Is it possible to configure pound to handle WebSocket requests? If not, what are best alternatives for a reverse proxy? I'd like to use pound or a equivalent light-weight reverse proxy.
Pound appears to include code that supports the protocol upgrade, but I've never been able to make it work. Nor have various folks in forums and on the pound mailing list.
There's a pretty detailed post at exratione.com that describes a number of options for load balancing websockets behind SSL, including Pound (which the author also eventually gave up on). The conclusion of this post (which dates from early 2012) is that there is no good solution.
Since that post, nginx may have added websocket proxy support, so that's worth looking at. nginx is a bit more involved in terms of configuration, and IIRC has some limitations with regard to sticky session management, but it is a reliable, fast reverse proxy that supports SSL.
If you don't require SSL for your websocket connections, you might want to try a simple TCP load balancer. There are many to choose from -- HAProxy is well loved by Linux folks, but simple, high quality alternatives exist like Pen, OpenBSD's relayd (or its FreeBSD port), etc.
If you only need a reverse proxy in front of a single back-end server, and don't need to load balance, you can probably just use stunnel to receive front-end HTTPS/WSS connections and connect to an internal back-end. Here's some sample stunnel configuration. Alternately, you might be able to use stunnel in front of pen, but you'd have to experiment -- I haven't done that, and can't tell you if it'll work. (If you try, please let us know your results!)
@ghoti's answer worked well and I will probably stick to using stunnel as suggested but this issue nagged me nevertheless so I will expand on the comment of @JanDvorak who claimed having done some experiments without going into further detail.
I used the following simple python websocket server which is derived from https://gist.github.com/jkp/3136208
And I combined it with the following html which was borrowed from http://www.websocket.org/echo.html
This worked well, so I put pound in the middle with the following config entry:
and changed the port in the html from 9000 to 9999. After that change it stopped working.
Analyzing the traffic with wireshark, I found out that the HTTP 101 request to switch the protocol gets forwarded correctly. But the subsequent first websocket packet never gets forwarded by pound. This is confirmed by the
Whenever pound receives a WebSocket message, it drops the message and instead writes
So it seems that the answer to OP's question indeed is: pound can't do WebSocket.
I wrote an email to the pound list about this issue: http://www.apsis.ch/pound/pound_list/archive/2014/2014-01/1388844924000