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If you are a little tech savvy and want a fun project, put together a Pi-Hole DNS server for your home. It runs on one of those raspberry Pi mini computers (they are just fun to have no matter what) that cost maybe $50. You don't even need the latest greatest Raspberry Pi either, it will run fine on previous gen hardware.

Here are the basics: The Internet runs on IP addresses. We humans can't remember them, but we can remember words. So for example, XYZ.com has an IP address behind it. We use DNS servers to convert friendly words that make up a website name into the ip address that is behind that name. So, when I type in xyz.com, your computer talks to the DNS server that you have configured, and asks that DNS server what IP address to use. All this happens under the covers of your computer and you never even have to think about it.

What the Pi-Hole does is it becomes your DNS server, so to speak. It has a very long list of web site names in it that are on a blacklist. If your browser tries to query DNS (the Pi-hole) for the IP address of a site on the black list, the DNS server returns back an empty value. This means your browser will not display that bit of the web page. It could be the whole web page (say a malicious site, or perhaps something you don't want your kids looking at), or it could just be an ad that is displayed in a frame of the web page. Any web site that is not in the black list, the Pi-Hole will forward that query on to another DNS server out in the Internet somewhere. It could just be your ISP's DNS server, that you are probably using today, or you can pick from a list of others that may offer you yet another layer of security. 

What ends up happening is thousands of web requests are just dropped as your computer makes these queries for IP addresses. It saves you bandwidth, but more importantly, you get way less ads in your browser, and relative to this thread, you block many of these tracking sites. It always surprises me when I visit a web page of a site I go to frequently, and I'm not protected by my Pi-Hole. The pages look completely different because of all the ads.

There is really nice dashboard that you can view on the Pi-Hole, and what an eyeopener it is. Mine is blocking crap 24 hours a day, thousands per hour. I kid you not. Crap you wouldn't even think about, like Alexa, or your Roku, or your cell phone, YOUR TV, are all talking to something all day long.

 

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On 3/28/2021 at 12:45 PM, analog_kidd said:

If you are a little tech savvy and want a fun project, put together a Pi-Hole DNS server for your home. It runs on one of those raspberry Pi mini computers (they are just fun to have no matter what) that cost maybe $50. You don't even need the latest greatest Raspberry Pi either, it will run fine on previous gen hardware.

Here are the basics: The Internet runs on IP addresses. We humans can't remember them, but we can remember words. So for example, XYZ.com has an IP address behind it. We use DNS servers to convert friendly words that make up a website name into the ip address that is behind that name. So, when I type in xyz.com, your computer talks to the DNS server that you have configured, and asks that DNS server what IP address to use. All this happens under the covers of your computer and you never even have to think about it.

What the Pi-Hole does is it becomes your DNS server, so to speak. It has a very long list of web site names in it that are on a blacklist. If your browser tries to query DNS (the Pi-hole) for the IP address of a site on the black list, the DNS server returns back an empty value. This means your browser will not display that bit of the web page. It could be the whole web page (say a malicious site, or perhaps something you don't want your kids looking at), or it could just be an ad that is displayed in a frame of the web page. Any web site that is not in the black list, the Pi-Hole will forward that query on to another DNS server out in the Internet somewhere. It could just be your ISP's DNS server, that you are probably using today, or you can pick from a list of others that may offer you yet another layer of security. 

What ends up happening is thousands of web requests are just dropped as your computer makes these queries for IP addresses. It saves you bandwidth, but more importantly, you get way less ads in your browser, and relative to this thread, you block many of these tracking sites. It always surprises me when I visit a web page of a site I go to frequently, and I'm not protected by my Pi-Hole. The pages look completely different because of all the ads.

There is really nice dashboard that you can view on the Pi-Hole, and what an eyeopener it is. Mine is blocking crap 24 hours a day, thousands per hour. I kid you not. Crap you wouldn't even think about, like Alexa, or your Roku, or your cell phone, YOUR TV, are all talking to something all day long.

 

I started giggling at "Pi-hole" & completely disregarded the entire rest of the post! 😂😂😂

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7 hours ago, Handsome Rob said:

I started giggling at "Pi-hole" & completely disregarded the entire rest of the post! 😂😂😂

Aw, shut your pi-hole!

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On 4/1/2021 at 5:14 PM, jpx2rk said:

Is this a good "plug & play" kit to get, or are you talking about building a pi-hole.  I like the idea of striking back at the internet world and their cookies.  

https://www.adafruit.com/product/4475?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0-Lv7fnd7wIV4w6tBh2bPwfeEAQYASABEgJQh_D_BwE

Or could you provide a link or 2 about this that helps the non tech savy guys.  LOL

In 5 minutes or so of poking around the Internet, I didn't really find any plug and play kits, but I bet there are some out there somewhere.

That link you posted is NOT what you are looking for. That is for a digital display that you add to your Raspberry Pi to give you status update. Totally not needed for a Pi-hole setup. The novelty of looking at that display would wear off in a couple minutes. There is a website built into the software that is much better for getting stats.

Something like this RasberryPi 3 on Amazon would be what you need. That plus a 16gb or so MIcro SD card is all you need. If you don't have them already, a spare USB keyboard and an HDMI cable to connect to a monitor or TV is also needed. The one I linked is the version 3 model of the Pi. There are newer version 4 ones, but they are more expensive and for a Pi-Hole, the cheaper one is all you really need. They make a Nano version of the Raspberry Pi that is even cheaper, and I think it runs on that board too. The full sized Pi just has more features.

I'll be honest, setting it up from scratch is more than a trivial thing. You have to assemble the Raspberry Pi, download the OS, write it to the SD card, then install the Pi-Hole software and get it on the internet, Then you have to configure your computers to use it. BUT all of that is a part of the fun. Learning something new is a good thing.

 

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