The Proxomitron

An Introduction

Scott R. Lemmon
and
John Sankey

An Introduction
  Why would I want The Proxomitron?
  System Requirements
  Installation and Removal
  The Main Screen
  Web Page Filters - A hitchhikers guide
  HTTP Header Filters
  Distribution and Copyright
Technical Details
The Filter Language
Filter Examples

The Proxomitron
Keeping an eye on the Web.
For You.

[A historical note: at Scott's request, I translated his original Microsoft Help files into HTML for the then-current version. Since it is the version I still use, I have not updated the following with the new features added afterward. Scott died on 1 May 2004, but as long as Windows survives, so will The Proxomitron!]

Why would I want The Proxomitron?

Do you ever wish you could stop blinking popups and banners that take forever to load, don't print properly, and cover up what you want to read? Does your back button or mouse seem like they don't work on some sites? Do you need to use large fonts or stop red characters on green backgrounds? In fact, is there ANYTHING that you don't like about how your browser works?

Then The Proxomitron is for you!   Download it here.

[Some released versions of The Proxomitron have been modified with undesireable patches. This is an original version I received personally from him, which he ensured was free of all viri and spyware. It has stood up to every check I have used on my systems since.]

The Proxomitron is not a firewall. The only software in your computer that will use it is software that you have told to use it. It's name comes from how it works - it uses a feature of the web known as a "HTTP Proxy". This allows a program (local or remote) to sit between your web browser and the Internet at large, to monitor everything and change it if you want to. All proper web browsers support a proxy interface, because it's part of the original specifications for the web. However, some 'free' service providers require that you use their proprietary browser. Some of these browsers are designed to be incompatible with any proxy or firewall.

System Requirements

Windows 95,98,Me,NT,2000 or XP, on any system that can run them. Scott developed it on Windows 95; John has fully tested the version above on NT4 SP3-6a and Me.

Installation and Removal

Create a new folder, place ProxN4.zip in it, and unzip it there. Put its icon (create shortcut) anywhere you want it. (The 'startup' folder is a handy place.)

To un-install it, just delete the folder and the icons you created. No further trace of it will be left anywhere else on your system. Also note that, at any time, you can click the taskbar icon with either a left or right mouse click and click bypass. The taskbar icon will grey, and The Proxomitron is totally bypassed until you wish to re-enable it. The Proxomitron is freedomware, not hassleware.

Upgrading from previous versions: simply copy the new files over top of the old (be sure to include the subdirectories). However first be sure that any config files you changed also exist with new names such as Myconfig.cfg, otherwise they'll be overwritten by the newer versions. (You should always do this with any program, of course.) To keep your changes copy your special config file to default.cfg after the upgrade.

Setting your web browser to use The Proxomitron

After installation you must configure your web browser to use the program. This involves setting the browser's proxy option. Although it varies from browser to browser, all browsers have this option somewhere. Note that in Windows high speed (Ethernet card) connections reach your browser through the local area network route, even if they first came through dialup, so you have to set both routes as below to use The Proxomitron with DSL or cable connection.

After the browser is configured, run The Proxomitron. An eye in a green triangle appears in the system tray right next to your clock so you can always find it when you are browsing. Now any connections your browser makes must go through, and be filtered by, The Proxomitron. When you want to change anything it does, click the triangle and the Main Screen pops up. If you hit the bypass button of The Proxomitron, the system tray icon goes gray.

After configuring your browser for use with The Proxomitron, it won't be able to find web pages unless The Proxomitron is running also! To bypass The Proxomitron entirely and return your browser to normal operation, set your browser to not use a proxy server (or "direct connection to the Internet" as Netscape puts it). Both Netscape and Internet Explorer allow you to switch between these two settings with a simple checkbox in their proxy configuration screens. And, if you are already connecting through another proxy, you must set The Proxomitron to use the proxy settings that your browser currently uses before you tell your browser to use The Proxomitron.

The Main Screen

Main Screen File: manage configuration files. When The Proxomitron first loads, it grabs a file named "default.cfg" in its own directory. You can load or save modified config files under different names to quickly switch between various setups. Use the file menu (or right click over the main window) to bring up options to load and save the config files. The configuration files are simple text files and can be edited by any text editor (like Notepad). Filters from one config file can be merged into the current config file by selecting "Merge config files" from the main screen's "File" menu, or, of course, by using Notepad to merge them.

If you run The Proxomitron at startup/login and let your computer automatically stop it at shutdown/logout, any changes you make to the last-active configuration file will not be saved. You must save your changes using this menu if you want them to apply to your next session.

Help: open the help file system (similar to this set of pages)

Active filters: The Proxomitron has several categories of filters

Each complete set of filters can be quickly enabled or disabled by clicking the corresponding Active Filters check box.

Edit filters: This is where you enable or disable each filter individually. When you get advanced, this is also where you edit filters and create new ones.

Config: Many useful things here, mostly covered in Technical Details:

Proxy: enter and switch between various external proxies.

Bypass: this button toggles all filters on or off. By pressing Bypass then forcing your browser to reload a web page, you can see the page in its original unfiltered form. When the filters are bypassed, The Proxomitron's icon in the system tray turns gray. Note: to force a browser reload:
Netscape: Hold down SHIFT while you click reload, or press SHIFT+CTRL+R
Internet Explorer 4.x and above: press CTRL+F5
Opera: press CTRL+F5

Abort: stops all current action and resets The Proxomitron. It works like the stop button on your browser but stops The Proxomitron as well as your browser. Normally you only need use this button if an overly inventive JavaScript has been launched that refuses to die, or you have written an infinite loop into a filter - the browser stop button gets sensible things.

Log Window: This is used when you want to study exactly what each site is doing to you. It's great when you are advanced enough to modify or design your own Proxomitron filters.

Web Page Filters - A hitchhikers guide

Here is what the web filters provided with The Proxomitron do. Remember that you can customise any of them for specific ads, URL's etc. if you learn The Proxomitron's filter language.

There are a few special filter sets also provided in The Proxomitron distribution. You can select one by choosing "Load config file" from The Proxomitron's main menu.

HTTP Header Filters
or, the mysterious HTTP Headers Revealed...

HTTP Headers are messages sent between your browser and Internet web servers whenever you request a page. These messages contain all sorts of information - some necessary, some merely informational. This includes, among other things, the infamous cookies you may have heard about. Normally these messages are never seen, but using The Proxomitron's Log Window, you can see what your browser has to say.

Headers come in two flavours - Request Headers are outgoing messages from your browser to the web server, while Reply Headers are incoming messages from the web server back to your browser. The log window shows these in different color, green and yellow respectively. Headers can be arranged in any order and the same header may even appear twice (though this is unusual). Headers your browser or the web server doesn't understand are supposed to be ignored. Reply headers can be produced directly by a remote server or by a <meta http-equiv="..."> in the web page.

Using The Proxomitron's header filters, you can add, delete, or change headers based on their content. Here are the common ones that you might want to change. Two notes: You should click enable in both the In and Out boxes for all filters, in order to ensure that they are applied whenever they can be. And, header names are case insensitive.

Distribution and Copyright

The Proxomitron is Copyright © 1999 by Scott R. Lemmon You can use it as often as you like for as long as you like. The detailed permission for use is distributed with the program.

Technical Details