Setting Up a Pi-Hole


  • Type: Personal
  • Technologies: Raspberry Pi 3, Raspbian, Bash, OpenSSH
  • Length: 1 weekend

I installed pi-hole on a Raspberry Pi 3 and configured my home router to send internet traffic through it to provide network wide ad blocking.

More Details

I Hate Ads

I really hate ads and while blocking ads is fairly easy on a browser, it’s much harder on any other connected device like a smart TV or mobile phone. I heard about the Pi-Hole project from a friend and so I borrowed a Raspberry Pi from one of my roommates to see if we all could benefit from this magical network-wide ad blocking.

Learning to work with a Raspberry Pi

This was my first time using a Raspberry Pi and so there was a lot to learn about working with a Pi and Raspbian. I do have experience working with Ubuntu (I converted my college laptop into an Ubuntu laptop because Windows was getting slow) and so the jump wasn’t too big. I more or less followed the exact instructions on their website to get the Pi-Hole installed. Their instructions were very clear and easy to follow. If this is your first time working with a Raspbery Pi, I would recommend this as a great entry-level project.

The next part was actually configuring my router to send traffic through it. I wasn’t quite familiar with DHCP and DNS at the time. I learned that I needed to allocate a static IP address for my Pi so that it wouldn’t keep getting a new IP address. This is important because my network would be using the Pi’s IP address for our DNS server. It was at this point I finally made the connection as to how the Pi-Hole worked: actively filtering out the DNS queries that devices on our hone network were making. The Pi-Hole acts as a “man-in-the-middle” to stop queries that were reaching out to ad-serving domains.

(Mostly) Ad Free

As promised, sites that serve tons of ads (think recipe sites) were suddenly much cleaner and loaded faster since they didn’t load the ads anymore. When I browsed Reddit on my phone, the little banner didn’t have ads in them anymore. However, the solution isn’t foolproof as no list of ad-serving domains is fully complete. I still use uBlock Origin in my browser to catch any ads that fall through the cracks. Additionally, there are times when legitimate sites get blocked by the Pi-Hole and I needed to manually need to let them through. This was especially a problem because I shared an internet connection with three other roommates. Finally, if you play online video games, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t notice any extra lag with the Pi-Hole on our network.

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