A Review of Private Internet Access (PIA VPN) for Linux

intro

1. Installing Private Internet Access on Linux

The PIA installation tutorial is excellent, although it focuses only on Ubuntu for installing the standard Linux client. I won’t detail the installation process here, as there wouldn’t be any added value compared to the “official” tutorial.

There are only a few things left to say about installing PIA VPN on Linux:

  • The installer is an executable

Conclusion

Pros
  • Excellent documentation and tutorials
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Pros
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AirVPN review on Linux

Eddie feels sluggish and is prone to crashes

Eddie, the AirVPN visual interface, is based on Mono and sometimes feels unresponsive. Eddie is subject to random crashes, although they do not happen very often:

AirVPN - The application Eddie - OpenVPN GUI has closed unexpectedly.
Eddie – OpenVPN GUI crashing on Linux

Even if the AirVPN GUI crashes, active OpenVPN connections will not be interrupted.

“No latency” used to be a good thing

Another common problem with Eddie is the disappearance of the “latency” values from the servers list – for no apparent reason. Active OpenVPN connections will stay alive, but connecting to a different VPN server without latency information makes no sense.

VPN graphical user interface on Linux (here: Linux Mint)
Server latency disappearing in Eddie / OpenVPN (Linux Mint)

After disconnecting and restarting Eddie, the “latency” column will reappear – but restarting Eddie will interrupt the current connection.

AirVPN on Linux pros & cons

AirVPN pros
  • Most complete graphical user interface on Linux (Eddie)
  • Whitelisting and blacklisting of countries and servers
  • Eddie and Hummingbird are open source software released under GPLv3
AirVPN cons
  • Sluggish and crash-prone GUI
  • Outdated UI design, no HiDPI support
  • No WireGuard support

AirVPN has a many options that no other VPN offers on Linux, for example whitelisting / blacklisting entire countries or specific servers, a “Network Lock” (kill switch) based on firewall rules, Tor integration and a home-brew OpenVPN version 3.

AirVPN’s visual interface for Linux (Eddie) offers more options than any other VPN GUI on this platform. Despite being a bit unstable and antiquated, Eddie is probably one of the best options for Linux users in 2021.

NordVPN on Linux: a comprehensive review

Without any doubts, NordVPN is one of the greatest VPN service provider worldwide, counting 6500 servers in 59 countries. If you didn’t alredy, check out my installation guide. Let’s see how NordVPN fares on Linux.

1. Using NordVPN on Linux

1.1 …

account
Shows account information.

   cities
       Shows a list of cities where servers are available.

   connect, c
       Connects you to VPN.

   countries
       Shows a list of countries where servers are available.

   disconnect, d
       Disconnects you from VPN.

   groups
       Shows a list of available server groups.

   login
       Logs you in.

   logout
       Logs you out.

rate
           Rate your last connection quality (1-5)

       register
           Registers a new user account

       set, s
           Sets a configuration option.

       settings
           Shows current settings.

       status
           Shows connection status.

       whitelist
           Adds or removes an option from a whitelist.

       help, h
           Display syntax for the given operation. If no operation was supplied, then
           the general syntax is shown.

nordvpn cities
Usage: nordvpn cities [country]

Use this command to show cities where servers are available.

Example: ‘nordvpn cities United_States’

Press the Tab key to see auto-suggestions for countries.

Example 1. Connect to a recommended server
$ nordvpn connect

   Example 2. Connect to a server in a specific country
       $ nordvpn connect Australia
       $ nordvpn connect Switzerland
       $ nordvpn connect Greece

   Example 3. Connect to a server in a specific city
       $ nordvpn connect Sweden Stockholm
       $ nordvpn connect Australia Sydney
       $ nordvpn connect Japan Tokyo

   Example 4. Connect to a server in a specific country using the country code
       $ nordvpn connect US
       $ nordvpn connect JP
       $ nordvpn connect AU

   Example 5. Connect to a server in a specific group
       $ nordvpn connect P2P
       $ nordvpn connect The_Americas
       $ nordvpn connect Dedicated_IP

   Example 6. Connect to a server in a specific group and country
       $ nordvpn connect --group P2P Germany

   Example 7. Disconnect from VPN
       $ nordvpn disconnect
	   
	   
	   Example 8. Set a protocol
           $ nordvpn set protocol UDP
           $ nordvpn set protocol TCP

       Example 9. Enable Kill Switch
           $ nordvpn set killswitch enabled

       Example 10. Enable CyberSec
           $ nordvpn set cybersec enabled

       Example 11. Enable auto-connect
           $ nordvpn set autoconnect enabled

       Example 12. Enable auto-connect to specific country or city
           $ nordvpn set autoconnect enabled
           $ nordvpn set autoconnect enabled Australia
           $ nordvpn set autoconnect enabled Sweden Stockholm

       Example 13. Enable obfuscation
           $ nordvpn set obfuscate enabled

       Example 14. Enable notifications
           $ nordvpn set notify enabled

       Example 15. Change technology
           $ nordvpn set technology NordLynx
           $ nordvpn set technology OpenVPN

1.2 …

NordVPN on Linux pros & cons

NordVPN pros
  • Best-in-class network and speed
  • NordLynx implementation (NordLynx)
NordVPN cons
  • Only .deb and .rpm installation packages
  • No graphical user interface (GUI)