It’s no secret that Linux users pay a price for using their OS of choice: while you get freedom from annoying bloatware and space to customize your computer as you see fit, much software doesn’t run all that well without some serious brain sweat on your end. Virtual private networks aren’t much different, which is why Cloudwards.net has put together a list of the best VPN for Linux.
We should mention, though, that a small disclaimer is in order: there are plenty of providers from among our VPN reviews that will work just fine with Linux, yet won’t be in this article. This is because any VPN that uses the OpenVPN protocol — which is most of them — can be configured to run on Linux.
However, as setting this up requires some expertise, for the purpose of this article we stuck to VPN providers that come with prepackaged Linux clients straight out of the gate. The below services will all work after hitting just a few install buttons, no advanced skills required. Mac users run into much the same issues, which is why we made a similar list of best VPN for Mac, as well.
The lack of Linux clients is why, for instance, while Cloudwards.net all-round best VPN ExpressVPN finds a good place on this list, another top provider, NordVPN, does not (read our NordVPN review to find out why this is such a shame). At the same time, a highly likeable service that otherwise always seems to duck our limelight, Mullvad, comes in with flying colors.
Best VPN for Linux 2018
What Makes a VPN Best for Linux
The main consideration for what makes a VPN the best for Linux is simply whether or not it works: members of Team Penguin are usually pretty good at figuring out how to work a program, so a GUI (a window where you actually use a program using buttons and toggles and the like) isn’t a core requirement.
However, we did subtract a few points with some providers for offering nothing but the command-line interface: there’s no such thing as being too user-friendly, after all. Besides that, we did also follow the usual standard criteria, such as whether the VPN was safe, whether it could circumvent internet censorship and geoblocks, all the things that make a VPN a VPN.
You’ll find none of our worst VPN picks used as filler at Cloudwards.net, that’s for sure: each of the following providers is great in its own right, they just make Linux users’ lives easier by having an easy-to-install client available. We wrote our best cloud storage for Linux and best online backup for Linux articles with the same philosophy in mind.
Best VPN for Linux: Private Internet Access
Though there’s plenty to love about PIA no matter how you cut it, it is the clear winner when you look at all the Linux clients on offer among VPN providers. As we mention in our PIA review, the service is very easy to use and as its Linux client is a straight port, Team Penguin reaps the benefits.
Installing PIA takes a few minutes at worst, as does setting up any extra security features or really any other preferences. The service has done Linux users a real favor by leaving its client the way it is, and we’re more than happy to award it top prize for the effort.
Other Reasons Why We Like Private Internet Access
You likely already know PIA thanks to its many campaigns against spying by U.S. ISPs and in favor of net neutrality. This live-free-or-die mentality isn’t just window dressing, either: PIA has very strong measures in place to protect your data while you browse the web, including AES 256-bit encryption and a hair-trigger killswitch.
It’s also one of the best VPN for torrenting thanks to its relaxed attitude toward file sharing and its many, many servers scattered all over the globe. There’s very little going against PIA (especially if you’re looking for the Linux-friendly best VPN for porn), so we’re always more than happy to recommend our readers check out the seven-day money-back guarantee.
- Solid speeds
- 3,193+ servers across the globe
- Clients for all major platforms
- Refund is only 7 days
- Can only select servers by region
Another VPN service that simply ported its client to Linux, AirVPN earns second place basically because the client, while adequate, just doesn’t meet the standard set by PIA. The GUI feels badly out of date, buttons are occasionally hard to find and there’s a feeling like the guy responsible was fired before he could optimize the design.
That said, everything you need is, in fact there, from speed tests, to built in DNS leak testing. As we mention in our AirVPN review, looks in the case of this service don’t mean everything, meaning that Linux users will be able to enjoy both a full as well as optimized experience while browsing in anonymity.
Other Reasons Why We Like AirVPN
AirVPN is one of our best VPN for China picks because of its dedication to security and anonymity. If security is a main concern, AirVPN also offers VPN over Tor functionality, which allows you to use the Tor browser while also having your VPN enabled. This means you’ll barely ripple the waters as you surf over the web.
AirVPN is one of the very few VPN services that offers a free trial, though you’ll have to send the company a friendly letter to receive a key. If your plea is deemed worthy, you’ll get a few days to mess around with AirVPN before needing to commit to one of the service’s perfectly affordable plans. Chances are, you’ll like the service well enough to do so.
- Unbeatable privacy & security
- Supports VPN over Tor
- Fast and very stable
- Outdated interface
- Few servers
TorGuard is Cloudwards.net’s favorite dark horse in that it always does very well every time we evaluate it, but there’s always a niggle holding it back from the upper echelons. When it comes to Linux support this is very much the case: though TorGuard is one of the very few providers that even offers a Debian client, it’s a bit bare bones and simply does not warrant a spot higher than third place.
