Windows users who are switching to Linux have many considerations. At first, perhaps it’s about usability, and whether the browser is any good. Then come thoughts about software compatibility, document access, and whether favorite games will run on Linux.
And then comes security.
As you probably know, Linux is inherently more secure than Windows. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep an eye on how you access the internet via Linux. A firewall is necessary, and increasingly so is a virtual private network (VPN).
But do major VPN providers offer apps for Linux? How are they installed? And if they don’t offer a Linux client, just how will you browse the web with a private, secure, encrypted connection?
Why You Should Be Using a VPN
The list of reasons for using a VPN continues to grow. Whether you’re concerned about internet censorship, public Wi-Fi security, or want to avoid region blocking to keep up with your favorite TV shows online, a VPN is the ideal, legal solution.
VPNs create secure connections from your PC to a server owned by the VPN provider. These servers can be manually selected using the VPN client application, and they usually offer a server on every occupied continent around the world. While you should select your VPN provider based on the privacy they offer — consider DNS leaks and logging policies — once you’ve signed up, you’ll enjoy the ultimate in private internet access, complete with encrypted data.
Still unsure? My list of reasons to be using a VPN should fill in the blanks.
VPNs With Linux Clients
Fortunately, several VPN providers do offer native Linux client software. Hopefully if you’re switching from Windows and you already have an existing VPN subscription, you’ll find that provider offers Linux support.
Rather than a lack of Linux support, the problem you’re likely to encounter is a lack of good Linux support. As such, we’ve compiled this list three VPNs that offer client apps specifically for Linux users.
Supporting OpenVPN (among other protocols) and offering DNS leak protection, Mullvad builds its own servers. Sadly there aren’t too many of them, with connections limited to Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and the USA. As a result slow speeds are likely, and the subscription is $5.66 per month.
Offering client apps for Ubuntu, Arch Linux, and Red Hat, TorGuard’s support for Linux is superb. They also recommend OpenVPN, along with a 128-bit or 256-bit encryption, depending upon requirements. In terms of privacy, “No logs or time stamps are kept whatsoever. [They] do not store any traffic logs or user session data.”
TorGuard is available for $9.99 per month on a rolling deal, or for as little as $59.99 for a 12-month subscription.
Finally, AirVPN also offers a dedicated Linux app. This time, however, the options are more configurable, with a choice of 32-bit, 64-bit, and ARM architecture (making it ideal for the Raspberry Pi), support for Debian/Ubuntu, openSUSE/Fedora and with a graphical user interface. In fact, it works on almost any device.
— Air VPN (@airvpn) February 11, 2017
Price plans for AirVPN are interesting. There is a three-day 1 Euro trial (prices are stated in Euros; this is around $1.10), as well as monthly, quarterly, six monthly and annual deals. Payment can be made by Bitcoin if preferred.
AirVPN has a “no logging” policy, high performance servers, and a useful forum where you can get peer support and chat with other users.
Developing VPN Presence for Linux
Be aware that while the VPN you want to use may not have a client app, it probably offers support for a manual configuration of OpenVPN in order to connect to their services.
Of course, more and more providers are likely to offer VPNs for Linux over time, so keep an eye out in this ever-changing landscape. For the best results, we suggest referring to our list of the best VPN providers or signing up for ExpressVPN, as it tops the list. If the VPN you’re considering is not in that list, we wouldn’t recommend it.
Other VPN Options for Linux
If the VPN you want to use doesn’t support Linux, and you cannot switch to one that does, or you simply cannot get the client/setup to work, you can still use most VPN services. The secret to this is to simply install it on another device, and connect to the internet via that instead.
Use a VPN via Tethered Smartphone Connection
Most reliable VPN services will also offer a mobile phone client. This means that all you need to do is sign up, download the client, login with your credentials, and then connect to the internet via your smartphone.
This will require a wireless or USB tethered connection to be successful, but once online, your activity will be via the VPN service. Secure, private browsing for your PC or laptop via your smartphone — ideal for use anywhere offering free Wi-Fi!
Reconfigure Your Router for VPN Access
Many VPN services also offer configuration tools for routers. This means that if you cannot get the VPN Linux client app to run, or your chosen VPN provider does not offer one, you can instead make your router do the hard work. This is a particularly good option if you have many devices in your home that you would prefer connected to the internet via a VPN connection.
Two options are usually available here:
- Configuration details for specific router types. Search your VPN provider’s support pages for your router, and follow the instructions.
- Install a pre-configured firmware for your router.
Alternatively, you might install DD-WRT on your router, which will make it more secure and enable easier configuration of your VPN.
Using Linux? Get a VPN!
As you can see, VPN clients for Linux are available from the best, most secure providers. Whether you use a client app, or are happy with gaining access to the VPN via the Terminal, your internet traffic will be more private than it has ever been.
Do you use a VPN on Linux? What is your preferred provider? Or have you run into problems setting things up? Tell us in the comments.