8 Best VPN for Linux in 2020 | VPNs with GUIs & Privacy Features for all Distros

As a Linux user, you are probably techie enough to know what a VPN is and why you need one. So, in this article, we will look at VPN issues that uniquely affect Linux users.

The best VPNs for Linux at a glance

We have summarized our 5 favorite VPNs for Linux in the list below. If you would like more information or some other alternatives, click here.

  1. Private Internet Access - The best VPN for Linux. It offers dedicated clients for Ubuntu, Mint, Arch, & Debian – all of which are fully featured.
  2. AirVPN - A secure VPN for Linux. It offers a Linux GUI client precompiled for a Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora, and ArchLinux with all the features.
  3. Mullvad - A good Linux VPN if you want anonymous payments. It offers a Linux GUI client that is loaded with all the bells & whistles.
  4. TorGuard - A no logs VPN app for Linux. Its GUI client is a pleasure to use and comes with kill-switch functionality in case your connection fails.
  5. ExpressVPN - A fast VPN for Linux. It is operated via a command line client, but users can also use a browser extension for easier use.

Try PIA our #1 VPN pick for Linux users

See full list & analysis

Of the VPN issues that affect Linux users, the biggest of these is the relative lack of support for Linux by VPN services. This has a knock-on effect on the availability of VPN features that users on other platforms typically take for granted.

In this guide we have tried to focus on the most developed Linux VPN apps available, offering key features and a full GUI where possible.

The services we recommend in this guide are highly rated because they offer:

For more information on the services above, scroll to the next section. 

Best 8 Linux VPN clients: In-depth analysis

In the list below, we take a more in-depth look at look at why we recommend these VPNs for Linux users. Have a look through each description to see which Linux VPN will work best for your own particular needs.

Private Internet Access is the best VPN for Linux with dedicated clients for Ubuntu, Mint, Arch, & Debian. Linux users also get all the features that Windows and macOS users have access to.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.59 - $10.51
  • Linux client (GUI)

    • Yes
  • Built-in kill switch

    • Yes
  • Server locations

    • 74 countries

Private Internet Access (PIA) now offers a 64-bit (only) custom client for Linux which is compatible with Ubuntu, Mint, Arch, and Debian. PIA says that it's working on support for more Linux flavors. Interestingly, the client is downloaded as a .run file which is installed from the install directory using the command:


sh pia-linux-2.2.1-05193.run


It does everything that PIA’s other desktop apps do, including having a kill-switch, “PIA Mace” (DNS ad and malware blocking), and fine-grained control over the OpenVPN encryption settings used. 


Private Internet Access is a US company but is noted for its strong no logs policy, which is almost unique in having been put to the test in court on multiple occasions. You can connect up to a very generous 10 devices at once, and PIA boasts a generous 30-day money-back guarantee.

AirVPN is a secure VPN for Linux due to its excellent encryption. It's a "techie focused" service with a great "Eddie" GUI client, precompiled for Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora, and ArchLinux.

  • Pricing

    From  $3.23 - $8.05
  • Linux client (GUI)

    • Yes
  • Built-in kill switch

    • Yes
  • Server locations

    • 21 countries

AirVPN is great for Linux users thanks to its strong reputation for respecting user privacy and for implementing the technology needed to protect it. Unfortunately, this is something of a double-edged sword, as AirVPN’s techie focus can make it difficult for beginners.


We doubt this is a problem for Linux users, though, who should rejoice at the fact that AirVPN’s excellent open-source “Eddie” VPN client provides the full GUI Linux VPN client experience in Linux. This means the Linux client is fully-featured and includes a kill-switch, full IPv4 and IPv6 leak protection, and is effective at mitigating against WebRTC leaks.


Eddie allows Linux users to connect to its VPN servers via the Tor network for true anonymity, and to hide their VPN connections inside an SSH or SSL tunnel (stunnel) in order to defeat VPN censorship. Port forwarding is available via the web interface.


Eddie is available precompiled for a Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora, and ArchLinux. A Tarball is also available for recompiling on any Linux platform. AirVPN keeps no logs at all (they are sent to a dev/null file), allows up to five simultaneous devices, offers a 1-day free trial on request, and allows torrenting on all servers.

Mullvad VPN is a great VPN for Linux if you want to pay anonymously. It has a VPN GUI for Linux users with all the features you get on Windows and Mac, including VPN through Tor.

