Linux is a Unix-like open source operating system originally created to run on personal computers based on the Intel x86 architecture. Linux is available in various distributions (“flavors” or “distros”), such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint, which are designed to fit specific users’ needs.
While Linux offers excellent localized security, security and privacy perils still await you when you’re on the web. Any time you connect to a website or other service on the internet, you risk having your privacy violated.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the best way for Linux users to protect their privacy and keep their personal information secure when on the internet.
A VPN encrypts your internet connection, protecting your online activities from monitoring by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), hackers, the government and other nosy parties.
A VPN can also open up access to geographically-restricted content you might not normally have access to, including streaming services (such as Netflix, Hulu and others) or gaming servers. It also prevents your ISP from throttling or outright blocking your streaming or torrenting activities.
Most flavors of Linux have the ability to manually configure a VPN for use with the operating system. However, the VPN configuration process can be beyond the ability of many users. This makes finding a VPN that offers native app support for Linux a true plus.
In this article, I’ll focus on 5 top-notch VPN providers that offer native app support for Linux.
What Is the Best VPN for Use With Linux?
After extensive research and testing, the 5 VPNs below have proven to be the best for use with the Linux operating system:
- ExpressVPN: The #1 choice for use with Linux, ExpressVPN’s app is character-based but easy to use. The app is compatible with the Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Raspbian and Arch distros.
- NordVPN: This low-priced provider’s Linux app lacks a graphical user interface (GUI), yet it’s powerful and logical in use. The app allows easy switching between the TCP and UDP protocols for OpenVPN.
- VyprVPN: This popular provider’s app lacks a GUI, but the commands are easy to remember, and the app provides excellent performance. The provider says their app has been tested on Ubuntu and Linux Mint. The app may work on other Debian-based distros, but they are not officially supported.
- Private Internet Access (PIA): While this provider’s app is limited to 64-bit Linux distros, it’s the only app in this top 5 list to offer a GUI, making it easier to use for Linux and VPN first-timers. The app is compatible with Ubuntu 16.04+, Mint 18+, Arch and Debian.
- Surfshark: The low-price leader on this list, Surfshark’s Linux app lacks a GUI, but the provider furnishes easy-to-understand instructions for its use. The app uses OpenVPN, allowing users to select between UDP and TCP connection types.
In order to rank the best 5 VPNs for use with Linux, I considered these crucial factors:
- Provides a Linux app
- Offers good connection speeds
- Strong security and privacy protections
- Offers access to geo-blocked content, like Netflix and gaming sites
Here is my list of the top 5 best VPNs for Linux:
ExpressVPN is the best choice for Linux users who are looking for optimal protection for their internet connection.
The provider offers a native app that, while lacking a graphical user interface, is logical and easy to use. It’s compatible with Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian and other distros.
The provider’s connection speeds are extremely fast, providing plenty of bandwidth for all of your online travels. Plus, the provider never limits your online activities with bandwidth limitations or data caps.
Those fast connections are well protected thanks to military-grade encryption and a kill switch, which keeps your connection from being laid bare by disconnecting your internet connection if your device loses contact with ExpressVPN’s servers.
You can completely trust your privacy to this provider, as the British Virgin Islands-based company keeps no logs of any type connected to your online activities, and their Bitcoin payment option provides complete privacy for your payment information.
The provider is an excellent choice for movie lovers, as it does a great job of unblocking Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services. ExpressVPN also does a top-notch job of unblocking other geo-blocked services, such as online games and their content, as well as other apps.
ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers stationed in 94 countries around the globe.
- Offers native Linux app
- Reliably unblocks Netflix and other geo-blocked services
- Excellent global server coverage
- Fast connection speeds
- Optimal security and privacy protections
- Only 3 simultaneous connections allowed
BEST VPN FOR LINUX:ExpressVPN is your best choice for a VPN provider to use with Linux. The provider’s app delivers top-notch performance, and your security and privacy are well-protected, both online and offline. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN is the #2 best VPN to protect your Linux-based activities thanks to its native Linux app support, satisfying connection speeds and reliable access to geo-blocked content.
