Can't stand the operating policy's of the major operating systems? We don't blame you. Windows and Apple leave a lot to be desired with the way they handle the privacy and security of their customers. Thankfully, there is always Linux. While it is has its own problems and can be complicated for some users, it is a great choice for those who are dissatisfied with the major players.
Ubuntu was once the most popular distro that Linux had to offer. Unfortunately, some of its features have caught the concern of users who feel that it is also invading their privacy. Thankfully, all of these features are quite easy to turn off. This means that you can still take advantage of this great open source system, without the fear of having all of your information gathered. If you pair it with a good VPN, it's a great way to keep your information private and your web browsing secure.
Ubuntu's Privacy Problems
It was in Ubuntu 12.10 that things turned awry. Some of the new upgrades were leaking user data to advertisers. Not a very good sign from an operating system that most people turn to in order to keep safe from the major players.
Ubuntu is developed by a company called Canonical Limited. They offer Ubuntu for free, so they have to figure out some way that they can make back their development costs, right? While this is completely true and fair, the way they went about it severed the trust that many of their users had for them.
One of Ubuntu's features, Dash, is a search bar that allows users to look both locally and on the internet for music, movies, documents, programs and any other data. The bad part is that Canonical Limited made a deal with Amazon, where they send all of the things that their users search for to the online retail giant. This information is then used by Amazon to send you targeted ads. It's easy to see how so many users were angered by this invasion of privacy. What's worse is that the way these ads load is insecure, making users vulnerable to spy searches.
This isn't the only user information that is sold off to third parties. It is surprising how invasive Ubuntu can be. Fortunately, it is simple to disable these features so that you can use Ubuntu without the worry. There are many guides available online or you could also replace Unity with Cinnamon, KDE or GNOME 3. All of these are good options.
Open VPN Setup Ubuntu
Now that you have prevented your data from being leaked, it's time to set up a VPN to make sure that you are extra secure when you are online. Some VPN providers will offer ready-to-go clients for Ubuntu, but others will need to be set up manually. Here's a guide for manually setting up OpenVPN on Ubuntu.
Step 1: Go to the Terminal
Type: sudo apt-get install network-manager-openvpn openvpn. This will download and install the Ubuntu OpenVPN packages for Network Manager.
Step 2: Reboot Network Manager
It should have installed itself during the last step. If for some reason it hasn't, type: sudo apt-get install openvpn network-manager-openvpn network-manager-openvpn-gnome in the Terminal to install it.
Step 3: Download the OpenVPN configuration files
You will get these from your VPN provider. Extract the .opvn and .crt files.
Step 4: Open Network Manager
Go to VPN Connections and then click on Configure VPN. Then click on Add.
Step 5: Click on OpenVPN in the drop-down menu
Then click Create.
Step 6: Make sure the VPN tab is selected
In the Gateway field, input the VPN server address that you got from your VPN provider. Go to Authentication, then go to Type. Select Password from the menu. Enter your account details here.
Step 9: Click CA Certificate Field
Go to the .crt file that you extracted earlier. Click Advanced.
Step 10: To finish, click Use LZO data compression
In some cases, you might not have to do this. Now hit OK and Save. OpenVPN should now be set up.
Step 10: Start your connection
Go to Network Manager, then VPN Connections, then to your connection. When your VPN connection is active, you will have a small padlock appear in the task bar icon of the Network Manager.
What's the Best VPN For Ubuntu?
Now that you know how to keep Ubuntu private and secure, it's time to find the best VPN to keep your data anonymous. Here's our run-down on the top choices for Ubuntu:
#1 & Editors Choice: ExpressVPN
If you want the best in everything, it's hard to look past ExpressVPN. They offer a fully formed package that will impress most users. Their security and encryption levels are great, while they also have excellent connection speeds and a host of servers around the world. They accept Bitcoin payment and don't take usage logs, while they even have a 30 day money-back guarantee. The only real downside is that it can be a little more expensive than some other choices. Despite this, it definitely packs in the value.
If you are already using Linux, it's assumed that you are at least somewhat technologically minded. You will need all of your wits to deal with AirVPN. It is one of the most complicated VPNs out there, but once you can get past that, it's also one of the best because of their highly customisable settings and their commitment to security and privacy. They have excellent encryption, a no-logs policy and they accept Bitcoin. Their customer support isn't the best, but they do have an active online community that should be able to help you out if you are willing to do a bit of legwork.
If privacy and security are important to you, give VPNArea a look. It's a newer VPN that may lack some of the additional features of its competitors, but for many users, these are just bells and whistles. They don't take any logs, have great connection speeds and excellent support. They offer up to five simultaneous connections and don't mind if you use their service for torrenting. They are also based in Bulgaria, which is great news from a privacy standpoint.
#5: Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access is another great all-rounder that many users should consider. They take privacy and security pretty seriously, offering solid encryption, taking no logs and also accepting Bitcoin. They have 3000 servers across 24 countries , which means their connections are always nice and fast. When combined with their great customer support, they are a serious contender.