Suddenly having problems with Proton VPN on Ubuntu 20.04

I was using Proton VPN just fine on my Linux Ubuntu 20.04, and then after a Software Update and reboot it quit working. The interface had changed, I assume because the Software Update included some Proton VPN script. Initially it would work, offering me the window with the list of servers, but when I’d click on a server it would shrink down to an empty window with just that one server (instead of still seeing the list) and a “Cancel” button. The VPN would never connect, so I’d Cancel and would be stuck with no VPN.

So I uninstalled it completely and tried starting from scratch. Here is the instruction sheet I have been using:

I wasn’t unable to reinstall it though. Same version, as the file download had the same name as my old one in Downloads. I guess this is version 4, but the file name doesn’t seem to indicate that.
I tried the Beta version too, but no luck with that either.
Here is what happens when I try the regular version:

sudo dpkg -i ./protonvpn-stable-release_1.0.3-2_all.deb && sudo apt update
dpkg: error: cannot access archive ‘./protonvpn-stable-release_1.0.3-2_all.deb’: No such file or directory

sudo apt install proton-vpn-gnome-desktop
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
E: Unable to locate package proton-vpn-gnome-desktop

I’m a bit lost at this point. Can anyone recommend troubleshooting or alternate installs? Is Proton VPN no longer supported on Ubuntu 20.04? They say they support the latest LTS version, but haven’t tested others (lately, I assume).

And a side question related to the above. I can update from Ubuntu 20.04.6 LTS to 22.04.3 LTS per the Software Updates. Should I consider doing this from the standpoint of the Proton VPN install and support? I have been holding off based on my philosophy of “don’t upgrade unless you need to”, but maybe it’s time? I’m fairly new to Linux and wonder if the upgrade might break something else.


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Should be as simple as uninstalling it, grab the latest proton “.deb” from Proton and reinstall. I had the some thing happen on my Debian laptop. CLI quit working and then I used the GUI interface and it changed. Something with a Python version change.

Guess I should have read down farther. Possibly since your using the CLI to install it you were not in the correct folder with the .deb


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Yes, I believe a Terminal window opened during the Software Update, and some of the Proton VPN script was Python related. I try to always pay attention to what the updates are doing, just for the sake of learning. That script could have been for Ubuntu 22.04 to update Proton VPN, though you’d think my version would bypass specific code that may not match the kernel/system.

When I download the .deb, it automatically goes to the Download folder, and I assume the instructions and script for install are designed to go look there. It worked fine that way on the initial install a few months ago. But I don’t yet understand the file system that well, and specifically how to direct such things through Terminal. I know there’s a “cd” command (similar to MS-DOS IIRC) to change folders.

I think you might be onto something though, since it tells me “cannot access” and “Unable to locate”.

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Thanks for the tip! I had looked at several providers before settling on Proton, since it was free. I was even considering going with a paid Proton account … until now. I’d like to try something and make sure it works before paying for it. How stable is Mullvad on multiple versions of Linux (in general), Ubuntu, etc? I wouldn’t mind paying for it if the service was known to be more reliable.

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It’s also possible that “proton-vpn-gnome-desktop” is the incorrect target as well, might be ’

protonvpn-gnome-desktop” instead.

Use sudo apt search protonvpn or I believe if it’s installable you can use the “TAB” key in completion of the name as well just like retrieving a command. I also think this only works after you have an effective sudo password passed so run sudo apt update prior to search.


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Thanks! I’ll keep trying with those things you suggested. Though at this point, I’m apt to think that whatever broke could happen again, so even getting it reinstalled may not be the end of my issues. I put in a support request with Proton VPN. I’m not a paid subscriber, but hopefully they’ll try to give me some direction.

So per my OP (original post):

I mentioned this in the Proton VPN support ticket as well. I had been considering the upgrade anyway, and perhaps the newer version of Ubuntu is going to support the VPN without the issues I had? I’d also like to know how such an upgrade to Ubuntu might affect other things too; installed apps, kernel, modifications, etc.

Honestly, yes, if you’re in a position to upgrade do so(backed up etc) Ubuntu 20.04 was a while ago.
There was some sort of Python configuration on Protons end that they messed up and it could not be fixed through an update. Their fix was to remove the old version purge it and download the newest deb from their site, Then install as before.

