Linux is an operating system that is only actively used by a small portion of the world’s population. Because of this, it can be difficult to find a VPN that works well on it. Many VPN’s do not have software for Linux or only offer a meager service. Fortunately, there are also providers who take a different approach. ExpressVPN for example, also offers an extensive server network and fast connections for Linux:
Relatively few people use Linux. Therefore, Linux users are often unfortunately a low priority for software developers. This also applies to developers of VPN’s. Very few VPN’s offer good applications for Linux. This makes it difficult to find a good VPN if you use this operating system. In this article you will read all about about the best VPN’s for Linux. We have tested a whole range of VPN’s and listed the best options for you.
The best VPN for Linux
Linux and VPN’s both pursue the same goal: ensuring your privacy and security. A good VPN provides a secure connection between you and the Internet. All your Internet traffic is sent through an encrypted virtual tunnel. Pairing your Linux system with a VPN service is therefore a winning combination when it comes to privacy.
Happily, not all VPN services will work on every Linux distribution. It is important to know which VPN will work on which system and what options are available. There are big differences between VPN’s when it comes to quality and usability for Linux users. These differences are much greater than with Windows, because Linux is not ééone operating system. After all, it consists of hundreds of different versions.
- It takes time, money and effort to customize the VPN software so that it runs properly on different Linux systems. For this reason, some providers choose to do this in a very limited way or not at all. Fortunately, there are a few VPN providers who do their best to make a fine VPN application for Linux users as well.
- When evaluating the best VPN’s for Linux, you should pay attention to several criteria. Of course, it is important that the VPN has an application for Linux. Also, the server network, the security, the protocols and the functionalities are important. Based on these criteria, the following VPN providers come out on top.
ExpressVPN: for the fastest connection on Linux
Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, Arch, Raspbian.
ExpressVPN is undoubtedly one of the best options for Linux users. The strength of ExpressVPN lies in the extensive server network and the incredibly fast speeds of those servers. ExpressVPN has ensured that the large server network is available for many Linux distro’s. This has been achieved by keeping the settings simple. There are no bells and whistles, just a few simple commands’to choose your server and connect to it. One such simple command is the ability to turn the kill switch on and off.
- In addition, ExpressVPN is very stable. The servers almost always run properly and get the maximum out of your internet connection speed. If you come across a server that is not as fast, there are always plenty of other servers that do get the most out of it. ExpressVPN’s security is also always up to par. To date, we have not encountered any DNS or WebRTC leaks.
- The only drawback of ExpressVPN is its relatively high price compared to other VPN providers. However, for that money you get a écht good VPN provider that works perfectly with Linux. Moreover, you test ExpressVPN for free for 30 days with the money-back guarantee.
NordVPN: extra security and lots of features
Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, OpenSUSE, RHEL, QubesOS.
NordVPN is similar to ExpressVPN in many ways. Both VPN providers have an extensive server network, fast servers and run on many different distro’s. Still, there are a few differences. ExpressVPN is slightly faster, but NordVPN gives you more options. While ExpressVPN only lets you choose a server and turn on the kill switch, NordVPN gives you all kinds of extra settings for extra security and privacy. For example, with NordVPN you can set the following options on Linux: the kill switch, auto-connect, custom DNS servers, protocol selection, obfuscated servers and a dedicated IP address.
- Most Linux users will not find these additional features an unnecessary luxury. In fact, for the écht privacy-oriented people, obfuscated servers, cybersec and custom DNS servers are very nice. Despite its many options, NordVPN is easy to use on Linux. The terminal commands’s are logical and intuïtive. If you do have difficulties, you can check out their many guides.
- As with ExpressVPN, the only drawback of NordVPN is its relatively high price. However, NordVPN does have many special promotions to get a cheaper subscription, including the money-back guarantee.
Private Internet Access (PIA): cheap a good Linux app
Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, (Fedora), Arch, (Slackware).
NordVPN and ExpressVPN may have the best server networks, speeds, security and marketing. Yet PIA has managed to occupy a special place in the VPN market. This reliable, privacy-oriented and affordable VPN has an app that is easy to use even on Linux. In fact, at PIA, the Windows app also works on Linux. This is especially of added value for the somewhat less experienced Linux users
- The server network at PIA is not as extensive as at NordVPN and ExpressVPN. The servers are also not as fast, but for most users this is not necessary. As long as the servers are reliable and stable . This is certainly the case with PIA. The speeds of PIA servers are fine, rarely fluctuate and rarely suffer from security problems such as DNS leaks. What you sacrifice in speed, you also see back in your wallet. PIA is in fact the cheapest VPN in this list.
- At last, PIA also has a lot of extra features. The app “mace” protects you from ads, trackers and malware. 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.
Mullvad: for the novice Linux user
Available for: Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora.
Mullvad has a strong ‘no log’policy and offers a separate user interface (UI) for Linux users. Installing and setting up a VPN connection with Mullvad is incredibly easy. Once you’ve created an account and received your login code, you download the ‘repository’ on its Linux page. Then you open the app and choose a server. It’s that simple. Mullvad’s ease of use makes it the perfect VPN for the less experienced Linux user.
- Mullvad’s server network is not as large as NordVPN’s or ExpressVPN’s, but it is still one of the best server networks for Linux users. Mullvad offers over 400 servers in 39 countries. These servers are very fast and very secure. They operate only through the OpenVPN and Wireguard protocols, the most secure protocols available. Mullvad also has its own bridge servers to bypass strong firewalls.
- With a fixed price of €5 per month Mullvad is slightly more expensive than most other VPN providers. However, for this price you get a stable, reliable, and very user-friendly VPN for Linux users. Unfortunately, Mullvad does have its headquarters in Sweden, a 14 eyes country. If you take this into account, Mullvad can still serve as a good VPN for Linux.
