5 Best Free VPNs for Linux Tested & Updated 2023 (All Distros)
- Best Free VPNs for Linux — Full Analysis (Updated in 2023)
- ExpressVPN – Best Overall Linux VPN With Superfast Speeds Worldwide
- CyberGhost — Huge Network With Optimized Servers on Linux
- Proton VPN – A Free, Full GUI App for Easy Access on Linux
- hide.me – Super Easy Installation on Linux
- OperaVPN – GUI for Linux to Encrypt Your Browser
- Quick Comparison Table: Best Free VPNs for Linux
- Warning: The Risks of Free VPNs
- Tips on How to Choose the Best Free VPNs for Linux
- How to Set Up a VPN on Linux
- FAQs on the Best Free VPNs for Linux
- The Bottom Line
Finding a high-quality free VPN is tough — but finding one with strong support for Linux is close to impossible. Most VPNs concentrate on the more mainstream operating systems, leaving Linux support as an afterthought.
I tested 45+ free VPNs to verify which ones still work best for Linux. The top free VPNs for Linux support Ubuntu, Fedora, Kali, Mint, and several other popular distros. They don't require manual installation and have easy-to-use CLI or GUI apps. But, they do come with drawbacks. These include slower speeds, small server networks, and limited data.
My top pick for Linux is ExpressVPN. Even though it’s not 100% free, it offers unlimited data, lightning-fast speeds, an extensive server network, and browser extensions that double as GUIs. No free VPN even compares. You can try ExpressVPN totally risk-free since it has a 30-day money-back guarantee. I tested the policy to see if it’s trustworthy, and I was able to get all my money back in only 3 days.
Short on Time? Here Are the Best Free VPNs for Linux in January 2023
- ExpressVPN — Excellent speeds on servers in 94 countries that let you browse, torrent, and stream without slowdowns. Plus, it offers unlimited data and is super easy to install. You can even try ExpressVPN risk-free.
- CyberGhost— Specialized servers help you unblock a ton of streaming platforms on all the top Linux distros. It offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it out without financial risk.
- Proton VPN — A full GUI for Linux makes it super easy to control. It also comes with unlimited bandwidth, but you can’t use it for torrenting.
- hide.me — Hassle-free installation and a strict no-logs policy, but it can’t unblock any streaming platforms.
- OperaVPN – Easy to install and offers a GUI, but it only protects your browser.
Tested January 2023 Try Risk-Free for 30 Days
- Superfast speeds for seamless streaming, torrenting, and browsing on your Linux device
- 3,000 servers in 94 countries to help you access more content
- Unlimited data so you won’t have to limit your online activities
- Works with: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more
- Compatible with: Ubuntu, Kali, Debian (9 &10), Mint (20.1 & LMDE), Fedora (34), Arch, Raspberry Pi, and more
ExpressVPN’s fast speeds let you browse, stream, and torrent on Linux without any delays. ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN I’ve ever tested, with the nearest server to me (Dallas) only lowering my speeds by 1%. This let me stream in HD with zero buffering, download files quickly, and browse without load times. Plus, it gives you unlimited data, so you can do everything you normally do online without restrictions. There aren’t any free VPNs that can match those results.
It has a huge server network, so it’s easier to find a server close to you — nearby servers usually give you the best speeds. Free VPNs usually offer only a few locations, which makes it harder to find a nearby server that isn’t overcrowded (which makes them even slower). Plus, every server is automatically obfuscated. This hides your VPN use and makes it easier to unblock streaming platforms.
ExpressVPN’s strong security features make it a top option to secure your Linux device. I performed leak tests on 8 different servers, and it passed them all. Every key safety feature available for Mac and Windows (including the automatic kill switch) is included in the Linux app, so you won’t miss out on anything.
You can trust ExpressVPN with your data due to its proven no-logs policy and headquarters in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands. Third parties tested the policy and verified it’s always followed. Plus, the VPN connects your Linux device to RAM-based servers which erase everything on each reboot. Lastly, it’s based in a country with no data retention laws (BVI).
