About alkasir


Overview


About alkasir

In a nutshell, alkasir is a program that works together with its website (https://alkasir.com) and proxy servers to allow users to circumvent (bypass) censorship of URLs. It is predominantly used by persons in countries where there is censorship of political content such as news, opinion articles, blog entries, forum discussions, political videos, etc.

The development of alkasir was motivated out of the desire to create a free circumvention solution aimed at supporting freedom of expression and access to information in countries suffering from political oppression. That explains why alkasir, unlike other circumvention programs, only allows the circumvention of some content based on a clear and strict policy, which can be found
here.

The software also has the ability to track censorship of reported URLs to periodically verify if they continue to be blocked or got unblocked. Such a function enables it to measure the trends of Internet filtering in a practical way.  Thanks to several open-source projects online, as their contribution has been vital in the development of this program. Here are some names that deserve acknowledgement: Simon Tatham and the PuTTY team, Skybound and the GeckoFX team, Mozilla Project, Starksoft, Chilkatsoft, Tamir Gal (SharpSSH), plus numerous coders who contributed directly or indirectly.
Check Alkasir's Facebook page here to share.
  

 

Product Information

Name:

Website:

Current version:

Earlier versions:


Chief programmer:

Contact:

Alkasir ® (registered trademark)

http://alkasir.com

1.3 (released in Jan, 2012)

1.2.0 (released May 2010), 1.0.1 (released June, 2009),
1.0.0 (released on May, 2009)

Walid AL-SAQAF

admin@alkasir.com

 




 

Technical Requirements

Minimum hardware requirements

CPU: Pentium class processor (133 MHz or higher).
RAM: 60MB or greater.
Disk Space: at leaast 20MB.

Software requirements

Operating system: Windows XP or higher.

Depending on the operating system and programs you have, you will require to install any of the following versions:

·        If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 and have Mozilla Firefox installed, then the following version is what you should download and install:

alkasir Installation package (Requires installation, size: 3MB)

·        If you don't have Net Framework or Mozilla Firefox (e.g., new Windows XP-based computer) or if you are not sure you have it, it is best to download and install the following version:

alkasir Complete Installation package: includes Net Framework, Windows Installer & Mozilla Gecko  (Requires installation, size: 41.04MB)

·        If you are not able or do not want to install alkasir on the computer you want to use (e.g., in an Internet cafe, library, etc.), you can select any of the following two USB versions of alkasir. Note that both versions require Net Framework to be installed. Nonetheless, all Windows Vista, Windows 7 operating systems have Net Framework pre-installed.

·        alkasir USB package without Mozilla  (Does not need installation [Portable] but needs Firefox Mozilla, size: 4MB)

·        alkasir USB package with Mozilla browsing engine  (Does not need installation [Portable], size: 12MB)

Note:

If you don't want to bother in downloading and installing all the requirements, you can simply install the Complete alkasir package, which is one file of about 41MB in size but which includes Net Framework, Windows Installer and Mozilla Gecko. It can be downloaded from here. Also, please email us at (admin@alkasir.com) to manage and get you the installation package if you find any difficulty in getting them from the website.


What makes alkasir different?

There are several circumvention solutions out there and hence, a frequent question that users ask is 'What makes your program different?' Well, here are the main differences:

1) Safer and more secure for day-to-day transactions

If you were using a conventional circumvention solution, then all your traffic goes through the proxy even if it were for non-blocked websites. For example, if you were accessing your web email (gmail, yahoo mail, etc.), your online bank account, or doing shopping online, all the data between you and those websites are needlessly -and perhaps dangerously- being channeled through a third party. If those circumvention programs intentionally store your IP address and personal information, that is even more of a concern, especially if the servers of those programs get compromised.

In contrast, alkasir only gets activated when you browse blocked websites. This means that when you other websites (web mail, online banks and shops), your data flows through directly as if alkasir is not there. For example, if your ISP blocks your access to twenty websites, alkasir's proxy gets activated only when you try to open one of those websites. All other websites are accessed directly through ISP connection. Hence, you are basically more secure as you know your data is not transported through any third party. Furthermore, alkasir has committed to not save the IP addresses of its users as an extra assurance.

