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Best open source VPN server software for Linux

Best open source VPN server software for Linux

Open-source VPNs provide higher transparency compared to closed-source VPNs. Here are the best VPNs for Linux

If you want to try building your own VPN but are not sure where to start, you have come to the right place. I will compare the best free and open source tools to set up and use a VPN on your own server. These VPNs work whether you want to set up a site-to-site VPN for your business or just create a remote access proxy to unblock websites and hide internet traffic from internet service providers.

Which is best depends on your needs and limitations, so take into consideration your own technical expertise, environment, and what you want to achieve with your VPN. In particular, consider the following factors:

  • VPN protocol
  • Number of clients and types of devices
  • Server distro compatibility
  • Technical expertise required

Here are some of the best open-source VPNs out there, plus one honorable mention!

1. OpenVPN

Best open source VPN server software for Linux

How To Set Up an OpenVPN Server on Linux

The top spot in this list is undoubtedly reserved for OpenVPN, which is a full-fledged open source VPN solution for enterprises as well as everyday consumers. OpenVPN’s consumer VPN is called Private Tunnel, and for businesses, it offers feature-rich VPN solutions.

Using OpenVPN’s technology, you can deploy certification, encryption, and authentication features of the OpenSSL library for protection. The VPN provides support for dynamic IP addresses and DHCP and can be ported to the majority of operating systems using third-party applications.

OpenVPN is available for Android, macOS, Linux, Windows, and iOS

2. Pritunl 

Best open source VPN server software for Linux

Pritunl VPN is an opensource VPN server and management system.

Below are the most notable features of Pritunl VPN that makes it an option for many:

  • Simple to install and configure
  • Supports multi-cloud VPN peering
  • Offers upto five layers of authentication making it more secure.
  • Supports Wireguard, giving clients theoption to connect with openvpn or Wireguard
  • Quickly and easily scale to thousands of users, having high availability in the cloud environment without the need for expensive proprietary hardware
  • supports all OpenVPN clients with official clients for most devices and platforms.
  • Create multi-cloud site-to-site links with VPC peering. VPC peering available for AWS, Google Cloud, Azure and Oracle Cloud.
  • Interconnect AWS VPC networks across AWS regions and provide reliable remote access with automatic failover that can scale horizontally
  • Pritunl is built on MongoDB, a reliable and scalable database that can be quickly deployed

3. StrongSwan

Best open source VPN server software for Linux

You might have come across a few different VPN tools with “Swan” in the name. FreeS/WAN, OpenSwan, LibreSwan, and strongSwan are all forks of the same project, and the lattermost is my personal favorite. Server-side, strongSwan runs on Linux 2.6, 3.x, and 4x kernels, Android, FreeBSD, macOS, iOS, and Windows.

StrongSwan uses the IKEv2 protocol and IPSec. Compared to OpenVPN, IKEv2 connects much faster while offering comparable speed and security. This is useful if you prefer a protocol that doesn’t require installing an additional app on the client, as most newer devices manufactured today natively support IKEv2, including Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

StrongSwan is not particularly easy to use, and despite decent documentation, it uses a different vocabulary than most other tools, which can be confusing. Its modular design makes it great for enterprises, but that also means it’s not the most streamlined. It’s certainly not as straightforward as Algo or Streisand.

Access control can be based on group memberships using X.509 attribute certificates, a feature unique to strongSwan. It supports EAP authentication methods for integration into other environments like Windows Active Directory. StrongSwan can traverse NAT firewalls.

4. SoftEther VPN

SoftEther stands for “Software Ethernet,” and it is a free, open source VPN supporting multiple protocols. It claims itself to be one of the most feasible alternatives to OpenVPN owing to its speed and the smooth integration it offers with the latter.

SoftEther VPN uses ultra-optimized SSL-VPN protocol that delivers firewall resistance, low latency, and fast throughput. It can easily penetrate a network firewall with built-in NAT-traversal. Another benefit of using SoftEther VPN as your preferred open source VPN is that it supports SSL-VPN, L2TP, IPsec, EhterIP, OpenVPN, and L2TPv3 protocols as a single VPN software.

5. WireGuard

WireGuard is the newest tool on this list; it’s so new that it’s not even finished yet. That being said, it offers a fast and easy way to deploy a VPN. It aims to improve on IPSec by making it simpler and leaner like SSH.

Like OpenVPN, WireGuard is both a protocol and a software tool used to deploy a VPN that uses said protocol. A key feature is “crypto key routing,” which associates public keys with a list of IP addresses allowed inside the tunnel.

The developers say WireGuard should not yet be trusted because it hasn’t been fully audited yet, but you’re welcome to give it a spin. It could be the next big thing!

6. Algo

Algo, a self-hosted personal VPN server designed for ease of deployment and security.

And it’s free.

For anyone who is privacy conscious, travels for work frequently, or can’t afford a dedicated IT department, this one’s for you.


Best open source VPN server software for Linux

From our list, you can see that there isn’t any shortage of VPN software in the open-source world. Some of these applications are so powerful that they can even give a tough time to the commercial software that you’ll find in the market. However, we decided only to include the ones that don’t compromise on the security of users and support all operating systems out there. With this, our list of the best open-source VPN apps comes to an end, and we hope that you were able to find at least one VPN application that satisfies all your privacy needs.

About the author

jon snow

Jon is a Linux and F.O.S.S enthusiast, an upcoming Linux SysAdmin, and currently a content creator for ERRORHAT who loves working with computers and strongly believes in sharing knowledge.

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