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It’s no secret that Linux users pay a price for using their preferred operating system: while you get rid of annoying bloatware and the space to customize your computer as you see fit, a lot of software doesn’t work as well without some serious brain sweat on your part. VPNs are not much different, which is why we’ve put together a list of the best VPNs for Linux.
We should mention, however, that a small disclaimer is in order: there are many providers from among our VPN reviews that will work well with Linux, but they 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, since setting this up requires some expertise, for the purpose of this article we are sticking with VPN providers that come with pre-packaged Linux clients right out of the gate. All of the services listed below will work after pressing a few installation buttons, with no advanced knowledge required. Mac users encounter almost the same problems, so we also made a similar list of the best VPNs for Mac.
The primary consideration for what makes a VPN the best for Linux is simply whether or not it works: Team Penguin members are usually pretty good at figuring out how a program works, so a graphical user interface (a window in which you actually use a program using buttons and toggles and the like) is not a basic requirement.
However, we subtract a few points from some vendors for offering nothing more than the command line interface: after all, there is no such thing as being too easy to use. Beyond that, we also followed the usual standard criteria, such as whether the VPN was secure, whether it could bypass Internet censorship and geoblocks – all the things that make a VPN a VPN.
While there’s a lot to love about Private Internet Access, no matter how you slice it, it’s the clear winner when looking at all the Linux clients on offer among VPN providers. As we mentioned in our Private Internet Access review, the service is very easy to use and since its Linux client is a direct port, Team Penguin reaps the benefits.
Installing Private Internet Access takes a few minutes at worst, as does setting up any additional security features or any other preferences. The service has done Linux users a real favor by leaving its client as-is, and we’re more than happy to award it first prize for the effort.
Other reasons why we like Private Internet Access
You probably already know Private Internet Access thanks to its many campaigns against spying by US ISPs and in favor of net neutrality. This live-free-or-die mentality isn’t just window dressing: Private Internet Access has very strong measures in place to protect your data as you surf the web, including 256-bit AES encryption and a hair-trigger Kill Switch.
It is also one of the best VPNs for torrenting thanks to its relaxed attitude towards file sharing and its many, many servers scattered around the world. There’s very little against Private Internet Access (especially if you’re looking for the best VPN for Linux-compatible porn), so we’re always more than happy to recommend that our readers check out the seven-day money-back guarantee.
TorGuard is our favorite dark horse, as it always does very well every time we evaluate it, but there’s always a stumbling block holding it back in the upper echelons. When it comes to Linux support this is the case: although TorGuard is one of the few providers that even offers a Debian client, it’s a bit basic and simply doesn’t warrant a place 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 have a perfectly fine experience running TorGuard on Linux, even more so when you consider that it’s a service that requires you to get under the proverbial hood to get the most out of it no matter what operating system you’re using.
Other reasons 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 configuration options in TorGuard that you can’t tweak, which makes it a must for any do-it-yourselfer, which as Linux users we are by definition. If you like to tinker with settings, you should probably 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 fix manually, such as circumventing the Netflix VPN ban by buying new server locations. If that’s not a big deal for you, then you’ll enjoy using one of the fastest VPN services on the market and it’s pretty cheap too.
We were hesitant to include ExpressVPN in this roundup at first because it doesn’t even have a Linux client, it simply offers a command line interface, a set of commands that you can enter into your terminal to get almost the same results as a GUI-enabled client. It can be a massive pain and novice users should probably steer clear.
However, the commands involved are few and simple and setting up ExpressVPN under Linux is child’s play, meaning this is our favorite just barely making it into the number five spot, despite having no GUI and making you feel like you’re back in the 80s.
Other reasons why we like ExpressVPN
If you’re willing to put up with the hassle of having to enter a few commands, then you probably have the most powerful VPN at your disposal. As you can read in our ExpressVPN review, the service offers insane speeds and great ease of use, although enabling advanced configurations through the Linux CLI can be a bit of a hassle.
Choosing ExpressVPN means a dilemma between usability and convenience that only you can call; fortunately ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to help you make a decision. It’s also the best VPN for Netflix, which means that streaming addicts using Linux may have to put up with some typed commands.
Here are a few more providers that offer some Linux expertise, although some advanced settings are usually required. All of the providers below are excellent in their own right, they just don’t have that plug-n-play functionality that we felt made for a good Linux VPN.
Another provider that ditches a GUI for a CLI, VyprVPN simply doesn’t have the same feature set as ExpressVPN, which means that supporting typed commands is more of a sacrifice. However, as you can read in our VyprVPN review, that sacrifice may be worth it for some people who need the security the service provides.
NordVPN is one of the many providers that should be on this list, if it weren’t for the fact that Linux users can only connect to their servers by connecting an OpenVPN connection. While this isn’t a big deal for most Linux veterans, it didn’t fit with the newbie-friendly approach of this article, meaning we had to relegate this excellent service to honorable mentions.
Not that NordVPN is alone in this, you can read about two others like it in our CyberGhost review and our IPVanish review. All three providers have one thing in common: they all have out-of-the-box optimized scripts that will have you setting up a VPN connection in no time.
If you don’t mind browsing through 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 surfing the Internet in a matter of minutes, with the added bonus of feeling like some sort of technologist.
Linux users will often have difficulty getting software not designed for the operating system to work perfectly, however, all of the above vendors will either offer you a custom-built client or offer you the tools to more or less build your own.
While this is not always what you are looking for, in a way it is the decision you made the day you decided to join Team Penguin. While we’ve all had those nasty headaches after several hours of things not working out, we always figure it out in the end.
What do you think of our top VPN options for Linux, and did we miss anything we should know about?