April 23rd, 2008
You’ve run in to this before. You’re at home, looking up some academic papers and you always run in to a couple that you can’t track down on the internet at large. You’ve got to get them from on of the major digital libraries. Sure, your university has a campus subscription—but you’re not on campus. You flounder trying to get something to work from the command line. No dice.
Here’s my trick.
Use SSH to set up a proxy back to your campus and send your web traffic through the campus network so that it looks like you’re on campus. I’ve got a Mac so ssh is easily available from the command line. I have gotten this to work using Putty on Windows though.
SSH supports SOCKS (a protocol for proxying traffic). It will open up a port locally (of your choosing) and any traffic to that local port will be carried over your secured ssh connection and come out the other side and the remote host you’re connected to will proxy all the data.
ssh -D 9000 email@example.com
With this command ssh will listen on your localhost on port 9000. Configure Firefox to use a web proxy, Firefox -> Preferences -> Advanced Tab -> Network -> “Configure how Firefox connects to the Internet” . Choose the Manual proxy configuration radio button. For the SOCKS entry the host is, localhost, and the port is whatever you specified for the -D option (I used 9000). Hit OK and you’re done.
Firefox will now pipe all your web traffic over ssh to your remote server. You are now “on campus” as far as anyone looking at your origin IP address is concerned.
I’d turn off the proxy (just set it back to no proxy in Firefox’s settings) after downloading what you’re after to avoid any network delay.
This technique is sometimes useful in situations at conferences where the wireless is blocked on port 80, but not on port 22 (ssh’s port). This is completely unconfirmed—you didn’t hear it from me.