Tunnelbear VPN service now available for Chrome (and Linux/Chrome OS)

The easy-to-use VPN service Tunnelbear has had support for OS X, Windows, and mobile devices for awhile, but has never officially supported Linux, or by extension Chrome OS. That’s finally changed; Tunnelbear’s released a Chrome extension that, when installed, serves as an encrypted proxy and lets one turn on/off support to a range of countries (Canada, UK, etc.) easily with an icon in Chrome’s toolbar.

The Chrome plugin works with the free Tunnelbear package, though currently has a 500MB data limit, even if you increase the limit to 1GB via tweeting about Tunnelbear.

Since the extension is an encrypted proxy, it doesn’t have the full range of detailed VPN options like what the regular Tunnelbear apps for mobile devices, OS X, and Windows offers. It’s also not as secure—the extension uses AES 128-bit encryption versus the apps’ AES 256-bit encryption. However, it’ll be good enough for the average person’s general usage, such as accessing region-blocked streaming video services—Canadians who want to see the US version of Netflix, say—or those using unencrypted public Wi-Fi, such as that in many coffeeshops.

I’ve let my paid Tunnelbear service lapse, but I tried out the extension on my Linux Mint laptop in Chrome using Canada’s CBC’s website, whose videos are normally region-blocked for yours truly. With the extension turned on, videos worked fine:

Kids CBC region blocked
How CBC’s website videos normally look for Americans.
Kids CBC
How CBC’s website videos look with Tunnelbear’s Chrome extension turned on.

This Chrome extension makes Tunnelbear’s service appealing for Linux and Chrome OS users just looking for casual proxy usage. Of course, there’s other VPN/proxy services available that’re also Linux-friendly, but Tunnelbear’s service is fairly popular and particularly easy to use.