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Pi-hole Gets New Experimental Blocking Modes

As I am sure my regular readers are aware I am a huge fan of Pi-hole, the Raspberry Pi
based network wide ad-blocker. Well recently we got an exciting new feature with NXDOMAIN and NULL Blocking. This new feature gives us two different blocking modes (NXDOMAIN and NULL) and can have a huge impact on your ad-blocking. Before we get into how to implement these new modes lets give a brief explanation of what they are.

First let’s take NXDOMAIN (or Non-Existent Domain) is a DNS message received by the DNS resolver when a request to resolve a domain is sent to the DNS that can not be resolved to an IP address. Basically, it is a message received that says the domain does not exist. With NULL blocking on the other hand the response is a special IP address such as 0.0.0.0 which is an Unspecified Address. Both NXDOMAIN and NULL Blocking can improve your network speed but are at this point experimental in Pi-hole. I was already running a beta version of Pi-hole, so this was not an issue for me. If you are not comfortable with this, you may want to wait for a stable release with these features.

For those who like to live on the bleeding edge let’s get everything setup.

First what will you need?

To begin the installation process you will need a MicroSD Memory Card, and the ability to format and burn an image to that MicroSD Memory Card. I am sure most of you know how to do these steps already, but I will give my recommendations, for formatting I prefer to use SD Memory Card Formatter for Windows and to burn the image Etcher.

Memory Card Preparation:

  1. Insert MicroSD Memory Card into a computer
  2. Open SD Memory Card Formatter for Windows
  3. In SD Memory Card Formatter for Windows Select the Drive that corresponds to your Memory Card
  4. In SD Memory Card Formatter for Windows Click Format and wait for it to finish
  5. Download the Raspbian disk image from https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/
  6. Open Etcher.
  7. In Etcher Select the previously Downloaded Image
  8. In Etcher Select the Drive that corresponds to your Memory Card
  9. In Etcher Click Flash and wait for Etcher to Finish

Raspberry Pi Setup:

  1. From the Raspbian Desktop launch Terminal
  2. From Terminal install Pi-hole using the following command
  1. When the installer finished we need to switch over to the FTLDNS beta by running the following commands in Terminal
  • echo “FTLDNS” | sudo tee /etc/pihole/ftlbranch
  • pihole checkout core FTLDNS
  • pihole checkout web FTLDNS
  1. Once you are on the FTLDNS beta branch you will need to edit the pihole-FTL.conf file by running the following in Terminal
  • sudo nano /etc/pihole/pihole-FTL.conf
  1. In the pihole-FTL.conf file enter one of the two options below
  • BLOCKINGMODE=NXDOMAIN

    OR

  • BLOCKINGMODE=NULL
  1. Press ctrl-x to close out of nano
  2. Press y to save the changes
  3. Press enter to confirm the file name

That’s it you are now up and running. I have only been playing around with this a little bit as it is new but so far NULL Blocking seems to have made a noticeable increase on speeds.

What do you think of these new blocking modes? Anyone experiment with them yet? Let me know in the comments below.


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Mike View All

I am passionate about the IoT and connected devices. Using connectivity to automate our lives will empower civilization to achieve greatness.

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