That said, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty (come on, are you on Team Penguin or not?), you’ll get a perfectly fine experience running TorGuard on Linux, even more so if you take into account that it’s a service that requires you to get under the proverbial hood to get the most out of it no matter the OS you’re rocking.
Other Reasons Why We Like TorGuard
As you can read in our TorGuard review, the name of the game for the service seems to be customization. There are very few settings in TorGuard you can’t tweak, making it a must for any DIY computer geek, which as Linux users we are by definition. If you like to mess with settings, you probably should check out TorGuard’s seven-day money-back guarantee.
However, this is also the downside of using the service, as many things you’d take for granted using other VPNs you’ll have to arrange manually, like getting around the Netflix VPN ban by purchasing new server locations. If that’s no big deal for you, then you’ll enjoy using one of the fastest VPN services around and it’s pretty cheap, too.
- Easy to use
- Optimized for torrents
- 1600 servers in 50 countries
- Performance speeds vary
- IPv6 leak prevention bug
Another darkish horse, Mullvad is made by a small Swedish company that can’t quite seem to break into stardom. That said, its Linux client is a good fit for people that don’t like bells and whistles, nor care much for the sleekest of designs. That may sound like a back-handed compliment, but that’s just because it is: Mullvad gets the job done, but that’s about it.
The software comes packaged in a tarball format, and the service’s knowledge-base provides details for each and every step of the installation process. Admittedly, I wish the guide had high-quality images. But I suppose since it’s a command line installation process, images aren’t super important.
As with the providers mentioned above, you can just copy and paste the installation code directly into the terminal.
Other Reasons Why We Like Mullvad
Though Mullvad isn’t our first choice, it is one of those providers that makes you admire their attitude. The company is fiercely protective of its customers’ privacy and offers you a host of encryption settings as well as several VPN protocols to make use of, rivaling even some of our top providers in the options you have open to you.
Mulvad offers a three-hour trial, which should be just enough time for you to take the service through its paces. Though it may not meet the needs of many, Mullvad is definitely a service to watch in the coming years and will hit the sweet spot for certain privacy geeks.
- Can pay via snail mail
- Disappointing performance
- Servers in only 22 countries
We hesitated at first to include ExpressVPN in this roundup because it doesn’t even have a Linux client, it merely offers a command-line interface, a set of commands you can enter in your terminal to get much the same results as a GUI-enabled client would. It can be a massive pain and novice users should probably stay away.
However, the commands in questions are few and simple and setting up ExpressVPN under Linux is a breeze, meaning this Cloudwards.net favorite barely squeezes in to the number five spot, despite having no GUI and making you feel like you’re once again back in the 80s.
Other Reasons Why We Like ExpressVPN
If you’re willing to put up with the annoyance of having to enter a few commands, then you get probably the most powerful VPN around at your disposal. As you can read in our ExpressVPN review, the service offers insane speeds and great usability, though enabling advanced settings through the Linux CLI can get a little complicated.
Choosing ExpressVPN means a toss-up between usability and convenience that only you can call; thankfully ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to help you make up your mind. It’s also the best VPN for Netflix, meaning that Linux-using streaming junkies may have to put up with some typed commands.
- Very fast
- Highly secure
- Servers in 94 countries
- No GUI
- Only 3 connections
Below a few more providers that offer some kind of Linux experience, though usually with some advanced tweaking required. All the below providers are excellent in their own right, they just don’t have that plug-n-play functionality we felt made for a good Linux VPN.
Another provider that ditches a GUI for a CLI, VyprVPN just doesn’t have the same feature set as ExpressVPN, meaning that putting up with typed commands is more of a sacrifice. As you can read in our VyprVPN review, however, that sacrifice may be worth it for some people that need the security the service brings.
NordVPN is one of many providers that should be on this list, were it not for the fact that Linux users can only connect to their servers by hooking up an OpenVPN connection. While this is not a big deal for most Linux veterans, it didn’t quite fit in with the novice-friendly approach of this article, meaning we had to relegate this excellent service to the honorable mentions.
Not that NordVPN stands alone in this, you can read about two others just like it in our CyberGhost review and IPVanish review. All three providers have one thing in common: they all have streamlined scripts ready to go which will have you set up with a VPN connection in no time.
If you don’t mind browsing a few tutorials, then setting up OpenVPN through any of them is a breeze. Enter a handful of commands, download a few files and you’ll be browsing the internet within minutes, with as bonus that you get to feel like some kind of technomancer.
Linux users will often struggle making software not designed for the OS work perfectly, however, all the above providers will either offer you a custom-made client or offer you the tools to more or less build your own.
Though this may not always be what you’re looking for, in a way it’s the choice you made the day you chose to join Team Penguin. Though we’ve all had those unpleasant headaches after several hours of things not working, in the end we always figure it out.
What do you think of our best VPN for Linux picks? Did we miss any we should know about? Let us know in the comments below, thank you for reading.