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Best VPNs for Linux in 2021 (with Full GUI Clients)

Tux the Linux penguin on a laptop
Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio

Linux users are often left behind by VPN services. Even the biggest names are guilty of prioritizing other operating systems. We believe that as a Linux user you shouldn’t have to sacrifice usability.

That’s why every VPN recommended in this list comes with a full GUI (graphical user interface). That means you’re getting the full VPN experience – easy to use, and with as many great features as possible.

A native Linux VPN client means There’s no need for a Terminal command line or complex configuration files.

After testing dozens of VPNs, we’ve found the best GUI VPNs for Linux are:

  1. Private Internet Access: The best all-round VPN for Linux.
    Read summary or visit Private Internet Access
  2. ProtonVPN: Easiest to use VPN for Linux.
    Read summary or visit ProtonVPN
  3. Astrill: Best VPN for extra features on Linux.
    Read summary or visit Astrill
  4. TorGuard: Best VPN for compatibility with all Linux distros.
    Read summary or visit TorGuard
  5. Mullvad: Cheapest short-term Linux VPN.
    Read summary or visit Mullvad

We tested our recommendations while running Ubuntu 20.04 (64-bit), but they’ll all work on other distros including Mint, Arch, Debian, Fedora, and more.

These VPNs also all have applications for a wide range of other platforms, so you can protect all your devices with one subscription – not just your Linux machine.

EXPERT TIP: If you’re looking to manually set up OpenVPN or test a VPN for Linux, you can find information on installing OpenVPN and the best free VPN for Linux later on in this article.

The Top VPNs for Linux: Performance Ratings

In the table below we compare the five best Linux VPNs in the most important testing categories:

Linux VPNs Compared

Use the chart below to compare 12 of the highest-rated VPNs overall alongside their most important attributes for Linux:

The 5 Best GUI VPNs for Linux in 2021

  1. 1. Private Internet Access: Best Overall VPN for Linux

    Fast, secure, and trustworthy, PIA is the best all-round GUI VPN for all Linux distributions.

    Ranked #1 out of 68 VPNs for Linux
    Private Internet Access
     86% 
    (29 user reviews)
    Visit PIA VPN

    Pros

    1. Fully-featured Linux app
    2. Works well on Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mint
    3. Support for systemd, sysvinit, and openrc operating systems
    4. Exceptional no-logs policy
    5. Extremely fast speeds on Linux
    6. Zero restrictions on torrenting

    Cons

    1. US jurisdiction
    2. May be too technical for some

    Based on our tests, Private Internet Access is the best VPN for Linux. Its full GUI app offers all the features you’d expect from the Windows version, and it’s easy to set up and use on all popular distributions.

    Compatible with
    1. linuxLinux
    2. windowsWindows
    3. macosMacOS
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid
    Cheapest Price$2.08/mo over 26 months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    98Mbps
    Supported Linux DistrosUbuntu, Mint, Debian, Fedora, Arch/Manjaro
    Data LeaksNo
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    TorrentingUnlimited
    Countries78
    Servers29,643

    Open-source Linux app with lots of extra features

    Not only does PIA’s Linux client look just like its other desktop versions, but it has all the same features, too.

    Most importantly there’s a kill switch, meaning you don’t need to spend time in your Linux machine’s Network settings menu. There’s also port forwarding, split tunneling, and PIA Mace (the company’s take on an ad-blocker).

    Private Internet Access VPN app home screen on Linux

    Just like on other more popular platforms, PIA VPN is a super-secure and reliable experience on Linux

    It’s also open source, meaning that every line of code is freely available for curious users and white-hat hackers to scrutinize.

    You can use PIA’s own private DNS servers or set up your own, and you have a choice of encryption protocol. OpenVPN is the default, but the newer WireGuard is available too.

    One of the fastest VPNs on local connections

    Private Internet Access is also a reliably fast VPN – one of the fastest we’ve ever tested, in fact.

