunnelBear requires you to go through a manual configuration process, which is tiresome and time-wasting.

5. VyprVPN

VyprVPN is also a premium service, and we’ve even featured it in several reviews. However, it only supports Linux Mint and Ubuntu. In addition, it doesn’t have a client and tutorial if you are using Red hat-based Linux.

The methodology we used to test these VPNs for Linux

At PrivacySavvy, we use comprehensive and rigorous methods to test the VPNs we recommend. With these VPN services for Linux, we looked at:

  • User experience an app quality
  • The Linux distros supported
  • Support and documentation for users
  • Manual configurations with third-party VPN clients

We passed each VPN through a qualitative and quantitative test to present our readers with a service they can rely upon. The tests include:

  • Leak tests: We checked whether the VPNs leaked any data, including DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC.
  • Speed Test: We connected to servers in different regions to see how they perform and the speed they produce. 
  • Bypassing geo-restrictions: Many streaming services use tough geo-blocks. So, we had to find VPNs that can easily evade restrictions of popular sites such as Netflix.

Every VPN we have recommended on this list has passed our yardstick of quality, privacy, and security. This means they use the latest encryption and do not log IP addresses, activity logs, or other identifying data.

Additional security for Linux 

A VPN will secure your Linux system, but you need to do more for complete protection. Linux has vulnerabilities, like other operating systems, that malicious actors can exploit. Here are extra tools you can use to remain utterly secure.

  • Antivirus software. You can check out our list of best antivirus avilable today.
  • Tripwire.
  • Anti-rootkit software.
  • Firewall. Our this article here lists quality free firewalls, you can find one for your Linux there.
  • Secure browser extensions.

The best Linux distro for privacy

Going for an open-source Linux distro is a good move if you are concerned with your privacy. Conventional platforms such as Windows and macOS are known for collecting personal data.

Also, they have a reputation for collaborating with intelligence agencies and law enforcement. Moreover, both operating systems are closed-sourced, preventing the public from viewing the source code to check for backdoors and vulnerabilities.

On the other hand, Linux is open source and is constantly audited to eliminate threats. There was a time Ubuntu toyed with Amazon to monetize users. However, it and other Linux distros are not in the business of selling users’ data to third parties.

Remember that all distros aren’t created the same, with some being more secure than others. Ubuntu Privacy Remix (UPR) is your best bet if you want a daily use distro with privacy and online security. This is built on Debian-based Ubuntu and keeps user data on an encrypted external hard drive. Since the OS is difficult to manipulate, it cannot get malware infection.

However, you will still require a VPN to secure your internet traffic. Most of the services we have recommended above work well on UPR.

If UPR doesn’t meet your needs and still needs complete privacy on your computer, you should opt for TAILS. It stands for The Amnesiac Incognito Live System and is a Linux distro created by the same people who built the Tor Network.

This is a live operating system to be installed and run from external storage like CD or USB drive. The best thing about it is that it passes internet connections through the Tor Network for added anonymity.

Linux and VPN protocols

A VPN protocol is a method your device uses to connect to a secure server. They have different specifications and features. For example, while some focus on privacy and security, others prioritize speed.

Linux and Wireguard

Wireguard is the newest protocol, and many VPNs already have or are in the process of integrating it. This protocol promises improved speed and competitive security than its competitors like IKEv2 and OpenVPN.

Although it now works on almost all platforms, it was initially released for the Linux kernel. So, this means that you can use it within the VPN app or configure it manually. From the above list, NordVPN and Surfshark offer the protocol.

Currently, the Wireguard protocol is compatible with OpenSUSE, Debian, Fedora, Red Hat, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, CentOS, and other numerous Linux distros.

Linux and OpenVPN

Even if a VPN service doesn’t offer a dedicated Linux distro client, certainly most of them have OpenVPN protocol. So, to establish a VPN connection on your Linux, you’ll only need to download a config file of the server. Although this can get tedious if there are several server options, it’s perfectly viable.

OpenVPN is a great protocol, but the generic client lacks crucial features such as kill switches and DNS leak protection. Again, you can get third-party solutions for these. However, we prefer the convenience and reliability of clients that come with the incorporated features.

How to install and connect to OpenVPN on Linux

In this section, we’ll take you through the process of installing the OpenVPN client on Ubuntu. Nonetheless, the procedure is similar to other distros like CentOS and Mint, but the commands may vary slightly.

  1. Open a terminal
  2. Type sudo apt-get install –y openvpn and click Enter
  3. Then type your admin password and press Enter
  4. Type y and tap Enter to accept all the dependencies and complete the installation process
  5. Enter sudo apt-get install network-manager network manager-openvpn network-manager-openvpn-gnome and press Enter
  6. Enter sudo apt-get install open easy-rsa

Remember that you may need to change the ‘apt-get’ command with ‘yum’ with the newer versions of Ubuntu.

After installing the OpenVPN protocol, you need to find the config file. In most cases, you can get them on the VPN provider’s website. Note that each config file is linked with a specific server, so download several for each location if possible. Also, ensure you have backups in case one of the connections goes down.

Use the following guide to connect through the command line. It should work with most Linux distros.

  1. With OpenVPN installed, type sudo openvpn –config in the terminal and press Enter
  2. Drag and drop the .ovpn config file for the server you want to connect to into the terminal. The right path will be captured automatically.
  3. Press Enter and wait for the ‘Initialization Sequence Completed’ message. You can now connect to the VPN. Note that closing the terminal window will disconnect you from the VPN, so you can only minimize it.

