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  • Writer's pictureLeo Wang

Learning in 2019: Building and using proxy

Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death. --by Albert Einstein

During the 2019 Lunar New Year, COVID-19 caught us off guard, confining us to our homes for the entire holiday. While many used this time for fun or relaxation after a year of hard work, I immersed myself in the world of self-learning.

In China, we're restricted from accessing key websites like YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Netflix. Eager to overcome this, I used this opportunity to create an unobstructed internet access gateway using a "Soft Router" and an AWS server in Japan.

At that time, there were VPN providers catering to Chinese customers, but due to regulatory issues, their services were often unstable, sometimes shutting down just days after I subscribed. Another downside of VPNs was their device-specific nature; I had to install a client on each device to access foreign websites. The ideal solution was to build my server, using it as a bridge for internet access, and a soft router at home as a proxy for my entire family. This soft router is essentially a minimal PC without a screen or keyboard. Its gateway software directed internet traffic through my Japanese server, enabling uninterrupted global internet access.

Learning the necessary skills for this project was challenging. I had to figure out how to purchase and set up a server remotely using linux command, install the shadowsocks or trojan on the server, select the most suitable soft router, re-install the "OpenWRT" firmware with a Shadowsocks client plugin to redirect traffic to my overseas server, and configure settings for efficient & smart traffic navigation (ignoring Chinese web visiting traffic).

The lockdown during COVID-19 provided me ample time to delve into learning these techniques through articles and video tutorials. Over the course of a month, I experimented with various data center providers, evaluated multiple proxy protocols, and even tested five different soft routers. Ultimately, I settled on a combination of AWS Japan Server, Shadowsocks, and a NanoPi Router. Since then, I’ve enjoyed unrestricted internet access, as if I were in Japan.

The freedom of internet access is truly liberating.

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