Linux PC on desktop

The Best VPN for Linux

Last edited: July 16, 2020
Reading time: 12 minutes, 54 seconds
Click here for a short summary
Summary: the Best VPN for Linux

Linux is an operating system that is used actively by only a small percentage of people. This could make it challenging to find a VPN that will work well on these computers.

Many VPNs don’t offer software for Linux or only offer a minimal service. But luckily there are some providers who have a different approach. ExpressVPN is one of them. The provider offers an extensive server network and fast connections for several operating systems, including Linux.

Do you want to find out what other VPNs are suitable for your Linux computer? Then please read the article below.

Only a small percentage of people use Linux, which is why software developers don’t prioritize them. The same goes for VPN developers. There are only a few providers that offer well-functioning applications for Linux. So finding a great VPN can be a challenge as a Linux user. This article will discuss the best VPN options for Linux users. We’ve tested many VPNs and we have listed the best options for you.

The Best VPNs for Linux

Linux and VPNs have something in common; they both strive to ensure your privacy and safety. A great VPN will make sure that your internet connection is secure. It will send all of your data through an encrypted virtual tunnel. So connecting your Linux system to a VPN service is a winning combo for your privacy.

Sadly, not all VPN services will be compatible with Linux. It is very important to figure out which VPNs work with which operating systems and what options are available for you. There are major differences between VPNs for Linux users when you look at quality and user friendliness. And these differences are much larger than they are for Windows users, because Linux isn’t just one operating system. Instead, there are hundreds of different versions of the OS out there.

It takes time, money, and effort to adjust the VPN software in such a way that it will work with all the different Linux systems. That is why some providers choose to only offer a certain amount of coverage, or they don’t develop VPNs for Linux at all.

You have to watch out for a couple of things when you choose a VPN for Linux. First of all, it’s important that a service provides an app for Linux. The server network, security, protocols, and functionalities are important as well. The following VPN providers are the best choice for Linux based on these criteria.

ExpressVPN: The Fastest Connection for Linux

Best at: speed and stability

Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, Arch, Raspbian

ExpressVPN is, without a doubt, one of the best options for Linux out there. The power of ExpressVPN lies in its extensive server network and the incredibly high speeds of these servers. ExpressVPN made sure that their server network is available for many Linux distros. They managed to do this by keeping the settings simple. There are no bells and whistles, just a couple of commands that allow you to choose your server and connect. One of its features is that you can enable or disable the kill switch.

ExpressVPN also offers stability. The servers function properly and provide you with the best internet speed. And if you happen to find a server that isn’t that fast, you can easily connect to one of the many other options that will give you the speed you’re looking for. You can also be sure that ExpressVPN’s security is always up to scratch. So far, we have never found any DNS or WebRTC leaks.

The only downside to ExpressVPN is that it costs a bit more than some of the other VPNs. But that money does give you a really good VPN provider that will function perfectly with Linux.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

NordVPN: Extra Security and Many Options

Best at: security and extra Options

Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, OpenSUSE, RHEL, QubesOS

NordVPN is very similar to ExpressVPN in many ways. Both VPN providers offer an extensive server network, fast servers, and are compatible with various distros. But there are some differences. ExpressVPN might be slightly faster, but NordVPN offers you a lot more options. ExpressVPN only offers you the choice of a server and a kill switch, but NordVPN gives you many more features for extra security and privacy. With NordVPN, you can set up the following features for Linux: a kill switch, automatic connections, custom DNS servers, a choice in protocols, obfuscated servers, and a dedicated IP address.

And most Linux users will want these features. People who are really privacy oriented will want obfuscated servers, cybersec, and custom DNS servers. Even though NordVPN has so many features, it is still really easy to use. The commands in the terminal all make sense and are intuitive to use. And if you do struggle with them you can check one of the many manuals.

Similar to ExpressVPN, NordVPN’s only downside is its price. But NordVPN does have many offers so you can get your VPN for a lower price. Please, check out their website to find out more.

NordVPN
Deal:
Only $3.71 a month for a 2-year subscription
9.3
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

Private Internet Access (PIA): Cheap and a Great Linux App

Best at: offered value and app

Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, (Fedora), Arch, (Slackware)

PIA dashboard in appNordVPN and ExpressVPN might have the best server networks, speeds, security, and marketing, but that doesn’t mean that PIA hasn’t made its mark on the VPN market. The reliable, privacy oriented and affordable VPN has an app that is also easy to use on Linux. PIA’s Windows app functions on Linux too, which is an added value especially for new Linux users.

