Linux notes

Enhancing your browsing privacy with Privoxy

Privoxy is a tool known as a web (HTML) filtering proxy that is able to improve your browsing experience by a number of methods, including preventing 'information leakage' from your browser, modifying web page content to remove elements such as advertisements, pop-up windows, banners and other annoying rubbish, managing cookies and so on. It is essentially a highly configurable filter through which every request sent and all data received by your browser passes. Used in conjunction with powerful 'actions' - files that define what is to be filtered and how - Privoxy dramatically cleans up the browsing experience and reduces much obnoxious clutter commonly found on commercial sites.

Here I show how to install Privoxy on both Windows and Debian GNU/Linux, and add the comprehensive .action filter file from neilvandyke.org.

Windows: installing Privoxy

A Windows installer for Privoxy is available from the project page on Sourceforge.net - choose the Win32 release at the bottom of the list. Download the file and run the installer, it really is that simple.

Debian: installing Privoxy

If you are using Debian, installation is trivial:
apt-get install privoxy

Configuring Firefox to use Privoxy

Your browser(s) must be configured to use Privoxy as their connection proxy. For example, to configure Firefox, go to the Tools menu, choose the Options... item and select the Advanced tab. Under the Connection area ('Configure how Firefox connects to the Internet'), click the Settings... button. Configure the Connection Settings window as shown below.

Installing the neilvandyke.action filter

The neilvandyke.action filter is a series of rules that filter many common web annoyances. To install this ruleset, download the .action file from here.

Installation varies by operating system. In Windows:

actionsfile neilvandyke
after the other actionsfile entries.

Now visit the internal Privoxy configuration page and select the 'View & change the current configuration' under the Privoxy Menu. You should see an entry '.\neilvandyke.action' under the 'Actions Files' section. If so, this action file is in use.

Testing Privoxy

If you are using Windows and have the Privoxy icon appearing in the system tray, double-click it and the Privoxy log window will open. This shows all the requests passing through Privoxy in real time, and is valuable in seeing whether or not it is working.