Pretty sure their deb simply adds a protonvpn-source.list(sp?) in /etc/apt/…

In fact this would be a great time to even try something new, such as Linux Mint, the bonus, no snaps unless you install them. Ubuntu 18 was the just the start of the snaps and I noticed increased lag in my systems, upgraded to 20 and it was even more noticeable, that’s when I dumped Ubuntu and went back to Debian. I don’t mind the older versions of things as they tend to be more stable.

Forced snaps seems to feel more and more like “windows” if you get my drift and I haven’t enjoyed 20 years without a M$ OS for nothing.


Once again, thanks for all the info! I knew this version of Ubuntu was a bit dated now, so the upgrade probably needs to be done anyway.

I was pretty well into my Ubuntu journey when I saw the negative comments about Snaps. They do seem convenient for someone just learning Linux, but yeah it’s a bit like the Big Tech “app stores” for sure. It seems that Flatpaks are the way to go. I started to look into that with Reaper (DAW, audio production) as it only comes in a Flatpak version. Haven’t done so yet, and have more to learn about the Flatpak method. I believe Flatpaks can co-exist with Snaps, from what I’ve read.

I’ll give other distros some consideration. I feel kind of stuck with Ubuntu while I’m learning, but now my horizons are broadening. I’m sure I’ll play with other distros once I get up and running with VirtualBox etc.

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Hello, I’m completely new on the forum, but I saw/ read your post today, I have literally done the same thing as you, downloading the protonvpn app for Linux Ubuntu. ( as a paid sub) it took several hours last night, this morning all my software seems to have changed. I cannot access files or folders properly and the layout on various other software programmes has changed, I’m interested to see if you get anywhere on solving your problems. I’ve rebooted twice today but to no effect .

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Are you also on Ubuntu 20.04? It would seem that some Software Updates for Proton VPN, intended for Ubuntu 22.04 or newer (?), are leaking through to 20.04 and older versions maybe. If I understand the rollout schedule, we’re due for Ubuntu 24.04 next month? At least the LTS version. Anyway, it sounds like you’re having lots of issues with that install. My only problem is that the Proton VPN app changed behavior and would no longer connect, so I ended up uninstalling it. Of course, I had issues trying to reinstall too, but that may be pointless until this software/update issue is corrected.

Have you tried uninstalling Proton VPN? The removal steps are on the same webpage as their install instructions.

I did hear back from Proton about my issue, and their only advice was to upgrade to the newest version of Ubuntu, as that’s the only one that they test updates on. Per my OP (original post), my system asks if I want to upgrade from 20.04.6 LTS to 22.04.3 LTS, and so far I have held off, but it seems it may be a good idea. Especially if an even newer version is coming out next month! I wouldn’t jump to the latest/greatest right away of course, but once 24.04 comes out the upgrade to 22.04 might go away? So I’m thinking go ahead and do it, then try the Proton VPN install again.

Meanwhile, I may have found a workaround for VPN by installing Opera browser, which includes a VPN with it. So far it seems to work alright. You only have access to several VPN servers (by continent), but it’s free with the browser. I may also try Mullvad browser, which says it comes with a free VPN. This was recommended by @Minty in post #4, but I thought it was only by paid subscription … and I’d like to try before buy. But from what I can tell the browser with VPN is free. Maybe the standalone VPN service is “paid only”?

Opera is available in the Ubuntu Snap-Store, and was easy to install. I don’t see Mullvad browser there though, so it might be a more complex install (Flatpak?).

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I don’t think the Mullvad browser comes with a VPN. And yes, the Mullvad VPN is not free. IMHO it is a fair price. I have not had any problems, except for a very few websites eg “Truth Social” that will not work with it. If those websites don’t respect my privacy and my desire to keep my traffic hidden from my ISP, I don’t need THEM! Subscription to Mullvad VPN is a flat rate one rate irrespective of time frame for up to 5 devices and no auto reload. Exactly what I want.

