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seamless Proxy Auto-Config (a.k.a. Web Proxy Auto Discovery) for CLI apps
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dePAC - portable CLI solution for Proxy Auto-Config




# Wrap the command so it runs through the auto-detected proxy:
$ depac curl

# Or run as a daemon, for all the processes sharing the user environment:
$ eval $(depac)

$ echo $http_proxy

$ curl depac/status
cache   1495
connections     14
pool    1
recv_bytes      2418844
sent_bytes      9077

$ eval $(depac --stop)


Suppose you are in a corporate network environment and often times find yourself manually setting/unsetting the HTTP_PROXY environment variable in order to access different hosts (for instance, yay proxy for the external hosts and nay proxy for the internal ones). Sounds familiar? In this case, depac might help you.

The problem

Corporate proxies are meant to steer GUI browser users via Proxy Auto-Config. In a nutshell, a browser like Internet Explorer downloads a special routing file from a virtual host served by the proxy itself. This file consists of a JavaScript code that usually contains a humongous if/else if/else clause that maps the requested hostname to the address of the proxy host capable of contacting the requested hostname.

Now, CLI clients don't usually implement JavaScript, and therefore can not decide which proxy to use by themselves.

The solution

depac uses a portable lightweight (albeit limited) JavaScript engine implementation in order to parse the PAC file. Then, it creates a relay proxy that forwards the requests to the routes assigned by the PAC logic.

depac is usually started in the beginning of login session, and through use of environment variables it's relay proxy can be located and automatically used for all the user agents that do support HTTP_PROXY variables.

(this technique is somewhat similar to what ssh-agent does. In fact, half of the previous paragraph was stolen from ssh-agent manual page :)

The biggest advantage of depac in comparison to the similar solutions like pac4cli is that the former does not require a system-wide installation. Both the JavaScript engine and the relay proxy are implemented in pure Perl language and require no dependencies except for Perl v5.10 itself (which is omnipresent anyway).


$ curl -o ~/bin/depac
$ chmod +x ~/bin/depac
$ echo 'eval $(~/bin/depac)' >> ~/.profile

Or you can use wget and call it with perl (feel free to mix):

$ wget -O ~/depac
$ echo 'eval $(perl ~/depac)' >> ~/.profile

You can also use depac in an ad-hoc fashion, without a shared instance running in the background:

$ depac -- wget -r -np


Usage: depac [options] [command]
    --help              This screen
    --stop              Stop the running instance
    --reload            Reload the running instance
    --status            Output the environment settings if an instance is running
    --wpad_file URL     Manually specify the URL of the "wpad.dat" file (default: DNS autodiscovery)
                        Alternatively: --wpad_file=skip to short-circuit the relay proxy
    --env_file FILE     File for environment persistence (default: ~/.depac.env)
    --log_file FILE     File for the log (default: ~/.depac.log; /dev/null to disable :)
    --log_level LEVEL   fatal/warn/info/debug/trace (default: warn)
    --nodetach          Do not daemonize
    --bind_host ADDR    Accept connection at this host address (default:
    --bind_port PORT    Accept connection at this port (default: random port)
    --custom DEST,REGEX Custom routes AKA "poor man's WPAD"; overrides for the WPAD rules.
                        DEST is the destination proxy address (or "direct"),
                        REGEX is a regular expression that matches the hostname.
                        Multiple custom routes can be defined adding --custom ...
                        as much as necessary.
                        Example: --custom ',dev\.company\.com$'

 * To run a single process through the relay proxy:

    depac curl

 * Add this line to your ~/.profile file to start the relay proxy in background
   and update HTTP_PROXY environment variables appropriately:

    eval $(depac)

 * To gracefully terminate the relay proxy and unset HTTP_PROXY environment:

    eval $(depac --stop)


  • Only DNS is queried for WPAD. DHCP discovery is not implemented
  • weekDayRange, dateRange & timeRange PAC functions are not implemented
  • The FindProxyForURL(url, host) function does not receive the real URL; for performance reasons the url parameter is the same as host
  • The mappings are heavily cached, do run depac --reload (or pkill -HUP -f depac) if the connections start failing
  • depac has 300KB of text at the time of writing, because of all the libraries bundled with it. The actual source code is To use it instead, install the Perl dependencies with cpanm AnyEvent::HTTP JE
  • Security! There's close to none. Shouldn't be much more exploitable than a regular GUI browser with an outdated JavaScript engine, tho



Stanislaw Pusep


This software is copyright (c) 2019 by Stanislaw Pusep

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.

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