    However, our testing has found it to be fastest when using OpenVPN. This is pretty unusual, as with other VPNs we usually find that WireGuard is faster than OpenVPN.

    It’s not quite as fast as other Linux VPNs over long distances. That’s a shame, as PIA’s network of 29,643 global servers is one of the largest out there.

    If you’re connecting to a server near to your real location, though, it’s exceptional. Our most recent testing recorded an average of 98MpbsMbps when downloading.

    Truly no-logs, as proved in court

    We’ve been fans of PIA’s logging policy for a long time now. Most importantly, it doesn’t log any information whatsoever when you use the VPN.

    This no-logs policy has been proven by numerous server seizures and legal subpoenas: every time PIA has revealed zero logs. Its warrant canary, open source coding, and regular transparency reports all help back this up. It’s the perfect choice for any privacy-conscious Linux user.

    How to install Private Internet Access on Linux

    Setting up PIA on your distro of choice is simple, with only a couple of command lines in the Terminal needed to get up and running. This process should be applicable no matter what version of Linux you’re running.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide:

    1. Download the PIA Linux install file and run it.
    2. Open Terminal and enter cd Downloads
    3. Enter sh pia-linux-2.8.1-06335.run
    4. Enter your password when prompted.

    Installation is now complete and all that’s left is to sign in to your PIA account.

  2. 2. ProtonVPN: Fastest VPN for Linux

    ProtonVPN is the fastest VPN we’ve tested on Linux, with speeds of 95Mbps.

    ProtonVPN Mobile Screenshot
     100% 
    (3 user reviews)
    Visit ProtonVPN

    Pros

    1. Clean, easy-to-use Linux GUI
    2. Supports Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Manjaro & Arch
    3. Open-source no-logs app
    4. The fastest Linux VPN on this list
    5. 1,433 servers in 61
    6. SecureCore and Netshield add increased privacy

    Cons

    1. Expensive, even on long-term deals
    2. Live chat customer support is not 24/7

    Overall Linux Rating: 9.2/10

    The overall Linux VPN rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. For more details, read about how we test Linux VPNs.

    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.89.8/10

    ProtonVPN is one of the oldest and most trusted VPNs on the market, and it’s given plenty of attention to its impressive full-GUI Linux app. It’s easy to use, private, and produces incredibly fast speeds on almost every server.

    Compatible with
    1. linuxLinux
    2. windowsWindows
    3. macosMacOS
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid
    Cheapest Price$6.63/mo over 24 Months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    96Mbps
    Supported Linux DistrosUbuntu, Mint, Debian, Fedora, Arch/Manjaro, MX, Kali
    Data LeaksNo
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    TorrentingPermitted
    Countries61
    Servers1,433

    A lightweight, simple app for multiple Linux distros

    The ProtonVPN app has always been very straightforward, but its Linux edition is the simplest of them all.

    It works well, though. All the information and options the app has to offer are available on one screen. The server select menu, kill switch, Secure Core, and Netshield toggles are all clearly displayed and immediately visible.

    That means that there’s no profiles, no protocol select, and no ability to mark your favorite servers. It’s a super stripped-back approach, but it works well.

    ProtonVPN app home screen on Linux

    ProtonVPN’s Linux app is simple and intuitive, and its connections are incredibly fast

    The ProtonVPN Linux app uses a specially modified version of the WireGuard implementation built into the Linux kernel. You can use IKEv2 and OpenVPN with manual configuration files, but you won’t get the benefits of the full ProtonVPN app that way.

    The best download speeds on Linux in our testing

    ProtonVPN does a lot of things well, but its biggest selling point is its speed on Linux. When connected to a nearby server we recorded just 4%% loss to our download rate. On a 100Mbps connection the difference is imperceptible.

    It also performs very well over long distances. If you want to connect overseas to obtain a foreign IP address then ProtonVPN will keep your speeds high.

