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Shut your Pi-Hole

I first heard mention of the Pi-Hole project on Hacker News, and was instantly intrigued. Pi-Hole is a system that, when installed, turns your Raspberry Pi device into a local, caching DNS server. You install it alongside your router/modem, redirecting all DNS requests to your Pi instead of your ISP-provided DNS server. And it routes all requests for known advertisement sites straight into the bit bucket. Results: no advertisements, ridiculously faster web browsing, and potentially a lower risk profile where trojan-laden malware is concerned. Pi-hole relies on the open source DNSMasq project, which I'm still learning about. But it's magic, as far as I'm concerned.

I had a Pi sitting aroundthat was only being marginally put to use, so I thought I'd give it a try. Wow, what an impact.

Installation was dead simple: assuming you've already got the light HTTP webserver installed (lighttp), it's a simple curl-bash script away. The install ran effortlessly. I provided the Pi's static IP address, and adjusted my Verizon modem/router to get its DNS addresses locally. Everything suddenly got faster.

You don't realize it unless you make an effort to dig around, but the web has really gotten choked with adware. And it's not just the adverts on your webpage; it's all the middle-ware, data-brokering going on in the background. I got annoyed when products I visited at home started showing up at work too. There needs to be a total separation between the two, and this phenomenon has even driven me to the point where I visit certain sites using a dedicated browser I use for no other purpose. It shouldn't be this way, but it is when everything from your OS to your browser to super-cookies and the like are out to monetize you. Once you've got your Pi-Hole up and running, a visit to the dashboard reveals how many DNS requests were made from your network (ie, every phone, tablet, and computer running over your local wifi connection), how many were blocked, and how many known advertiser sites are being blocked as a matter of course. I personally find the numbers astonishing.

The name Pi-Hole reminds me first and foremost of that Adam Sandler movie, "Anger Managemnt", where Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson are driving, and Nicholson has Sandler stop the car in the middle lane of a busy highway. Queue the angry drivers beeping, to which Nicholson yells back, "Hey, shut your pie hole! We're working here!"

To all you advertisers out there, I've just shut your pie holes.

It didn't have to be this way. But here we are. You fight viciously: we fight back.


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