The 6 Best Free Linux Antivirus Programs
Whatsapp Pinterest
Advertisement

There’s a misconception that Linux users don’t need antivirus software. Linux is more secure than Windows, that’s for sure. However, antivirus is vital for any computer, Windows, Linux, or Mac. Furthermore, with the prevalence of malware and ransomware, and the increase in malware targeting Linux systems, it is essential to install a Linux antivirus suite.

Unlock the "Essential Linux Commands" cheat sheet now!

This will sign you up to our newsletter

Enter your Email

Unsure about which Linux antivirus suite to choose? Check out these best free Linux antivirus programs you can install right now.

The Best Free Linux Antivirus Tools

The best free Linux antivirus tools are:

  1. Sophos Antivirus for Linux
  2. Comodo Antivirus for Linux
  3. Clam AV
  4. F-Prot
  5. Chkrootkit
  6. Rootkit Hunter

The first four options are antivirus suites. The final two are anti-rootkit tools but can help your system under certain circumstances.

1. Sophos Antivirus for Linux

linux antivirus sophos

Sophos Antivirus for Linux is a fantastic free antivirus solution. It uses strong heuristics-based detection to discover unexpected threats. There’s also both on-demand and real-time scanning options, while Sophos Live Protection uses the same threat database as Windows and macOS to ensure excellent antivirus coverage.

Sophos Antivirus for Linux has some other handy tools, too. For instance, Sophos will prevent your Linux system from becoming a distribution point for other operating systems by removing Windows, macOS, and Android malware variants. Sophos is also a lightweight free Linux app, with accordingly small updates.

Features

  • Lightweight
  • Free
  • High-performance
  • Wide platform compatibility
  • Blocks and removes non-Linux malware

Download: Sophos Antivirus for Linux (Free)

2. Comodo Antivirus for Linux

linux antivirus comodo antivirus

Comodo makes popular and secure antivirus products for Windows and macOS. The Comodo Antivirus for Linux provides the same excellent protection and is available for both 32 and 64-bit architectures. Comodo Antivirus for Linux (sometimes referred to as CAVL) features real-time behavioral analysis, a powerful on-demand scanner, and anti-phishing and spam mail protection.

Features

  • Free
  • On-demand scanner, scan scheduler, custom scan profiles
  • Regular updates
  • Wide platform compatibility

Download: Comodo Antivirus for Linux (Free)

3. ClamAV

linux antivirus clam av clam tk

ClamAV is a popular free Linux antivirus tool. ClamAV is a command-line tool. That means you run its antivirus scans and other tools directly from the Terminal. However, there is a free GUI, ClamTK, that you can install to make using ClamAV that bit easier. ClamAV (and its GUI, ClamTK) are available via the main Ubuntu repository.

You can install ClamAV using the following command:

sudo apt install clamav

If you want to install the ClamTK GUI afterwards, use the following command:

sudo apt install clamtk

Features

  • Open source
  • Command-line interface (or GUI option)
  • On-demand scanner

4. F-Prot

linux antivirus f-prot command line

F-Prot is a free Linux antivirus that provides home and enterprise support. Home users can use F-Prot’s powerful antivirus scanner to keep their Linux system free of malware. F-Prot scans for and removes boot sector viruses, ransomware, and other malware types, with tens of millions of individual malicious file signatures to test against.

Features

  • Free
  • Compatible with 32 and 64-bit architecture
  • Doesn’t affect system performance
  • Command-line interface or GUI

Download: F-Prot for Linux (Free)

5. Chkrootkit

linux antivirus chkrootkit command line

Chkrootkit is a local rootkit scanner for Linux. Chkrootkit is a free and open source rootkit checker. However, it isn’t strictly a Linux antivirus tool. That is because it only scans and removes a specific set of malware, known as a rootkit. (What is a rootkit, anyway?)

That said, Chkrootkit does have some handy features. For instance, it is extremely lightweight. Plus, you can boot Chkrootkit straight from a Linux Live CD or Live USB. Alternatively, install Chkrootkit direct from the Ubuntu repository using the following command:

sudo apt install chkrootkit

You can then run a system-wide rootkit scan using:

sudo chkrootkit

Chkrootkit receives regular updates. The definitions list is constantly receiving new signatures, too. At the time of writing, Chkrootkit scans for over 70 rootkits, worms, and kernel-based malware types. So, while it isn’t an antivirus, Chkrootkit is a tool you want to keep nearby.