    No-logs policy, open-source app, good jurisdiction

    ProtonVPN has an exceptional logging policy. The only data it retains is a timestamp of your last login, which is overwritten every time you log in after that.

    In 2019 ProtonVPN proved its policy in court, when it was required to submit user data. No relevant information had been stored, and nothing was handed over as a result.

    The final factor that makes ProtonVPN such a strong choice for privacy is its jurisdiction. Switzerland isn’t related to the 14 Eyes and is not a member of the EU, so ProtonVPN choosing it as its base of operations makes perfect sense.

    How to install ProtonVPN on Linux

    Installing ProtonVPN and its full GUI app on Linux is simple. It supports a large number of distros, but we’ll use Debian-based instructions for this example. Just follow these steps:

    1. Download the ProtonVPN DEB package and install the repo.
    2. Open Terminal and run the command sudo apt-get update
    3. In Terminal run the command sudo apt-get install protonvpn

    If you are running a Linux distro that doesn’t support DEB packages then see ProtonVPN’s other install guides.

  3. 3. Astrill: Best Linux VPN for Advanced Users

    Astrill VPN has a broad suite of extra features rarely seen on Linux.

    Astrill mobile screenshots
     0% 
    No user reviews
    Visit Astrill

    Pros

    1. Unrivaled customization on Linux
    2. Guided installation for DEB, RPM & CL
    3. Excellent no-logs policy & Seychelles jurisdiction
    4. Fast & secure for torrenting with great extra features
    5. Wide choice of protocols
    6. Works in censored countries like China

    Cons

    1. Very expensive with no refunds
    2. Limited use for streaming

    Astrill is a lot more complex than the other VPNs on this list, but if you’re a confident Linux user then you’ll love it. The client offers greater levels of customization, including in its protocols, proxies, ports, and encryption standards.

    Compatible with
    1. linuxLinux
    2. windowsWindows
    3. macosMacOS
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid
    Cheapest Price$10.00/mo over 12 Months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    80Mbps
    Supported Linux DistrosUbuntu, Mint, Debian, Fedora, RedHat, CentOS
    Data LeaksNo
    Logging PolicySome User Logs
    TorrentingUnlimited
    Countries57
    Servers107

    Simple setup on most popular Linux distros

    Astrill has installers on its site for both Debian- and RedHat-based Linux distros. It can also be installed via command line, if you prefer.

    Astrill offers full walkthroughs for whatever method you choose, as well as OpenVPN config files if you prefer not to use a GUI at all.

    The most customizable VPN on Linux

    While some VPNs limit Linux users to just one protocol, Astrill opens up its entire selection to you.

    You can choose from popular favorites OpenVPN and WireGuard, plus proprietary options OpenWeb and StealthVPN.

    Astrill VPN app home screen on Linux

    Astrill’s Ubuntu Linux app it just like its Windows equivalent

    Its additional features include the basics like a kill switch and both app and site VPN split tunneling, but also more advanced options.

    Custom DNS, Port 443, custom proxies, and ad block combine to offer a fine degree of personalization within the bespoke Linux Astrill app.

    An excellent VPN for torrenting

    Port forwarding is another extra feature Astrill offers on Linux, and it helps set it apart when it comes to VPNs for torrenting.

    Torrent download speeds were excellent in our testing – it averaged 10MiB/s, which was virtually lossless.

    Combine that with an excellent logging policy and Astrill is one of the very best VPNs for torrenting, on Linux or any other platform.

    How to install Astrill on Linux

    1. Download the Astrill Linux installer. The DEB 64-bit package is presented by default but you can find other options by selecting ‘Show more’ just underneath it.
    2. Once the installer file is downloaded, double click it.
    3. Follow any prompts that pop up after that, then restart your system once the installation completes.

    Note that there’s a command line option for installation on the Astrill website if you would rather do it that way than via an installer package.

