Linux is a good operating system for users who are mindful of privacy because it’s a transparent, open-source platform. In fact, some distros are specifically built with privacy-conscious users in mind. However, there’s an additional step you can take to further improve privacy and security when accessing the Internet using Linux, and that is setting up a VPN. Besides privacy and security, a VPN also helps you get around censorship and unblock Geo-restricted content.
Even though users of Linux don’t typically get the best software support for their cherished operating system, the situation isn’t as bad when it comes to VPN services because various providers have dedicated clients for Linux.
If a native app for Linux isn’t available, you can set up a VPN using OpenVPN, among other alternative setup options. These methods may, however, require some degree of technical knowledge. Moreover, you may still not enjoy the full range of benefits and features that come with using a native app. These features include DNS leak protection and a kill switch among others.
Choosing the best Linux VPN
Also important is good performance and DD-WRT support. DD-WRT is an open-source Linux-based router firmware that is useful if you want to set up a VPN on your router. Having your VPN installed on your router enables you to grant VPN protection to all devices in the office or home, rather than installing a VPN on each individual device.
The following are our top five recommended Linux VPNs.
The VPN client for this service has no desktop graphic user interface (GUI). In its place, the provider offers a command line interface that is easy to set up and navigate as the command lines required to operate the client are straightforward. ExpressVPN prides itself in support for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, and Fedora.
In case you use a distro other than those mentioned above, you can always manually set up OpenVPN using the setup instructions for Linux. Furthermore, there is a clear, detailed tutorial for setting up ExpressVPN on your DD-WRT router.
On the performance front, this British, Virgin Islands-based service provides top speeds over short distances and moderate speeds over long distances. The service boasts more than 1,500 servers spread over 148 locations in 94 countries. P2P support is available. The Linux interface for ExpressVPN is exclusively OpenVPN and the service does not keep logs of your online activities or traffic.
The quality of this service is reflected in the price, which is slightly higher than that of many of its competitors. Although no free trial is offered, you do get a 100% no-hassle 30-day money-back guarantee with all plans. Of the three plans available, the annual subscription is the most affordable.
This provider operates an OpenVPN-based service and boasts an open and highly transparent network. In addition to offering customizability, the service has native Linux apps on ARM/Raspberry Pi, 32-bit, and 64-bit architecture. It offers GUI and command line support for openSUSE/Fedora and Debian/Ubuntu, Portable and Portable Mono.
One slight disadvantage of this provider is that it has a comparatively smaller server network. Nonetheless, it demonstrated impressive speeds in our tests, especially over short hops.
AirVPN also does well on the end of privacy and security. It offers a handful of great features, including internal DNS selection and a kill switch. Moreover, all its servers directly support OpenVPN over Tor, OpenVPN over SSL, and OpenVPN over SSH. The service does not monitor or log your Internet activities.
Among this provider’s strong points is its reasonable pricing. Out of its five subscription plans, a 3-day plan is an interesting alternative to the usually expected full-access trial. Like with many other providers, the 1-year plan offers the best value.
This provider offers a client for 32-bit and 64-bit Debian/Ubuntu and an effective guide on using it. You get many configuration options, however, this advanced level of customizability doesn’t necessarily translate into great performance, because our tests revealed high latency and average performance.
That said, TorGuard has servers in 50+ locations, meaning that the likelihood of finding a good connection when needed is high.
While expert users may appreciate the complex configurability level, beginners and casual users might find it a bit daunting. Still, no one will complain about the tight security that the service delivers.
The company describes itself as being “relentlessly committed to security” and, to back that, it offers multiple protocol support, Perfect Forward Secrecy (TLS), malware and ad blocking, OpenConnect and AnyConnect SSL support, and technology that prevents deep packet inspections. On top of that, the provider doesn’t log user data on its proxy and VPN servers.
TorGuard is among providers that offer their services inexpensively. It has five plans which you can upgrade using add-ons.
Mullvad has an open-source client for Debian/Ubuntu. The client includes IPv6 routing, IPv6 and DND leak protection, a kill switch, and good technical support. Based in Sweden, the service places the most emphasis on security and supports only OpenVPN using the Wireguard protocol which is still in development. The provider employs 256-bit AES encryption and other modern security features.
No logs are kept by this provider, and anonymity is guaranteed by the fact that the company does not ask for your name, physical address, or email address. On top of that, you also have the option of paying using Bitcoin, which affords you an additional layer of security.
The one thing about Mullvad that is disappointing are its speeds, which fell short of our expectations when we tested the service. The provider has a simple $5.90 per month pricing structure, which comes with a three-hour free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee.
HideMyAss has a number of options for Linux, including OpenVPN. If you’re a beginner when it comes to VPNs, you’ll like the client because it’s simple and easy to use. In case you’re interested in manually installing it, you can find the instructions you need in the extensive web knowledgebase for Linux.
As far as pricing goes, HMA charges a premium for its services and offers no free trial. On the upside, though, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee but it has some limitations: you can get the refund provided you haven’t used more than 100 connections or 10GB of data. The provider’s annual plan is the most affordable of its plans.