A good Linux VPN can be tricky to find. While plenty of the best VPN services have been around for over a decade, many big players still don't offer GUIs on Linux. And, while Linux users are likely to be somewhat used to using software without an interface, have a quick and easy button to press is still a huge plus.
An essential tool for those looking to stay private and anonymous online, a VPN encrypt your traffic reroute it through servers of its own around the world. This also allows you to virtually relocate to access geo-restricted websites and streaming services.
As an increasing number of users switch to Linux for its security benefits, many VPN providers are ensuring that they support the platform, just like Windows and Mac. However, only a select few are really worth considering. In this guide we’ll introduce you to some of the best Linux VPN services.
1. Surfshark – The only Linux VPN with a GUI
Surfshark offers something not found anywhere else – a fully functioning GUI. With an intuitive interface, great privacy credentials and the fastest speeds we've ever tested, it's top of the class here. And, at less than $2.50 a month, it's incredible value, too.
2. ExpressVPN – Our #1 VPN is excellent on Linux
ExpressVPN provides just about everything (except a GUI). Linux users will appreciate how just about every extra feature is available on the OS, and great speeds and full P2P support means it's super easy to get working for torrenting. The best bit? Test it for 30 days risk-free, and get three months FREE through Tom's Guide.
3. NordVPN – Big name offers serious security
You'll have heard of NordVPN, and for good reason. With great features and performance for Linux VPN users as well as a couple of interesting extra features, it's well worth considering the big name to protect your Penguin.
What makes a great Linux VPN?
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When you’re out shopping for a Linux VPN service, make sure you know what you want from your provider. If you want a GUI, Surfshark will be your only choice – and thankfully it's a top-quality provider to boot. If you're looking to stream geo-blocked content, ensure that your chosen provider can do the job.
Once you’ve identified your essentials, you need to make sure it has a transparent data logging policy. A good VPN service like our top picks Surfshark, ExpressVPN and NordVPN will clearly spell out the type of data it logs about its users, along with the retention period of all collection data.
Besides these, privacy advocates usually suggest sticking with services that offer a kill switch, which will automatically sever your connection to the Internet, instead of sending data over the unencrypted network, in case you get disconnected from the VPN service.
Our list of the best Linux VPNs available today
We consider Surfshark the best Linux VPN on the market for a number of reasons, but there's one that makes it the obvious choice – it's the only VPN on the market that offers a fully functioning graphical user interface (GUI) on Linux.
Unlike all of its rivals, Linux users can quite simply install the application and use Surfshark just like they would on any other OS. Other providers require command-line control, and while most Linux users will be quite used to this, Surfshark's ease of use is a godsend.
Just having a GUI isn't the only reason it's topping this list, though – if it wasn't super secure and usable, we wouldn't be recommending it.
Industry-standard AES-256 encryption keeps your traffic secure, while over 3,200 servers in 100 locations worldwide mean you'll have a vast range of countries to connect to for whatever purpose you desire. Camouflage mode gives you VPN obfuscation, and CleanWeb blocks ads and malware.
In our latest Surfshark review, the Netherlands-based provider also delivered the fastest VPN connection speeds out of any provider we tested at 950Mbps when using WireGuard. That's incredible performance.
While some features aren't available on Linux – split tunneling is a big omission – Surfshark is incredible value and with unlimited simultaneous connections you'll be able to cover any and all your devices, whatever OS they're running.
Surfshark is the best Linux VPN today
With its powerful GUI, excellent connection speeds and comprehensive feature-set, Surfshark is untouchable as the best Linux VPN. And, it's incredibly affordable – it's available for less that $2.50 a month.
ExpressVPN is our most-recommended service overall, and our confidence in the provider doesn't change when it comes to Linux VPNs.
While the Linux app doesn't have a complete GUI, there's an easy workaround – simply install the Chrome VPN or Firefox extension. Unlike most browser VPNs, ExpressVPN's extension controls the app itself, and has a graphical interface. Not quite as easy as Surfshark, but close.
The Linux VPN app will automatically connect you to the geographically closest server, but you can manually point it to connect through any of its servers in over 94 countries.
The service isn’t bereft of features for Linux and comes with a network kill switch that’s enabled by default. And despite being CLI-based, it’s client isn’t cumbersome to operate and ships with reasonable defaults.
The only real downside to the service is its cost, which is higher than its competitors, but it more than makes up for that with its list of features. The service doesn’t offer a free trial, but all its long duration plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Get 3 months FREE of the best overall VPN
Tom’s Guide readers can get three free months of ExpressVPN by signing up to its 12 month plan. However, if it’s not for you, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with all its plans, so there's no risk in case you change your mind.
Third on our list is NordVPN, which offers a great many features to its Linux users. In our NordVPN review we loved the the Double VPN feature, which for extra security, routes your traffic through two different VPN servers, encrypting your data twice. Linux users also connect through obfuscated servers that will conceal the fact that you’re using a VPN to route your traffic, to bypass any bans on VPN traffic.
The service relies on its homebrewed NordLynx protocol that’s based on WireGuard and is tuned for speed. In terms of limitations, NordVPN allows a maximum of six devices to share the same connection at any given time.
As noted in our Hotspot Shield review, this service relies on its custom proprietary Catapult Hydra VPN protocol, which has helped it win Ookla’s fastest VPN service award back in 2019, and although it's no longer up there with the best, it's still fairly speedy.
That said, while you can use Hotspot via its CLI-based Linux VPN client, keep in mind that you won’t be able to use many of the interesting features such as split-tunneling. Also not available to Linux users is Hotspot’s popular free VPN product, although you can test the service through its generous 45-day money back guarantee, which is longer than what’s usually offered by most of its peers.
Isn't IPVanish generous – the US-based provider doesn’t put a cap on the number of devices you can connect through the same connection at the same time, which is a huge plus since it allows you to extend the VPN protection to all the devices in your house. The only other provider that does that is Surfshark.
In our tests for our full IPVanish review, the connections were stable and worked as advertised. The service also offers some of the lowest prices, especially on its short-duration plans.
However, unlike its competitors, IPVanish's Linux VPN is a barebones service that doesn’t offer any of the interesting features that you get with its peers, such as the kill switch or the ability to obfuscate VPN traffic. As a simple service it's reliable and fast, but it wouldn't be our first choice on Linux.
Best Linux VPN FAQ
What’s the best VPN for Linux in 2021?
All things considered, if we had to pick one outright, we’d go with Surfshark. With a comprehensive GUI and incredible connection speeds, it's perfectly suited to Linux – and it's an absolute bargain too.
Can you get a free Linux VPN?
If you look hard enough, you’ll chance upon a VPN service that’ll tempt you with a free offering. However, the risks of using such an offering far outweigh the merits of saving a couple of dollars a month.
For starters, these free services will definitely be a lot slower than any paid service. Forget streaming content too, and you might not even be able to enjoy a pleasant browsing experience with them. On top of it, there will almost certainly be a cap on the bandwidth with a no-fee VPN, which will be set to such a low level so as to make the service unusable for any practical purposes.
Another major cause of concern with free services are their privacy policies or lack thereof. They are not free from the goodness of their heart, and have to make money somehow. Collecting and hawking your private data is one of the most common ploys.