Proxomitron - Funny name, great application


Updated: January 6, 2010

Would you like to have more control over the Web pages you are viewing? Would you like to be able to manage the content per site, disabling annoying or unneeded elements like perhaps certain images, ads or maybe scripts? Well, if you're a Firefox user, you're lucky. You have a whole bunch of extensions that do just that, with Noscript the most fully featured extension overall. But what about other browsers?

This is where Proxomitron comes in.

Teaser

Proxomitron is a powerful filtering Web proxy for Windows. Designed for Windows 95, it is still very much alive and kicking, thanks to a vibrant community developers constantly improving the filters, the bread an butter of this program.

You may be asking what a filtering Web proxy is. Well, it is a program that allows you to manage your Web content. For example, block images, disable scripts and sounds, remove ads and animations, all these and more by redirecting your normal traffic through a local proxy that uses a lot of smart filter rules to do this job.

Proxomitron does just that. It is a program you can install in your Windows, configure your browsers to connect to the Internet using Proxomitron and start enjoying its powers.

In this article, I will show you how to configure Proxomitron, so you can enjoy the Noscript-like capabilities in other browsers as well. The setup is not simple, but it can be managed.

Install & setup Proxomitron

The first thing you will have to do is download Proxomitron. The latest version is Proxomitron Naoko 4.5 June (2003) release.

First, do not be alarmed by the age of the executable. The Internet in 2009 is the same as Internet in 2003. What makes the difference are the filter rulesets. You merely need a modern, up-to-date filter set to make Proxomitron work properly. There are quite a few filter sets available; we'll discuss them soon.

After you install the program, just launch it.

Main

Do not worry about the funny colors! Proxomitron was designed in the age when animated GIF banners on webpages were considered the ultimate cool. Luckily, it is very easy possible to change the default skin. You can change the skin under Config.

Changed look

Proxomitron is now running. But it is not doing anything. To make it work, we will need to do several things.

Configure browsers to use proxy

Most people connect to the Internet directly. To use Proxomitron, you need to divert all traffic to its proxy. This means configuring browsers on your machine to use proxies.

Here's an example of how it's done in Firefox:

Proxy setup

Go to Tools > Options > Advanced > Network > Settings. Click the Manual proxy button. In the HTTP Proxy field, you will need to specify the Proxomitron proxy address. By default, Proxomitron runs on localhost (127.0.0.1), port 8080.

BTW, how did I know which port Proxomitron uses? Well, reading the documentation is always wise. Furthermore, you can always check the status of your network connections by running the netstat command.

Without going into too many details about networking, you can perform a very simple check and determine the Proxomitron address and port. First, you can run netstat once with Proxomitron closed and once while it's running and compare the results. Second, you can compare the PID number in the last column to the names of processes running in Task Manager.

Netstat

You can also check the Proxomitron Preference Settings and see what port is configured and change it if you like. The Preference Settings are hidden under the Config button in the main view.

You can configure the visual style, which we did earlier, startup options, Access, Blockfile, and the HTTP options. We will discuss some of these later on.

Settings

If you also want to use Proxomitron for secure connections (HTTPS), you will have to configure both your browser and Proxomitron to this end.

Back to our example, Firefox, in the Network settings menu, you can check the box saying Use this proxy server for all protocols. However, this also requires that you download and setup the Proxomitron SSL certificate and the accompanying DLLs, if you do not want to receive warnings from your browser every time you go to a secure page.

For example, trying to visit Gmail gets you this warning:

Warning

And when you expand:

Certificate

This is a little advanced for most users, so I will not go into details. At this stage, let's make sure we have Proxomitron running and working correctly. If you're not sure about HTTPS, then configure your browsers not to use Proxomitron when connecting to these pages or add a permanent exception.

Furthermore, if you need help configuring proxy in Internet Explorer, Opera or Safari, or other browsers, please contact me, I will add the instructions to this article. In general, the basic idea is the same as seen in the example above.

Basically, we're all set.

We have Proxomitron running and our browsers configured to use it, with or without SSL. We now need to beef our Proxomitron with the right filters and make it do Noscript-style work for all browsers.