  4. 4. TorGuard: Best Linux VPN for Compatibility

    TorGuard VPN can run on almost any version of Linux across any 32- or 64-bit system.

    TorGuard
     70% 
    (2 user reviews)
    Visit TorGuard

    Pros

    1. Access to multiple versions & releases for all Linux distros
    2. Trustworthy no-logs policy
    3. Excellent for safe torrenting
    4. Extensive global server network of 50 countries across the globe
    5. Plenty of advanced security features for customization

    Cons

    1. Slow international speeds
    2. Inconsistent access to Netflix
    3. Customer support needs work

    TorGuard is a fantastic choice for any Linux user who wants a safe, reliable VPN that they can fully customize for the ideal privacy and anonymity suite. It’s also one of the best VPNs for torrenting – just don’t try to stream anything with it.

    Compatible with
    1. linuxLinux
    2. windowsWindows
    3. macosMacOS
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid
    Cheapest Price$4.16/mo over 24 Months See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    85Mbps
    Supported Linux DistrosUbuntu, Mint, Debian, RedHat, Fedora, Arch/Manjaro, CentOS, ARM
    Data LeaksNo
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    TorrentingUnlimited
    Countries50
    Servers3,000+

    Loads of installation versions available to download

    There’s no need to worry if TorGuard will support your chosen Linux setup. A wide variety of app versions can be downloaded from the TorGuard site, including both 64-bit and 32-bit versions for Ubuntu, RedHat, and ARM.

    TorGuard VPN app home screen on Linux

    TorGuard VPN is an excellent, technical VPN for confident Linux users

    The full-GUI app looks the same no matter which version you install, and manages to be user-friendly while still offering a wide array of extra features.

    Highly-customizable with lots of advanced features

    Not only does TorGuard for Linux look the same as the Windows app, but it also offers all of the same advanced features.

    One feature we really like is, in addition to the standard kill switch, it also has an app kill switch. Any app you add to this list will be automatically terminated if the TorGuard connection drops, guaranteeing your IP isn’t revealed.

    There’s also some very detailed DNS settings (including one with an ad-blocker built in), the ability to add proxy servers, IPv6 leak protection, and port forwarding.

    One of the very best VPNs for torrenting on Linux

    That port forwarding is a huge factor in making TorGuard one of the best VPNs on the market for torrenting. Only a small handful of VPNs offer it at all.

    It can greatly improve your download speeds, which is exactly what we saw when torrenting with TorGuard on Linux. Combined with its excellent logging policy and advanced kill switch we recommend it to any Linux user who does a lot of P2P file sharing but wants a cheaper alternative to Astrill.

    Absolutely no logs Linux VPN

    There is one downside to TorGuard when it comes to privacy, and that is its United States jurisdiction.

    However that doesn’t worry us, because TorGuard collects no logs whatsoever. Its privacy policy is short and sweet and, while we would like a little more elaboration, we have no reason to doubt its track record. It made its name as a VPN designed for torrenters who need anonymity – a name we think it is living up to.

    How to install TorGuard on Linux

    1. Choose a TorGuard Linux installer that matches your Linux distribution from the full list on its website.
    2. Double click the downloaded file and a window should pop up. Click ‘Install’ and enter your login credentials if prompted to.

    Alternatively, you can install via Terminal command line by following the instructions listed here.

  5. 5. Mullvad: Cheapest Short-Term Linux VPN

    Mullvad VPN doesn’t require an email address on sign up, and even accepts cash payments.

    Mullvad mobile app
     100% 
    (1 user reviews)
    Visit Mullvad

    Pros

    1. Supports all modern 64-bit distros with systemd
    2. Fully private account creation process
    3. Excellent logging policy
    4. Shadowsocks and WireGuard available on Linux
    5. Fast download speeds
    6. Good for secure torrenting

    Cons

    1. Small server network
    2. Slow support
    3. Poor for streaming

    Mullvad is a privacy-first Linux VPN that does most things very well. It’s private, fast, and has a neat suite of extra features. It’s not very useful if you want to unlock streaming services or access uncensored internet in China, but for everything else it’s a great VPN.

