The 8 Best Linux VPNs of 2019
–> Best Overall: NordVPN, “Their service is fast, reliable, and among the most secure.”
–> Best Budget: Private Internet Access (PIA), “Allows subscribers ten simultaneous connections, one of the most generous limits around.”
–> Best for Multiple Devices: ExpressVPN, “Provides extremely high-quality service and security.”
–> Best for Students: TorGuard, “Offers a wide selection of more than 3,000 servers in over 50 countries.”
–> Best for Security Features: ProtonVPN, “Users with a free account can connect with one device to any of three servers.”
–> Best for Open Source: AirVPN, “AirVPN was created by activists and focuses on supporting a free and open Internet.”
–> Best for Total Anonymity: Mullvad, “In theory, you can sign up for and use Mullvad without ever identifying yourself.”
–> Best No-Nonsense Approach: IVPN, “They handle privacy and security the tried-and-true way, and they handle it well.”
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: NordVPN
NordVPN is one of the largest players in the VPN world and rightfully so. Their service is fast, reliable, and among the most secure. NordVPN has an absolutely massive array of servers, with over 5,000 available to subscribers.
This service also boasts a complete array of client apps across nearly every platform, including Linux. The NordVPN Linux client is a command-line app for Debian based systems, like Ubuntu and Linux Mint. It’s simple to install and work because it’s based on OpenVPN. On other platforms, you always have the option to use basic OpenVPN configurations themselves to connect through NetworkManager or an OpenVPN service.
NordVPN’s service welcomes P2P connections, like torrents, and is built for streaming. NordVPN’s clients come with a kill switch to help keep you safe while downloading, too. Many of NordVPN’s servers can connect to and unblock Netflix and other major services. This VPN provider has a strict no-logs policy and doesn’t keep or track any information about you. They offer strong double encryption, and they own their own DNS servers, ensuring that your information never leaks.
If you’re a Linux user, you probably appreciate a good balance between security and usability. NordVPN delivers on that. Its security is top grade while remaining convenient and easy to use.
Best Budget: Private Internet Access (PIA)
Private Internet Access is another major VPN provider that’s been around for quite some time. Private Internet Access (PIA) supports a wide range of devices and offers its users over 3,000 servers to connect to. PIA also allows subscribers ten simultaneous connections, one of the most generous limits around.
Simplicity and ease of use are a focus for Private Internet Access. All their clients are clean and uncomplicated. That includes their graphical Linux client for Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, and Arch Linux. Other Linux distributions can still connect easily enough with OpenVPN.
Private Internet Access uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption coupled with a strict no-logs policy that’s been tested and held up in real investigations. Most recently, an alleged hacker was put on trial, and when the FBI requested logs of his activity from PIA, they weren’t able to produce them. PIA also features a built-in ad blocker to help shut down ads and trackers that can compromise your security and potentially reveal information about you.
Best for Multiple Devices: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is a close second on this list. It’s another very well-respected service that provides extremely high-quality service and security. ExpressVPN boasts a substantial selection of servers, totaling over 3,000.
Not unlike its top competition, ExpressVPN supports a gigantic array of platforms, including Linux. The VPN provider has client apps for various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and CentOS. Other distributions are still supported via OpenVPN configurations. Even though the Linux client from ExpressVPN isn’t graphical, it’s still straightforward and simple to use.
ExpressVPN features powerful encryption and security, relying on AES-256 to secure connections. It also brings leak prevention features to stop WebRTC, DNS, and other common data leaks. ExpressVPN clients have a built-in kill switch to prevent connections outside the VPN as well as the ability to split connections to allow certain apps to bypass the VPN. This service is an excellent option for streaming and P2P connections as well. ExpressVPN is known for strong streaming support and its ability to unblock Netflix.
Even though ExpressVPN’s security is exceptionally high quality, and they have a no-logging policy, they do still log some connection data. This data is fairly vague, but it is tied to your account. For some people, this one might be a deal-breaker. That’s the one and only reason ExpressVPN isn’t in the number one spot.
Best for Students: TorGuard
TorGuard is another fantastic option for Linux users. This VPN service offers a wide selection of more than 3,000 servers in over 50 countries to connect to. They have a strong reputation for stability and security, and they’re known for a wide range of features and support.
TorGuard not only has a Linux client for Debian-, Red Hat-, and Arch Linux-based distributions, including Ubuntu, Fedora, and Manjaro, that client is fully graphical and it’s super simple to use. In case you’d prefer the OpenVPN configuration files to set up your connection with NetworkManager or your own OpenVPN service, TorGuard provides those too.
