Ad blocking with a proxy

August 31, 2009 at 9:04 pm Leave a comment

I recently re-purposed an old G4 mac mini as a server on my local network.  Why?  Snow Leopard doesn’t support the PowerPC processor, so it’s stuck on Leopard.  And, I didn’t really need it as an end-user machine anymore.

The first thing I put on it was Squid, the venerable proxy server.  A proxy on a Mini?  Why yes.  This particular Mini has 1 GB of RAM and a 24×7 rated 60 GB 7200 RPM drive.  I have a small home network serving my family, so I’m not terribly concerned with Squid killing the hard drive from over use.

I was surprised at how well it worked.  I don’t think there’s really a noticeable slowdown when surfing from my Core 2 Duo 2.26 Ghz mini, even when opening multiple tabs at the same time.  And once I’ve surfed to a site once, it should have some of the images cached, speeding things up that much more the next time I visit.

So, we’ve now used this for a few weeks and all seems well, except one thing.  I really wanted to use something like Privoxy with Squid to block ads, but there is no longer a download for Privoxy for Mac OS X.  (I think it’s still possible with Fink, but didn’t want to go down that path)

I remembered previously reading about a Mac proxy server specifically for blocking ads, so I searched and found GlimmerBlocker.  It’s a pretty configurable proxy server (configurable via the System Preferences pane).  I was pleased that it can also point to a proxy server, so I configured it to point to Squid.  Chained in this way, the results get filtered by GlimmerBlocker and cached by Squid.

So far, I have four machines using this, and the old G4 is working fine handling all the requests.  There are many fewer ads showing up on my kid’s machines now, which is the real reason for doing this… I mean, have you seen some of the ads on MySpace?

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Entry filed under: Mac, Networking.

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