You can use ExpressVPN on Linux with a Graphical User Interface, too. Even though its app doesn’t have one, installing the browser extension on Chrome or Firefox allows you to use it without entering commands in the terminal. Since it acts as a remote control for the app, using its browser extension actually protects your entire Linux device, too (not just your browser).
ExpressVPN’s setup guides made installation super easy. On Ubuntu, I just downloaded the file and clicked install. Just run the command “expressVPN connect,” and you’ll be protected from anyone looking to spy on your data. Detailed guides for Kali, Debian, Mint, Fedora, and more distros are available, and I found them just as easy to use.
While it isn’t 100% free, you can try ExpressVPN for Linux risk-free. It has a money-back guarantee, so if you’re not impressed, you can get a full refund within 30 days. ExpressVPN made the top of my list because no other free VPN combined so many great features for Linux.
I tested its 30-day money-back guarantee to make sure the VPN stands by its word. After reaching out through its 24/7 live chat feature, I had my cancellation approved in 2 minutes. They told me it would take 5-7 days, but I was happy my money was returned in only 3.
- 9,753 servers in 91 countries with specialized options for gaming, torrenting, and streaming
- Fast speeds for browsing, streaming, and gaming without interruptions
- Unlimited data so you can stream as much as you like
- Works with: Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more
- Compatible with: Ubuntu, Kali, Mint (19), Fedora (29-31), CentOS (17), and PoP!_OS
CyberGhost’s network is massive, with 9,753 servers, including several specialized categories. The optimized servers (which are rarely available on free services) are specialized to unblock Netflix, Disney+, and more popular streaming platforms in 22 countries. I was able to unblock all the top platforms on my Linux device. Most free VPNs have trouble accessing 1 streaming site (or can’t unlock any at all).
Strong security and privacy features will help keep your Linux device secure from online threats. On top of the standard military-grade encryption and kill switch, it also has NoSpy servers, which are housed at CyberGhost headquarters in privacy-friendly Romania. These servers can only be accessed by CyberGhost staff. I haven’t found any VPNs that offer free servers with that much security. Unfortunately, split tunneling isn’t available on Linux. But, the VPN passed all of my leak tests, so I know it hides my IP address from any site I visit.
You can trust CyberGhost to handle your data because it has a strict no-logs policy as well. The company passed an independent audit in 2012, which is rechecked every year. It also has RAM-based servers and publishes 4 transparency reports a year. That impressed me because out of every Linux VPN I tested, it was the most open about its policies.
CyberGhost gave me fast speeds (and unlimited data) so I could stream, browse, and torrent without interruptions. My closest location only lowered my speeds by 10% on average during my tests. Every free VPN I tested dropped my speeds by at least 42%, so that’s a strong result. The optimized servers were 15% faster than normal servers too, which let me stream buffer-free on my desktop running Ubuntu.
Installation was simple, and I was set up in around 10 minutes. The guide on CyberGhost’s website explained everything clearly. Although there were a few more steps than I had with ExpressVPN, it was still easy to follow. CyberGhost offers a command line interface for Linux, which is nearly as fast as a GUI.
One downside is that it’s not 100% free. However, CyberGhost lets you take advantage of its 45-day money-back guarantee. I tried it myself to see if its trustworthy. With its 24/7 live chat, I contacted a support agent. He asked why I wanted to cancel before approving my request. After 4 days, I had all my money returned.
- GUI lets you control the VPN without learning commands
- Strict no-logs policy so you can trust it with your data
- Unlimited data for endless online activities
- Works with: Netflix Originals, Funimation, Crackle, YouTube, Spotify, and more
- Compatible with: Ubuntu (20+), Kali, Mint (20+), Fedora (34+), Archlinux/Manjaro, MX Linux (19+), and Elementary OS (6.0+)
Proton VPN’s free Linux app has a full GUI, so you can protect your Linux device without entering any commands. It’s one of the only free VPNs that gives you a graphical interface. The GUI works exactly the same as it does on Mac and Windows and I found Proton VPN supports Linux better than any other free VPN I’ve used. Installation is simple too, you just download the right app for your distro and follow the prompts.
