Add Web Porn Filtering and Other Content Filtering to Linux Desktops
After customizing the filters to your liking, it's important to realize that some settings become stale. Blacklisted sites and new phrases are likely to go out of date sooner than others. New Web sites you will want to block come on-line often, and new word combinations can make past phrases obsolete. Looking through the Extras link on the DansGuardian site, you will find more information on blacklists. In addition, several users have contributed scripts to automate blacklist generation and update.
As an alternative, URLblacklist.com allows new users to download their first file free. Afterwards, you can sign up for a periodic subscription for access to the latest-and-greatest information. Instructions for applying the new data for DansGuardian are on the Web site.
Another consideration is whether the proxy and filter will slow down Internet surfing and page loading. Some users will suffer a small impact on Web surfing performance when using Tinyproxy. In my own testing, I noticed a slight delay, plus a couple of issues with my browser cache. Clearing the Firefox cache with Ctrl-Shift-Del fixed the cache problems right away. Occasionally, it has been necessary to restart Tinyproxy, After doing so, my Internet performance improved. Although annoying at times, these small issues are acceptable trade-offs.
Both DansGuardian and Tinyproxy make log files for administrators to review. Within /var/log, you should find directories for DansGuardian and Tinyproxy. Using an editor, open the files and search through the data to find out what's been happening on the computer. Sequentially stored data and clear comment fields make the file easier to understand. For DansGuardian, there is a user-contributed add-on script for searching and displaying the results in a more user-friendly format.
One feature not found in DansGuardian is the capacity to e-mail the log files to a third party for review. This can be a real deterrent for some people if they know they have an accountability partner watching their actions on the Internet.
Before settling on this solution for content filtering, consider what your overall requirements are in the upcoming months. If you have only one computer to deal with and you don't mind tinkering with configuration files, DansGuardian is probably a good choice. Alternatively, SmoothGuardian looks like a great buy for $90 US. Plus, the software includes a user-friendly Web-based interface and nontechnical installation.
Nevertheless, setup of DansGuardian and Tinyproxy is well within the scope of new Linux users, and the free price fits most budgets nicely. Using this article and its references as a guide, you shouldn't have too much difficulty getting up and running. Even if you do battle a few problems, using Google to search for answers is easy. Plus, there is also a Web content filtering portal linked to the DansGuardian home page (see Resources) and an IRC chat location.
Overall, DansGuardian and Tinyproxy are frontrunners in the Open Source world and help ease the transition from the Microsoft Windows environment. I think you'll find flexible filtering and lightweight proxy overhead make this a good combination for small networking environments.
Resources for this article: /article/9291.
Donald Emmack is Managing Partner of The IntelliGents & Co. He works extensively as a writer and business consultant in North America. You can reach him at email@example.com or by cruising the 2 meter amateur RF bands in the Midwest.
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One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
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