This is just one of the methods of establishing a VPN. Alternatively, you can also try the OpenVPN GUI or Ubuntu Network Manager. However, this may need private keys or CA certificates, so ensure the provider offers them.

How to create a VPN kill switch in Linux?

If the VPN connection drops accidentally, your device will continue to transmit your traffic through your ISP’s unprotected network. Fortunately, you can create a simple kill switch to prevent this from happening. In this section, I’ll show you how to write rules with Ubuntu Ultimate Firewall (UFW) application and iptables.

The first step is to make a startvpn.sh script to set up the firewall rules. They only allow traffic over the VPN’s tun0 network interface.

VPN kill switch in Linux screenshot 1

It’s impossible for network traffic to route through another network’s interface with these firewall rules. So, if the VPN stops working, it gets rid of the tun0 interface from your system. This means that your traffic won’t pass through as there isn’t any interface, and the internet connection will close.

After ending the VPN session, you need to remove the rules to let your traffic flow over your real interfaces. The easiest way to do it is to deactivate the UFW application. However, you’ll have to create a more sophisticated tear-down script if UFW rules are running normally. The one below will eliminate the firewall rules and remove the openvpn with stopvpn.sh script.

VPN kill switch in Linux screenshot 2

In case you use another method to connect to your VPN, you can remove the last two lines on each script. However, you’ll have to remember to run the startvpn.sh manually before you start the VPN with other means. Running the stopvpn.sh script isn’t complicated after ending your VPN session. In fact, you’ll notice that your internet cannot connect until you run it.

Creating your own VPN

Besides the commercial VPN services, there is also an option to create a DIY VPN solution for Linux, including setting up a server. Some of the common examples include Digital Ocean and Amazon Web Services. In addition, various tools are at your disposal to help you make a homegrown VPN. They include:

  • Streisand
  • OpenVPN
  • Algo
  • StrongSwan
  • SoftEther

Although creating your own VPN allows you to control almost every aspect of the VPN, there are a few downsides. First, it isn’t easy and involves much work compared to using pre-configured servers and existing apps. Second, your data will still route through third parties when using cloud services such as Digital Ocean or AWL. Third, you can only access a single server and location.

Lastly, launching your own VPN means that only you and maybe a few of your friends will be using it. As a result, tracing web traffic to a specific individual will be much easier. On the other hand, the premium VPNs we have recommended on this list use shared IP addresses. They pool hundreds of users together on a single IP, making it difficult to monitor or track user’s activities.

A quick guide to installing a VPN on Linux

There are several ways you can install a VPN on Linux. However, the type of distribution you are using will determine the package you’ll install, including Debian, tar.zst, or RPM. But still, below is a general guideline you should follow.

  1. Download the VPN’s repository package from the service provider’s website
  2. Install the repository. The process will depend on your Linux version
  3. In most cases, you’ll have to update the package list
  4. Finally, install the actual VPN software

Once you have completed the steps above, you can open the app and use the GUI or terminal to connect to the servers.

How do I connect a VPN using Linux Network Manager?

The process will depend on the VPN provider and protocol you are using. Download the OpenVPN config files from the site and import them to the Linux Network Manager. Check on the official VPN’s website for documentation. Then, use the following steps to do it.

  • On the top right of the screen, click the network button
  • Tap on VPN off and choose VPN settings from the drop-down menu
  • Click the (+) icon across from VPN
  • Import your config fie or choose the protocol that you want to configure and enter the details
  • Click Add
  • The VPN connection will now appear in the configuration window. Click the slider to turn it green and activate the VPN

Which one is the best free Linux VPN

ProtonVPN is a great option if you are on a budget and looking for a decent Linux-free VPN. It’s not an entirely free VPN but a premium service with a free plan. What separates it from the rest is the unlimited data and several server locations.

More importantly, the company employs the necessary security and privacy measures even on the free version. For example, it offers AES 256-bit encryption, does not retain logs, and is based in a privacy-friendly country, Switzerland.

Furthermore, ProtonVPN’s Linux client has a simplified GUI and can even be used through the terminal. So, while the customer support can be refined, it is much better than what you would get with a completely free VPN.

There aren’t many alternatives we can recommend. This is because most of them don’t offer support for Linux, have data caps, or come with security issues. These compromises are not worth making, yet you can opt for ProtonVPN.

Conclusion

Shifting to Linux is a step in the right direction to protect your online privacy. However, there are still many security threats, and using a trustworthy VPN service will elevate your anonymity to a new level.

On top of maintaining your online security and privacy, a VPN will also help you bypass restrictions on streaming services. Our top recommendation is NordVPN, as it offers a dedicated Linux app and robust security.

FAQs

Is it safe to install a VPN on Linux?
Are VPNs for Linux legal?
How can I download a free Linux VPN?
How do I set up an L2TP VPN connection on Linux?
Can I connect a VPN automatically on Linux?
 Will a VPN help me avoid viruses when downloading torrents on Linux?
Will a VPN affect my internet speed?
Share this article

About the author

Ruheni Mathenge
Ruheni Mathenge

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Alex is a strong advocate of digital freedom and online privacy.

Comments

No comments.

Got Something to Say?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.