Sunday, May 3, 2009

Speed up your Internet in Ubuntu

Where I live, fast Internet is a dream for most users. So, I need to do something to make my Internet speed increase. We will read here how to make a good use of the advantages offered by a Linux Distro as Ubuntu.

The scenario
I am using a 3G modem. Unfortunately here it does not work as it should, being unstable and slow, most of time. Only 10% of the full contrated speed is guaranteed. It still is expensive, but for mobility, it is what it is. One other detail: I am always in the same sites. A great number the sites, but usually the same.

The solution
A proxy is the best way to make it go faster. According to wikipedia, a proxy is "a server (a computer system or an application program) that acts as a go-between for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers".

Thus, every web access will be requested to the proxy, and it will fetch it in Internet. This web page will remain a little in the system, because if it is requested again, some components will already be downloaded. That means that your browser will show the page faster.

We will see some changes to be made in proxy server, and some others in browser.

The Software
We'll be using Squid, a well-known proxy server, famous, free and widely used. This configuration is not difficult, but requires attention. You should know how to use vim.

Squid installation
As usual, installing a sofware in Ubuntu is a breeze. We will work using CLI, instead of GUI. I recommend you to copy the commands written here and paste them in BASH, to avoid typos.

First, let's assure that Ubuntu has informtion about the most recent packages. Open the CLI, and paste the following lines:
sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install squid
Remeber that if you want, you can dispose the whole squid configuration with the following lines:
sudo chattr -i /etc/squid/squid.conf.original
sudo rm
sudo aptitude purge squid
You need vim to be installed. If you are not sure about it, copy this line and paste it on Bash:
sudo aptitude install vim
Squid Configuration

First of all, let's do a backup copy of it's configuration file:
sudo cp /etc/squid/squid.conf /etc/squid/squid.conf.original
sudo chattr +i /etc/squid/squid.conf.original
Squid Configuration file has lots of comments. They are really helpful, but can be annoying sometimes. So we will "clean" it all:
sudo egrep -v "^$|^ *#" \
/etc/squid/squid.conf.original > /etc/squid/squid.conf
We must know the version of our software. This is how I can identify squid version:
sudo dpkg -p squid

Package: squid
Priority: optional
Section: web
Installed-Size: 1748
Maintainer: Ubuntu Core Developers
Architecture: i386
Version: 2.7.STABLE3-4.1ubuntu1
Replaces: squid-novm
Depends: libc6 (>= 2.4), libcomerr2 (>= 1.01), libdb4.7, libkrb53 (>= 1.6.dfsg.2), libldap-2.4-2 (>= 2.4.7), libpam0g (>=, netbase, adduser, logrotate (>= 3.5.4-1), squid-common (>= 2.7.STABLE3-4.1ubuntu1), lsb-base (>= 3.2-14), ssl-cert (>= 1.0-11ubuntu1)
Pre-Depends: debconf (>= 1.2.9) | debconf-2.0
Suggests: squidclient, squid-cgi, logcheck-database, resolvconf (>= 0.40), smbclient, winbind
Conflicts: sarg (<<>
This another way to do te same:
sudo dpkg -l | grep squid
In my system, this was the result:
ii squid 2.7.STABLE3-4.1ubuntu1 Internet object cache (WWW proxy cache)
Note that if your version is different, may ther be some differences.

Finally, let's start with the changes in Squid:
sudo vim /etc/squid/squid.conf -c ":set number"
I did the following changes:
35 icp_access deny all
36 http_port
37 hierarchy_stoplist cgi-bin ?
49 dns_nameservers
50 hosts_file /etc/hosts
Line 36 makes my Ubuntu more secure. In line 49 I stated both DNS IPs from my provider. acrescentei a linha 49, com os IPs do DNS do meu provedor. If you don't know about these IPs (they should be given by your ISP), you may see them in your Ubuntu system:
sudo cat /etc/resolv.conf
In my system, I had the following:
After these changes, we need to restart squid. So, let's do it:
sudo /etc/init.d/squid reload
To assure it is working, we can search the open ports. Squid uses port 3128:
sudo netstat -ltnp | grep -i squid
In my system:
tcp 0 0* OUÇA 3216/(squid)
What is bold in this line, is the same content of line 36 of squid's configuration file.

Browser configuration
The changes in our browser will be much easier. Let's do it in Firefox, which is already present in Ubuntu:

Let's first access Preferences, in edit menu.

After, we need to push Advanced button. In network tab, click on CONFIGURE.

Do the same changes I did in this screen. Mine is in Brazilian Portuguese, but the fields are in the same place.

It is done. Proxy server installed and configured, and browser configured to talk to proxy server. In my computer, in about 8 days of use, I had the folowing use of HD:
sudo du -sh /var/spool/squid/
32M /var/spool/squid/
You should always control the space used by squid. If it increases too much, you can empty this cache. Type the following:
sudo squid -z
Don't forget to answer our poll, saying if this was useful, interesting or unuseful.


Roy said...

I face the same problems sometimes too. What I did is to run my computer through a computer check up and it was all fixed. If you are interested you can do the same at Apparantly they provide alot of free tools to help in speeding up the computer.

Gilberto Martins said...


I don't know if you noticed ... I was talking about Linux. Your (?) site presents solutions for Windows.

Thanks for the Ad, anyway.

gamesmad said...

Really great article man, very helpful and everything worked fine. The difference is negligible when I'm at home, but the difference in speed is surprising when I'm using my phone to connect.

Loving the advertising from Roy, blatant as anything... Ah well.



Lutfan said...

I did follow the whole procedure but
after this command:
sudo vim /etc/squid/squid.conf -c ":set number"
the file that appears does not the same given by you,for line 36,49,i had something totally different.Plz HELP me out!

Gilberto Martins said...

Luftan, I need to know the version of your squid. You can get this info by starting a terminal and typing:

squid3 -v


sudo squid3 -v

Waiting for your answer