While the value-priced provider’s Linux app is command-line driven, lacking a graphical interface, it auto-suggests commands as the user types, making the app easier to use than many command line-driven apps, even for Linux and VPN beginners.
NordVPN offers the top connection speeds in this list. The provider’s connections are easily up to anything you’ll want to use them for, including streaming 4K HDR video or downloading huge files.
A lack of data caps or bandwidth limitations means your internet activities are never limited because of connection restrictions.
Security is never a worry, as NordVPN’s connections are protected with 256-bit encryption, and the app offers kill switch protection as well as the ability to obfuscate your connection, making it appear as normal internet traffic.
Privacy is also well-covered when using this VPN service. NordVPN doesn’t keep logs of any kind, so you never have to worry about any records of your online activities popping up to bite you, and a Bitcoin payment option keeps your payment information completely incognito.
NordVPN’s global server network of 5,100+ servers stationed in 60 countries provides excellent access to content around the globe.
The provider has a good track record when it comes to unblocking streaming services (like Netflix and others), websites and other services that might normally be blocked in your region.
- Provides a native Linux app
- Best connection speeds in the top 5
- Top-notch security and privacy protections
- Linux app doesn’t offer GUI
BEST VALUE:NordVPN’s Linux offering provides excellent security and global server coverage for your online travels. While it isn’t the lowest-priced provider on this list, it does offer an excellent value for the price you’ll pay. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
VyprVPN snags the 3rd spot in this cavalcade of protection due to its native Linux app, wide-ranging global server coverage and solid security and privacy protections.
The provider’s character-driven Linux app is compatible with Ubuntu and Linux Mint. The service doesn’t list a Linux app on its app page, but the link to the app can be found here.
No GUI is available, but all of the app’s commands can be viewed inside the app by entering “vyprvpn -h” at the command line.
VyprVPN’s connections are easily up to streaming video, playing games or any of your other favorite Linux-based activities.
The service’s app provides military-grade encryption to protect your online travels, but it doesn’t offer kill switch protection.
VyprVPN protects your privacy, as it doesn’t keep logs of any kind connected to your online pursuits. Sadly, the privacy protection stops there, as VyprVPN doesn’t accept any cryptocurrency as payment.
The provider’s 700+ self-owned and -operated servers are well spread out among 70 countries. By owning and operating its servers, the provider keeps third parties from having access to your data. It also allows for quicker response times if issues arise.
The service offers excellent access to geo-controlled content, including Netflix and other streaming providers, as well as many websites and other services that might normally be blocked from you.
- Provides Linux app support
- 700+ proprietary servers in over 70 countries
- Excellent online security
- Unblocks numerous sites and services
- More expensive than many other VPNs
- Lacks an anonymous payment option
SELF-OWNED SERVERS FOR ADDED SECURITY:VyprVPN provides comprehensive protection for Linux users. Its self-owned and -operated servers add another layer of security to your connection. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a popular VPN provider. It’s also the only VPN on this list to offer a GUI-based app.
PIA’s Linux app offers a graphical interface, making it easy to select a server and connect. The app’s interface makes it the best VPN option on this list for first-time VPN users who aren’t comfortable with the command line interface of other providers’ apps.
Users will find that the service delivers more than enough speed for streaming, gaming and any other online activities that may come to mind.
Private Internet Access provides 256-bit encrypted connections, and their handy kill switch protection keeps your connection protected if you lose contact with the PIA servers. Also available: the ability to block domains used for ads, trackers and malware.
The provider keeps your privacy protected thanks to a Bitcoin payment option and a no-logs policy, which your online antics safe from prying eyes.
The Private Internet Access global server network covers the least amount of ground in this roundup, with 3,300+ servers in 52 locations in just 32 countries. So, be sure to check PIA’s server coverage before clicking the subscribe button.