2) Optimized for speed

Unlike those of conventional circumvention tools, alkasir's servers are quicker in response and transfer time because they are only activated for blocked websites. Furthermore, the servers are optimized to ensure that even if a request to a website on the server was sent by some sort of error, this request gets dropped at the server side of the circumvention process. Overall, this reduces the burden on alkasir's proxy servers as they will have plenty of time to serve a much larger number of users with fewer resources compared to conventional circumvention tools.

Apart from that, the fact that usually, most URLs reached through alkasir are predominantly textual and not graphical in nature (due to its policy), the strain on the proxy servers are reduced considerably, enabling users to enjoy seamless and fast access to blocked content.

3) Keeps you informed

One of the unique features of alkasir is its ability to keep you informed about which URLs are still blocked and which are not. The automatic ping/update built-in feature of alkasir makes allows it to track if any previously blocked URLs have been unblocked and removes it automatically from its database locally on the computer and on the database. Hence, it serves as a source of information about censorship.

4) Almost penetration-proof

alkasir is the first circumvention software that introduced its 'private proxy' setting, which basically grants users a specific configuration that ensures that remain connected even if any of the public proxies get blocked. This is the first step in an ambitious and rigorous process to minimize the chances of governments detecting and preventing alkasir's proxies from working.

5) Flexible, up-to-date

alkasir was built with flexibility in mind. It has a USB version, which requires no installation and has its own browser built on the renowned Gecko browsing engine by Mozilla. If you don't have Firefox installed, it could use its own Gecko library that could be downloaded from alkasir.com. Furthermore, alkasir is kept up-to-date by an internal mechanism that checks for new versions (patches or major releases) and carries the update process automatically. This method also ensures that alkasir remains ahead of the censors by deploying new and sophisticated encryption techniques to avoid being blocked.

6) Not for profit, but for freedom and knowledge

Finally, alkasir is a software developed for the promotion of freedom and knowledge and does that for free. The software does not require the display of advertisements, nor does it require subscription payments. The program's ability to track censorship of individual ISPs in every country of the world makes it a unique research tool to academically study the trends of censorship worldwide and hence, contributes to knowledge by presenting verifiable empirical data on censorship that is collected with the help of thousands of alkasir users around the globe.

Therefore, by using alkasir, not only will you be able to access blocked content, but you would be directly helping promote freedom and knowledge.


 

Limitations

alkasir is no holy grail and does have its limitations that could be summarized in the following:

1) alkasir circumvents some and not all blocked content

alkasir does not grant access to all blocked websites. Although we strongly believe in freedom of expression and access to information, we have decided to limit what alkasir could be used. We have ended up creating a strict yet clear policy that guides our decisions on whether to allow access to a specific website or not. The policy is not fixed so it is advised that users check it every once in a while for any changes. Some may consider this a restriction in its own right, but we simply view it as a regulating policy that would prevent the abuse of alkasir's servers. If users do not agree on this policy, they are welcome to send their comments and suggestions and we will be happy to provide suggestions for alternative software.

2) Takes time to load

Because alkasir updates its database and constantly checks for changes in the status of blocked URLs, it takes longer than other conventional circumvention programs to load. On average, it may take up to 30 seconds -and sometimes a minute- to load depending on your computer and connection speed.

3) Browser may occasionally need restarting

If you use external browsers, some of them -and not all browsers- may need to be restarted or have their proxy configurations refreshed every time alkasir starts or updates its database with new blocked links. A method to eliminate the need to restart the browser is to use Firefox Mozilla with a plug-in, which which you could simply click a 'reload' button instead of restarting. We haven't received a lot of complaints on this, but we thought we should tell you about it any way.

4) Like any program, errors/problems may arise

Although version 1.3 of alkasir is a much more reliable and stable version than earlier ones, but it still is prone to errors and problems. That is why we would love to get your feedback on any errors or shortcomings you have found.