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Configuring a Transparent Proxy/Webcache in a Bridge using Squid and ebtables

A proxy/Webcache is a computer which sits between your LAN and your Internet connection, usually in the gateway. Its job is to capture and save every Web page that the client machines in your LAN visit, so that the next time someone requests a page, the proxy/Webcache already has it and sends it to the client. This saves bandwidth and usually speeds Web navigation.

A bridge works exactly like a two-port switch. It passes everything from one port to the other, but if we have a Linux box acting like a switch, we can do wonderful things, because we actually "see" the traffic.

Why would I need a bridge with Squid?

There are some cases in which you do not have access to the gateway, or your gateway is a piece of dedicated hardware. Furthermore, if a bridge is used, you do not have to change anything in your network, just plug in the bridge and start working. If the Linux box acting as a proxy/Webcache is eaten by a big green monster, you can just reconnect the cables, and everything goes back to normal until you replace it.

Remember to document where in your network the bridge is. Bridges do not appear in traceroutes, and that may be a bit confusing and hard to locate in a big network.

Ok, let's start.

Setting up Squid

First, get squid running. There is a lot of documentation in the Squid distribution, so I won't cover basic configuration here. On my Fedora box, I just installed the rpm, and that was all.

Check that the following lines are present in /etc/squid/squid.conf:

httpd_accel_host virtual
httpd_accel_port 80
httpd_accel_with_proxy on
httpd_accel_uses_host_header on

Also check that your network appears in the ACLs section. For example, if your network is netmask, use:

acl our_networks src

For testing, you may omit the "acl" line and just comment this:

http_access deny all

and use this instead:

http_access allow all

Be careful if you don't want to allow everyone to use your Webcache. I recommend using this configuration only for testing.

Start squid. In Fedora, you can use:

bash# service squid start

Other distributions may use:

bash# /etc/init.d/squid start

or you can start it manually. The first time you run it, it will take a few moments to build its cache files. Be patient.

In Fedora, let's make sure squid starts automatically:

bash# chkconfig squid on

Configuring the bridge

This couldn't be easier:

ifconfig eth0 promisc up
ifconfig eth1 promisc up

brctl addbr br0
brctl addif br0 eth0
brctl addif br0 eth1

ifconfig br0 netmask up
route add default gw dev br0

Potential Pitfall:

If your PC locks or kernel panics, it's because you have a bad network adapter card. Most cheap motherboards have a bad integrated NIC. Just get a better NIC; even an old Realtek should work fine.

In this example, I suppose you are using eth0 and eth1. In the ifconfig line, I assigned IP address to the bridge so I can access it remotely. Use an IP address in your network. Don't forget it; you will need it later.

You may check that the bridge is working by using tcpdump:

bash# tcpdump -n -i eth0                         
         (lots of funny stuff)
bash# tcpdump -n -i eth1
         (lots of funny stuff)

Plug your machine into the network, and everything should work. Your Linux box is now a big, expensive two-port switch.

Configuring transparent redirection

We're able to see all the traffic in our network, because we are in the middle. Now we want to catch Web traffic and redirect it directly into Squid.

First, let's see if squid is correctly configured.

Go to a PC in your LAN and manually configure a proxy. If you use Firefox, for example, go to the Edit menu and select Preferences. Select General and click "Connection Settings", choose "Manual Proxy Configuration", and enter the IP address of your bridge. The port is 3128, unless you have changed it.

Try surfing the Web. If it works, you have squid running and working as desired. Now we'll move on to the fun stuff and build a "brouter".

First, install ebtables on the bridge machine. Then, just run these two commands:

bash# ebtables -t broute -A BROUTING -p IPv4 --ip-protocol 6 \
        --ip-destination-port 80 -j redirect --redirect-target ACCEPT

bash# iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i br0 -p tcp --dport 80 \
        -j REDIRECT --to-port 3128

The first command says that packets passing through the bridge going to port 80 will be redirected to the local machine, instead of being bridged. The second uses iptables to redirect those packets to local port 3128, so squid can take care of them.

Check squid's log to see whether you're catching traffic:

bash# tail -f /var/log/squid/access.log

You should see a lot of "[x]__HIT" messages, meaning that all that content is being caught.

Congratulations, you have a Transparent Proxy/Webcache!