Andrew's Security Filter (Similar to Noscript)

This is the one set of filters you will need and no other. You can read very detailed explanations about how to use and setup Andrew's Security Filter both on the Proxomitron unofficial official forum and in a rather extensive thread over at Wilders:

Andrew's Security Filter

Andrew's Security Filter (Proxomitron) - Similar to Noscript

The setup might be slightly intimidating for new users, so here we go, plain and simple:

You will need to download two files:

All-in-one Package (direct link)

Count file (direct link)

After downloading the All-in-one package, extract it into the Proxomitron installation folder. Do not worry about overriding existing files.

In Proxomitron main menu, click File > Merge config filters. Search for a file called something-mergme.cfg, which you have just extracted. Once you click Open, it will be merged with the default set.

Merge

To save your configurations, click File > Save Default Settings.

Your next step is to add the Count file to the Blocklist. First of all, the file is named Count.ptxt. You can rename it to Count.txt if you want. You do not need to place it anywhere special, although I recommend you copy it to the Lists folder inside Proxomitron installation folder.

In the Proxomitron main menu, click Config, go to Blocklist.

Blocklist

Click Add, search for the Count.ptxt file and name the filter Count. See above.

That's it! You're done. You can now use Proxomitron.

Using Proxomitron

Let's see how this thing works. First of all, like Noscript, Proxomitron displays visual clues for blocked and allowed content on the pages you're viewing. Open any page and you'll see two colored icons in the right top corner, titled A and B.

Icons

If you hover the mouse cursor over the icons, you'll get the list of all scripts on the page, just like Noscript!

Hover

If you click with the mouse, you'll be able to manually allow/block each individual domain. Again, this is very similar to how Noscript works.

Click

If you click on Advanced, you'll have even more options and more control over the web page content. For example, you can only block scripts, if you want, but you can also block Iframes, Applets, Objects, or Embedded elements.

Advanced

If you try allow certain domains, you'll get a confirmation prompt and then a message informing you that a specific domain has been added to your whitelist:

Allow

Added

Similarly, you can add the actual domain you're visiting to the whitelist, so the buttons will never show on it. If you click on Host, then the domain and all its subdomains will be whitelisted. If you click on Path, only the specific page will be whitelisted.

You can also temporarily revoke permissions by clicking on the C (Clean) button, after permitting some of the external scripts to run on a certain page.

Clean

Toggling A (Allow) and B (Block) allows you to play with the pages layout until you find the optimal settings you want. Compared to Noscript, it's a little more cumbersome, but works fine, and for all browsers.

Lastly, you can play with Proxomitron settings. Just right-click on the icon in the system tray. This allows you to enable/disable your filters, bypass Proxomitron entirely, and manually edit or load specific configuration or block files.

Right-click

Other stuff

Other filter rulesets

There are several useful rulesets you may want to consider, although Andrew's set should be enough for your every need. Still, another great candidate is:

sidki filter set

Other filter sets exist, like JD5000 and Grypen, but these are mostly outdated today and superseded by sidki and Andrew's sets. Nevertheless, I recommend you visit the forum and check for latest updates.

Final configurations

You will have to add Proxomitron to the list of programs running on startup, if you want it active all the time. Otherwise, you may need to shuffle the network connection settings in your browsers when Proxomitron is not running, as the connections will fail if the proxy is down.

If you're running a limited user account, e.g. with SuRun, then you will have to setup Proxomitron configurations as admin.

Other programs

The last version of Proxomitron was released in 2003, the last century in the digital timeline. Nevertheless, the program is still very much usable, stable and bug-free. However, if you do not want to use an old program or prefer a more streamlined, less flashy user interface, you may want to try several other, newer programs based on Proxomitron, offering similar capabilities and using the same filter rulesets.

There are quite a few options available, however Proximodo seems the most sensible alternative.

Proximodo

For more information, please see the Wikipedia article on the subject.

Links

You may also be interested in a few more articles I've written:

Firefox Add-ons - Manage browser add-ons in a centralized manner - Tutorial

10 must-have Firefox extensions

Using Noscript correctly

Conclusion

Proxomitron is not a program for novices. It takes time getting used to. Configurations are not intuitive and advanced usage requires intimate knowledge of networking and Web protocols.

However, intermediate users can enjoy a rather mighty filtering Web proxy for all their browsers, allowing them to control the content of web pages with fine granularity, something that has been the privilege of Firefox users until recently.

If you like your Internet experience to be clean and quiet, then you should definitely consider using Proxomitron, especially since it's such a small yet powerful utility, despite its age. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. See you around.

Cheers.

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