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Right, from reading some things I thought it did, but I installed it a few hours ago and no VPN there. :face_with_diagonal_mouth: But I assume the VPN integration is seamless when you sign up for that. As you say, it IS a paid service. I looked at those options a bit. You can get an Account Number by clicking a button, and they say they collect no info on you - email address, etc - but to pay for the service you kinda do have to give some personal info! There are multiple payment methods, and maybe some are fairly anonymous, but if I go for it I’d probably use PayPal or something easy.

I saw the flat rate, and it looked like a monthly deal - pay as you go. I guess you have to remember to pay up every month. I didn’t see the 5 devices part, so thanks for that info! But right now I’m probably only going to be using one Linux install at a time, unless I can put it on my phone too.

I’ve noticed a lot of ‘throttling’ and glitches on websites while using a VPN. Particularly sites like YouTube and even Rumble, but many others too. They can tell when traffic is coming from a VPN server many times, and I think there’s an orchestrated effort to quell or quash the use of them. To be fair, VPN’s might also be used for DDoS attacks and dark web stuff (to conceal identity), so there may be some security concerns for the website admins that accounts for part of that.

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Thanks for your reply, yes I am indeed using Ubuntu 20.04. What you say does make sense indeed, so I am going to attempt an ‘uninstall’ today in the hope it will rectify all the many issues that have appeared on my desktop & various software progs since the original ‘install’ . What is really annoying is that the actual Protonvpn package isn’t actually installed , its just a .exe package in my download folder. Oh well here goes.

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Numerous ways to pay… even cash… unfortunately no Carrier Pigeon service?!

Screenshot from 2024-03-17 09-37-48

Subscription expiration displayed at top of app window.

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Have not had those problems with YT and Rumble or others that I can tell.

Then again I’m old and slow, just like my pc (much, much faster on Linux than it was on Windoze) so I probably haven’t noticed.

I understand the interweb is both good and evil, just like people. Good people have guns for protection from bad people. Bad people use guns for crime. So we should “quell or quash the use of them”… knives, hammers, cars, ice picks, baseball bats? Good people use VPNs because of bad people.

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I assume you’re using the Windows lingo with “.exe”? The Linux Ubuntu download I have for Proton VPN is this: “protonvpn-stable-release_1.0.3-2_all.deb”. If you attempted to install an .exe file on Linux that could likely cause some problems! If it would even let you try at all, that is.

Please let us know how your progress goes.

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Yeah, I was in that screen I think when I researched earlier, but couldn’t find it again. I’m sure it will show up if I put in the account code to sign up. Thanks for the screenshots, very helpful! I did search the “Voucher” option when I saw the ‘reseller’ page, and found out that Amazon sells 6 month and 12 month vouchers. That might be a way to be more anonymous, excepting Amazon. :upside_down_face: I am a little leery of sharing info with PayPal as they pulled that stunt 1-2 years ago of threatening to “fine” their users for buying “the wrong things”. There was a big deal about that and they rescinded it AFAIK.

So once you have the Mullvad VPN paid “time”, and the app installed, does something show up in Mullvad browser to manage the VPN? Like a plugin or extension? Or are they totally separate? I guess they might have to be separate so that the VPN isn’t just managing your browser traffic, but all internet functions?

They show that they still support Ubuntu 20.04, so that’s nice. I’m still thinking of upgrading, but am happy to have an option not to also.

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YouTube is really bad, it ‘hangs’ for half a minute at least before loading a video. Once the video starts playing it works fairly well. Part of that could be ad-blocker related, but I only noticed the issue the last few months. The Rumble issue started around the time of them being “hacked” end of last year. The videos load okay, but will will not start playing properly, or randomly stop playing in the middle. Very strange. I haven’t done a proper A/B test without VPN, but have noticed that without Proton VPN the last week or two, both video platforms seem to work a lot better. So far I haven’t had issues like that with the Opera browser with built-in VPN, though I just started using that maybe 2 days ago.

Yep, it’s a world of duality we live in, the light and the dark. While I use VPN to keep things private from ISP etc, it’s also some security (I hope) from scammers collecting login info, passwords, etc. Jeff says Linux is very secure in that regard, but I don’t know how well the browsers handle that, and once info leaves your system to the interwebs … who knows!