What should you consider when choosing a VPN for Linux?
When you want to buy a VPN for Linux, you need to take into account a number of things. For example, it is important that the VPN software is available for Linux. In addition, you should pay attention which protocols are supported for your distribution. Furthermore, it is important that the VPN makes enough features available on Linux. Finally, it is good to see if the VPN is user-friendly for your needs. We have taken all these aspects into account when choosing the best VPN’s for Linux. Decide for yourself which elements you find important and choose a VPN that suits you. Want more information on what exactly to look for? We briefly explain each factor below.
Software for Linux
First of all, it’s important that the VPN provider has software for Linux. This is not always the case. In addition, applications are often only available for certain distributions. If the VPN provider does not have software for your Linux version, you have to set up the VPN connection manually. This is very time-consuming and complicated. In addition, VPN software offers more security in most cases. We recommend you to buy a VPN that offers software for Linux by itself. In our extensive reviews of VPN providers you can read whether a VPN provider has software for Linux.
Protocols for Linux
Often a VPN provider offers a limited number of protocols for Linux. These are usually only the commonly used options. If you want to use a lesser known protocol, this can be annoying. So it is wise to first find out which protocols are supported by your VPN provider when it comes to Linux specifically. You can find the protocols in the manuals of the VPN provider. By the way, we recommend using OpenVPN or WireGuard whenever possible even on Linux. These are the fastest and most secure VPN protocols. Moreover, it is supported by most distributions.
Extra options like watching Netflix and downloading torrents
When choosing a VPN for Linux, it is wise to pay attention to exactly what your needs are. With most VPN providers, only some of their regular features work for Linux users. For example, a VPN may allow you to download torrents anonymously on Windows or Mac OS, but not on Linux systems. The same goes for Netflix. Not all VPN’s for Linux offer access to the American Netflix. So if you want certain features, check first if they are available for your distro.
User-friendliness for Linux
When comparing VPN providers, it’s wise to look at the usability of VPN’s. There are two ways to use a VPN with Linux:
- Manually control a VPN via the terminal.
- Use a VPN client with a graphical view.
Many VPN providers offer a VPN connection on Linux, but usually you then have to control this VPN via terminal. This is not necessarily a problem, although operating it manually requires some technical knowledge of ‘command lines’. This is not conducive to usability.
If you prefer to use the easier software from a VPN provider, it is wise to pay close attention to this. By the way, you still have to install these applications with terminal. Once installed, they offer the familiar graphical display.
Dangers of (free) VPN’s on Linux
There are some VPN’s that you are better off staying away from. There are several reasons for this. One of these reasons is the maintenance of logs. Logs are information files that track information about your internet usage. These can then be linked to your IP address. Based on these logs, your true identity can be found out. There are VPN’s that have even handed over this log data to governments. If you want to remain completely anonymous, choose a VPN that does not keep logs.
There are many free VPN’s that may seem attractive. Yet we often advise against them, in part because many free providers keep logs. In addition, free VPN’s are generally less secure, have data or speed limits and sometimes even spread malware. In addition, there are few free VPN’s with a Linux application. Instead of a free VPN, it is better to choose a relatively cheap premium VPN.
Why do you need a VPN on Linux?
There are several reasons to use a VPN. The three main reasons are privacy, security and freedom.
All computers have a unique address, called an IP address. With this address, others can find out your location and identity. A VPN hides your IP address, so you can surf the Internet anonymously and freely. You take the IP address of a VPN server. This means that the websites you visit can no longer see who you are. A VPN can ensure that you enjoy more anonymity while surfing.
Linux is an “open source”operating system. This means that anyone can access the software of Linux. Because of this, weaknesses in the software are found more quickly. This makes it a lot more secure than many other operating systems.
Still, the Internet poses a security risk to Linux users. If you connect your device unprotected to a public Wi-Fi network, hackers can intercept all your Internet traffic. They then misuse your data in all sorts of ways. With a VPN connection you are protected against this kind of crime.
A good VPN connection gives you access to blocked websites. Some websites are not accessible all over the world. This may be due to geographical blockages or censorship in the country you are in. With a VPN you can choose a server in another country. You then take over the IP address of this server. This gives you access to the website you want to visit.
Examples of blocked websites and platforms with content that depends on your location are Netflix and the Dutch platform Uitzending Gemist. You can access these streaming platforms worldwide, without missing any content, by using a VPN.
Setting up a VPN on Linux
Once you have a VPN subscription, you obviously want to use it as soon as possible. That’s why we explain step-by-step how to easily install and set up a VPN application on Linux:
- Log in to your VPN account. You can do this through the website of your VPN provider. Open the Linux terminal and navigate to the folder where the VPN client has been downloaded.
- Issue the ‘install command‘ for the file in question. If this does not work, you will need to decompress the file first.
- Once the application is installed, start the application and log in with your account information.
- Choose the desired server and click on connect. You are now connected to the VPN!
Linux and a VPN make a good team, because together they keep out a lot of prying eyes. You’re also a lot safer, because a VPN encrypts your internet traffic and malware is much less present for Linux systems. Unfortunately, many VPN providers have limited capabilities for Linux. That’s why it’s important to check carefully which VPN providers are available for your Linux distro.
Four VPN providers that work well with Linux are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, PIA and Mullvad. If you want the best speeds, we recommend ExpressVPN. Want more control over your settings? Then NordVPN is ideal. If you want a decent and reliable VPN for a competitive price, PIA is the best choice. Finally, you can also go for Mullvad, for extra anonymity and ease of use.