    Compatible with
    1. linuxLinux
    2. windowsWindows
    3. macosMacOS
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid
    Cheapest Price$5.95/mo See all plans
    Top Download Speedi

    Based on 100Mbps local test connection

    86Mbps
    Supported Linux DistrosUbuntu, Debian, Fedora
    Data LeaksNo
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    TorrentingUnlimited
    Countries38
    Servers759

    Privacy-first app identical to the Windows version

    There’s no cut-corners or compromises here: Linux Mullvad users get the exact same VPN client as their Windows counterparts.

    It’s an easy app to use, with a few extra features. The kill switch is always appreciated, and it also offers IPv6 protection (important if your router and ISP assign you an IPv6 address).

    Mullvad VPN app home screen on Linux

    Running on Ubuntu Linux, Mullvad VPN is a little less complex than other options on this list

    The most interesting feature is what Mullvad calls ‘bridge mode’. Bridge mode adds a Shadowsocks proxy on top of the standard VPN connection, creating an effect similar to double-hop. This can help bypass censorship and more consistently unblock websites.

    Highly anonymous account creation process

    Mullvad has taken some big steps to make sure you are detached from your VPN browsing activity.

    First of all, there’s no email required for signup or linked to your account – each Mullvad account login is simply a 16-digit string of numbers.

    Subscription payment can be made with cryptocurrency or even cash, which is something we have only seen from a handful of VPNs.

    Its single-tier pricing structure means that it’s not great value over the long term, but $5.00 for a monthly rolling contract is actually a very good deal.

    Very good for torrenting but no good for streaming

    If you’re considering Mullvad for entertainment needs rather than privacy needs it’s a mixed bag.

    Mullvad is a very strong choice if you torrent: it keeps no logs, provides port forwarding, has a kill switch, and it recorded fast download bitrates in our testing.

    However, Mullvad is a much worse streaming VPN than the options above it on this list. We routinely test Mullvad with a variety of streaming sites and services and have found it can only unlock US Netflix and the UK’s All 4.

    All other libraries and services are off limits. That means no Disney+, no Amazon Prime Video, and no HBO Max.

    How to install Mullvad on Linux

    1. Download the Linux installer you need: either the .deb file for Debian-based distros or .rpm file for RedHat-based distros.
    2. Double click the file and follow the prompts.

    Alternatively, if you’d rather install via command line there are instructions on how to do so here.

How We Test VPNs for Linux

There are a number of bespoke criteria we consider when ranking the best VPNs for Linux.

For Linux specifically, we test for:

  • A full-GUI (graphical user interface), easy-to-use Linux VPN application. (35%)
  • Compatibility with a wide range of Linux distros, including Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Manjaro, and more.
    (20%)
  • AES-128/256 encryption and a reliable VPN protocol like OpenVPN.
    (15%)
  • Advanced features like a kill switch, port forwarding, and DNS server selection.
    (15%)
  • A privacy policy which retains as few VPN logs as possible.
    (10%)
  • Fast download speeds on all VPN servers.
    (5%)

Here’s a full list of the factors we look for when testing the best VPNs for Linux, along with how much of the overall rating they account for:

1Linux VPN Client: 30%

Minimum Requirement: Has a full-GUI app available for Linux.
We Recommend: An intuitive program that is easy to use and resembles its Windows counterpart as closely as possible.

Most VPNs don’t support Linux at all. Of the small number that do, even fewer actually maintain a proper Linux application.

Those VPNs will be content with offering a basic CLI (Command Line Interface) setup that’s unintuitive and slow to use.

Every VPN featured in this list has a Linux application with a full GUI (Graphical User Interface). This means that it looks and operates just like a VPN client on Windows or MacOS.