PIA’s server network isn’t as extensive as NordVPN’s or ExpressVPN’s. The servers aren’t as fast either, but for most users that doesn’t really matter as long as they’re reliable and stable. And that is definitely the case for PIA. The PIA server speed is fine, it rarely fluctuates. And they almost never have security issues such as DNS leaks. And the speed you lose, is money gained, since PIA is the cheapest VPN on this list.

PIA also offers some extra functions. The app “mace” protects you from ads, trackers, and malware (just like Cybersec does for NordVPN). You can also set up custom DNS servers and even a SOCKS5 proxy. In short, PIA is one of the most reliable, affordable, and user friendly VPN providers for Linux.

PIA
Deal:
PIA is always well-priced with a 30 day money back guarantee
8.5
  • Strong focus on privacy and security
  • Good price
  • Fast and stable servers
Visit PIA

Mullvad: For the Linux Beginner

Best at: overall use and user friendliness

Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora

Mullvad has a strong “no logs” policy and offers a separate user interface (UI) for its Linux users. Installing and setting up your VPN connection is really easy with Mullvad. You can download the ‘repository’ on their Linux page as soon as you’ve created an account and have received your login details. And then you just open the app and choose a server. It’s really that simple. Mullvad’s user friendliness makes this VPN perfect if you’re not that experienced with Linux yet.

Mullvad’s server network isn’t as large as NordVPN’s or ExpressVPN’s, but it is still one of the best networks for Linux users. Mullvad has over 400 servers in 39 countries. These servers are very fast and secure. They only work through the OpenVPN and Wireguard protocol, which are the safest protocols out there. Mullvad also has its own bridge servers to bypass strong firewalls.

Mullvad costs five euro per month, which is a bit pricier than most VPNs. But this price does give you a stable, reliable, and user friendly VPN for Linux. Unfortunately, Mullvad is based in Sweden, which is a 14 eyes country. You do have to take this into account, but that doesn’t mean that Mullvad isn’t a great choice as a VPN for Linux.

Mullvad
8.3
  • Very good for privacy and safety
  • Extremely fast
  • No software for iOS
Visit Mullvad

What you Need to Look out for When Choosing a VPN for Linux

Linux logo on screen, pinguinYou have to take a couple of things into account when you’re purchasing a VPN for Linux. First of all, it’s important that you choose a provider that offers software for Linux. You also have to make sure that the right protocols are supported for your distribution and that the VPN offers plenty of features for Linux. Lastly, you have to make sure that the VPN functions properly with your distro.

We took all of these aspects into account when we picked the best VPN options for Linux. But, of course, you need to decide for yourself which aspects you find important and choose your VPN accordingly. Do you need more information on what to look out for? We have gone into some detail for each factor below.

Software for Linux

First of all, it’s important that a VPN provider offers software for Linux, since not all providers do. And very often the applications that they do offer are only available for certain distributions. If the VPN provider doesn’t offer software for your Linux version, you have to set up your VPN connection manually, which is very time consuming and complicated. And more importantly, VPN software offers security that you’ll be missing out on when you set up the connection yourself.

That is why we recommend that you buy a VPN that does offer software for Linux. You can find out whether a VPN provider offers software for your distro in our extensive reviews of various VPNs.

Linux Protocols

Usually, a VPN provider only offers a certain number of protocols for Linux – only the widely used options. So it can be frustrating if you want to use a lesser known protocol. It is therefore wise to find out which Linux protocols are supported by a VPN provider. You can find this information in the VPN provider’s manuals.

We recommend you use OpenVPN if possible, which is one of the fastest and safest VPN protocols and is supported by most distributions.

Extra Options Like Watching Netflix and Downloading Torrents

It is important to figure out what you want from your VPN when you choose one. Most VPN providers only have a part of their regular functions available for Linux users. So you might be able to torrent anonymously with a certain VPN on Windows or Mac, but not on Linux. And the same goes for Netflix. Not all VPNs for Linux offer access to the American Netflix. So if you are looking for certain functions, be sure to check that they’re available for your distro.

User Friendliness for Linux

It’s wise to compare the user friendliness of various VPNs when you’re looking at options. There are two ways to use a VPN with Linux. You can operate a VPN manually through the terminal, or you can use an app with a graphic display.

Linux app with a graphic display:

Graphic dispkay in linux app, world map with available servers

Linux app through the terminal:

Linux terminal, command lines

Many VPN providers offer a VPN connection for Linux, but often that connection does need to be operated manually through the terminal. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a problem, but it does mean that you need to have some knowledge about ‘command lines’, which isn’t beneficial for the user friendliness.

If you’d rather use a VPN provider’s software, it’s important that you select a provider that offers this software for Linux. You still need to install these applications with the terminal, but once you’ve done that you can enjoy the well-known graphic display.