Features

  • Rootkit, worm, and kernel-based malware detection and removal
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Run from Linux Live CD or Live USB
  • Command-line interface

Download: Chkrootkit for Linux (Free)

6. Rootkit Hunter

Rootkit Hunter tool for Linux

Rootkit Hunter, or rkhunter, is another excellent free Linux rootkit hunting tool. Like Chkrootkit, rkhunter scans your Linux system for rootkits, backdoors, and other exploits. Rootkit Hunter uses the SHA-1 hashing algorithm to detect any malware.

Plus, since the developers wrote Rootkit Hunter in the Bourne shell, it’s extremely portable and compatible with a huge number of UNIX-based systems.

You can install rkhunter from the Ubuntu repository using the following command:

sudo apt install rkhunter

Then run a system-wide rootkit scan using:

sudo rkhunter -c

Features

  • Rookit, backdoor, and exploit detection
  • Portable
  • Lightweight
  • Command-line interface

Download: Rootkit Hunter for Linux (Free)

Paid Linux Antivirus Options

The list of free Linux antivirus options isn’t as extensive as you would find for Windows. It is understandable, as Windows is significantly more vulnerable than Linux. That said, if you are willing to part with a little bit of cash, there are some outstanding paid-for Linux antivirus options.

I’m not going to dig into the pros and cons of each tool. But here are four options for you to consider:

What’s the Best Free Linux Antivirus?

There is no shortage of virus types. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of free Linux antivirus suites. The free Linux antivirus suite you choose depends on your environment, as well as the hardware you’re deploying on.

If you want full system coverage, the offerings from Sophos and ClamAV are excellent. However, if you need an on-demand rootkit scan, you have two options. It could be that you scan with one of the full system suites, and then the rootkit scanner to figure out exactly what is going on.

Looking to boost your Linux security further? Here are more security tools you should have on your Linux installation 5 Security Tools You Should Have on Linux 5 Security Tools You Should Have on Linux From the start, Linux is quite secure, especially when compared to other operating systems such as macOS or Windows. Even so, it's good to build on that, starting with these tools. Read More .

Explore more about: Anti-Malware, Antivirus, Linux, .

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Jim Olson
    July 26, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    This article seems to need to be updated like Commodo AV.

    Commodo doesn't even install on Debian based systems because of unmet dependencies. Libssl required is way too out of date.

    Sophos wants your life history to download.

    • MF6759
      October 9, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Should also update article because FREE should not include 30-day trial versions like F-Prot. This is not FREE. These type of programs are considered "Trialware" and do not function at the end of the trial period.

  2. Dragonmouth
    January 21, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    You really don't need AV on Linux systems as far as for the end user (i.e. yourself). You need AV on your Linux system for everyone else that don't run Linux on their machines that you interact with on networks you're on (such as home, work, or public), so as not to infect others with things you might pick up that won't hurt your machine, but will hurt theirs. It's more about respect for others than protecting your own system.

  3. Arjen Zijlstra
    October 1, 2018 at 3:47 am

    I just discovered that Maldet itself has the C99 PHP Exploit in it!

    /home/beheer/maldetect-current.tar.gz: Php.Exploit.C99-23 FOUND
    /home/beheer/maldetect-current.tar.gz: Removed.
    /home/beheer/maldetect-1.6.3/files/sigs/rfxn.yara: Php.Exploit.C99-23 FOUND
    /home/beheer/maldetect-1.6.3/files/sigs/rfxn.yara: Removed.

    Get rid of it, now!

  4. Roger Hamilton
    May 18, 2018 at 3:16 am

    I went to download the 64 bit version of Comodo antivirus, only to be informed that it is not compatible with Linux Mint 18.3 as a 64 bit program.

    • kecoak io
      January 27, 2019 at 4:43 am

      also in arch linux 64bit

  5. Moyo Freeman
    May 17, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I use NOD32 to clean windows viruses especially when i copy folders (say with pictures) from my windows users.

  6. Stone Forest
    May 15, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I just tried ClamAV.

    ClamAV does not seem to work at all, and cannot even be updated.

    • Stone Forest
      May 15, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      Update:

      Delete 'freshclam.log' in /var/log/clamav, and then run 'sudo freshclam' in a terminal emulator. ClamAV will then update its database.

      I ran a full scan of my home folder, and no surprises: all of the 'possible threats' were Windows software packages, including Windows 3.1. LOL.

      • MacDonald Berger
        July 29, 2017 at 5:44 am

        Update:
        I just tried COMODO against my viruses collection and it detected 3220 virus of the 3256 I have. Quite impressive!
        The other ones above listed are not free as the article claims but mostly 30 days trial including SOPHOS.
        If you want a really FREE antivirus that runs on Linux I definitely recommend COMODO now on. However, I still haven't tried the other functionalities such as zero-day malware, mail gateway, SPAM etc.

