Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Thinking outside the box.. Literally

I've just set up squid cache server and configured the firewalls to do transparent proxying for web browsing. I needed to add frox to do transparent ftp proxy. I figured that would cover the majority of the traffic going out the office. Setting up frox was easy even though there were no packages of it for RedHat.

Then, things got a bit slow. I could see that Mozilla would freeze up a moment after I pressed enter. After a few seconds the whole page would come at once. Now, I'd also changed the settings of the squid server to handle the additional traffic. I figured that my changes weren't enough to cope with the additional traffic. So I changed it and tried again. It didn't get better. So I changed it somewhere else and tried again. And again. But no matter what I tried, it still couldn't make the pages come up faster.

I began to think that my eyes were fooling me. So, I looked at all sorts of information counters squid has and used that instead of my eyes. My changes did show some improvement when it came to what the counters were telling me but my eyes said it still looked the same. I was about to set mrtg loose on the machine when I noticed how cfgmaker calculated the speed of the network interface card in the mrtg config file.

I then realised my attempts to a find solution were not addressing the problem. My eyes were telling me that the response from the squid cache server was being held up. The counters said that squid was doing it's best. cfgmaker told me what speed the network was running; 10MBps! The server was connected to a 10BaseT hub not the 10/100 switch. I switched the connection to the switch and my eyes were happy indeed with the result.

I was too caught up in trying to make things better linux-wise that I forgot that there were other things that affected my browsing experience outside of the linux box. The network, my browser, my workstation configuration. All of these has an impact. I was also guilty of distrusting my eyes. Ultimately, it does not matter whatever other things says, when it come to the browsing experience, what you get is what you see.

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