This is the main criterion we use when rating VPNs for Linux. It should be easy to install (with minimal CLI work required), and simple to use.

The closer the VPN app is to its Windows or MacOS counterpart, both for usability and features, the higher the score. All of the VPNs on this page treat Linux users with proper respect, delivering high-quality bespoke applications.

2Linux Distro Compatibility: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Has a 64-bit Debian installer available.
We Recommend: Has installers for as many distros as possible, including Ubuntu, Fedora, and Arch, in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

While the vast majority of the Linux market may use Debian or Ubuntu, there’s still millions of users on other Linux operating systems.

It’s important for VPN providers to cater to all of the most popular distributions. That means not just Debian variants, but Fedora/RedHat and Arch/Manjaro, too.

We also consider app architecture. There’s a good chance your PC runs the 64-bit version of Linux, but if you’re a 32-bit user we also make sure there’s a VPN that supports your build.

3Encryption and Security: 15%

Minimum Requirement: OpenVPN and AES-128 encryption.
We Recommend: A selection of protocols (including WireGuard), plus AES-256 encryption.

Regardless of your chosen operating system, a secure and properly encrypted VPN is always important.

Linux is compatible with all popular mainstream VPN protocols, so the ideal Linux VPN will give you a choice within the app.

The minimum we look for is OpenVPN – the most popular protocol on the market and one we believe to strike the perfect balance between speed and security. WireGuard and IKEv2 are also popular on Linux – both are excellent choices.

Every VPN featured on this page also offers encryption via AES-128, AES-256, or a choice between the two. It’s virtually uncrackable, meaning all your VPN traffic is protected.

4Advanced Features: 15%

Minimum Requirement: VPN kill switch to prevent IP leaks.
We Recommend: Useful extras like split tunneling, custom DNS configuration, tracker blockers, and more.

This is one area where making sure you have a proper VPN app for Linux makes a big difference.

The best Linux VPNs have a broad suite of extra features – just like their counterparts on more popular desktop operating systems.

A VPN kill switch is the very least we expect. Without one your internet connection and IP address could be left exposed should the VPN connection cut out at any time.

We look for more advanced features, too. Some VPNs offer privacy extras like built-in ad and tracker blocking. Others may have port forwarding to help you torrent faster.

5Logging Policy & Jurisdiction: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Minimal logs retained.
We Recommend: No personal information logged, with other data deleted promptly, from a company in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction.

Without a VPN your ISP can see every website you visit and every file you download. But with a bad VPN, all you’re doing is handing that information over to a different company instead.

The least we expect of any VPN is to not keep any logs that can tie your browsing activity back to you. It’s imperative that, in the event of a server breach of seizure, any information stored is completely anonymous.

The very best VPNs store no data whatsoever, although this is rare. A good number of them keep no more than aggregated metadata – general server usage statistics which are an anonymized combination of data from a large number of users.

Jurisdiction matters, too. Ideally your VPN of choice will be based in a privacy-friendly country. That means nowhere that’s a part of the Five, Nine, or Fourteen Eyes, or the EU.

6Connection Speeds: 5%

Minimum Requirement: Fast, stable speeds on local connections.
We Recommend: An unnoticeable drop in download speeds locally, with fast speeds when connecting to international locations.

A VPN will always impact your internet speeds, but the very best will do so by as little as possible.

Upload speeds are important for file sharing, and ping matter for gaming, but our main focus is on download speeds.

When connected to a server in the same country as you (or a foreign city close by) the speed drop should be practically unnoticeable as you browse the internet like usual.

Top-tier VPNs will also give you great speeds on long-distance connections. This can allow you to unblock region-exclusive websites or services as if you were in the country they’re based in.

Which Free VPN Is Best for Linux?

While the paid-for version of ProtonVPN is one of our very highest-rated VPNs for Linux, it also has a free version, too.

