Saturday, January 26, 2019

Build Yourself a Pi-Hole

Web ads irritate me. What can I say, I'm easily distracted. A text ad in a side bar is one thing, but when I browse to a page and an animated woman steps forward and starts talking I lose it. The advertisers and trackers have gone way to far and I install ad and script blockers on my browsers by default.

What would be really cool would be to block the requests for ads and trackers at the router level, protecting everything connected to my network regardless of O/S or browser. Even my phone (while it's on Wi-Fi) would be protected.

Turns out there is such a beast, the Pi-Hole, a DIY DNS server built on a Raspberry Pi. I won't get into the installation, the instructions are dead simple (interesting expression). I went from bare RPi to 100% operational in about an hour. And if things go haywire, rolling back your network configuration is very easy to do.

I've had mine up and running for a few weeks now and I don't pay attention to it any more but watching the stats for a few days was a real eye-opener. You think you own your smartphone or tablet? Ha! These devices phone home more than...I don't don't what but they sure do a lot of chatting with people who want to know all about them, and by extension, me. 

I know having a smartphone is kind of like using a customer loyalty card at a grocery store. I get fabulous discounts in return for letting marketers virtually follow me around the store watching what I buy. But holy Toledo...well, see for yourself.

If you already have a Raspberry Pi laying around the investment is zero +time. I'm using an RPi 3B+ but the CPU load is very low and a lower powered Raspberry Pi should work fine. YMMV, of course. 

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