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Best VPNs for Linux in 2021


Best VPN for Linux

Linux is a free OS that lets you greatly customize your experience. Being open-source in nature, this is the top choice for privacy-minded individuals. To boost their privacy, many of these users also turn to VPN service providers. The problem is that software-wise, Linux users often get the short end of the stick. This makes choosing the right VPN provider more challenging than it would be on other platforms.

So, in this best VPN for Linux list, we'll go through the top options, no matter which distribution you're using.

VPNs for Linux – our shortlist:

Don't have the time to read everything? Here's a rundown of the best VPN services for Linux. With them, you'll get the best possible combination for anonymity.

  1. NordVPN - the best overall VPN for Linux
  2. Surfshark - the best budget-friendly VPN for Linux
  3. ExpressVPN - the fastest VPN for Linux
  4. Mullvad - the most anonymous VPN for Linux
  5. Private Internet Access - the most feature-full VPN for Linux

Why do I need a VPN for Linux?

As secure as Linux may be, data privacy is still important. Here are just a few of the many reasons why getting a VPN for your Linux machine would be a good idea:

  • Privacy. You might not be aware of how many breadcrumbs you're leaving when you're browsing the web. A VPN will disguise your IP and encrypt your connection, making it truly anonymous.
  • Security. The more anonymous you are, the more secure you are. Having a new IP address every time you go online can be enough to deter doxxing and DDoS attacks. Plus, if you're in the habit of frequently connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots, you can never be too sure whether the network is safe.
  • Unblocking websites. If you're living in Europe, you can't just go to the Hulu webpage and pay for your subscription. The website is off-limits if you're not from the US or Canada. The VPN helps to solve all these problems. It's even more useful in restrictive countries.
  • Torrenting. Linux users heavily rely on P2P networks to exchange operating system ISO files. The same networks tend to be a bit sketchy, and you might not always know what you're downloading. A VPN helps you stay private when downloading and helps you avoid copyright infringement notices.
  • Avoid bandwidth throttling. Some ISPs impose restrictions on a particular type of traffic. So, if web pages load almost instantly, but downloading files takes forever, the culprit may be your ISP. A VPN disguises your traffic type, making it impossible to restrict based on its type.

Best VPNs for Linux - our detailed list:

Many VPNs have clients for Linux, but only a handful are convenient to use daily. Even if a graphical user interface (or GUI) isn't that important to you, different providers had different terminologies. This includes the total features that you could expect. Here are the best VPN apps for Linux.

1. NordVPN – hands-down best VPN for Linux

NordVPN
Based in:Panama
Servers/countries:5,500+ servers in 59 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes
Current deal:Get NordVPN, now 72% OFF + 3 Months FREE!

NordVPN is one of the best VPN services on the market right now. No wonder it occupies top spots across all platforms, including Linux.

From their official website, you can download Debian and RPM packages. These will cover the most popular distributions, including Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, and others. There is even a fan-made Arch Linux port, for which you'll still need an active NordVPN subscription. Their support page also has guides for manual OpenVPN and IKEv2 connections.

Recently, NordVPN has changed the Linux installation process a bit – you can download and execute a shell script. This saves you time as you don't have to add the repository, depackage, and update the package manually.

The GUI is absent - you'll have to configure everything using the terminal. Though, this isn't something a typical Linux user will have trouble with.

More importantly, you'll be getting their NordLynx protocol, which is one of the fastest tunneling protocols. Considering that few Linux apps offer WireGuard connectivity, this is truly a strong selling point.

NordVPN has no IP leaks, and you get to choose from their 5,500+ servers in 59 countries. All of these are running on RAM-only, ensuring their no-logs promise.

2. Surfshark – the most affordable Linux VPN

Surfshark
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Servers/countries:3,200+ servers in 65 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes
Current deal:Get Surfshark, now 81% OFF!

Surfshark is widely regarded as one of the most budget-friendly VPNs. It doesn't have a limit for the number of simultaneous connections. In addition, the monthly subscription price is one of the lowest you will find.

If you want to set up Surfshark on your Linux computer, you'll have to use the Ubuntu or Debian distribution. It will also require sudo/root permissions to set up the client.

Once you're done, you will be presented with a list of countries and cities to connect to. There is no GUI, so you'll have to rely on the terminal to connect or disconnect from the servers.

This provider doesn't have the biggest network, but their 3200+ servers in 65 countries should be plenty. All of them are RAM-only, which is more efficient and great news for your privacy.