Risks of (free) VPNs for Linux

There are a couple of VPNs that you should stay away from, for various reasons. One of these reasons is that some VPN providers keep logs. Logs are data files that log data about your online behavior. These files can then be linked to your IP address and can be used to identify you. There are VPNs that have handed their logs over to governments. So if you want to stay anonymous, you should choose a VPN that won’t log anything.

There are many free VPNs out there that might seem appealing. But we would advise against using these, mainly because many of them keep logs. They are also generally less secure, they have set data or speed limits, and they sometimes even spread malware. And there are only a few free VPNs that offer a Linux app anyway. So instead of a free VPN, it would be better to go for a cheaper premium VPN.

Why do you need a VPN for Linux?

There are several reasons for using a VPN. The three main ones are privacy, security, and freedom.

Privacy

All computers have a unique address, a so-called IP address. This address can be used by others to find out your location and identity. A VPN will hide your IP address, since you will adopt the VPN server’s IP address. This means that you can go online anonymously. Websites won’t be able to see who you are anymore when you visit them. A VPN will guarantee your anonymity when you go online.

Security

Linux is an “open source” operating system. This means that anyone can look into Linux’ software. As a result, weaknesses in the software will be found more quickly, which makes this operating system much safer than the others. But the internet still poses a security risk to Linux users. Whenever you connect your device to a public Wi-Fi network, hackers are able to intercept your data and can then abuse that data in many different ways. A VPN connection will protect you from this type of criminal activity.

Freedom

A well-connected VPN will give you access to blocked websites. Some websites are not available everywhere, because of geographic blocks or censorship in the country you’re currently in. A VPN allows you to connect to the internet through a server in another country. You will adopt the IP address of that server, which will give you access to the website that you want to visit.

Netflix and BBC iPlayer are examples of websites that have content which is blocked in certain locations. You can access this content anywhere in the world when you use a VPN.

Setting up a VPN on Linux

Once you’ve chosen your VPN, you obviously want to start using it as soon as possible. So below you can find a step-by-step guide which you can use to set up a VPN application on Linux.

  1. Log in to your VPN account. You can do this on your VPN provider’s website.
  2. Download the VPN for your distribution.
  3. Open the Linux terminal and go to the folder that has the VPN in it.
  4. Give the “install command” for that specific file. If that doesn’t work, you will need to decompress the file first.
  5. As soon as you’ve installed the application, you launch it and log in with your login details.
  6. Choose your server and click “connect”. You are now connected to your VPN!

Conclusion

Linux and a VPN make a great team, since together they manage to keep out unwanted visitors. A VPN also makes your internet connection more secure, since it encrypts your connection. And it is less likely that your computer will be infected by malware when you use a VPN. Unfortunately, many VPN providers only offer limited options for Linux users. So it’s very important that you check whether a VPN provider functions with your Linux distro.

Four VPN providers that work well with Linux are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, PIA, and Mullvad. If you’re looking for the best speeds, then we recommend ExpressVPN. If you want more options in the settings, then NordVPN is the VPN for you. Are you looking for a good and reliable VPN that is offered at a competitive price? Then PIA is the way to go. And Mullvad is great for extra anonymity and is easy to use.

Best VPN for Linux – Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about the best VPN options for Linux? Check out the questions below and find the answers.

We recommend ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN’s extensive server network is available for many Linux distros. The strength of this particular VPN provider is that their servers are stable and offer high speeds and excellent security.

We recommend that you avoid free VPNs, because they are usually not very secure, they often set data and speed limits, and sometimes even spread malware. And there aren’t many free providers out there that offer an app for Linux anyway. Instead of a free VPN, we would suggest that you choose one of the best VPNs for Linux.

Linux is an “open source” operating system and is committed to the security of its users. A VPN only helps with this. It can, for instance, make sure that you are protected from cybercriminals. A VPN also gives you more privacy and freedom online.

Cybersecurity analyst
David is a cyber security analyst and one of the founders of VPNoverview.com. Interested in the "digital identity" phenomenon, with special attention to the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

More articles from the ‘Best VPN’ section

Comments
Leave a comment
2
Comments
  1. I’ve been using Linux as long as I can remember and I couldn’t imagine using any other operating system now. Although as probably any other user of technology gadgets I was concerned about not getting hacked and keeping my info safe (and also being able to torrent movies in high quality), which is the main reason I decided to get a vpn. My friend was using Surfshark and he recommended for me to try it out from his account, which of course I couldn’t refuse. After reading more about it (and trying it out) I decided that it worked quite decently for torrenting and it claimed to have advanced security systems, which is why I ended up getting the subscription. So far so good, haven’t had any major problems!

    • Thank you for sharing! We have nothing but good experiences with Surfshark, so we can only agree with you. It’s definitely one of the top VPN providers we’ve tried!

Leave a comment