Proton VPN offers top-notch security, although a few features aren't available for free. The free app is secure and it passed all of my leak tests, but you can’t use its Multi-Hop Secure Core servers. Also, you only get the OpenVPN protocol on Linux (other versions have WireGuard and IKEv2/IPsec too).
For a free VPN, it’s one of the most privacy-friendly options for Linux with a proven no-logs policy and headquarters in Switzerland (a country outside the 14 Eyes Alliance). In 2019, Proton VPN was ordered by a Swiss court to share customer data with a foreign country, but couldn’t comply because it doesn’t store logs. While you do have to sign up to use it, you only need to provide an email address.
While you get unlimited data, it’s not really a good option for streaming — I could only access Netflix, and only Netflix Originals. Honestly, that’s still impressive since most free VPNs are completely blocked by most platforms. Worse is that torrenting isn’t supported on its free Linux app, which would have worked great with infinite data.
I was a little disappointed that most of the 100+ free servers were over 95% capacity, which limited my speeds. With only 3 locations (Japan, the Netherlands, and the US), you won’t get speeds as fast as ExpressVPN. But, Proton VPN is a good option for safe, anonymous browsing or even streaming on YouTube.
- Fast installation so you can connect in minutes
- 10GB/month and decent speeds for casual browsing or 15+ hours of streaming
- Works with: Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, and more
- Compatible with: Ubuntu and Fedora (24+)
Out of every VPN I tested, hide.me was the easiest to set up on Linux. You simply copy and paste a command from its website into your terminal. The VPN will install; then, you just have to enter your username (you don’t need an email to sign up) and password. It even gives you a command for connecting as soon as you’re logged in.
It offers a command-line interface where you can connect to 5 locations: US East, US West, Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands. While I was testing it out, I was a bit surprised that the interface is a little tougher to use than other free VPNs for Linux, especially since installation was so easy. For example, you have to enable a location before you can connect to it, meaning you have to use 2 commands instead of 1.
Security is standard, but the Linux app misses out on extra features. You get 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch. WireGuard is the only protocol offered on Linux, which is actually a bit of a bonus because you have to pay for a premium plan to use it on Windows and Mac (but they have 4 other protocols to choose from). You also don’t get split tunneling.
You can trust it to protect your privacy since it has an audited and verified no-logs policy. Plus, it’s located outside the 14 Eyes Alliance in Malaysia. It also has a 24/7 live chat you can use even as a free user, which is rare.
10GB of data a month and fast speeds make it a good choice for casual browsing, light torrenting, or watching YouTube on your Linux device. In my tests, I could only access Netflix US (and unreliably at that). It dropped my download rate by 56%. This let me watch YouTube with minimal buffering, and it’s enough data to stream for around 16 hours. You can also use the free servers for P2P, but you'll only be able to download a couple big files with the data limit.
- GUI in the form of a browser so you don’t have to enter commands
- 3 locations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia
- Easy installation that doesn’t use the terminal
- Works with: YouTube and TikTok
- Compatible with: Ubuntu
OperaVPN is a free browser that comes with a VPN feature. This means you can use it on Linux without entering commands into the terminal. It’s super easy to install too. You just download the app from its website, launch the install file, and then you’ll find the browser in your apps.
Security is decent if a bit limited. OperaVPN passed the leak tests I performed on all 3 of its servers. While that’s nice, it doesn’t protect everything on your Linux device, just the traffic in your browser. Your other apps will still be vulnerable to cyberattacks and prying eyes. On top of that, it doesn’t have a kill switch like the other free options (it protects you if the VPN fails).
Slow speeds and poor unblocking abilities make it a bad choice for streaming. OperaVPN dropped my speeds by a ton (around 98%) during my tests. While this didn’t affect my browsing experience, I couldn’t even log in to Netflix. Videos on YouTube took a long time to load and suffered from constant buffering and dips in quality. I wasn’t even able to play browser-based games. This means its unlimited data won’t do you much good.
