Rein In Your Bandwidth Hogs with Squid Proxying

No matter how fat your incoming Internet connection is, someone will always find a way to hog it and leave the rest of your users wishing for faster methods of communication, like carrier pigeons, or messages in bottles. Having an acceptable use policy is the first step; then you are justified in beating offenders with sticks.

When you are rested up from administering beatings, another good idea is to implement bandwidth limiting, making it impossible for bandwidth hogs to monopolize your connection in the first place. I know, you need to integrate physical activity into your work as much as possible, for health reasons. At the least you should know what your options are, and beatings are not always possible — for example, when the boss is the hog.

True story: a friend had trouble with the boss spending all day surfing porn. The good news was it kept him out of the way. The bad news was his porn surfing saturated their 256k DSL, so the actual business of the company was impaired. (Actual work, what a concept.) So my friend implemented Squid’s delay pools, throttling the boss to a bare minimum. My friend cannily blamed increased sales and business activity, and got the boss to authorize a dedicated T1. So everyone finally got the bandwidth they needed. Moral: when life hands you lemons …

(For those of you going “OMG why didn’t he tell human resources, or confront the boss, or call the cops, or something” all I can say is, you weren’t there. So don’t ask.)

Squid Throttles Hogs
The Squid http proxy/caching server has an ingenious feature called delay pools. The excellent O’Reilly book “Squid: The Definitive Guide” calls them “bandwidth buckets,” which is a pretty good analogy. You, the ace admin, configure so much maximum available bits per second. This allows users to “save up” bandwidth, if they don’t use the maximum, and it makes some burst speeds available. When a burst empties the “bucket,” they’re limited to the fill rate. So it rewards thrifty users, and puts the brakes on the hogs.

The bad news: if your Squid was not compiled with –enable-delay-pools, you will have to re-compile and reinstall it. The other bad news: using Squid’s delay pools, which operate at the application layer, is not as precise as using something that operates at the transport layer, like tc, which is part of iproute2. The delay pools operate on bytes per second, not packets. The good news is it’s a whole lot simpler to use, especially if you already use Squid.

There are three types of buckets:

  • Class 1 pool: a single aggregate bucket, shared by all users
  • Class 2 pool: one aggregate bucket, 256 individual buckets.
  • Class 3 pool: one aggregate bucket, 256 network buckets, 65,536 individual buckets.

One common gotcha is getting confused on bucket sizes. Clients are limited by the size of the smallest bucket, so don’t make your aggregate bucket smaller than its downstream buckets.

squid.conf Directives
Now let the fun begin. squid.conf is where our exciting delay pool configuration takes place.

  • delay_pools defines how many pools we want to use.
  • delay_class tells which type of pool we are using.
  • delay_parameters sets our restrictions, fill rate/maximum bucket size.

This is what a simple configuration looks like:

########Delay Pools#########
# a simple global throttle, users sharing 256 Kbit/s
delay_pools 1
delay_class 1 1
# 256 Kbit/s fill rate, 1024 Kbit/s reserve
delay_parameters 1 32000/128000
acl All src 0/0
delay_access 1 allow All

The delay_parameters values are bytes, so if you’re used to measuring bandwidth speed in bits per second, remember to divide bits by 8.

acl All src 0/0 creates an access rule named All, and it includes the entire IP range.

delay_access 1 allow All tells which requests go through which pools.

This configuration places no limitations on individual users; all users share the same bucket. During idle times, Squid will “refill” the bucket, allowing greater-than-256 Kbit/s speed, until the 1024 Kbit/s “reserve” is consumed. Then users are limited to sharing the 256 Kbit/s “fill” rate. You might use this to reserve bandwidth for other applications on an overburdened link. For example, if you have an important application, mail, or Web server that needs a little elbow room, route all your Web surfin’ slackers through Squid, and let your servers roam free.

Continued on Page 2: Excluding Local Traffic
Continued From Page 1

Individual Restrictions
Class 2 pools are perfect for limiting individual users on small networks, with fewer than 255 users. This creates a cap of 512 Kbit/s on the pool, and 128 Kbit/s on individual users, with a 2048 Kbit/s reserve :

########Delay Pools#########
delay_pools 1
delay_class 1 2
delay_parameters 1 64000/64000   16000/256000
acl All src 0/0
delay_access 1 allow All

You don’t have to use multiples of 8, you can use any numbers of bytes:

delay_parameters 1 5000/10000  5000/7500

Excluding Local Traffic
It’s unlikely that you’ll want to place restrictions on LAN traffic, so let’s exclude it. It needs its own pool, so define two pools:

delay_pools 2
#pool 2, don't restrict LAN traffic
delay_class 1 2
#no bandwidth restrictions
delay_parameters 1 -1/-1 -1/-1
acl localUsers url_regex -i 192.168
delay_access 1 allow localUsers

Creating A Privileged Class
Yes, you can play favorites, and grant some users more bandwidth. This selects a specific range of IPs. You may use dotted quad, CIDR, or hostnames. You don’t have to specify a netmask, Squid will try to calculate it, but it’s a good idea to use one anyway:

########Delay Pools#########
delay_class 1 1
delay_class 2 1
delay_parameters 1 64000/128000
delay_parameters 2 2048/64000
acl myFriends src
acl All src 0/0
delay_access 1 allow myFriends
delay_access 2 allow All

And there you are, playing favorites to your heart’s content. Squid comes with a monitoring utility so you can see how things are working:

# squidclient mgr:delay | less

Bigger, Faster, Stronger
If your needs are more complex, you’re probably better off biting the bullet, and learning to implement tc or rshaper. Which I’ll write about someday.

PS: I must extend sincere apologies to hogs, who are fine, intelligent, tasty critters, and better company than a lot of people I can think of.


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