    • Goob
      June 18, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      it's crap

    • MacDonald Berger
      July 29, 2017 at 4:23 am

      After installing ClamAV it will run a deamon to auto update the viruses definitions. However if you want to update it immediately you should identify and kill the process (ps -ef | grep freshclam) and (kill -9 PID number). After that you can run: sudo freshclam. That worked perfectly for me.
      While ClamAV currently has way over 630 000 viruses definitions in it's database, I got very disappointed to find out it detected only 1974 viruses in a folder containing 3256 viruses. Just to be fair I uploaded the remaining not detected viruses to my Gmail account which detected 90% of that. That said, even Google could identify 10% of them but still much better than ClamAV of course.
      I will test all of the maintained free antivirus above mentioned and run them against my viruses collection combining few of them in a shell script to automate the process. Let's see how effective it will get.

      PS. I just noticed your update. That's another way to solve it. =)

  7. dark
    January 29, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I would suggest Sophos for linux, forget about others they are either discontinued or not good.

    I wonder why most Antivirus developers not interested in developing antivirus for Linux when Linux is the future?
    Is everyone suddenly ok with Windows 10 spywares from Microsoft? You know Windows based antiviruses don't stop microsoft spywares, right?

    Linux users, you do need Antivirus on Linux mostly for keeping your system and USB devices clean from Windows Malwares and sometimes from Linux Malwares.

    • Three Eighty-Six
      April 13, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Amen, brother. My mind is still blown that people just accept that Windows 10 runs slower, has a convoluted interface, and passively spies on them continuously for the American government and for advertising purposes with no actual way to disable it.

  8. JakeA
    January 28, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    If you're not being stupid you don't need an antivirus. You almost never download any programs from the web.

  9. Ron Kowalski
    August 12, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Been using COMODO for quite a while now on openSUSE (Tumbleweed). One needs the "KINTA JAPAN" patch in order to be able to have "on access" scanning ("real time"). Without that, one cannot compile the necessary kernel modules. However, on demand scanning is still possible and av-defs can be updated without that.

    Also note that the KINTA JAPAN patch works (on Tumbleweed, anyways) up to and including the 4.6 kernels, as of 4.7 some structures have changed in the kernel and the patch will NOT work anymore. But, as noted, COMODO will, though without the on access feature.

  10. Orion Blastar
    July 8, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    All but ClamAV have been discontinued.

    It seems nobody wants to make a Linux based antivirus program anymore. A real shame as I'd like to scan Windows hard drives under Linux to make sure my system does not get infected.

  11. Anonymous
    August 6, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    good post
    one comment
    sleek not sleak
    we must perfect our spelling to be an excellent-er writer. .;)

  12. Anonymous
    July 12, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Comodo is a dedicated linux application. It works. Sophos is a pain to install, so...I don't think others listed above are worth considering.

    • Justin Pot
      July 12, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      It's great seeing new updates here five years after I published this article, thanks for contributing.

      • diw
        April 4, 2017 at 9:29 am

        Maybe that's a hint that this needs re-writing? It seems this article is now out of date.

  13. Anonymous
    July 12, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Comodo is a dedicated linux application. It works well. Sophos is a pain to install. Most of those listed above are not worth considering

  14. Jouni "rautamiekka" Järvinen
    May 19, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Avast is dead and Bitdefender ain't free.

  15. evan mcveigh
    February 13, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I am still having trouble installing bitdefender on my system, I am running 64 bit ubuntu 14.04 and this is the file I downloaded BitDefender-Antivirus-Scanner-7.7-1-linux-amd64.deb.run. I am unsure what exactly the sudo comand would look like, the file location is in my download folder.

    • Justin Pot
      February 13, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      You need to open the Command Line. First, you'll type this:

      cd Download

      This will tell the command line to "change directory" to your "Download" folder. Then you need to type this:

      sudo ./BitDefender-Antivirus-Scanner-7.7-1-linux-amd64.deb.run

      This will tell the command line to, as an admin (sudo) to run (./) the installer you downloaded (BitDefender-Antivirus-Scanner-7.7-1-linux-amd64.deb.run). You don't need to type the entire name of the installer: just hit the tab key a few letters in and it will complete. Good luck!