- Only GUI-based Linux app in the top 5
- 256-bit encryption and kill switch connection protection
- Allows up to 10 devices to connect simultaneously
- Number of countries covered could be better
- Doesn’t unblock Netflix and some other streaming services
BEST VPN FOR FIRST-TIMERS:Private Internet Access is an excellent choice for first-time VPN users thanks to its easy-to-use graphical user interface. The provider offers top-notch protection, but its global server coverage needs improvement. A 7-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of Private Internet Access.
Surfshark grabbed the 5th and final spot in this lineup thanks to its Linux app offering, speedy connections and unlimited simultaneous connections.
The provider’s character-based app may be somewhat daunting to first-time VPN users, but the provider eases the pain by providing informative instructions on their website and built-in help functionality in the app.
Surfshark’s connection speeds provide more than enough horsepower for your online endeavors.
Security protection is top-notch with this provider, delivering 256-bit encrypted connections that are kill switch-protected.
Privacy is also a high priority with this service, as they keep no logs of any kind and accept Bitcoin in return for their considerable services.
The provider’s global server coverage is below average, with 800+ servers in 50+ countries. That said, there’s a good chance they have servers located in whatever region you have your eye on.
Surfshark has a great record when it comes to unblocking streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and other services. The VPN also does a great job of unblocking other services and websites.
Linux users that own other connected devices, or who are part of a small business or large family, will appreciate the provider’s unlimited simultaneous connections allowance.
- Native Linux app offering
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Excellent security and privacy protections
- Global server coverage could stand improvement
- Linux app lacks features present in their other apps
PERFECT FOR LARGE GROUPS OF USERS:Surfshark’s native Linux app provides fast connections that open access to blocked content. The provider’s unlimited concurrent connections allowance is great for organizations or families. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of Surfshark.
What Else Can a VPN Do?
A VPN can assign a new IP address to your internet connection, making it appear as if you are connecting from another part of the world. This gives you the ability to unblock geo-restricted content, such as streaming services and game servers.
Plus, a VPN can also protect you when you’re using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, which usually lacks any connection encryption. This lack of connection protection makes public hotspot users an attractive target for hackers.
Finally, a VPN can prevent your ISP from throttling your connection speeds when you connect to certain websites or services.
Can I Use a Free VPN With Linux?
The answer is yes, but I’m willing to bet you won’t be satisfied with either the connection speeds or the security and privacy protections offered by a free VPN provider.
First, let’s take a look at the performance (or lack thereof) that free VPNs deliver. You may likely find that their connection speeds don’t measure up to those that their paid brethren offer.
Many gratis VPN providers throttle their users’ connection speeds. They may also impose data caps or bandwidth limitations on the free connections. One of the reasons for using a VPN is to avoid having your connections throttled by your ISP – seems counterproductive, doesn’t it?
When connecting to a free VPN service, users may have to wait to connect to a server. Once finally allowed to connect to a server, the server selection may be limited to a select few servers, if there’s any choice at all.
The term “free” VPN is a misnomer, as you still end up paying for your VPN service – not with money, but with your privacy and personal information.
Many “free” providers make money by logging their customers’ online activities and then selling that information to advertisers and other interested parties. Many free providers will also insert tracking cookies and ads into your browsing sessions. None of this is privacy-friendly.
While the idea of a free VPN service may be enticing, keep in mind that a month of quality VPN service will cost you about the same as a Big Mac meal at your nearby McDonald’s. That’s not only reasonable, it’s better for your health.
How Else Can I Secure My Linux PC?
Like any operating system, Linux is not completely secure.
While it does provide some protection against hackers and other parties that might be interested in your activities, a VPN isn’t the only tool you should keep in your Linux security toolbox.
Other security tools can include:
- Antivirus software
- A firewall
- Anti-rootkit software
- Security-protecting browser extensions
- A secure browser
- A password manager
By using a VPN to protect your Linux-based online sessions, you’ll be able to breathe easier knowing your personal information and online travels are being protected from prying eyes.
A VPN – like my choice, ExpressVPN – will provide excellent online security, protect your online and offline privacy, and open access to online content you may normally lack access to.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.