Advertisements online, in paper or anywhere, I’m no fan of them. At home I can make them disappear, just need to make sure I’m the first one to get them from the mailbox, straight to the paper bin. Online this is harder and I heard my family say that there is soo many advertisements online keeping them from doing a quick check. So we tried ad-blockers and the lot but nothing really was a utopia in usability. So I ran into Pi-hole and what I read made me interested even more. time to try it out.

Ad-blockers block your experience

There are sites that will detect an adblocker and show a message that they did. Some sites even blocked you from accessing data when you had them enabled. Below is an example of a Dutch news site that detects and warns you. I had Adblock installed at this moment and my DNS not pointed to Pi-hole. I blurred the site itself, it is not about them, it’s about the process.

Dutch news site – message about adblocker

So with this see you probably want to know how to get to Pi-hole?

Pi-hole Prerequisites and setup

Let’s not waste too much time on the setup, it is fairly easy. I’ll address it in a short paragraph but will be linking to external sites mostly.

A supported operating system is needed, in a container of deployed otherwise and once you have done that you are halfway done. All supported operating systems are shown in the screenshot below. More info on this is found on https://pi-hole.net

Copyright: Pi-hole.net

to setup Pi-hole, I used a Raspberry Pi, got one during the last IT conference so decided to make use of it. I used a MicroSD card and installed Raspbian lite on it – https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/. I had to format my microSD card and used https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter/eula_mac/ for that. Then I unmounted the microSD card and transferred the Raspbian lite package to the microSD card. Powered on the Raspberry Pi and installed Pi-hole following this page https://github.com/pi-hole/pi-hole/#one-step-automated-install. Perhaps there is an easier way but this made sense to me and worked flawlessly.

Administrative console

Once you booted it will guide you through some steps, it requires a fixed IP address but reserved is also welcome. My DNS service I think deserves a fixed address, so it got one. Next, it boots up and you can log in. The default password is pi and raspberry. I installed the web services so that I have a nice and shiny web console to see how much is being blocked and we’re off to the races.

Admin console

I’m home alone (no not that horrible movie) so the number of queries is lower than normal. My son just walked in so I’ll update the network soon to make sure he is also using this.

In the logging, I see what is being blocked and what not. I need to dive into all of this, there is a lot of management I noticed. rainy days ahead with autumn coming.

Proof of the pudding (is in the tasting)

So with everything set up, the main question is whether it works or not. What I did is that I first disabled adblocker and pi-hole (pointed my DNS to my router) and then you get the screenshot you see below. I blur the news site as they might not like me using them.

News site with advertisements – no adblocking and no pi-hole routing

As you can see there is the Brexit news and advertisements all around it. very annoying. Next up I pointed my DNS to pi-hole and did the same test.

News site with no advertisement – pi-hole routing enables.

All the advertisements are gone, Brexit news is still there, and there is no message about me using an adblocker. I think this proves that with a few minutes of work (formatting the microSD card took rather long) you have a well functioning anti-advertisement system for a buck and it saves many bucks as your family is not lured into buying useless crap.

Tuning in real life

I was testing and realized that when you want to click through from Goole shopping it was blocked. I first added Googleadservice to the whitelist but that didn’t work. I ended up adding a few more before it worked.

After a few weeks of running, the management console looks promising. The percentage of blockage changes a lot depending on who is at home and what is being surfed. I’m less of a shopper than others. I also noticed that some sites still report me as using an ad-blocker.

While you’re here anyway, can I lure you into reading my previous series about Citrix Managed desktop?https://robbeekmans.net/citrix/citrix-managed-desktops-a-guided-tour-part-1/ – it is a three series piece.

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