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       a digital rod for local area network rabdomancy

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Dowse is a transparent proxy facilitating the awareness of ingoing and outgoing connections, from, to, and within a local area network.

Dowse provides a central point of soft control for all local traffic: from ARP traffic (layer 2) to TCP/IP (layers 3 and 4) as well as application space, by chaining a firewall setup to a trasparent proxy setup. A core feature for Dowse is that of hiding all the complexity of such a setup.

Dowse is also a highly extensible platform: interoperability between modules is available using Socks4/5, UNIX pipes, local TCP/IP sockets and port redirection, conforming to specific daemon implementations. At the core of Dowse is a very portable shell script codebase implementing a modular plugin architecture that isolates processes and supports any executable written in any language: Shell, C, Perl, Python etc.

Dowse is an ongoing development effort rapidly gaining momentum for its simplicity and usefulness. Here a recent backstage video:


Dowse takes control of a LAN by becoming its DHCP server and thereby assigning itself as main gateway and DNS server for all clients. It keeps tracks of assigned leases by MAC Address. DNSMasq is the DHCP and DNS daemon.

All network traffic is passed through NAT rules for masquerading. HTTP traffic (TCP port 80) can be filtered through a transparent proxy using an application layer chain of Squid2 and Privoxy.

All DNS traffic (UDP port 53) is filtered through Dnscap and analysed to render a graphical representation of traffic. It is also possible to tunnel it via DNSCrypt-proxy, encrypting all traffic (AES/SHA256) before sending it to or other configurable servers supporting this protocol.

In the future, traffic of all kinds may be transparently proxied for monitoring, filtering, and transformation by other applications loaded on the Dowse device.

All daemons are running as a unique non-privileged UID. The future plan is to separate them using a different UID for each daemon.


Installation and activation takes a few steps and needs root:

  1. Download dowse on a GNU/Linux box (we use Debian 7)

    git clone /usr/src/dowse

  2. Install ZSh, needed to run all scripts in Dowse: apt-get zsh then go into the dowse directory ( cd /usr/src/dowse in example)

  3. Run make as root, it fires up some commands: apt-get, update-rc.d and invoke-rc.d to install dependencies like dnsmasq, privoxy and squid3, but also gcc to compile dnscap and our own plugin for it.

  4. Configure the files in the conf/ folder: settings and network The files are plain text and include documentation in comments.

  5. Fire up the startup script as root: sudo ./ If you are root and using the ZSh shell then it may be also practical to source dowse conf/settings (or another custom config file) and then proceed in the interactive shell launching commands prefixes with dowse- (tab completion available)

  6. Remember to deactivate the DHCP service (Automatic IP configuration) on any other object on the network, typically your ADSL router.

If all went well now one should be able to connect any device to the internet as you did before.


The DNs visualization log is produced in log/dnscap.log in a custom format which can be easily processed by gource. Assuming one is connected to a network managed by Dowse running on IP, then from another PC one can do

ssh cat /opt/dowse/log/dnscat.log | gource --log-format custom - 

To quickly render all the logged DNS activity found in that file. For a realtime visualization is possible to experiment with gource arguments, it is also easy to render all into a video file.


In the ops directory an Ansible recipe is found along a ready to use Vagrant configuration to build two virtual machines (leader and client) that simulate a LAN to do further testing of Dowse.

cd ops
vagrant up

Plus the usual vagrant commands. This build of Dowse is based on Devuan.

Help with development is welcome, manuals on how to write new modules and daemons are in the making and there is a sister project to categorize all domains used by Internet's conglomerates which also welcomes contributions:


Dowse is Copyright (C) 2012-2015 by the Foundation

Dowse is written by Denis Roio

This source code is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU Public License as published
by the Free Software Foundation; either version 3 of the License,
or (at your option) any later version.

This source code is distributed in the hope that it will be
useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied
Please refer to the GNU Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Public License along
with this source code; if not, write to: Free Software Foundation,
Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
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