Linux is an operating system that’s used by just a small part of the internet community. Because of this, it can be quite hard to find a VPN that works properly on these systems. Many VPNs don’t have software that runs on Linux, or they only offer a meager service. Fortunately, there are a few providers that do things differently. ExpressVPN, for example, works perfectly on Linux, has a varied and big server network, and offers fast connections:
Fed up with the Windows blue screen of death? Or maybe you grew tired of chasing the next generation of hardware needed to keep up to date with the Mac community. Or perhaps you just like the flexibility of having a fully customizable operating system. Slowly, more and more people are discovering the benefits that Linux distributions have to offer. Of course, a VPN is useful no matter what operating system you’re working with. However, when using Linux, it’s important to pick the right VPN for your Linux distribution.
There are substantial differences in the quality, utility, and user experience of a VPN for Linux users depending on which provider they choose. The simple truth is that some VPN providers have taken the trouble to provide a well-functioning app (either for the terminal or with its own UI) for Linux users, while others hardly acknowledge their existence. Below you’ll find our top three best VPNs for Linux, each with their own unique benefits. If you choose any of these VPN providers, you can be sure your Linux experience will be improved significantly.
Linux and Privacy Go Hand in Hand
There is a long-standing rivalry between users of Microsoft’s Windows operating system and users of Apple Macs. Both always claim their own OS is the very best. There’s one thing both operating systems have in common: their source code is secret and proprietary. Anytime a program’s source code isn’t open to inspection, your privacy and security could be at risk. Because of this, there’s no way to know for sure what the software is doing behind the scenes. Moreover, most successful tech companies have a habit of collecting information about their users. You won’t have this problem with Linux, because its code is open-source and available to everyone.
As a completely open-source operating system, Linux is a popular choice for privacy-concerned users. Anyone can see the source code, meaning that those who know how the code works, will know exactly what it’s capable of. If your Linux operating system contained code to collect information on its users, someone would take notice and spread the word like wildfire. That openness adds to your sense of privacy and protection.
Using a VPN
If this sense of privacy appeals to you, chances are you would also benefit from a VPN. A good VPN encrypts the data going to and from your device. This prevents man-in-the-middle attacks and keeps your data secure. Your data requests don’t go directly to the website, but are first sent through an anonymous VPN server. As a result, the sites you visit won’t be able to trace the data back to you. Your location, browser history, and searches stay private. Moreover, using a VPN enables you to get around geo-blocked content. In short, a VPN offers a greater degree of online anonymity, freedom, and security.
The Best VPNs for Your Linux
Pairing your Linux system with a VPN service is a winning combination when it comes to privacy. Unfortunately, not all VPN services will work on just any Linux distribution. It’s important to be aware of which VPN will work on which system and which options are available for each VPN, as these vary quite a bit. If you go with any of the following VPNs, you’re almost guaranteed to benefit greatly from the service. It goes without saying that all of the following VPN services have a strict no-logs policy.
Best for: Speed and reliability
Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, Arch, Raspbian
ExpressVPN is undoubtedly one of the best options for Linux users. If you use a Linux system, your distribution is most likely covered by ExpressVPN. There is no doubt that ExpressVPN’s strongest feature is its server network, which is diverse, reliable and incredibly fast. Of all VPN providers out there, ExpressVPN is the most consistent in getting the best out of your internet connection. Moreover, ExpressVPN’s security rivals that of other great VPNs in the industry. You never have to worry about accidental IP or DNS leaks coming from one of ExpressVPN’s servers.
ExpressVPN has an easy-to-use terminal app that can be controlled with a few basic commands.It’s also possible to turn a kill switch on and off. In short, you won’t have any trouble using this service. For more information, you have a look at our detailed review of this provider. The only downside to ExpressVPN is its relatively high price. Then again, at least you know you’re paying for quality.
- Very easy to use VPN
- Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Best for: Security and extra features
Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, openSUSE, RHEL, QubesOS
If privacy and security are your primary concern, NordVPN is the VPN for you. NordVPN supports several different security protocols, including OpenVPN – the gold standard of security. Where most VPNs use 256-bit encryption, which is already very strong, NordVPN uses 2048-bit SSL encryption. This means your data is beyond secure.
