by September 10, 2000 0 comments

WebSTAR 4.2 Proxy Server 

Proxy server for the Mac. $599
Features: HTTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, and LDAP protocols; RAM cache control; local mail server.
Pros: Performance improves with RAM upgrade; works well even on old Macs.
Cons: None.
Source: Order online from An evaluation version is also available for download.

For devout Macintosh followers, here is the most sought afterproxy in the community. A Starnine Technologies product, the WebSTAR 4.2supports HTTP, FTP, and SMTP protocols and is quite stable in operation. It’seasy to set up and administer, and can handle load quite effectively. We usedour dear old Mac PowerPC 7300, which we’ve had for a long time to check outthe proxy, and it worked quite well.

Installing and configuring WebSTAR is a breeze. Apart fromthe proxy server, you get the WebSTAR Admin program for administration, and aplug-in for monitoring it. The front-end connect to the Internet for your proxyserver is the default gateway of the Mac hosting the proxy.

Certain basic settings need to be done to get your server tostart serving. These are configurations for the Web, FTP, Mail and Proxy. Theyare all self-explanatory and the defaults work just fine for a small network.You need to change settings if you increase the number of clients. Web settingsinclude file settings for recognizing various file types coming from the Web,connection information, defining caching configuration like size and location,defining users and their rights (allow/Deny in this parlance) and loggingoptions. By default, WebSTAR allows everyone on the network to access the proxy.You can restrict this by creating users on it, and controlling their access. Itlets you create Realms and distribute users in them. These users can then beallowed or denied access to any proxy service. You can also specify the TTL(Time to Live) for cached pages. This is the time after which a Web page getsupdated.

FTP settings let you configure the connection information,and connection messages if any. As in Web settings you also have the users andlogging options. WebSTAR also supports SMTP, which can be used for sending oute-mail from users on your network. It can also act as a local mail server foryour network and download e-mail for users. For this, you’ll have to createuser mail accounts on the server and define the mail host from where it’lldownload e-mail.

Apart from configuration, WebSTAR Admin also shows themonitors for various services running on the server. It has a real-time activitylog that shows the service status and connection information. These log filesare stored, so that they can be used for reference later.

Another good feature in WebSTAR is that you can defineapplications to run for specific downloaded files. For example, you can run avirus scanner on any e-mail that’s downloaded, or the StuffIT Expander on allHQX files being downloaded, etc.

Memory (RAM) of your host machine determines to a largeextent, the performance of your server. If you increase the number of users init, you’ll have to add more RAM in the server. WebSTAR recommends 50 kB RAMper connection. You can also increase or decrease the RAM cache size to improveperformance. This determines how many Web pages can be kept in the server’sRAM for retrieval upon request. We didn’t find this feature in other proxyservers that we tested.

WebSTAR also supports cascading, so you can put another proxyserver in front of it, and let requests be routed through that. This can beuseful for a large company where you can put a proxy server in each department,and have one main proxy serving their requests.

Ashish Sharma at PCQ Labs

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