  16. John Wootten
    December 14, 2014 at 3:09 am

    I am a brand new Linux user and I am using Zorin 9 core. I am finding it difficult to use because I am used ti clicking on an icon to launch a program and I can't find any way to do that with Zorin. I'm afraid I will do something wrong and I want to be protected. So I am interested in two of the ones that have been talked about here. I want to download and try to use the CalmAV and Avair. They seem to be the best and eaisest ones to use. I am also interested in some wat to get the icons back into my life so I can enjoy using my laptop again. Can someone help me with both, the download of these virus programs and a way to get my icons for my software?
    Thanks so much,
    jwwpapa

    • Xi
      January 7, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      I'm also a linux user. But I'd never recommend ClamAV as it scans only for Windows virus and if you run a full scan, you'll end up deleting OS system files. Avira will shut down by 2016.

      I'd suggest you to opt for Comodo/Sophos Antivirus for Linux as they can detect Linux and Windows malware. Sophos can detect OS X Mac viruses too. Also, they both have GUI for easy navigation and operation.

  17. Jason Harris
    November 19, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Hey Guys,

    I work with BitDefender and am more than willing to help with any issues or concerns you guys have. reply to this comment and we can connect offline - I look forward to hearing any questions and helping!

    -Jason

  18. Jason Harris
    November 19, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Hey Guys,

    I work with BitDefender and am more than willing to help with any issues or concerns you guys have. reply to this comment and we can connect offline - I look forward to hearing any questions and helping!

    -Jason

  19. Ubuntuandstuff
    November 16, 2010 at 4:30 am

    I use a linux antivirus to disinfect a windows partition on my desktop.

  20. Ubuntuandstuff
    November 16, 2010 at 5:30 am

    I use a linux antivirus to disinfect a windows partition on my desktop

    ubuntuandstuff.blogspot.com

  21. DiagonalArg
    November 14, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks for clearing up the Win/Linux issue, Ghostcat.

    Here's another interesting review that I just found:

    http://www.tuxradar.com/content/get-best-virus-scanner-linux

    I too had settled on Avast, though that reviewer was mildly more positively disposed to BitDefender.

  22. DiagonalArg
    November 14, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks for clearing up the Win/Linux issue, Ghostcat.

    Here's another interesting review that I just found:

    http://www.tuxradar.com/conten...

    I too had settled on Avast, though that reviewer was mildly more positively disposed to BitDefender.

  23. Ghostcat
    November 13, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    But it would be interesting to know how do they perform when cleaning Windows infected systems from Linux.

    I am, as we speak, testing them, with several samples of Windows viruses, taken from an infected machine.
    So far, neither F-Prot, Bitdefender or - to my disappointment - AVG are able to detect Windows viruses. It seems that they are intended to be antivirus protections for Linux itself. Not really what I'm looking for.

    ClamAV has unfortunately never been too good; the detection rate is rather low; I can't trust it enough to be sure I have cleaned a Windows infected machine.

    I haven't been able to evaluate Avira, since it asks for some dependencies that I don't have installed in my PCLinuxOS.

    Avast is the only one that is doing a good job detecting Windows viruses when running on a Linux system. And the latest release of the GUI seems to have corrected a minor but annoying problem that I used to have: the GUI used to crash when trying to scan large directories, but right now that seems to be working well.

    The greatest disappointment is AVG. The older version 7.x was pretty good to detect and clean Windows infections. Even without a GUI it was very useful. The next version 8 was still usable even thought they removed the cleaning capability. But the latest 8.5 version does not detect Windows viruses; it's even called "AVG Server Edition", which appears to indicate that is intended for servers running Linux.

    I think that having an antivirus software on a Linux system can be, as Justin says, very handy when cleaning Windows systems. Sadly, most vendors don't seem to be interested in this use; they make only antivirus solutions for Windows - which not always work once the computer is already infected -, or they make antivirus software to protect Linux installations - servers mainly.
    I hope that Avast continues making their excellent Linux version, and that ClamAV gets better.

  24. Ghostcat
    November 14, 2010 at 12:55 am

    But it would be interesting to know how do they perform when cleaning Windows infected systems from Linux.

    I am, as we speak, testing them, with several samples of Windows viruses, taken from an infected machine.
    So far, neither F-Prot, Bitdefender or - to my disappointment - AVG are able to detect Windows viruses. It seems that they are intended to be antivirus protections for Linux itself. Not really what I'm looking for.

    ClamAV has unfortunately never been too good; the detection rate is rather low; I can't trust it enough to be sure I have cleaned a Windows infected machine.

    I haven't been able to evaluate Avira, since it asks for some dependencies that I don't have installed in my PCLinuxOS.