  • Pricing

    From  $5.50 - $5.60
  • Linux client (GUI)

    • Yes
  • Built-in kill switch

    • Yes
  • Server locations

    • 36 countries

Mullvad is a no logs VPN service based in Sweden, which, like AirVPN, has a very strong privacy and technology focus. Hell, it even accepts anonymous payment in cash sent to it by post! It also offers a full open-source GUI Linux VPN client with all the bells and whistles available to users of other platforms.


These features include full DNS protection (with proper IPv6 support, which is very rare), a kill-switch, and port forwarding. VPN through Tor is supported through manual configuration. Debian (DEB) and Fedora (RPM) install files are available from the Mullvad website, while the full code with build instructions is available from its GitHub page. 


Mullvad allows up to 5 devices to connect at once and offers servers located all around the world. It is also shockingly fast, which will make engaging in data-intensive tasks a breeze.

TorGuard is a solid VPN for Linux pick if you're a fan of torrenting. TorGuard offers a great GUI Linux app that comes loaded with a kill-switch.

  • Pricing

    From  $4.16 - $9.99
  • Linux client (GUI)

    • Yes
  • Built-in kill switch

    • Yes
  • Server locations

    • 68 countries

TorGuard is a no-logs VPN provider based in the US. It offers a global network of fast and secure bare-metal servers that are great for torrenting as well as for unblocking geographically-restricted content from around the world. With its fully-featured GUI for Linux, you get great customization with the VPN. Defaulting to OpenVPN in UDP mode, you can switch to TCP mode, and even Cisco OpenConnect (/AnyConnect).


With OpenVPN, you can also choose from a selection of ports to use (for example OpenVPN TCP port 443 for obfuscation), or you can use stunnel to hide the VPN connections inside a TLS/SSL tunnel. The GUI also has an advanced kill-switch function that lets you disconnect from the internet and even terminate specific programs if the VPN fails. Try TorGuard today with a 7-day free trial and support for Ubuntu, Debian, RedHat, Fedora, CentOS, and Arch.

ExpressVPN is a consistently fast VPN for Linux. It must be used with a command line client, but it offers great set up guides on its site, or opt for the browser extension instead.

  • Pricing

    From  $6.67 - $12.95
  • Linux client (GUI)

    • No
  • Built-in kill switch

    • Yes
  • Server locations

    • 94 countries

ExpressVPN is an excellent no-logs VPN service, based in the British Virgin Islands. It's a top-shelf VPN provider that continues to set standards in the industry, and was a significant driving force behind many other VPN providers adopting a 24/7 approach to customer support. Express offers super-fast servers that operate in RAM only! On top of this, ExpressVPN also published its own proprietary VPN protocol, Lightway, that offers faster and more secure VPN encryption for its users.


Despite being a command-line-only VPN for Linux, it's a solid VPN with great functionality. It is available for Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora, Arch, and Raspbian, although its source is not available compiling yourself. Give it a try with a 30-day money-back guarantee to fall back on.

VPNArea is an easy to use VPN for Linux with a clean and clear GUI. You get advanced features and some of the best customer care we have ever encountered.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.99 - $9.90
  • Linux client (GUI)

    • Yes
  • Built-in kill switch

    • Yes
  • Server locations

    • 70 countries

VPNArea is a provider from Bulgaria that has apps for all platforms, this includes a Linux GUI that will work on various distros. The VPN has servers in over 65 countries, and that entire Tier-1 network is more than capable of providing excellent connection speeds. With VPNArea, you can unblock many of the most sought-after streaming services from around the world like Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Prime Video, and much more. And if you have any problems, you can always contact its friendly 24/7 live chat support agents.


Where privacy is concerned, this VPN is outstanding thanks to its no-logs policy and strong OpenVPN encryption. It also has a killswitch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation. This makes it great for doing sensitive tasks like torrenting that require complete privacy.


We are always impressed by this VPN, and due to its relatively low cost, we consider this a superb option for anybody who needs a VPN for Linux. Well worth testing using its money-back guarantee.

The cheapest VPN for Linux on our list. Admittedly there is no GUI to speak of, but from $2.49 a month, you do get a solid CLI VPN app with strong privacy.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.49 - $12.95
  • Linux client (GUI)

    • No
  • Built-in kill switch

    • No
  • Server locations

    • 63 countries

Surfshark is a VPN that often receives high praise from consumers. It is a popular service that has apps for all popular platforms – and provides setup guides for getting the VPN working on Linux using command lines. We love this VPN due to its no-logs policy, and are always impressed that it lets its users run the VPN on an unlimited number of devices simultaneously. This means you can use it on your Linux computer, and your mobile devices, work computers, and anything else you might own.


