Ten Minutes To Bliss

January 19, 2019


I have gotten behind here in the lab, so it's crunch time. I have lots to tell you so grab some coffee, or a beverage de jour, and get comfy. This could probably fit into Getting Your Network In Shape For 2019, so I'll add it in with the series.


Let's talk about something really nasty on the internet. No, not porn, and nothing from the deep web either. You see them every day whether in your digital life or your analog life. There they are just taking up space, clogging up every square centimeter of a browser page, making load times even slower than they need to be.  On top of that, a majority of advertisements are pulling a fast one on you. They are monitoring your every surfing habit, plus selling that data, in some cases, to third and fourth party entities who use the data for other purposes. It's not just a matter of advertisements being a visual disaster, they are also mining your data and making money on the side.


Most people who know me, know I take a fairly staunch position on the current version of advertising in today's internet landscape. It's not that I begrudge a company for trying to pay bills to keep the website afloat, no I understand making money. It's the dark side of advertising and it's nefarious attitude towards your data. 


So what to do? Well, we could install a browser extension like Ublock Origin and block the ads from being seen by you the surfer of websites. And that works pretty well. But extensions, by their very nature of addition, make browsers slower. The more extensions you have, the slower response you get from your browser. 



 Introducing Pi-Hole 


Pi-hole is a network-wide ad blocker. Instead of installing adblockers on every device and every browser, you can install Pi-hole once on your network, and it will protect all of your devices. Because it works differently than a browser-based ad-blocker, Pi-hole also block ads in non-traditional places, such as in games and on smart TVs.


Build Inventory


1. Raspberry Pi (II, or III, +B)

2. Ethernet patch cord

3. Micro SD card - 16gb is fine for the job

4. Putty or SSH client (https://www.putty.org)

5. Etcher (https://www.balena.io/etcher/)


That's it! Five things that will make your life so much easier and almost worry free. There are several ways to install Pi-Hole on your RPi. However, we are going to do this the easy way (why not?). 


Install Raspbian Stretch full: https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/

 As you can see, you may torrent the file or you may download it directly from their servers.  Using Etcher (https://www.balena.io/etcher) we can "burn" the Raspbian image to our Micro SD card.

 After you have completed this step we can move on to setting Raspbian up on our RPi. 


The Set Up 


Place the Micro SD card in the slot on your RPi and fire that baby up. Follow the on screen prompts as Raspbian is pretty much self installing and point and click. Once we have completed the set up and updated Raspbian, don't forget to activate SSH in the RPI Configuration. 

 This will bring up a dialogue box where you can complete this step. Without it, we will not be able to SSH into our RPi.

 At this point, RPi will reboot so we will let it while we get ready for the next step.


Installing Pi-Hole


First we will need the ip of the RPi. This is pretty simple. Open a Terminal window on your RPi and type in the following command:


sudo ifconfig


Then click enter. The output on screen will look something like this:


Next to the wlan0 entry you will see inet addr: which is the IP address of the Raspberry Pi. Write this down or remember it. We will need it. 


Now go to your desktop or laptop and, open PuTTy and enter in the ip address we just searched for, and click OK. The default credentials for RPi is:


Username: pi

Password: raspberry


Now we are tied in to the RPi we can initiate installation of Pi-Hole. And here is the super hard, overly complicated command used to do this very thing:


curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

Follow the on screen prompts. At the end of the installation Pi-Hole will give you the DNS address that we will use in the next step, and the password for logging in to the web based admin panel.


Final steps


Now go to your router and log in. What we are looking for is a place to change the DNS ip address from automatically leased by the ISP, to Pi-Hole's DNS. If you are confused about where exactly to do this on your router, search the manufacturer's website, or Google. Either should turn up detailed information for your specific model router.

 Here, we will be changing the DNS from Google's DNS of to whatever ip address that was given out at the end of the installation of Pi-hole in the step above. 


Final Thoughts


Pi-hole comes with a plethora of Blocklists already installed however there are generous maintainers of third party lists that block more than just advertisements. You can find these here: https://tspprs.com and here: https://firebog.net


Pi-Hole has a thriving community over at Reddit as well (https://www.reddit.com/r/pihole/), with hundreds of members who are happy to answer any questions you may have. 


Stay Curious










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