TorGuard is also prepared for the future with WireGuard, a new VPN protocol that promises faster speeds and better security than OpenVPN. WireGuard isn’t ready for daily use, but experimental support is available for adventurous Linux users now.
TorGuard provides strong encryption on all its VPN connections, and it backs up your privacy with a strict no-logs policy.
For people on restrictive networks, TorGuard’s Stealth VPN feature lets you mask your VPN connection to bypass detection and get past any firewalls that may try to block your route to the VPN. That feature alone makes TorGuard an excellent choice for students on college networks.
Best for Security Features: ProtonVPN
The people behind the popular security-focused e-mail service, ProtonMail, developed their own VPN service as well. ProtonVPN is a young service, compared to many others listed here, but it’s already earned plenty of respect. Not only is ProtonVPN based in Switzerland, one of the best jurisdictions for privacy, the infrastructure is in an underground bunker, which is probably not a practical concern, but it’s still pretty cool.
ProtonVPN doesn’t have a Linux desktop client, though it does have clients for other platforms. The service does officially support Linux via OpenVPN configuration files, though, and its simple enough to set up a connection graphically using NetworkManager on your Linux desktop.
One of the most unique aspects of ProtonVPN is its free option. Users with a free account can connect with one device to any of three servers. Speeds and capabilities are restricted on free accounts, but it’s a good option for a free VPN on Linux and is an excellent way to try a free VPN on Ubuntu too. ProtonVPN’s other options are reasonably priced, and there’s a combined plan for paid ProtonMail users.
Best for Open-Source: AirVPN
AirVPN may not get the same kind of attention as some of the other entries on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s a second-class VPN. This provider is dedicated to open-source software in a big way. Their open-source graphical client, Eddie is available on Github.
Since Eddie is open source, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that it’s available for Linux. AirVPN packaged Eddie for multiple Linux distributions, and there’s even a version for the Raspberry Pi. While this might sound great, Eddie is more-or-less just a graphical front end for OpenVPN, but it’s still nice to have a graphical client for Linux.
AirVPN was created by activists and focuses on supporting a free and open Internet. That means AirVPN has a strong no-logging policy and will never track your activity. This is a great choice for both streaming and P2P as well. AirVPN even supports Tor.
With this service, you’ll get powerful encryption, perfect forward secrecy, and a provider which understands what open source is about.
Best for Total Anonymity: Mullvad
Mullvad is another respected name in the VPN world. The Sweden-based company has been around for numerous years and advertises the most anonymous VPN service in the world. They may just be right, too. Mullvad uses an automatically generated number to identify accounts, not an e-mail address or any personal information. Then, you can pay for Mullvad with cryptocurrency, cash, or more traditional methods like PayPal and credit cards. In theory, you can sign up for and use Mullvad without ever identifying yourself.
Building on that, Mullvad doesn’t log any personal information. Their strict no-logging policy prohibits them from tracking your IP address, the sites you connect to, and any DNS information. They rely on industry-standard AES256 encryption to keep your information secure and employ a VPN kill switch in their clients as well as other anti-leak technology to prevent your personal info from slipping out.
In addition to other popular mobile and desktop platforms, Mullvad supports Linux with a custom graphical client. The Mullvad Linux client is packaged and available for Debian- and Red Hat-based distributions, like Ubuntu and Fedora. On top of that, they provide excellent documentation to connect through OpenVPN on Linux and even set up a custom kill switch using the iptables firewall.
Mullvad’s VPN client is fully open-source, and its source is available on Github. With their commitment to the open-source ecosystem, Mullvad is also prepared for the future with WireGuard support. Linux users can preview WireGuard now and see the speed and security improvements it has to offer.
Best No-Nonsense Approach: IVPN
IVPN is well-known and trusted by people serious about privacy and security. The smaller provider, based out of Gibraltar, has an excellent track record of relying on only the best encryption standards and sticking to its no-logging policy.
Even though IVPN doesn’t have an official Linux client, they readily provide their OpenVPN configuration files, making it extra simple to connect through NetworkManager or an OpenVPN service on your computer. IVPN is also working on WireGuard support, which is available for preview on Linux, using open-source tools already in your distribution’s repositories.
IVPN does offer clients for Android, Windows, and other major platforms. Even though they don’t explicitly support a wide range of devices, OpenVPN is fairly universal and will work in most situations, including routers and the Raspberry Pi.
When you visit IVPN’s website, you’re not going to see a bunch of marketing jargon or sales pitches about how they’ve developed the next best thing in privacy. Instead, you’ll see the service’s straightforward approach. They handle privacy and security the tried-and-true way, and they handle it well.
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