With all the talk of VPN (Virtual Private Network) services to keep you safe and my general lack of interest in the subject, I was talking to Eric Adams, my co-host on the DLN Xtend podcast about the subject. He was telling me that he was hesitant to recommend any service so he gave me some option to try out. The one I chose, after doing a little reading was Windscribe.
I am new to the VPN game so I want to be careful in saying, I am recommending this as the perfect solution but rather demonstrating how I set it up and how I am using it on my openSUSE Tumbleweed system. Much in the same way Eric informed me about it.
For starters, I navigated to the Windscribe website, https://windscribe.com/
It’s a nice looking site and I like they have, front and center a Download Windscribe button. I am always annoyed when you have to go digging around to download anything. I give a resounding, “boo” when I am forced to play a scavenger hunt game to find the download link. Thank you Windscribe for not making this part difficult.
Another well presented download for Linux button. No hunting here either. Although, I did notice that there was a lack of definition of my favorite Linux distribution. They have left out openSUSE and that makes me just a bit frowny faced. No matter, I am not a complete “noob” to the Linux-ing and since Fedora and openSUSE packages are like close cousins (in my experience, but I am often wrong), setting this up for openSUSE was pretty darn straight forward.
These instructions are easily adapted to the fantastic Zypper package manager. This is my adaptation of their instructions for openSUSE and is well tested on Tumbleweed.
1. Get a Windscribe Account
Create a free account if you don’t have one already
2. Download and Install the repo as root
zypper ar https://repo.windscribe.com/fedora/ windscribe
This is telling zypper to add the repository (ar) https://repo.windscribe.com/fedora and naming it “windscribe”.
3. Update Zypper
4. Install Windscribe-CLI
zypper install windscribe-cli
5. Switch to non-root user
6. Login to Windscribe
Follow the steps with your newly created account
7. Connect to Windscribe
And that is all there is to it. You will be connected and ready to be part of the cool-kid VPN club.
If you need further help about how to use the different functions of Windscribe.
If you need further information on how to use these other features, please visit the windscribe.com site as I am just using the basic functionality of it here.
If the windscribe daemon service does not automatically start up, you may have to start it manually as root.
systemctl start windscribe
and if you want to have it enabled at startup
systemctl enable windscribe
Those may or may not be necessary for you, but just in case, there you go and your welcome!
First Run and Impressions
There currently isn’t a graphical tool for using windscribe in Linux, or at least openSUSE. Chances are, if you are using openSUSE and are hyper concerned about protecting your traffic, using the terminal is not exactly going to cause you to have heartburn. Installation to execution is truly as simple as I have outlined above.
You can take it one step further in the cool, fun, I am a hacker-poser-type if you run it in a terminal emulator called Yakuake. This is a drop-down terminal that is invoked, on my machine with Meta+F12. It looks cool and very convenient to drop it down whenever I need it.
For the free account, you are limited to 10 GiB of data. To check the status of your account usage, in the terminal type
That will give you an output, something like this:
——- My Account ——-
Data Usage: 80.02 MB / 10 GB
Plan: 10 GB Free
There is a paid option, which, in my opinion is very reasonable, if you buy a year at a time and I think, if you travel a lot, this may be of great interest to you to protect your data.
If you buy a one year subscription for $49, you are benefited by Unlimited Data, Access to all their locations which they boast as over 60 countries and 110 cities, a Config Generator for OpenVPN IKEv2 SOCKSS which, to my understanding will allow me to use NetworkManager to access the service, and R.O.B.E.R.T. to block ads, trackers and malware. If that is all up your ally, and you like the free service, it all seems pretty well worth it to me.
What I Like
The installation was simple, using it is simple (so long as you are good with the command line) and the performance is very acceptable. Since I am using this when I am away from home, I don’t expect any break-neck speeds out of it, I just prefer that my traffic is at least somewhat protected. After listening to this episode of Destination Linux, I felt like it was a good idea to intact some sort of VPN when I’m out and about.
What I Don’t Like
There isn’t a graphical interface for the terminal-phobic folks. Not a problem for me or likely most Linux users, but there are some that just won’t use it. That’s just the way it goes.
I don’t like that I am not quite familiar with Windscribe. That is not a fault of the service, just the fact that I know so little about them. I will tell you that every email interaction with Windscribe has been amusing so that bodes well for what I think of them.
I know that my employer requires me to VPN in to do any real work so even they recognize the value of a good VPN, so maybe I should too. How often do I plan to use it? Not all that often, really. Maybe a few times a month, specifically when I am using an internet access point that I do not trust. I will especially use it if the access point is has “xfinity” in the SSID as I have little to no trust for them.
I appreciate how simple this is to use and should I get to the point where I am pushing my 10 GiB per month limit, I will go all in on an annual subscription. It’s not that expensive to put up one extra line of defense, especially one as convenient as this.