Here we like open source. It is often a guarantee of quality, security and integrity. And fortunately, there are free open source VPNs! The advantage is that you can use them when you travel and when you don’t have too sensitive data to protect. Otherwise, opt for a more solid alternative like Mullvad or ProtonVPN premium.
In short, try to value open source VPNs where the source code writing and maintenance is done by a community of volunteer developers. In a way, open source VPNs are more reliable because of the independent security audit (everyone can freely study the VPN operation to find any security flaw).
In the lot, we can mention OpenVPN, ProtonVPN or Riseup VPN.
VPN client, VPN network or both?
Before going into the presentation of the solutions, it is important to understand what we choose when we install a VPN. There are several possibilities:
- Install a VPN client (application) and configure it with a specific VPN server (not necessarily linked to the application). You can even configure your own VPN server at home…
- Install a VPN client automatically linked to the VPN servers of the company that coded the client.
Here the second solution is the easiest technically because you won’t need to set up the application. It might ask you to choose the destination country of the VPN server you want, but that’s basically it. In the first option, you will have to set the network information of the VPN server in order to adjust the communication between your computer and it.
So once we know that, we know that there are several aspects: the client (the application) must be open source and the system on which the VPN servers run too. In any case, you have to trust the owner of the VPN server to be sure that he doesn’t exploit your data.
OpenVPN is available on almost all platforms (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, etc.). Today it is among the most popular open source VPN solutions due to its ease of use and reliability in terms of security. Different offers exist from self-hosting to all-inclusive premium offers.
The OpenVPN software client has been known for years as reliable. However, it starts to be outdated by Wireguard which offers the use of other faster network protocols. Personally I use OpenVPN with custom settings like Proton servers or my home server.
ProtonVPN is a freemium software available on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS and its network consists of more than a thousand servers around the world. With the same basics as OpenVPN and the AES256 symmetric encryption algorithm, the ProtonVPN client is a very good open source alternative offering great performance and reliability even for its free version.
Little bonus, Proton claims not to store logs of its VPN servers, so theoretically they don’t know what transits through their servers. Marketing or reality? We can’t be sure because their server code is not open source. Only their application is.
I recommend using ProtonVPN with an OpenVPN or Wireguard client on Linux for example. It is very efficient and adds a layer of security and you will have full control over the application. ProtonVPN explains how to do it, just follow the procedure.
RiseUpVPN is a VPN service offered by a community of independent developers. Still in its beta-test version, it has an easy-to-use client software that you can download for free from the official website.
I also use BitMask on Android (which is opensource) by selecting RiseUp Networks as default VPN. It allows me to have a quick VPN on my phone without any hassle and totally free!
Once again, let’s take the time to thank this extraordinary community of open-source developers, often volunteers, who prove that profit is not the only trigger of human creation.