OperaVPN does store some data, but it doesn’t log anything that can identify you. It uses the anonymized data it collects to perform optimizations on its tech and to send you targeted ads. The only way it can identify you is with information you send them directly. So, I recommend you don’t sign up with a social media profile, which could be connected to your name and email address.
The table below shows you the top features you need in a VPN for Linux.
First, you need to know if it supports your distro. If you don’t want to enter commands in the terminal, you’ll need a VPN with a Graphical User Interface (GUI). The size of the server network, data allowance, and speeds are other important factors.
Each VPN on this list is easy to install (with no manual configuration), has good security, and adheres to a strict no-logs policy. However, they differ in a few other ways, as shown below.
Warning: The Risks of Free VPNs
All free VPNs are limited and many just aren’t safe. The best option on Linux is to use an affordable VPN with a money-back guarantee. These are a few of the dangers that can come with using a free VPN:
- Free VPNs can offer poor security. A lot of times, free VPNs can’t match the security features of premium options. Since they don’t bring in as much money, they have a hard time keeping up with the latest security advancements, which means you can’t rely on them to keep you safe.
- A free VPN might come with malware or viruses. Some shady “free VPNs” add trackers to your computer to steal your information. Before you load up any file on your Linux device, I recommend scanning it first.
Tips on How to Choose the Best Free VPNs for Linux
This list shows you the criteria I used to rank the best free VPNs for Linux. To find the right option for you, I recommend looking out for these features:
- Real support for Linux. Many VPNs have apps for Linux, but they’re often severely limited. This is especially true for free services. All of the apps on my list fully support Ubuntu, and the top recommendations support several more distros. Some even come with full GUIs, and every option is easy to use.
- Hassle-free installation. I didn’t add any VPNs to my list that require a complicated manual configuration. Manual configuration isn't recommended, either, because apps have stronger security features. Each of the VPNs I’ve recommended can be installed on your Linux device with a simple download file or by entering a few commands in the terminal.
- Strong security. There’s no point in using a VPN that can’t keep you safe. Every VPN on this list offers military-grade encryption, safe protocols (like OpenVPN and WireGuard), and passed my leak tests. Look for a free VPN that comes with a kill switch as well (some don't) – this is your last line of defense should your VPN connection drop.
- Good speeds. All VPNs will slow you down a little, especially on crowded free servers. But, if you can’t even browse comfortably, you’re using the wrong service. Every VPN on my list gave me fast enough speeds to browse with minimal load times on Linux. The best ones even let me stream buffer-free.
- Access to streaming platforms. You won’t be able to stream if your VPN can’t unblock any platforms. The top 4 VPNs on my list can all access Netflix at the minimum.
How to Set Up a VPN on Linux
While you can manually set up OpenVPN on Linux, I don't recommend it. You still need OpenVPN config files, which means you’ll probably need a VPN subscription anyways. All the free VPNs in my list offer super safe protocols (most with OpenVPN) built-in to their apps, so there's really no reason to go through the hassle of manual setup.
I’ve used ExpressVPN's app setup as an example in this guide, so the process might be a bit different depending on the VPN you choose.
- Get a VPN. My top pick for Linux is ExpressVPN. Most free VPNs ask you to sign up, so you’ll need a username and password to access the VPN through the terminal. If no sign up is required, skip this step.
- Download the VPN. You need to go to the downloads page on the VPN’s website. Make sure you download the correct file for your distro.
- Open the file or open the terminal. This depends on the VPN you choose. With some, you’ll double-click the.exe file to start. Others require you to enter commands in the terminal. Every VPN in my list has extensive setup guides, so all you have to do is copy and paste the commands they’ve listed.
- Sign in or activate. You’ll need to have your username, password, and possibly an activation code handy to get started. Even if your VPN didn’t make you register, you may still need your Linux device’s authentication password to give the VPN permission to connect.
