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I want to create a straightforward proxy server for my friends abroad, who encounter internet censorship. I am aware of some possibilities, but my knowledge is very scarce:

  1. PHP proxy scripts, which I could use on my hosted webserver. However, after trying out a few, they appear to have problems with facebook and gmail, and this is exactly what I want to be accessible.
  2. Dedicated servers are relatively expensive.
  3. Apparently it is possible to make your router act as a proxy server, but with my unix skills I`m not very enthusiastic to go flashing firmwares..

Are there more possibilities? Am I misevaluating something?

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2 Answers

The low-end VPS (Virtual Private Server) is not really expensive one. There is a bunch of providers who offer a VPS starting at $4 a month. Then you have a root access to this server and you could install the squid proxy server with client authentication and SSL encryption of the client connection.

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I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the "use your router as a proxy/server" options. The two main methods I've used require very little to no Unix know-how, and are configurable entirely through commandline wizards and web interfaces:

  1. Use DD-WRT or similar on a compatible router, and then either pass through all traffic to a proxy server running on your home network, or run a proxy directly on the router. Both of these require a little bit of unixing (compared to option 2), but the steps are pretty well documented. If you have a good, compatible router (there's a great compatibility list on DD-WRT's site, and for what you need, you don't need to spend too much money on eBay or wherever), there's no commandline hackery required to flash the firmware.
  2. Connect your home internet gateway to an all-in-one router/firewall/proxy/VPN solution like PFSense (free and awesome, FWIW). The first-time installation is pretty easy if you have basic knowledge of networking (or access to Google), and requires little to no Unix know-how. This guide will walk you all the way to having a basic Squid setup, and this one (linked in the first) covers the more advanced functionality. No firmware flashing required; you just need a spare computer (low processing power is fine).

Edit: This SU question covers a lot of good methods for getting this set up as well.

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