    Avast is the only one that is doing a good job detecting Windows viruses when running on a Linux system. And the latest release of the GUI seems to have corrected a minor but annoying problem that I used to have: the GUI used to crash when trying to scan large directories, but right now that seems to be working well.

    The greatest disappointment is AVG. The older version 7.x was pretty good to detect and clean Windows infections. Even without a GUI it was very useful. The next version 8 was still usable even thought they removed the cleaning capability. But the latest 8.5 version does not detect Windows viruses; it's even called "AVG Server Edition", which appears to indicate that is intended for servers running Linux.

    I think that having an antivirus software on a Linux system can be, as Justin says, very handy when cleaning Windows systems. Sadly, most vendors don't seem to be interested in this use; they make only antivirus solutions for Windows - which not always work once the computer is already infected -, or they make antivirus software to protect Linux installations - servers mainly.
    I hope that Avast continues making their excellent Linux version, and that ClamAV gets better.

  25. Lott11
    November 3, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I have used this combination for the past few years on my MS 64 bit OS.
    Comodo Firewall, Avira Anti-virus, Emsisoft A2 Square Mal-ware & A2HiJackFree, and Spy-bot..
    Since I put this combination I never had any problem and it is free.
    Even Dow this is not needed for Linux, I do like Avira best of all it is quick and is a real time scan.
    Any USB, flash memory, external drive, what ever gets plugged in gets a scan with out me doing anything both on Linux and MS.
    Avira still rank highest over all for my self.

  26. Lott11
    November 3, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I have used this combination for the past few years on my MS 64 bit OS.
    Comodo Firewall, Avira Anti-virus, Emsisoft A2 Square Mal-ware & A2HiJackFree, and Spy-bot..
    Since I put this combination I never had any problem and it is free.
    Even Dow this is not needed for Linux, I do like Avira best of all it is quick and is a real time scan.
    Any USB, flash memory, external drive, what ever gets plugged in gets a scan with out me doing anything both on Linux and MS.
    Avira still rank highest over all for my self.

  27. Mohammad Elsheimy
    November 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I love Avira and I think it's one of the best anti-virus programs ever. :)

    • Anarimus
      January 4, 2011 at 1:34 am

      You are correct sir. I've used all of these and i always return to Avira.

  28. pdecort
    November 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I am relatively new to Linux having bought an QNAP TS-219P. It has an embeded version of Linux so I'm not certain whether I would be able to use any of these on the embeded version... or how to go about installing them.
    I use the NAS from my windows based PCs so I think the virus protection would be wise.

    also, it's not an intel processor - which seems to rule out Avast.

    Any assistance would be appreciated!

    P de Cort

    • Imakayaker
      November 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm

      Try the ClamAV. It was included on my version of Ubuntu and it seems to work pretty well. I am looking for another AV just in case.

  29. pdecort
    November 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I am relatively new to Linux having bought an QNAP TS-219P. It has an embeded version of Linux so I'm not certain whether I would be able to use any of these on the embeded version... or how to go about installing them.
    I use the NAS from my windows based PCs so I think the virus protection would be wise.

    also, it's not an intel processor - which seems to rule out Avast.

    Any assistance would be appreciated!

    P de Cort

  30. dana theteacher
    November 1, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Makeuseof has to be my favorite blog. This is just another great example of why! Thank you for the reviews.

  31. Srinivas G
    November 1, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Hey, nice article Justin. I use BitDefender because Avast doesn't have a 64-bit version (we have to force the architecture to install the 32 bit one) and always throws an initialization error at me (there's a fix, though). Clam AV misses a lot. I haven't tried AVG yet and maybe I won't need to, with BitDefender performing well.

    BTW, BitDefender offers us a "1 year" license for "personal use". Here's the link > http://www.bitdefender.com/world/Products/ScannerLicense/ Instead of filling in the 'evaluation version' page, you can directly request a free license and that along with the download link will be e-mailed to you.

  32. Srinivas G
    November 1, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Hey, nice article Justin. I use BitDefender because Avast doesn't have a 64-bit version (we have to force the architecture to install the 32 bit one) and always throws an initialization error at me (there's a fix, though). Clam AV misses a lot. I haven't tried AVG yet and maybe I won't need to, with BitDefender performing well.

    BTW, BitDefender offers us a "1 year" license for "personal use". Here's the link > http://www.bitdefender.com/wor... Instead of filling in the 'evaluation version' page, you can directly request a free license and that along with the download link will be e-mailed to you.

  33. 67GTA
    October 31, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    F-Prot and Avira also are free for home use, and have Linux versions available.