- Connect to the VPN. If your VPN has a CLI, the first thing I recommend after installation is pulling up the list of commands. For example, with CyberGhost the command is “cyberghostvpn”. This will show you how to connect. If your VPN has a GUI, you just have to click on the power button.
- Stay safe on your Linux device. Now that you’re connected, you can use your device the same way you always do.
FAQs on the Best Free VPNs for Linux
Is there a free VPN for Linux with a full GUI?
Yes. My top pick lets you control its Linux app with a GUI. Since many Linux VPNs are a sort of limited version of the Windows counterpart, there aren’t even many paid VPNs that offer a full GUI. For a completely free VPN, Proton VPN is one of the only ones with a full GUI. However, if you’re looking to stream or torrent, it’s not a great option since it doesn't allow P2P and doesn't come with streaming support. It’s always better to upgrade or stick to a low-cost premium VPN for full functionality.
Which Linux distro is the safest to use with a VPN?
I recommend Ubuntu. If you’re not sure what VPN to choose, every service in this list works with Ubuntu. It’s one of the most popular distros. Plus, it’s supported by the most VPNs, so it makes it easy to find the right option for you.
Even though Linux is safer than Windows and Mac in some ways, people can still spy on your data if you don’t use a VPN. Using Ubuntu on your desktop while connected to a VPN will make it nearly impossible for anyone to spy on your data.
Is it hard to install a VPN on Linux?
It’s easy if you choose the right VPN. Each VPN on this list has a simple installation process for Linux. Many VPNs ignore Linux, and make installation long and complicated. For example, many make you install a protocol like OpenVPN manually, which takes a lot of time. However, the top VPNs make it just as easy to install as apps on Windows or Mac, so you don’t have to manually configure anything.
Is there a free VPN that works for Ubuntu and Kali?
All the VPNs in this list work with Ubuntu. However, only the top 3 are compatible with Kali.
Can I use OpenVPN on my Linux device without a VPN provider?
It’s possible, but I don’t recommend it. The VPNs in this list all work great for Linux and are much easier to set up. While there technically isn’t a built-in VPN for Linux, you can manually configure OpenVPN and other protocols like Wireguard on your Linux desktop.
However, it’s a long and tedious process. Plus, you miss out on several advantages you get with a VPN app. For example, you’ll still need safe, reliable servers, which VPNs provide, so you might need a subscription anyways. There are free servers available, but you’ll have no guarantee that they’re safe since they are run under no adherence to a no-logging policy, which the top VPNs offer.
Are there free VPNs for Linux that work in China?
There are a few, but I would highly recommend using a secure low-cost premium VPN instead. Since China has such strict anti-VPN measures in place, even a lot of top VPN providers don’t work there. Free VPNs don’t usually come with obfuscation or stealth technology built-in, which you need for a VPN to work in China.
Both ExpressVPN and hide.me work in China, but in both cases, you need to sign up for a paid subscription to access the features that will allow you to do this.
Will a free VPN for Linux slow down my connection?
Yes, all VPNs will slow down your connection to a certain extent because it takes time to encrypt and redirect your traffic. The VPNs in this list gave me good speeds on Linux. A great VPN limits your speeds by so little you’ll hardly notice it. For example, ExpressVPN only reduced my speeds by 1% on average with nearby servers.
Free VPNs will slow you down significantly more than paid VPNs because they have fewer servers that are often overcrowded. On average, the totally free VPNs in this list reduced my base speed by about 50%. For the best speeds, you’ll need a fast VPN with servers all over the world, so you can find one close to your location.
The Bottom Line
There are a few safe, free VPNs for Linux, but they all come with limitations. Many free VPNs give you a small server selection, limited security features, and slower speeds. Plus, they usually have fewer features on Linux compared to their apps for Windows or Mac.
That’s why I recommend a low-cost premium option like ExpressVPN, instead. It has a great Linux app with a ton of servers, superfast speeds, and top-notch security. Installation is quick and easy, and you can even use one of its browser extensions as a GUI. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test ExpressVPN risk-free. I can verify the guarantee is trustworthy after testing it out. If you’re not impressed, you can easily get a refund.
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