How to Set Up and Use ExpressVPN on Debian

How to Set Up and Use ExpressVPN on Debian

Like most Linux-based operating systems, Debian is a free and open-source distribution built and maintained by The Debian Project. It is one of the oldest and most stable GNU/Linux distributions. Like most operating systems, it comes along with several packages and utilities. This article will show you how you can set up and use ExpressVPN on Debian

Setting Up ExpressVPN on Linux

There are a few ways you can set up and use ExpressVPN on devices that run on Debian OS. 

1. You can set it up using the ExpressVPN application. This method requires interacting with a terminal application to install and use the ExpressVPN application. 

2. You can set it up using OpenVPN. This method requires more technical knowledge than the first. 

3. You can set it up using ExpressVPN’s browser extension. This requires having the ExpressVPN application as ExpressVPN’s browser extensions cannot work independently.

We will take you through each of these steps, but remember to always reach out to ExpressVPN’s support team if you encounter any issues.  

Get 49% off now

Setting up an ExpressVPN Connection Using the ExpressVPN Application

To set up and use ExpressVPN’s Debian application, you need to interact with the command line. ExpressVPN officially supports Debian 9 (Stretch) and 10 (Buster). However, you should have no issues using this guide for Debian 11 (Bullseye). Let’s dive into the configuration process. 

1. Buy an ExpressVPN subscription by going to its website and selecting a subscription package. Skip this step if you already have an account with ExpressVPN.

2. Log in to your ExpressVPN account and proceed to your dashboard. Afterward, find the “Set Up Other Devices” tab and choose Linux. You will see a list of Linux-based operating systems. Select Ubuntu if you don’t see Debian and click on the “Download” button. 

3. You will see an activation code on the left side of the page. Save it somewhere or leave the browser window open as y0u’ll need it later in this guide. 

4. The next step is to install and activate the application. You can install it via the user interface or command line. Installing from the user interface will require you to open the downloaded application and follow the installation instructions. Move on to the next step to install from the command line interface

5. Open a terminal window and move to the downloads folder (or whichever folder you downloaded it) using the command below. 

cd ~/Downloads/ or cd~/folder-you-downloaded-the-application/

6. Next, run the command below. 

sudo dpkg -i [installer filename]

Replace [installer filename] with the name of the installation file. 

7. Next, you need to input your admin password to complete the installation.

8. Afterwards, run the command below to activate ExpressVPN, type or paste the activation code you saw in step 3 above, and press the enter. Note that the code will not show when you type it, so ensure you type it correctly. 

expressvpn activate

9. Next, follow the instructions and choose your settings accordingly. 

10. Enter the command below to use an ExpressVPN server. You should see a display of a message confirming your connection is successful. Otherwise, try again. 

expressvpn connect or expressvpn connect [location or ALIAS of server]

Connecting for the first time allows ExpressVPN to use Smart Location to give you the best server close to you. However, running it again will see you connecting to the last server you used. 

11. Enter the command below to disconnect from a server.

expressvpn disconnect

12. Enter the command below to use Smart Location.

expressvpn connect smart 

13. Enter the command below to list all available servers. 

expressvpn list all or expressvpn list (for recommended servers)

Check ExpressVPN’s support center for more commands. 

Setting up an ExpressVPN Connection Using OpenVPN

ExpressVPN provides an alternative way of connecting to its servers for users that do not want to use the application. Below we look at the steps to set up ExpressVPN using the OpenVPN protocol.

1. Same as step 1 in the configuration process for the ExpressVPN application

2. Choose “Manual Configuration” in the “Set Up Other Devices” section.

3. Click “OpenVPN” and write down your ExpressVPN service username and password. Under that section, you’ll see a list of servers (OpenVPN configuration files). Select one and download it if you want to use a single server. Otherwise, download as many as you want.

4. Next, open a terminal window, navigate to the folder where the servers you downloaded are, and enter the command below to install OpenVPN if it’s not already on your Debian device. 

sudo apt install openvpn resolveconf

5. To launch OpenVPN, input the command below. 

sudo openvpn –config /[path to file]/my_expressvpn_[server location].ovpn –script-security 2 –up /etc/openvpn/update-resolv-conf –down /etc/openvpn/update-resolv-conf

Remember to replace [path to file] and [server location] with the path to the download OpenVPN configuration file and the location of the server (usually indicated in the file name), respectively. 

6. Next, enter the username and password you wrote down in step 3 above. You should see an “Initialization Sequence Completed” message if the connection is successful.

7. To disconnect from the connection, enter Ctrl + C or close the terminal window.

Setting up an ExpressVPN Connection Using a Browser Extension

A requirement for using ExpressVPN’s browser extension is to have installed the ExpressVPN application. There are no special configuration steps for installing the browser extension on your device. You can just navigate to the add-ons section of your browser and search for ExpressVPN. Alternatively, you can install it by entering the following command on a terminal window. 

Firefox – expressvpn install-firefox-extension

Chrome – expressvpn install-chrome-extension

Get 49% off now

Why ExpressVPN is an Excellent Fit for Debian Devices

Below we look at some points that show why using ExpressVPN on your Debian device is a brilliant choice. 

1. Privacy

ExpressVPN users know too well that the VPN service provider takes privacy seriously. For example, it has devised a way to ensure its truly a no-log VPN service by allowing its servers to use only non-persistent storage. Additionally, placing its headquarters in the British Virgin Islands keeps it out of the reach of invasive governments. Furthermore, a third party, Cure53, has confirmed that ExpressVPN does not keep your connection history.

2. Security

With features such as perfect forward secrecy, a kill switch, multiple secure VPN protocols, and military-grade encryption, ExpressVPN makes it challenging for bad actors to steal data in transit. Additionally, you can combine it with Tor over VPN. Using this feature provides multiple layers of encryption, keeping away malicious actors in the process. 

3. Server Network 

ExpressVPN’s extensive server network ensures you can bypass geo-restrictions no matter where you are in the world. It has servers in over 90 countries and 160 unique locations. With this VPN service, you can access entertainment, movies, news, and more content worldwide. 


ExpressVPN has shown it is competent in ensuring your data is safe and securing your internet connection. For this reason and many more, using it on your Debian device is the best choice you can make. You can set up and use ExpressVPN on Debian with this guide in a few minutes. We hope this guide makes the configuration process seamless for you.