Based on our testing criteria, ProtonVPN Free is the best free VPN for Linux. It is compatible with all major Linux distributions, highly-secure, and it does not cap your data usage. However, ProtonVPN Free does come with server limitations and a ban on torrenting.

Setup and compatibility for the free version of ProtonVPN is exactly the same as the paid version. You can install it on all of the following Linux distros:

  • Debian 10
  • Ubuntu 20+
  • Mint 20+
  • MX Linux 19+
  • Kali Linux
  • Elementary OS 6.0+
  • Fedora 31+ (excluding Rawhide)
  • Archlinux/Manjaro

There’s also OpenVPN and IKEv2 config files, plus a CLI installation guide.

Perhaps most importantly, ProtonVPN Free has no data cap. This is extremely uncommon for a free VPN, and means that you can use it on your Linux machine as much as you like without worrying about running out of bandwidth.

The main difference from the paid version is the massively reduced server network and a blanket ban on torrenting. It offers 23 servers spread over Japan, the Netherlands, and the US.

How to Set Up OpenVPN on Linux

Every VPN we’ve featured in this list uses multiple protocols and a dedicated app for Linux to make the VPN setup and connection process as simple as possible.

However, it’s also possible to create a VPN connection on your Linux machine using nothing more than the Network Manager – Linux’s own built-in networking capabilities.

It’s free, and setup is relatively simple. However, you will need to provide OpenVPN config files for yourself. It’s these config files that allow you to connect to various server locations around the world.

The safest way to get OpenVPN config files is via a premium subscription to a VPN service (almost every provider offers them). There are free ones available online, but there’s no guarantee that they will be secure or private.

These instructions are based on the steps required for Ubuntu users, but they should largely apply for most other distros.

To manually set up OpenVPN on Linux:

  1. Download an OpenVPN configuration file from a VPN service of your choice. You’ll be able to choose a server location, and potentially other attributes like the protocol and extra features (like ad block). It will have a .ovpn file extension.
  2. Open the Settings menu, click on the Network tab, then the + icon to the right of the VPN section.
  3. Select Import from file… and choose the config file you just downloaded. Click Open.
  4. A screen full of OpenVPN credentials should appear. In the Identity tab under Authentication make sure that Type is set to Password with Certificates (TLS).
  5. In the corresponding fields, enter your username and password for the VPN which provided you with your .ovpn file. These will likely be unique credentials provided upon the creation of the .ovpn file rather than your usual VPN login details. The same goes for the User key password field.
  6. Click Add. The OpenVPN connection is now configured and ready to use. It will now appear as a toggle option under the VPN section of the Network settings menu.
  7. Each individual server location you want access to will need to be added in this manner – there’s no limit to the number you can add.

We cover off this approach, plus other alternatives, in our guide to how to set up your own VPN at home.

Do Other VPNs Support Linux?

Almost every reputable VPN will support Linux. You can find Linux setup instructions for plenty of the best VPNs overall, including:

  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • IPVanish
  • CyberGhost
  • Surfshark
  • PrivateVPN
  • Windscribe

However, what separates the VPNs listed above to the ones recommended on this page is that they do not offer GUIs for Linux.

A GUI, or Graphical User Interface, is what makes an app look like an app. Without one, you have no easy, visually-simple way to interact with a program installed on your device.

VPN clients without a GUI are almost unheard of on operating systems like Windows and MacOS, but they’re extremely common on Linux.

So what does a program with no GUI look like? It uses CLI instead – the Command Line Interface. That’s what you see when you open the Terminal on a Linux machine. Rows of plain text on a plain background, with special commands required to perform certain actions.

ExpressVPN CLI running on Ubuntu Linux

ExpressVPN only offers a CLI for Linux – it’s much less accessible than a full GUI.

That makes changing servers and switching extra features on and off a much longer and more technical process than it needs to be.

About the Author


  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

    Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio