Linux is a great option for any individual who values online privacy and security. Although Linux-based operating systems are still a very small part of the desktop market, VPN service providers have provided a variety of client applications. After much testing, research and reviewing, we find that the three best VPNs for Linux are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and VPN Unlimited.
If privacy is your concern, then a VPN is an excellent addition to your Linux operating system. However, privacy isn't the only benefit of installing a VPN -- there are plenty of other reasons, such as unblocking geo-restricted content.
When it comes down to the features and technicalities of it, eight of the VPN services we've reviewed have either command-line-interface (CLI) or graphical-user-interface (GUI).
The CLIs are just as easy to use as the GUIs, but we've still divided them into separate categories because many individuals may prefer windows and buttons over typed commands and vice versa. Our best VPN for Linux recommendation, ExpressVPN, blends the two types of interfaces to get the best of both worlds.
Below we have rated and ranked our top three VPN picks for Linux, we reached this conclusion after having tried Linux client software from plenty of VPN providers. We even tried out Opera VPN, which is really just a browser proxy that's free and doesn't require an account.
Best overall Linux VPN: ExpressVPN
As with the Windows and Mac clients, you need to have a paid ExpressVPN account before you can even download the software. (There's no trial period, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied.)
Click here to go to ExpressVPN's website and install it now.
It wasn't hard to connect or disconnect, or even to switch servers, using the ExpressVPN CLI client. But until you get familiar with it, you might want to have one terminal window as your active screen, and another terminal window listing the various commands and server options as reference. There are also extensive manual pages.
Although it is more expensive than other VPN servers we have tested - its command-line-interface Linux program is a pleasure to use. Plus, if you're not comfortable with typing commands into a terminal, you can always install and use the ExpressVPN Chrome or Firefox browser extension.
Extra features include a kill switch to suspend all internet activity if the VPN connection is lost, and the ability to switch between TCP and UDP web connections on the fly while connected. (Like all the Linux clients we tried, ExpressVPN defaults to the OpenVPN protocol.)
However, you can't switch from one server to another without disconnecting first; Windscribe's CLI client did let us "hot-swap" servers.
When it was connected to a U.K. server, the ExpressVPN Linux client streamed shows from both BBC iPlayer and British Netflix without any trouble. Yet we couldn't get Netflix to stream from Australia, France or the U.S. (We tried to stream Hulu, too, but it didn't work with any VPN service we tried.)
Best Command-Line Client: NordVPN
The CLI client also lets you connect to NordVPN's array of servers with special features. The 'DoubleVPN' ones let you hop through two VPN servers instead of one for greater anonymity.
The more concealed servers are ideal for users logging in from Russia, China or other countries that try to block VPNs. There are also servers set to accommodate P2P connections and the Tor anonymizing protocol, and some to give you dedicated IP addresses.
While ExpressVPN's CLI had a decent array of features, it was no match for NordVPN's ad blocker called CyberSec and a DNS switcher. Both can be enabled and disabled easily from the command line.
NordVPN streamed Netflix constantly, although in our testing we couldn't get it to unblock BBC iPlayer as easily.
Overall, the NordVPN client worked well and was easy to use. It's got many more features than any other CLI client we tried.
NordVPN stated in October 2019 that the popular VPN service had suffered a hack and breach of security which dates back to 2019. Currently, we are still accessing the news and will in due course make any changes in NordVPN's rating and position if it is deemed necessary for the benefit of our audience.
Best GUI Client: VPN Unlimited
VPN Unlimited didn't wow us in speed tests on Windows, yet its Linux interface is a nice big GUI with a lot of options. Private Internet Access offered even more features, but its main interface was just a dropdown from the icon bar on the top of the screen, as was Mullvad's.
VPN Unlimited lets you switch from the default OpenVPN protocol to the newer IKEv2 standard, or to the proprietary KeepSolid Wise protocol, which promises "ultimate security but medium performance." (KeepSolid is VPN Unlimited's parent company.)
In our tests, VPN Unlimited consistently streamed video from BBC iPlayer when connected to a U.K. server, which is pretty impressive as BBC iPlayer is tricky to get working from overseas.
And if it's content you're looking to unblock, you'll be pleased to know that VPN unlimited also unblocks Netflix. It does however have relatively few servers and your access to it is limited to the specified devices or browser extensions selected on your account.