Surfshark has servers in over 60 countries, and it permits torrenting throughout its network. It is also one of the few services that can unblock various Netlfix libraries (including Netflix US), BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and other popular streaming services from around the globe. We are always impressed by the level of service you get with Surfshark's 24/7 live chat support. And, there is no doubt that you're getting incredible value for your money when you sign up with Sufrshark.


Well worth comparing to our other recommendations using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

NordVPN is a well rounded Linux VPN that is controlled via a CLI. It offers excellent encryption & easy set up instructions for Linux Debian users.

  • Pricing

    From  $3.71 - $11.95
  • Linux client (GUI)

    • No
  • Built-in kill switch

    • Yes
  • Server locations

    • 59 countries

NordVPN is a large no-logs VPN service is based in privacy-friendly Panama. It has a strong consumer-facing focus and is known for its 24/7 live chat support, 30-day money-back guarantee, and its ability to unblock popular streaming services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer. A free full Smart DNS is included in the startling-low entry price. 


NordVPN offers a simple command-line OpenVPN tool that comes pre-configured for NordVPN's server locations, including NordVPN’s obfuscated XOR servers. It allows you to switch easily between UDP and TCP connections, which can be useful for evading VPN censorship measures. Its autofill feature also makes life easier. 


The app is available to download as a DEB or RPM package, although the CLI setup instructions assume Debian. NordVPN allows you to connect up to six devices at once, offers 24/7 live chat support, and will refund your money up to 30-days after payment.

Why use Linux? 

Whichever version of Linux you use, be it Ubuntu, Fedora, Kali, Mint, OpenSUSE, etc., there is a good chance that one of your main motivations for switching away from a corporate OS like Windows or macOS was to improve your privacy.

After all, we know that Windows sends a great deal of personal information back to Microsoft and that macOS is just a little better at protecting user privacy. What's more, both Microsoft and Apple have, in the past, cooperated closely with the NSA. Credible rumors also persist that the NSA has implemented backdoors in both Windows and macOS.

Using a VPN to protect your privacy, therefore, goes hand-in-hand with using Linux. But it’s not just for serious stuff! A Linux VPN also lets you watch shows on US Netflix or BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world, and the right VPN will also let you torrent safely.

Linux Related Guides

If you're a Linux user who's serious about your online privacy, then you'll want to check out our privacy guides:

Why should I use a VPN for Linux?

As we have already noted, as a tech-savvy and privacy-minded Linux enthusiast, it's likely that you already know what a VPN is and why you need one. But just as a quick refresher:

A Virtual Private Network creates an encrypted connection between your PC and a VPN server operated by a VPN provider. Most VPN providers run VPN servers in countries all over the world. This means that:

So if you use Linux, then we think you should also use a VPN!

How to use a VPN for Linux

Using a VPN on Linux isn't too different from using a VPN for Windows or macOS. However, most VPN providers don't offer modern GUI clients on the platform because Linux remains niche in comparison to other operating systems. Instead, most VPN services support Linux users with (often very good) manual setup guides. Sadly, manual configuration means missing out on:

  1. DNS leak protection

    In theory, any VPN client will route all DNS requests through the VPN tunnel to be resolved either by the VPN provider itself or be proxied by the VPN provider to a public DNS service in order to hide their originator. 

    But for a variety of reasons, Linux can sometimes route DNS requests directly to the OS-default DNS services (usually your ISP), thus bypassing the VPN’s DNS resolution. VPN clients with DNS leak protection guard against this by using firewall rules to ensure no connections are possible outside the VPN tunnel (IPv6 connections are usually just disabled). 

    Manual VPN setup in Linux, whether using NetworkManager, the CLI OpenVPN client, strongSwan, or whatever, provides no DNS leak protection. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to fix this issue, although they complicate the VPN setup process.

    You can modify resolvconf to push DNS to your VPN’s DNS servers or you can manually configure the iptables firewall to ensure all traffic (including DNS requests) cannot leave your Linux machine outside the VPN tunnel. An excellent guide to doing this is available from IVPN. 

  2. WebRTC mitigation

    Most modern browsers support WebRTC, a communication protocol that allows seamless VoIP and video chat between users inside the browser window. 

