Ubuntu is a popular and (relatively) easy to use distribution of the free and open-source Linux operating system. A free VPN is a great addition to the free operating system and can provide you with privacy from ISP snooping and security on unencrypted public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Unfortunately, installing and running VPN clients in Linux is not the most user-friendly experience as it is generally done via the command line. Thankfully, installation guides are available from VPN providers that support Linux, but the process is still not particularly easy to pick up for beginners.
Tip: It’s recommended that you never run any commands that you don’t understand. This is doubly important when the command is prefixed with the word “sudo” as these commands run with full root permissions and can break your operating system. Sudo’d commands can potentially even corrupt the firmware on your motherboard, so you should be careful. Advice and commands provided by the official VPN providers can generally be trusted, although it’s still good practice to understand what commands you are running. You should always be wary of command suggestions from third parties.
Windscribe offers guides to install its command-line based Linux VPN for 6 different versions of Ubuntu along with guides for three other Linux distributions. The guides are easy to read and uncluttered, although the non-Ubuntu guides are unclear as to which commands need to be prefixed with “sudo”.
Note: The Linux VPN client is still in beta and may have bugs or be unstable.
Tip: “Sudo” is short for SuperUser DO or Substitute User DO and is a prefix used to run commands with the permissions of other users. By default, it runs commands with root permissions, assuming the user typing the command has permission to do so and enters their password to confirm their identity.
A help page can be viewed once the client is installed by typing the command “windscribe –help”
Once you have managed to get the VPN configured and connected, you can get up to 15GB a month of free data by confirming an email address on your account and by tweeting at Windscribe via its “Tweet-4-Data” scheme.
ProtonVPN offers a guide to install its command line VPN client, the guide is relatively easy to follow, just make sure you run the commands for your version of Linux, as the Fedora commands will not work on Ubuntu. A comprehensive usage guide is available on GitHub.
Once your VPN client is configured correctly ProtonVPN offers unlimited data to its free tier users, however, speeds are restricted and only three servers are available. A VPN kill switch is included in the Linux client, which is especially useful for laptops that may connect to public Wi-Fi networks.
Tip: If you’re getting error messages when trying to connect to a VPN server, ensure that the server you’re trying to connect to is available to free tier users.
Hide.me offers installation guides for graphical and command-line versions of OpenVPN and for command-line IKEv2. It’s highly recommended that you use the graphical OpenVPN guide if you’re using the desktop version of Ubuntu, as it is particularly easy to follow. A video and written step-by-step guide with screenshots are both available. The use of the Network Manager graphical interface makes this installation and usage much easier for beginners.
Tip: For those Linux enthusiasts that dislike Network Manager, both the OpenVPN command line and IKEv2 method do not require Network Manager.
The use of Network Manager rather than a bespoke VPN client does mean making modifications such as switching to a different VPN server requires installing a new VPN profile rather than being able to make changes in the app itself.
Once the installation and configuration process is complete, free tier users have access to 10GB of free data a month.