The terminal app for Linux also enables you to add a number of extra security features: you can choose your own DNS servers, switch off IPv6, or add a SOCKS5 proxy, multi-hop, or Cybersec (an extra tool which helps protect you from adverts, trackers, and malware). These extra tools make NordVPN very different from ExpressVPN. While Express has a slight edge in speed, NordVPN offers more technical functionality. You’ll find more tools to play with in the NordVPN toolbox.
NordVPN has servers in 59 countries. The service also uses a unique double VPN connection in many countries. For example, connecting to a VPN in Russia happens through a VPN server in the Netherlands. This makes tracking your online activity even more difficult. NordVPN also offers the choice of a dedicated IP address. This is useful for getting around the measures some websites take to block access from VPN servers. NordVPN also performs very well in speed tests, making it the fastest VPN provider for Linux after ExpressVPN.
NordVPN is no less impressive when it comes to its customer service and usability. The VPN is easy to set up, even on Linux platforms. The terminal app has a selection of intuitive commands, making it very user-friendly. If you experience any difficulty on Linux, however, there is a wide selection of guides you can consult. Moreover, if you have any problems or questions, you can access live chat support 24/7. Finally, NordVPN is cheaper than Express and they often have some great offers and promotions.
- Excellent protection and a large network of servers
- Nice and pleasing application
- No logs
Private Internet Access (PIA)
Best for: Price and UI
Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, (Fedora), Arch, (Slackware)
An interesting addition to this list is. While NordVPN and ExpressVPN tend to dominate the top of the lists in most categories, PIA has managed to find a niche position in the market: it is a very reliable, easy-to-use, and affordable VPN for Linux users who want a user interface (UI).
Very few VPNs offer apps for Linux. Instead, they require you to use the terminal or to manually add OpenVPN servers to make the service work. PIA has made things simpler by giving you the option of installing their standard UI on Linux. As a result, the Linux experience with PIA is exactly the same as with Windows. Please take note, however, that the UI is only available for Ubuntu, Debian and Arch users.
The server network and speeds of PIA’s servers aren’t as good as those of NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but they’re still more than enough for most users. More importantly, they’re reliable: the servers have stable speeds and never leak any IP or DNS information. In a way, what you give up in speed, you save in terms of money. For almost half the price of ExpressVPN, you get a service that’s more than sufficient for most users. For inexperienced Linux users, the UI also makes it a lot more accessible.
Finally, PIA has some extra features that help protect you against adverts, trackers, and malware as well as giving you the option to add custom DNS servers or a SOCKS5 proxy. All of this put together makes PIA one of the best and most affordable VPN providers for Linux users.
- Strong focus on privacy and security
- Good price
- Fast and stable servers
Best for: overall experience and usability
Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora
Mullvad is the odd one out in this list. In contrast to most other VPN providers that offer a Linux option, Mullvad has made the Linux experience so easy and streamlined as though you aren’t even on Linux. They are, like PIA, one of the few providers that give you the option of using their Windows user inferface (UI). The whole process of setting up your VPN connection is done effortlessly. Once you have obtained your login code, head to their Linux page and download the repository. Then, open the UI and select one of their many servers. That’s it. Hardly any VPN installation works so streamlined on Linux.
The server network of Mullvad is not the very best, though it is one of the better ones. Their network hosts 492 servers in 36 countries. These servers are, on the whole, very fast and very secure. We did not encounter a single instance of DNS leaks or trouble connecting to any server. They only work through the OpenVPN and Wireguard protocols, the safest ones currently available. Mullvad also have their own bridge servers to get around strong firewalls. Finally, there is also the standard kill switch.
With a steady price of €5 a month, Mullvad is slightly more expensive than the other VPNs, but for that price you get a reliable, very usable VPN experience for Linux from a company that is often hailed for its dedication to anonymity and privacy. The only downside that is important to note, however, is that Mullvad is a Swedish company and is therefore located in a 14 eyes nation. For Linux users, Mullvad is one of your best options and one of our favorite picks!
Using Linux is a great way to keep your information private. Connecting through a VPN on top of that only strengthens your online privacy and security. While there are hundreds of VPN services out there, finding one that doesn’t only protect you, but also works with your Linux operating system, is quite rare. Depending on what you wish to use your VPN connection for, any of these three VPN services could easily meet your demands for a private, fast, and more secure online experience.