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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Smoothwall Alternative in Technical; Tom isnt going to like me for mentioning this, but have you thought of trying Bloxx? We trialled Bloxx and ...
  1. #16

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    Tom isnt going to like me for mentioning this, but have you thought of trying Bloxx?

    We trialled Bloxx and Smoothwall and to be honest went with Smoothwall but Bloxx is a much easier system to use, its front end is very user friendly and its a lot less complicated than Smoothwall when it comes to setting up policies etc etc.

    Again, we went for Smoothwall because after the trial it was fed back to us how Smoothwall had had more impact 'in the classroom' meaning the students hated it more than Bloxx, just the effect we were after!

    Again, Tom probably wont like me for mentioning Bloxx but we did choose Smoothie so he shouldnt be too angry

  2. #17
    bmdixon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
    Tom isnt going to like me for mentioning this, but have you thought of trying Bloxx?

    We trialled Bloxx and Smoothwall and to be honest went with Smoothwall but Bloxx is a much easier system to use, its front end is very user friendly and its a lot less complicated than Smoothwall when it comes to setting up policies etc etc.
    We're in the process of changing our filtering system, and i've had a demo of bloxx and smoothwall. Whilst bloxx is easier/prettier it is a lot more expensive. The quote i've had for smoothwall is about 1/2 that of bloxx. An easy decision between the two in the current economic climate!
    Both seem to do pretty much the same job, have similar features etc. but when bloxx is so much more i can't justify spending more just for prettyness/slightly easier to use.

  3. #18


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    It's ok to mention Bloxx - just don't say it 3 times whilst looking in a mirror
    They don't have a bad old system either (I have one!) - it is certainly simpler in look, but I feel ultimately at cost of expressive filtering rules

    Again - if there's UI paradigms that you guys would particularly like to see - wether you are thinking "just tweak this here" or "change that radically" let me know. We really can get things done!

  4. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmdixon View Post
    We're in the process of changing our filtering system, and i've had a demo of bloxx and smoothwall. Whilst bloxx is easier/prettier it is a lot more expensive. The quote i've had for smoothwall is about 1/2 that of bloxx. An easy decision between the two in the current economic climate!
    Both seem to do pretty much the same job, have similar features etc. but when bloxx is so much more i can't justify spending more just for prettyness/slightly easier to use.
    I'd haggle with them, the quote's we were getting certainly werent as different as that.

  5. #20
    36Degrees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_newton View Post
    @36degrees - not a stupid question - the answer is "maybe" - how do you want it to work? You don't *have* to authenticate users, but if you want names in the reporting and different levels for different users, then you will need to. NTLM is the most common method of authentication. It generally works OK, but the more you deviate from Windows+IE, the less friendly it is! NTLM lets you authenticate without ever retyping a logon. There are a number of other authentication methods, but all ultimately involve entering a second logon (which in many many cases is the same as your first logon.. this is only limited by your network setup) - and some of these modes can save passwords etc.
    We're only just evaluating it now and this process is already way behind schedule for various reasons so up until now I have installed it on VMWare and read a small portion of the guide. We are only Windows & IE here (for pupils anyway, staff have the option to use Firefox) so all I want is them to log on and then have their internet filtered effectively or take it off them completely for a period of time.

  6. #21

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    Have you had a look at Lightspeed, Lightspeed Systems Europe we have used it for a number of years, easy to configure and use. It will intergrate with AD (so policy's can be set by OU), also their Tech Support is superb. Just to make it clear I do not work for Lightspeed, I am just a very happy customer
    Last edited by markyboy; 8th June 2010 at 03:03 PM.

  7. #22


    tom_newton's Avatar
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    @36 - what you want to do sounds fine. If you are having any issues configuring, its OK to ring support and just ask "how do I..."!

    @markyboy - you are a suspicious chap - 3 posts and all pimping Lightspeed. I'm not entirely convinced you don't work for them if you do, its worth mentioning - gives you more credibility not less, IME. If you don't - please accept my apologies for being suspicious!

  8. #23

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    We contemplated Lightspeed but in honesty the problem with it is that they dont provide the hardware. You have to provide the server yourself, even for a trial they were wanting us to send them a server to install the software onto. Add to that the licensing cost and i 'think' it made it more expensive than Smoothwall or Bloxx.

    I could be wrong in that though (the end cost bit).

    edit; just wanted to edit the above slightly, lightspeed do send out trial hardware but essentially are only a software company so do not provide the same package as bloxx or smoothwall in terms of 'here is a box, plug it in, enjoy'. Apologies for the mistake above
    Last edited by RTFM; 8th June 2010 at 04:45 PM.

  9. #24

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    We moved over to Sophos Web Filter appliance and it has been pretty good. Any issues we've had have been minor and the tech support guys have been swift to respond. The only issue I have with it is its inability to override a file extension for a user within a policy (if you have a block on .exe access for teachers for example, but there is a trusted app you want them to be able to install, you cannot exempt that one URL from the block.), so it's a bit on-or-off in its filtering capabilities.

    The reporting side is fine, but there's an even better report manager about to come out to us next week. They regularly update the boxes for free and new features come online every month or two.

    The price was pretty good too- half of what we were paying previously.

  10. #25

    nephilim's Avatar
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    I too am looking at filtering. Whilst I agree that smoothwall is by far the best (based on tests and what I have seen at other sites), its interface could use a major overhaul. It is choppy, and lacks the smoothness of sophos and bloxx (if that makes sense). If a new UI was designed I would be very interested to see how it looks, because it would be ideal for me!

  11. #26


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    The interface is getting a minor overhaul soon, and a major one in Q2 '11. If you (or any edugeeker) would like some input, please get in touch!

    Tom

  12. #27

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    The thing that gets me is that you need good quality, well categorised lists when using any filter ... otherwise you can get into a messy situation unless managed 8very* tightly. That is the thing which always worries me with people cutting corners.

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    We have the RM offer and Securus at the moment but the kids just use the proxy bypass sites to get round it - simple! it's just impossible to block them all.

    Have had a demo of Blox and whilst it looks a good bit of kit it is just sooooo expensive.

    I'm trialling Smoothwall at the moment and it is excellent - seems to be stopping the kids but don't think I can get rid of Securus as I first hoped to help pay for it as the RM Safety net is cheap compared to Smoothwall.

    Will need to chat to SW to see if they can bend a bit on the price when trial ends - It's the favourite so far but it all comes down to finding the extra money in a time when it's being cut.

    My advice if you can afford SW is to stay with it and see whatt he enhancements are like.

  14. #29

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    I have just renews my smoothie licenses... if you ask nicely they are usually quite accomodating with the pricing.. I got some freebie licenses cos we are a boarding school but still think the licensing could be better.

    Have to say I hate the filtering menus but they work so can't complain too much.. I would rather have a poor menu system thats robust than a fancy flash one with poor filtering.

    I will make a list of the things I like and hate and pass it onto you Tom, one thing that would be nice is virtual supprt out of the box.

  15. #30

    john's Avatar
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    What do you not like about the GUI? I really don't mind it at all and enjoy using it, find it logical and easy to work with so as I've told Tom before I'd be loathed to see it messed with (perhaps we need a "classic" GUI and "trendy" one like Microsoft did with XP )



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