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5 Best Linux VPNs (With Simple Setup)

The completely-free, open-sourced Linux operating system is a favorite for power users everywhere.

That’s because beyond the price tag, it’s almost completely customizable, too.

Together with Ubuntu, most of the apps you can use are completely (or mostly) free.

The downside, of course, is the fact that the setup process is more difficult since you don’t have the one-click installation option as you would on Mac or Windows.

It’s not as widely supported by VPN companies, either.

Only a handful of the better ones even support Linux at all. And as you’ll see, you still have to fire up the built-in terminal to run installations, connect, switch servers or protocols, and disconnect.

Here is the list of the best VPNs for Linux based on our hands-on tests:

1) Surfshark – Simplest, Cheapest Linux VPN ($1.99/mo)

surfshark vpn linux terminal connection

Surfshark’s Linux connection runs on OpenVPN, so you can connect through either the UDP or TCP protocols.

UDP will generally get you faster speeds for gaming or streaming, while TCP’s extra security is slower but better for privacy, unblocking geo-restricted content and sensitive activities like online banking.

The Linux installation process was pretty smooth through Ubuntu’s built-in terminal. And unlike a few others on our list where you had to guess or look up the proper server code, Surfshark displays them as a numbered list to help you make a quick decision.

Across all apps, SurfShark boasts 800+ servers across 50 countries. You can use it on everything from iOS, to Android, Windows, Mac, Firefox, Chrome, and even routers.

A kill switch comes standard on these apps (outside of Android — currently in development). But don’t worry, because their connection came out clean across all five DNS leak tests we ran. Plus, they don’t log any of your activities.

The only slight blemish was a 32.52% slowdown on our Linux connection (from 61.59 Mbps to 41.56).

The good news, though, is the rock-bottom price of only $1.99/month for the two-year plan. You won’t find anything else this low. You can give it a try for a full 30-days and get your money back for any reason. And they accept everything from PayPal to credit, debit, Tenpay, Alipay, Dragonpay, and cryptocurrencies.

Visit Surfshark.com to get the Linux app
Read more in our full Surfshark VPN Review

2) NordVPN – Best Overall, Smooth on Linux ($2.99/mo)

nordvpn linux connection

NordVPN features the best all-around performance across all the VPNs we’ve reviewed, despite showing up second on the Linux plan.

Installation on Linux was painless. Download the .deb install file, punch in a few commands, select either UDP or TCP on the OpenVPN connection, and you’re ready to go.

Server switching was a little bit of a hassle at first. You have to hunt down the server codes each time (they don’t display them by default unless you call them up). But after using it a little you can memorize them or use the quick connect feature.

Beyond Linux, NordVPN has ready-made apps for all major platforms. That includes the most popular, like Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. But it also includes a few dozen other routers and operations systems, too.

NordVPN also features the largest network of servers out of any VPN providers we’ve reviewed, totaling 5,200+ in 62 countries and with their top of the line AES-256 encryption, you know they’ll keep you protected.

This Linux connection features a kill switch so your online activity and location will stay out of harms reach if your connection suddenly drops.

The biggest drawback, once again, was the speed loss. My connection slowed from 61.59 Mbps to 21.14, a huge 65.68% drop! I had to check it twice because I haven’t seen performance this bad out of Nord across all of their other apps.

The silver lining is that Nord comes fully-loaded with a few special features like obfuscated servers (to get around firewalls) and double encryption (that wraps your VPN connection in two private layers). So a few setting tweaks can probably help bring performance back up.

NordVPN is also running a $2.99 monthly special on their three-year plans. This brings the cost down over 50% from the shorter, regular, $6.99/month cost.

Visit NordVPN.com to get the Linux app
Read more in our full NordVPN Review

3) ExpressVPN –  Fast Connection, but Expensive ($6.67/mo)

expressvpn linux terminal connection

ExpressVPN took only about two minutes to install and run on Linux. The setup process was a breeze, just download the .deb file, run your installation commands, and it’ll quick connect after entering your activation code.

By default, they’re running OpenVPN again on either TCP or UDP protocol. But they also have a PPTP protocol option for Linux, too.

ExpressVPN supports & enables for it to work with 15 different distros, most popular ones being Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora.

On their other apps we’ve tested, like Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, they’re almost always in the top three for speed. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the same here.

The 59.17% slowdown (from 61.59 Mbps to 25.15) was a disappointment from usually one of the fastest performers out there.

