I have a question about my VPN. It's been doing strange things.

I have installed the NordVPN package for Linux on Linux Mint 19 by following the instructions on their website and the Tor Browser as well.

When I connect to a NordVPN server and click the icon to open the Tor Browser, nothing happens. If I click it again, an error box comes up saying Tor is already running.

There are no abnormal log entries. This only happens when the machine is connected to a NordVPN server through their client. When I am not connected to NordVPN, Tor Browser opens normally and all connections work. I know it is a problem with the NordVPN client because I have connected to a NordVPN server through OpenVPN and Tor Browser functions correctly. I have also tried through the network manager and Tor works fine.

I have reinstalled NordVPN and the Tor Browser and reinstalled the OS too. NordVPN and Tor Browser work fine on Windows 10 and macOS 10. Tor also works if used in a VM and the VPN on the host.

Any ideas about how to use Tor Browser with the VPN?

As noted below, the protocol is set to TCP to work with Tor and I am not connected to a NordVPN Onion server.

  • Why can't you use another VPN?
    – harrymc
    Nov 17 '18 at 17:50
  • 1
    @harrymc because they've already paid for nord and it also happens to be one of the most reputable VPNs?
    – undo
    Nov 18 '18 at 5:26
  • To the poster: Try a free VPN, for example TunnelBear or CyberGhost, to see if the same problem occurs with Tor.
    – harrymc
    Nov 18 '18 at 7:51
  • @harrymc This issue is likely specific to the NordVPN application on Linux, but Thanks.
    – William
    Nov 19 '18 at 19:22
  • It seems like this depends on the configuration of the node. Some reports say that connecting via Latvia #1 seems to work, while other servers don't work for TOR.
    – harrymc
    Nov 20 '18 at 9:33

According to their website they have special servers for this and it depends on what server you are connecting to:

Onion Over NordVPN

Usually, the Onion network can only be accessed with the Onion browser, while with NordVPN’s Onion Over VPN servers you don’t need to download it.

All you need to do is connect to an Onion Over VPN server, and NordVPN will take care of the rest. However, if you prefer, you can also connect to our regular servers, and then use the Onion browser as usual. Any way you choose, we will ensure that your Internet traffic remains protected.

SOURCE: https://nordvpn.com/features/onion-over-vpn/

  • Their onion servers have been non operational for ages. I have tried this. I also trust the Tor Browser more than their routing.
    – William
    Nov 19 '18 at 19:20
  • Ensure you are not connecting to one of their "Onion Over VPN server" because it will conflict. "connect to our regular servers, and then use the Onion browser as usual"
    – HackSlash
    Nov 19 '18 at 22:17
  • You are correct. I am connecting to a standard US server. That wouldn't explain why it works through the network manager, though.
    – William
    Nov 19 '18 at 22:28
  • Make a ticket with NordVPN. You pay for support, use it. They obviously have some special settings around Tor and their client. If it works with OpenVPN then you know it's their client. It won't get fixed until you complain about it.
    – HackSlash
    Nov 20 '18 at 17:05

NordVPN server default setup seems to conflict with Tor, to the point that NordVPN have even released their own Onion browser.

This seems a matter of the setup of the node servers, rather than inherent incompatibility, based on the following information:

In the Reddit thread of NordVPN with TOR, dating from only 6 months ago, we find this comment:

connecting to Latvia #1 seems to work for me, I don't know why other servers don't work for my TOR

And another one:

Strange. I just got Latvia #1 working fine.

You could try yourself connecting to Latvia #1 to see if it still works with Tor. If it has by now stopped working, try other nodes and you might strike it lucky.

Otherwise, only NordVPN can solve the problem, but given their previous reluctance to change the setup of their servers on that point, don't expect too much.

It might possibly be that this is a matter of policy, so as not to risk their network being used for illegal traffic. In that case, this working with the Latvia #1 node is perhaps, from their point of view, a badly configured node.

  • Tor and VPN can be used together on Mac and Windows. I have just had problems in Mint. I tried connecting to the Latvia server just now and using the normal browser but it is very slow. Their website also states "Of course, you can also alternatively connect to our regular servers, and then use the Onion browser as usual." Thanks.
    – William
    Nov 23 '18 at 5:08
  • If you manage to connect under Windows, I would compare the configuration files Windows/Mint to see if you can find the difference.
    – harrymc
    Nov 23 '18 at 8:36

I'm not a nord VPN user but I would assume that they, as pretty much every VPN by default, use the UDP protocol. This is from Nord VPN's FAQ:


But what they're missing out is that UDP is causing issues with TOR (and other proxies (or VPN behind VPN) aswell). Nord VPN gives you the choice between UDP and TCP, so you should definitely use TCP.

A particular case is a connection over TOR or over an http-proxy. In this case, TCP is mandatory.

(From AirVPN's topic UDP vs. TCP - A very informative post)

Here is also a NordVPN blogpost about TCP vs. UDP with a short video attached to it.

  • I am aware of this. The protocol can be changed with "nordvpn set protocol tcp", which I have tried. This also doesn't explain why Tor doesn't respond at all.
    – William
    Nov 23 '18 at 4:57

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