Add zip to your web surfing with Ziproxy

If your company’s WAN is feeding web traffic to your users more slowly than it should be, you’ve probably tried everything from DiffServ routing to local proxy servers. One application you may not have considered might also help. Ziproxy is a non-caching HTTP proxy that helps accelerate an organization’s web browsing by using techniques such as image recompression, lossless compression, data optimization, and type of service (ToS) marking. In other words, it shrinks and optimizes web traffic.

Typical Ziproxy users are ISPs and companies that have saturated WAN links and cannot get (or don’t want to pay for) increased speed. Ziproxy particularly shines in cases when there are dozens or hundreds of simultaneous users sharing the same link. Often most WAN traffic is HTTP, so Ziproxy fits right in.

Don’t confused Ziproxy with applications commonly known as proxy servers. Those are caching HTTP proxies, which provide acceleration by avoiding transit of repeated data. Ziproxy accelerates response time by making the data smaller. Two or three proprietary proxies do that as well, but Ziproxy stands alone in the free software world, says project leader Daniel Mealha Cabrita.

Mealha Cabrita got involved with Ziproxy five years ago when a former employer had severe problems with congested WAN links that connected a couple of cities. He found Ziproxy, but it had several bugs, and the original maintainer had lost interest in the project, so Mealha Cabrita took over.

The developer notes that its open source nature is what kept Ziproxy alive. “Open source is the healthiest way to make software available. An open source project may survive even if abandoned by the original developers.”

Mealha Cabrita says Ziproxy’s to-do list increases after each new release. He says one of the biggest issues yet to be addressed is poor performance in high-latency connections, such as satellite links. But developing the code is a free-time project for him, depending on his availability, so he welcomes help. “For anyone willing to code, among the pending things are the implementation of a modular nameserver cache and a solution for the ‘soft pixelization’ issue of highly compressed JPEG 2000 pictures (a libjasper issue, actually). People who are willing to help may contact me directly by e-mail at the address shown on Ziproxy’s website.”