    A feature of WebRTC is that it allows easy communication through firewalls, but this is a problem for VPN users as it allows any website to ask for your real IP address and WebRTC STUN servers will just give it to them! Thus bypassing the VPN.

    Many custom VPN clients help mitigate against WebRTC leaks by tightening up VPN settings and using firewall rules, although this is never as secure as preventing WebRTC leaks at the browser level. Fortunately for manual Linux VPN users, disabling WebRTC in the browser is easy. 

  3. Kill switch

    A kill switch ensures that your IP address is not exposed in the event of a VPN dropout, during network switches, and suchlike. These days, most custom VPN clients use firewall rules to ensure no connection is possible when the VPN tunnel is inactive.

    You won't get this protection with a manual VPN setup method, however. As mentioned above, configuring iptables will also work as a kill switch.

    For more information on DNS leaks, WebRTC leaks, and kill switches, please see A Complete Guide to IP Leak Protection.

Get Linux VPN to start on boot?

We may cover this subject ourselves in the future, but for the time being excellent guides to doing this with OpenVPN are available on the smarthome beginner and IVPN websites.

Custom Linux CLI clients

An increasing number of VPN services now offer custom Linux command-line interface (CLI) clients. These are invariably wrappers to the open-source OpenVPN CLI client. As such, they don’t usually offer any advanced features, although ExpressVPN’s client does feature DNS leak protection.

Linux VPN CLI Client

They do, however, make life easier, as they come pre-configured to use that services’ VPN servers.

Custom Linux VPN GUI clients

To get the full functionality enjoyed by users of custom Windows and macOS clients, however, requires a full custom graphical user interface (GUI), Linux client. Only a few of which exist on the market at the time of writing this – those from Private Internet Access,  AirVPN, Mullvad, and TorGuard.

The GUI VPN clients are effectively identical to their Windows and macOS counterparts and offer the same features. These include full DNS leak protection, WebRTC mitigation, kill-switches, and other bells and whistles unique to each provider.

Linux VPN GUI Client

On top of offering additional functionality, most people find that GUI clients are simply much easier to use thanks to the visual prompts they provide. You do, after all, need to be a seasoned Linux user to not flinch when faced with a blinking command prompt in Terminal!

Linux VPN Mullvad

Using a VPN for different Linux distros

Ubuntu is by far the most popular desktop version of Linux and is, therefore, widely regarded by both developers and as the “default” version of Linux. VPN services are no different, with most Linux VPN support out there heavily focused on Ubuntu users. 

Linux VPN clients

You're no doubt used to this if you use a different version of Linux. If you're a Debian, Mint, Kali, or any other Debian-based user, most Ubuntu guides (and DEB packages) should be useable on your distro of choice. Unfortunately, you're often on your own if you use an entirely different version of Linux.

Custom Linux VPN clients

Linux is Linux, so any Linux VPN app can be re-compiled from its source code (usually in Tarball form) to work on any Linux platform. 

Most VPN providers, however, also make their apps available as executable DEB files for Debian (/Ubuntu/Mint/etc.) users and RPM files for Red Hat (Fedora, RHEL, CentOS/etc.) users. Some may even offer install packages in Snaps or Flatpack format. 

However, it’s fair to say that installing and using a VPN client (whether GUI or CLI) works pretty much exactly the same as any other Linux app on your system.

Using NetworkManager as a Linux VPN GUI

Many Linux distros, including most Debian flavors, use NetworkManager as a GUI interface to manage their network connections. Even with distros that don’t (such as Raspbian), it is usually possible to manually install NetworkManager.

Network Manager Linux

NetworkManager provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for managing your VPN connections. Out-of-the-box, it usually only supports the PPTP VPN protocol, but plugins are available for OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2 (using strongSwan). As already noted, however, it does not provide any DNS leak protection or a kill switch. 

It is worth noting that AirVPN recommends against using NetworkManager “due to multiple, critical problems.” We have not been able to ascertain what there are, though, and most VPNs are happy to provide setup guides using NetworkManager.

The command-line

With this being Linux, it's only natural that you can set up and run a VPN from the command line! The exact commands will depend on the specific distro you're using, but apps like OpenVPN will work well in any Linux environment.

Linux command line client

As we have discussed, you will also need to configure iptables to enjoy a truly secure VPN experience. 

How to install a VPN on Linux

We now have a dedicated guide on how to install a VPN in Linux. It focuses primarily on Debian/Ubuntu, but in the future, we hope to expand it to include other branches of Linux as well.

