Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Finally got sick of all the internet ads and stupid animations and got round to installing privoxy. It makes the web usable again. AdBlock is good but it's FireFox only, and these days I use Safari or Chrome. Both AdBlock and Noscript do not have enough fine grain control over the web experience. Here's what Privoxy can do, from its README file:

In addition to the core features of ad blocking and cookie management,
Privoxy provides many supplemental features, that give the end-user
more control, more privacy and more freedom:

* Can keep outgoing connections alive and reuse them later on.

* Supports tagging which allows to change the behaviour based on client
and server headers.

* Can be run as an "intercepting" proxy, which obviates the need to
configure browsers individually.

* Sophisticated actions and filters for manipulating both server and
client headers.

* Can be chained with other proxies.

* Integrated browser based configuration and control utility at (shortcut: http://p.p/). Browser-based
tracing of rule and filter effects. Remote toggling.

* Web page filtering (text replacements, removes banners based on size,
invisible "web-bugs", JavaScript and HTML annoyances, pop-up windows,

* Modularized configuration that allows for standard settings and user
settings to reside in separate files, so that installing updated actions
files won't overwrite individual user settings.

* Support for Perl Compatible Regular Expressions in the configuration
files, and a more sophisticated and flexible configuration syntax.

* Improved cookie management features (e.g. session based cookies).

* GIF de-animation.

* Bypass many click-tracking scripts (avoids script redirection).

* Multi-threaded (POSIX and native threads).

* User-customizable HTML templates for most proxy-generated pages (e.g.
"blocked" page).

* Auto-detection and re-reading of config file changes.

* Improved signal handling, and a true daemon mode (Unix).

* Every feature now controllable on a per-site or per-location basis,
configuration more powerful and versatile over-all.

After installation it goes from this abomination:

To this:

No, this is not an April Fool's Day joke.

Note that the silly Shockwave animation that took up almost a full 1/4 of the page has been filtered, as were the Google text ads ("Honda Jazz Reviews" and the other one beside it). All it took was one regular expression rule match for each.

Note for Mac OS X users: Current stable release is v3.0.12, you can compile this without any difficulty. However do take note the "hide-forwarded-for-headers" action has been deprecated and changed to "change-x-forwarded-for", you must update all action and filter files or privoxy will not work.