The main downside is that the only protocols you'll be able to use on Linux are OpenVPN in TCP and UDP modes. It's especially annoying because their other apps include WireGuard support.

That said, even without this tunneling protocol, their speeds should be good enough. Surfshark is known to unblock most streaming services, so you'll even get some additional entertainment value.

3. ExpressVPN – blazing-fast Linux VPN

ExpressVPN
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Servers/countries:3,000 servers in 94 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes
Current deal:Get ExpressVPN, now 35% OFF!

ExpressVPN has a reputation for being one of the fastest VPN services. These aren't just rumors. They also have speed test results to back these claims up.

On Linux, ExpressVPN has apps for most distributions, including Debian, RedHat, or Arch-based variants. The software itself doesn't require root permissions to run, which the most security-conscious Linux users will appreciate.

Within the client, you'll be able to list all available servers and use the terminal to connect. The commands are intuitively named, so you won't have to read additional command sheets to figure out what to type in.

Even if you're not a big fan of the terminal, you can control the app via their Chrome or Firefox extension. That way, the extension works as a GUI remote for your app. This might be a more convenient alternative for some users.

You will be able to choose from Lightway and OpenVPN TCP and UDP modes. The former is the faster tunneling protocol, so you will be taking advantage of the top speeds.

The only drawback is that ExpressVPN comes with a pretty steep subscription price – it's one of the most expensive VPNs.

4. Mullvad – the most private VPN on the planet

Mullvad VPN
Based in:Sweden
Servers/countries:761 servers in 36 countries
Unblocks Netflix:No

Mullvad VPN and Linux is a marriage made in heaven. Neither targets casual users and both have a no-nonsense approach to your privacy.

They have one of the most unusual registration systems among any VPN service provider. You will be assigned a random serial number and won't even need to provide your email. Essentially, there's nothing tied to your identity.

If you want to go overboard with your anonymity, you can pay for your subscription using cash. Add it to the envelope, and send it directly to them with your account code. That's potentially even more private than crypto payments.

Their Linux apps also don't disappoint. The WireGuard tunneling protocol makes an appearance, bumping the speeds you can expect from Mullvad. There is a GUI, which is lacking in most competing VPN apps.

With its split tunneling feature, you will be able to exclude specific programs from your VPN connection. While such a feature is commonplace for other operating systems, for Linux VPNs it’s a true rarity.

The drawbacks are that Mullvad is no good for unblocking content on popular streaming platforms (if you're looking for a VPN for streaming, this is not it), doesn't have a big server network, and offers no pricing flexibility.

5. Private Internet Access – great VPN app for Linux

Private Internet Access
Based in:USA
Locations:35,550+ servers in 70+ countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes
Current deal:Get PIA, now 83% OFF + 2 Month FREE!

Private Internet Access is one of the undisputed VPN market titans. With their fleet of 29,000 servers across 77 locations, you don't ever have to connect to the same server twice.

It also makes a surprisingly good pair with Linux. All you have to do to install it is to run an installation script. After this is complete, you'll have almost the same app that is available on Windows and macOS.

You'll need to be running Ubuntu 18.04+, Mint 19+, Arch, or Debian versions to install it. This covers most current distributions, and you should be able to find a package that would work with your machine quite easily.

The app rocks a graphical interface and has all the bonus features, including split tunneling. However, to fully take advantage of them, you'll have to be familiar with Linux filesystem basics.

Safety-wise, the service is just as impressive. PIA uses military-grade encryption, with a kill switch and protection against IP leaks. So, your real IP address will be protected with nine locks.

Unfortunately, Private Internet Access is not the fastest, and it's a US-based VPN service, which always raises questions about the level of privacy you can truly expect. With that said, PIA has thus far delivered on their no-logs promise.

6. TorGuard – best VPN for torrenting on Linux

TorGuard
Based in:United States
Netflix:No
Servers/countries:3,000+ servers in 50 countries
Current deal:Get 50% OFF with ‘CyberNews’ code!

TorGuard is one of the most popular VPNs for torrenters. Yet, as you soon find out, it's also great for many other use cases.

It's one of the few VPNs that have Linux apps you can directly compare to Windows or macOS versions. They have the same GUI, and you won't need to use the terminal to execute your commands.

You will also get additional features like App Kill. This allows you to select which system processes can be automatically closed if your connection to a VPN server becomes interrupted. Think of it as a customizable kill switch with some more kick.

The only downside of it is that the app's installation installs just the app. So, if you want to use WireGuard (which is available), you'll need to install its package separately.