Can I get a free VPN for Linux?

For an overarching look at available free VPNs, please see our Free VPN guide. Most free VPN services offer little to no support for Linux users, seeing as they'd rather cater to the widest demographic, but luckily, two of the best free providers do.

Both ProtonVPN and Windscribe offer command-line OpenVPN Linux tools. 

ProtonVPN provides guidance on installing its CLI Linux VPN tool on Ubuntu, Archlinux, Manjaro, Solus, and Fedora, while Winscribe not only supports Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and CentOS, but also different versions of its tool optimized for different versions of each distro. 

Conclusion

While there are plenty of VPNs that work with Linux, not all of them offer as good a service as they do for their Windows and macOS clients. If you want to get the most out of your VPN for Linux, then getting one with a custom GUI for your distro is the best place to start. Here's a quick reminder of our top picks for VPNs for Linux:

  1. Private Internet Access - The best VPN for Linux. It offers dedicated clients for Ubuntu, Mint, Arch, & Debian – all of which are fully featured.
  2. AirVPN - A secure VPN for Linux. It offers a Linux GUI client precompiled for a Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora, and ArchLinux with all the features.
  3. Mullvad - A good Linux VPN if you want anonymous payments. It offers a Linux GUI client that is loaded with all the bells & whistles.
  4. TorGuard - A no logs VPN app for Linux. Its GUI client is a pleasure to use and comes with kill-switch functionality in case your connection fails.
  5. ExpressVPN - A fast VPN for Linux. It is operated via a command line client, but users can also use a browser extension for easier use.

FAQs

If you still have questions - don't worry! We've put together a FAQ that covers the most common questions related to Linux VPN services.

Written by: Attila Tomaschek

Attila is a Hungarian-American currently living in Budapest. Being in the VPN game for over 5 years, along with his acute understanding of the digital privacy space enables him to share his expertise with ProPrivacy readers. Attila has been featured as a privacy expert in press outlets such as Security Week, Silicon Angle, Fox News, Reader’s Digest, The Washington Examiner, Techopedia, Disruptor Daily, DZone, and more. He has also contributed bylines for several online publications like SC Magazine UK, Legal Reader, ITProPortal, BetaNews, and Verdict.

18 Comments

Bela
on April 22, 2020
Reply
Hi there, Have you ever considered the SurfShark? I'm just a happy customer ATM nothing more, I chosen 'cos 1., all OS-s are supported (myself use on Win/Linux/Android) 2., have 7 (?) dedicated nodes for Netflix next to the enormous amount of servers worldwide in 3., unlimited amount of devices allowed 4., easy to use 5., fast, even nowadays (no problem to watching 4K from the states :) ) aaand cheap (or it was cheap at the time when I contracted a 2 years service for less than €50)
Not Given
on November 21, 2018
Reply
Hi, Mullvad are dropping their 32-bit Linux client, so you shouldn't really list them in this article.
PureVPN ? replied to Not Given
on December 1, 2018
Reply
PureVPN Helped the FBI with Logs. In October 2017, a document related to US District Court of Massachusetts shows that contrary to the company's claims, PureVPN does log user IP addresses as it was able to provide this information to the FBI.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
douglas replied to PureVPN ?
on December 3, 2018
Reply
Hi PureVPN?, Indeed https://proprivacy.com/privacy-news/fbi-solves-case-vpn-lies/ .
Nerd replied to Not Given
on December 4, 2018
Reply
Who even has 32bit only hardware? Give me a break. If you are still only using 32bit, go back to the 1990s.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
douglas replied to Not Given
on November 22, 2018
Reply
Hi Not Given, Can you please point to a source for this? The latest stable version (from just last week!) update includes improvements to the Linux client (https://www.mullvad.net/en/blog/2018/11/15/update-your-app-new-stable-version-20185/ ).
Louis A. Coleman
on July 3, 2018
Reply
Virtual Private Network helps you to secure your connection.By the way thanks for sharing this informative article!.
Richard G
on May 18, 2018
Reply
Mullvad does support UK servers, it has 2 that I know of - one in London and one in Manchester
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Richard G
on May 21, 2018
Reply
Hi Richard, Indeed, and thanks to pointing this out. The provider summary in this article is outdated (although I have just fixed this issue). As I clearly state in my full Mullvad Review, Mulvad does now support UK servers. We are currently working on a way to ensure summary details across our articles stay as up-to-date as possible).
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