HomeTechnologyNewsHow to set up Shadowsocks with outline

How to set up Shadowsocks with outline

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Shadowsocks is a powerful tool that can help you escape censorship, particularly the Great Firewall of China. However, as much as we like it, setting it up can be a bit tricky, which is why we’ve put together this guide on how to install Shadowsocks using an open source program called Scheme.

What is Shadowsocks?

Shadowsocks is a tool that uses the SOCKS5 proxy to redirect and disguise Internet traffic to bypass censorship blocks. It was initially developed by a Chinese programmer and is therefore particularly useful for bypassing the Great Firewall of China, though we have received reports that you can also use it to bypass other regimes’ blocks.

However, if you’re looking to change your Netflix region or use BitTorrent, you’re much better off using a VPN. That’s something we explain in detail in our article comparing Shadowsocks vs. VPN.

However, the problem with Shadowsocks is that it’s a bit fiddly to set up, something we hope we can help you with. There are several ways to install Shadowsocks, but since many of them involve scripts cobbled together by enthusiasts, we like to use a program called Outline, which comes with a nice GUI and only takes a few minutes to set up.

What is the scheme?

Outline is a simple open source program that allows you to set up your own proxy using the Shadowsocks protocol and run it through your own server; It has built-in functionality with the DigitalOcean VPS provider, but you can use another provider or even set up your own server. We’ve tested it on Windows 10 and Linux, though it should work fine on Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android too.

RELATED: What is VPS? What a virtual private server can do for you

Although it likes to refer to itself as a VPN, it largely isn’t, as it doesn’t use a VPN protocol. As a result, we recommend that you use it to bypass censorship blocks and not to download torrents or bypass Netflix’s regional restrictions, although you can certainly try.

What we like about Outline is that you can install the main program, called Manager, on a desktop device and then run the client program on any other device. You are more or less running your own private network and you can share keys with your family and friends.

If you use DigitalOcean, you can run up to 1TB of bandwidth through their server for just $5 per month, which is much cheaper than any commercial VPN, though again without the versatility. To increase that limit, you can always pay a little more.

Scheme has been audited and tested by two digital security organizations, Radically Open Security and Cure53, and from what we can tell, it’s a solid choice for anyone looking to get past censorship blocks. However, if you’re looking for a more proven solution and don’t mind spending a bit of money, you can check out our pick of the best VPNs.

How to set up Shadowsocks the easy way

However, assuming you want to give Outline a try, let’s start with downloading the program. For this. To do this, go to the Scheme website and click “get Scheme”. The next page will show you download links for both the Manager and the Client, for now just install the Manager.

Schema manager and client

Once downloaded, open the program (for Linux you need to open the .AppImage file) and you will be presented with a screen where you can choose the cloud service or server you are using to route your traffic. We’re using DigitalOcean for ours, but there are plenty of other options. However, DigitalOcean is the easiest option by far; you don’t even need to have a server ready.

Server Options Outline

In most cases, you’ll need to set up your server beforehand, but with DigitalOcean all you need to do is link Outline to your account and the hard work is done for you. Simply follow the onscreen prompts to authorize Outline to access your hosting account, all you need to do is choose a server location.

Server locations for Schema

If you are in China, Singapore is probably your best option, although Bengaluru in India is a good alternative; We went with Amsterdam. Regardless of the location you choose, simply click “configure layout” in the top right when you’re done and the program will launch. The setup process will take a few minutes.

Installation Screen Scheme

Once you’ve finished setting up, you’ll be greeted by the Outline Connection Center, where you can set up connections—both your own and those of whoever you want to share the connection with—and track data usage. At the top right, you can also go to the settings screen to find information about the server, as well as adjust the features to your liking. In our case, however, we want to connect a device to the server, so we need to click on the icon next to “my access key”.

Scheme configuration screen

A window will pop up, just click “connect this device” and then make sure to copy the secure key on the next screen. After that, you will go to a third screen where you need to install the schema client. Just click “install scheme” and the download will start automatically.

Scheme of the client installation

Once it’s downloaded, go to your downloads folder and open the client installer. If you are on the same device as Schema Manager, the key will be detected automatically. If not, you can enter it manually (in the image below, we’ve deleted part of the secure key). Then press “Add Server”.

Scheme enter secure key

Then all you need to do to connect to your new Shadowsocks server is hit “Connect”.

client schema

You should now be able to access the Internet through your new server. If you want to connect any other device, including mobile devices, since Outline will also work on Android and iOS, you need to install the Outline client on that device and enter the secure key. You can also create new secure keys if you want to spread the security credentials among friends and family, it’s up to you. Either way, you should now be able to browse the internet for free.


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