You can also use OpenConnect, OpenVPN UDP/TCP. That's a healthy variety of tunneling protocols. In general, if you're into customization, TorGuard will have many settings that you will be able to tweak to your liking.

However, while TorGuard's speed doesn't disappoint, this VPN is also located in the US. It's also no good for those wanting to unblock Netflix and other streaming platforms.

How we selected and tested these VPNs

A typical Linux user is a different breed. They want to customize everything themselves and already know a lot about how their system works. Which only makes it harder to recommend a proper VPN service. Our goal was to focus on several key areas:

  • Security. What I call security is mostly technical VPN setup: complex encryption ciphers with modern tunneling protocols. Various security features, such as traffic obfuscation and the like, are also important
  • Privacy. If you're shifting the trust from your ISP to your VPN service provider, it should be one that deserves it. A strict no-logs policy, warrant canaries, a privacy-friendly business location, audit reports, all of this adds up to make a trustworthy VPN service.
  • Linux client. While a GUI might simplify some things and save you typing time, a terminal can be just as good an alternative. Everything can be achieved with intuitive commands, making a seamless transition from other Linux apps to the VPN's interface.
  • Performance. Some VPNs offer fast connections, while others don't. This depends on a number of reasons, many of which are invisible to the outside observer. That's why we relied on our own empirical speed tests to determine what's what.
  • Additional features. In most cases, Linux app versions get next to no features compared to macOS or Windows apps. However, that isn't always the case. Anything extra can boost convenience, security, or both.
  • Price. You shouldn't be paying for features that aren't even available in the apps that you will be using. If you're only using a VPN for Linux, choose a service that provides the most value on your chosen platform.

How to install a VPN on Linux

Just like there are many ways to skin a cat, there are multiple ways to install a VPN on Linux. It mostly depends on the kind of distribution you're using. This will shape which package you'll be installing: tar.zst, Debian, or RPM. Still, there are some general guidelines that you'll have to follow.

  1. Get the VPN's repository package. You will be able to download it from your service provider's website.
  2. Install the repository. How to go about doing this will depend on your Linux version.
  3. Most likely, you'll have to update the package list.
  4. The final step is installing the actual VPN software itself.

After you've completed every step, you will be able to launch the app and use the terminal or GUI (if the program has it) to connect to the servers.

Does Linux OS distribution matter when choosing a VPN?

Distributions like Ubuntu, Kali, and Mint are all Debian-based. Essentially under the hood, they work the same. This means that they can all use the same packages, so there aren't many differences between them.

If you're using something Red hat-based, you will use RPM packages. This makes the distribution somewhat different from the Debian version. Still, if a provider is offering Debian support, they will usually support Red Hat.

You won't have any issues with any of the services on our best VPN for Linux list.

Which free VPN is best for Linux?

If you're looking for a decent VPN free service with Linux support – it's ProtonVPN. They don't have a data cap and allow you to choose between several locations.

Most importantly, the service aligns with the essential security and privacy requirements. They are funded from paid users' subscription fees and located in privacy-friendly Switzerland.

The ProtonVPN Linux client also includes a simplified GUI, but the service can also be used via the terminal. Although the support could be a bit better, it's an unbeatable pick if you need a free VPN for Linux.

As for alternatives, there aren't that many that could be recommended. You will be either stuck with severe data caps or not have the most secure or private service. These aren't compromises you should be making.

VPNs to avoid with Linux

Some VPNs have very limited support for Linux. Usually, they don't even have any apps. They just provide manual configurations. Here are some services that you should avoid if you're planning to use a VPN on Linux.

TunnelBear – this service provider doesn't have a VPN client for Linux. You will have to go through a manual setup to use it, which will strip you of much of the value that would be available with the app.

VyprVPN – only supports Ubuntu and Linux Mint. You might be able to set it up on other Debian-based distributions, but there is no official support. If you're running Red hat-based Linux, there are no clients or tutorials.

Conclusion

Using Linux is an good step to have better control over your data privacy. However, this could be even further enhanced by using a trustworthy VPN service provider. Although Linux users often are worse off for VPNs, the landscape is much improved when it comes to app options or support.

Now, if you're looking for a quality VPN for Linux, there are many options to choose from. Most of them will provide you with much better online security and privacy without putting you in debt.


More VPN guides from CyberNews:

Best VPNs for Mac: improve your privacy status

Best VPNs for Android: protect your online traffic

Best VPNs for iPhone & OS in 2021: secure your Apple’s devices online

Best VPNs for Chromebook: unblock streaming sites on your Chrome OS device.


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