Fine Tuning

You may want to fine-tune squid, adjusting how much memory or disk space it will use. Just edit /etc/squid/squid.conf.

Remember to create the ACLs (Access Control Lists) for your networks.

You may want to have a script to set up all of this at boot. Use something like this:

ifconfig eth0 promisc up
ifconfig eth1 promisc up

brctl addbr br0
brctl addif br0 eth0
brctl addif br0 eth1

ifconfig br0 netmask up
route add default gw dev br0

ebtables -t broute -A BROUTING -p IPv4 --ip-protocol 6  \
	--ip-destination-port 80 -j redirect --redirect-target ACCEPT
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i br0 -p tcp --dport 80  \
	-j REDIRECT --to-port 3128

Save it and put it in /var/my-start-scripts/ chmod it to 0755 and put a line in /etc/rc.local as follows:


Have fun!

Recent comments

28 Feb 2012 03:59 Avatar ishantha

Hello Everyone

I need to set up transparent squid proxy , in fact we can router all TCP traffic form our firewall , so what i need hear is , convert those traffic as proxy traffic and sent it to other gate way ( that's also another proxy having special features ) ,
- what will be the originator IP for second proxy ??, i guess second proxy see proxy one as originator , instead of real source IP , is there any way to get real originator ip at second proxy ..

Much appreciate if any one can share real experience regarding this ...

30 May 2011 12:42 Avatar rethink_aboutit

Hello Everybody,

I tried with ebtables,iptables with squid3. I found that following squid directives are no longer valid in squid3

httpd_accel_host virtual
httpd_accel_port 80
httpd_accel_with_proxy on
httpd_accel_uses_host_header on

Therefore I tried with following squid3 config

http_port 3128 transparent

With above configuration, the squid proxy is working when proxy is configured manually in client browser but not working when not configured.

pls help me out.

18 Aug 2009 07:38 Avatar mrabbat

I’m using a transparent proxy bridge, and I noticed that a download never completes and it always cuts, as to connection to the server is reset !
I’m using these rules in the firewall :
ebtables -t broute -A BROUTING -p IPv4 –ip-protocol 6 –ip-destination-port 80 -j redirect –redirect-target ACCEPT
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp –dport 80 -j REDIRECT –to-port 8080
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth1 -p tcp –dport 80 -j REDIRECT –to-port 8080
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i br0 -p tcp –dport 80 -j REDIRECT –to-port 8080

Where port 8080 is the dansguardian port for url filtering.
Any idea why the connection resets ? It’s like a tcp reset is being done.

10 Jan 2008 19:32 Avatar WhyOldBill

Re: Help Please
You need to follow the instructions in the article exactly, if you want to use the IP addresses you are showing for the DSL modem and the PC... i.e. your brindge will NOT have ip addresses assigned to either interface.



> Thanks for a great article.


> I'm trying to setup squid at my home

> with 2 lan PC's connecting with DSL to

> the i-net.


> Questions: Does my squid box need 2

> network cards?


> Should the setup be like this?

> ^

> |

> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

> ~(inet ip) DSL Router ~

> ~ (

> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

> |

> ~~~~~~~~~~~~

> ~(eth0

> ~ squid ~

> ~(eth1

> ~~~~~~~~~~~~

> |

> ~~~~~~~~~~

> ~ eth Switch

> ~

> ~ 10.0.0.x

> ~

> ~~~~~~~~~~

> |

> LAN Clients


> Thanks

10 Jan 2008 19:28 Avatar WhyOldBill

Re: can ping from bridge , hows that ???
If you have IP Addresses assigned to either (or both) of the eth interfaces, you will be able to ping from the bridge.

> Bridge shouldn't be able to ping and

> traceroute.

> But mine does. I configured a

> transparent squid bridge in my FC3 linux

> box. And the box is supposed to not able

> to ping or shouldn't be visible to

> others. But i can browse the internet

> and ping as well. Actually i have

> following setup :


> Gw <---> linux squid

> bridge <----> clients

> (b/w control)


> Before i put the bridge in the middle

> the bandwidth controlling was great but

> after i put the bridge, the

> the bw control in not good and all the

> traffic seems to come from the bridge as

> if the nating has been done on the

> bridge.

> Please help whats the problem


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