SPDY Proxy with Firefox for Android

This document describes how to use SPDY proxy from Android device using Firefox for Android. No root privilege is required. It may be possible to use other Web browser/software if they provide the ability to specify HTTP proxy. Because we don’t use the features only available in latest Android devices, this method works on relatively old but still used versions, e.g., Andriod 2.3 series.

Setting up SPDY Proxy

If you have VPS, then you can setup SPDY proxy there. You can use shrpx with -s option + Squid as SPDY proxy. Alternatively, node-spdyproxy may also work. If you don’t have VPS, but your home internet connection has global IP address which can be accessible from Android device, you can use your home PC as SPDY proxy temporarily for the experiment. The self-signed certificate is OK because we will run shrpx with -k option on Android in this example. Alternatively, you can store your certificate in Android device and specify it using --cacert option. If you think these are insecure, obtain valid certificate.

Building spdylay library and shrpx

First Android NDK must be installed on your system. Refer Spdylay - SPDY C Library to see how to install NDK. In the following document, We use ANDROID_HOME environment variable.

To make it easier to run Android cross-compiler tools (and for the sake of this document), include the path to those commands to PATH:

$ export PATH=$ANDROID_HOME/toolchain/bin:$PATH

We need to build dependent libraries: OpenSSL and libevent.

To configure OpenSSL, use the following script:


if [ -z "$ANDROID_HOME" ]; then
    echo 'No $ANDROID_HOME specified.'
    exit 1

export CROSS_COMPILE=$TOOLCHAIN/bin/arm-linux-androideabi-
./Configure --prefix=$PREFIX android

Then run make install to build and install library.

For libevent, use the following script to configure:


if [ -z "$ANDROID_HOME" ]; then
    echo 'No $ANDROID_HOME specified.'
    exit 1

./configure \
    --host=arm-linux-androideabi \
    --build=`dpkg-architecture -qDEB_BUILD_GNU_TYPE` \
    --prefix=$PREFIX \
    --disable-shared \
    --enable-static \
    CPPFLAGS=-I$PREFIX/include \

Then run make install to build and install library.

To build spdylay, use android-config to configure and android-make to build as described in Spdylay - SPDY C Library.

If all went well, shrpx binary is created in src directory. Strip debugging information from the binary using the following command:

$ arm-linux-androideabi-strip src/shrpx

Setup shrpx on Android device

There may be several ways to run shrpx on Android. I describe the way to use Android Terminal Emulator. It can be installed from Google Play. Copy shrpx binary to the location where the Android-Terminal-Emulator is installed (In case of my phone, it is /data/data/jackpal.androidterm) and give the executable permission to shrpx using chmod:

$ chmod 755 shrpx

Then run shrpx in client-mode like this:

$ ./shrpx -k -p -f localhost,8000 -b SPDY-PROXY-ADDR,SPDY-PROXY-PORT

Substitute SPDY-PROXY-ADDR and SPDY-PROXY-PORT with the SPDY proxy address and port you have setup respectively. The -k option tells shrpx not to complain the self-signed certificate for SPDY proxy. The -p option makes shrpx run so called client mode. In that mode, shrpx acts like ordinary HTTP forward proxy in frontend connection, it forwards the requests from the client to backend in encrypted SPDY connection. The -f option specify the address and port shrpx listens to. In this setup, the web browser should be setup to use HTTP proxy localhost:8000. The -b option specify the SPDY proxy address and port shrpx forwards the requests from the client. The configuration looks like this:

+----Android------------------------+          +---SPDY-Proxy------+
| [Firefox] <-- HTTP --> [shrpx] <--=-- SPDY --=-->[shrpx,squid]<--=-- SPDY --> ...
+-----------------------------------+          +-------------------+   HTTP

With the above command-line option, shrpx only opens 1 connection to SPDY proxy. Of course, Firefox will use multiple connections to neighboring shrpx. shrpx coalesces all the requests in 1 backend connection, that is the benefit SPDY proxy brings in.

Setup Firefox to use SPDY proxy

If you have not installed, Firefox for Android, install it. Enter about:config in URL bar in Firefox and locate proxy settings. Setup those values like this:

network.proxy.http = localhost
network.proxy.http_port = 8000
network.proxy.ssl = localhost
network.proxy.ssl_port = 8000
network.proxy.type = 1

You also need to tweak the following settings to increase in-flight requests to circumvent latency:


Since shrpx handles maximum 100 concurrent streams, it is reasonable to set network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy to 100.

Now borwse the sites with Firefox. The all HTTP requests are now sent via internal shrpx to SPDY proxy in 1 connection. SPDY proxy will get resources on behalf of the client and sent back the response.