Outside of that, though, it was smooth sailing. Their no-logging policy is as good as it gets. They have an abundance of servers (over 3,000 across 93 countries) that work flawlessly on Netflix or torrenting. You also get a kill switch and anonymous IP addresses.

You can use ExpressVPN on three devices simultaneously, which is a little low considering their $6.67/month price tag. But you are getting an excellent all-around service if you plan on using it across other platforms or devices in your house.

It’s not necessarily the cheapest option out there. However, it might be the easiest to use for mainstream users.

Visit ExpressVPN.com to get the Linux app
Read more in our full ExpressVPN Review

4) ProtonVPN ($4.00/mo)

protonvpn linux connection

ProtonVPN’s website talks a big game about their Linux VPN Tool.

But to be honest? It’s kind of a pain to get through all the configurations. But don’t worry, we’ll give you a short tutorial:

First, you have to install a variety of updates, including

  • python
  • dialog
  • wget

Then, you have to install OpenVPN. Then, you’ll need to copy and paste a few commands from their docs. Then, go back into your account and copy the automatically-generated OpenVPN username and password.

Then, you’re still not done! You still have to pick the plan you’re on before being allowed to view a single server connection.

It runs fine once you’re past this point. But it’ll probably take a good ~10-minutes bouncing back and forth to get to this point.

Long enough to make you dream about using any of the Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, or router-based connections, instead.

Luckily, they do offer step-by-step instructions on their website. Check out the guide here.

To their credit, ProtonVPN allows you to connect up to 10 devices at a single time. They won’t log your data, and they won’t leak through your connection, either.

The 33.56% drop in speed (61.59 Mbps to 40.92) wasn’t the worst I saw, but was far from the best, too.

Only a single Netflix server worked (out of five total). Torrenting is limited only to personal use on select P2P servers.

And like the rest of the service, the pricing terms were a little mixed.

The price is only $4.00/month on the surface, with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Great, right? Except, the fine print says that they will only give you a prorated portion of said refund.

Overall, not great. Not terrible, but not great.

Visit ProtonVPN.com to get the Linux app
Read more in our full ProtonVPN Review

5) Private Internet Access ($3.49/mo)

PIA linux vpn client

Private Internet Access (PIA) features one of the faster connections across all of the VPNs we’ve tested.

Their Linux connection didn’t disappoint here, either. Somehow, it was actually 16.19% faster than our default connection (going from 61.59 Mbps up to 71.56).

The installation process was quick, and they were one of the only ones to feature a Graphical user interface (GUI) so you could just push a big button (instead of typing out commands for servers or protocols). That’s a cool feature, but most of us Linux guys will probably prefer TUI over GUI anyway, so each to their own.

We haven’t seen any leaks while using a few of PIA’s 3,200 servers. Netflix worked on a single test server, while torrenting is allowed, too.

However, the downsides of PIA weren’t necessarily on Linux, directly, but across the rest of the company.

They claim not to log your activities, but they do hang on to your email and payment details. That, in addition to the fact that they have a US-based jurisdiction, spells potential trouble if your main concern is privacy.

The $3.49/month price is pretty good, though. Payment options are pretty open (including anonymous ones like Bitcoin & Ripple). The money-back guarantee, on the other hand, only has you covered for a single week. So you better make a quick decision one way or another!

Visit PrivateInternetAccess.com to get the Linux app
Read more in our full Private Internet Access Review

The Best VPN for Linux Goes to…

Only a fraction of the 70+ VPNs we’ve reviewed even support Linux.

However, the good news is that most of the ones that do also rank near the top of our rankings.

Surfshark leapfrogged everyone to lock down the first position. The Linux install and connection was a breeze. The speed was pretty good. And then $1.99/mo price is as cheap as it gets.

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are among the best all-around backup options. Their experience was good on Linux, they’re both secure and compatible with a wide variety of distros, but the speeds slowdowns were pretty serious. So we had to dock them a few points.

ProtonVPN delivered a mixed performance. The install process was probably the worst of the five. The speeds were OK, though, and it was more user-friendly after installation.

Surprisingly, PIA was able to overcome a few of the company-wide concerns to deliver a really fast connection with a standalone VPN client that wouldn’t look out of place on your Mac OS X or iOS.

Overall, I’d say the best Linux VPN provider comes down to Surfshark, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN. In that order.

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