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Review: Open source proxy servers are capable, but a bit rough around the edges

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Artica scores highest in four-product test, IPFire, Squid and Apache also deliver solid proxy services.

Providing a common gateway for web services, caching web requests or providing anonymity are some of the ways organizations use proxy servers. Commercial proxy products, especially cloud offerings, are plentiful, but we wondered if open source or free products could provide enterprise-grade proxy services.

For this test we reviewed four proxy servers, Artica, Squid, IPFire and Apache server using mod_proxy. All four products are free or open source and provide proxy services alone or bundled with other features. We limited our test to forward proxy services with an eye toward ease of installation and configuration, system requirements, features and management tools. The products tested performed well under our simple speed tests, with differences too small to note. We did not test large-scale or distributed deployments due to the significant variables associated with such environments.

Overall we liked Artica, which combines Squid with many additional vendor-supplied features and a robust, web-based GUI. Artica also provides granular control over the proxy server and exposes features of Squid that may not be very accessible or apparent to non hardcore Linux sysadmins. Artica’s reporting features were also a plus. We found Artica to be the most progressive of the products we tested, although by no means the industry leader just yet.

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