Using ExpressVPN with Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Debian Linux

Musclebound Linux mascot Tux

ExpressVPN is one the highest rated and fastest VPNs. Debian strains of Linux such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Debian itself are the most widely used desktop distros in the world. Putting these two things together provides fast downloads with a very high degree of anonymity and privacy.

ExpressVPN supports Windows, Linux, and macOS. The Windows and macOS versions are fairly similar for both, but the Linux version is a wide departure. It is a command line tool instead of a polished graphical application and comes in 32-bit and 64-bit flavours to accommodate both types of processors typically seen in PCs today. You can run the following command to see what the bitness of your Linux distribution is:

Anything with ‘64’ in the output is running a 64-bit Linux distribution and you should use the 64-bit ExpressVPN  download. If you’re running a 32-bit distribution you’ll likely see something with ‘i386’ in the output. For example, my 64-bit system looks uname output is this (note the 64):

While Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Debian are all based on the same package manager system, there are some differences in installation. I used 64-bit versions of Ubuntu 16.10, Linux Mint 18, and Debian 8.6.0 for this article.

Installing ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is available from http://expressvpn.com. You’ll need to login to your ExpressVPN account and navigate to the setup page.

ExpressVPN account

Linux should be preselected for you so you’ll just have to ensure you get one of the Ubuntu downloads.

ExpressVPN Linux download

Ubuntu 16.10 installation

In Ubuntu 16.10 there is a missing dependency, but it is not actually needed. You’ll need to tell dpkg to ignore that dependency during install by using the following command in the terminal:

Linux Mint 18 installation

In Linux Mint 18, I used the built in software installer and it had no issues installing it.

ExpressVPN Linux mint installation

Debian 8.6.0 installation

In Debian 8.6.0, I used the command line to install and did not have any dependency issues. However, Debian does not come with sudo configured by default like the Ubuntu strains do, so you probably won’t be able to use the sudo command. You will likely have to become root first, then do the installation in two steps like this:

Start ExpressVPN

To activate your new ExpressVPN installation you’ll need the activation code from your ExpressVPN account. You should have received a link to this in an email when signing up. Then run the following command:

Enter your activation code and select whether to allow anonymous data to be sent to ExpressVPN. Then, to connect your VPN, issue the following connect command which will automatically connect you to the most suitable server location for you automatically:

When you’re done with your session, issue the disconnect command:

ExpressVPN connect and disconnect

To connect to a specific location, you can use the command expressvpn list and then use the connect command with the applicable country alias. To connect to Los Angeles, for example:

ExpressVPN list locations

Note that you can only connect with three devices at a time with ExpressVPN. If you exceed that, a notice similar to the following will be displayed. You simply need to disconnect from one of your other devices and try again.

ExpressVPN exceeded connections

There is a full set of configuration options available on the ExpressVPN site including specific configuration tweaks and extended troubleshooting information. It’s worth noting that there is no ‘network lock’ (aka, kill switch) on the Linux version of ExpressVPN. That means that if your VPN connection drops your IP will likely be exposed.