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Lazy Man Joe's Ramblings

Adding Porn, Fake News and Gambling blocking to PiHole

I’ve been using the RaspberryPi PiHole ad-blocking installation (see my post) quite successfully in our home environment and am very happy with it.

Lately I’ve also looked at adding additional content blocking to the solution to block other content like:

  • Porn
  • Gambling
  • Fake News

I found the following resources for hosts which you can add to your Block Lists in PiHole.

Steven Black’s Lists (multiple – select which one makes sense for you)

Chad Mayfields’ List (post) and actual list

To configure:

  1. Open your PiHole Dashboard and login
  2. Go to Settings -> Block Lists
  3. Add the following to your current lists (PiHole already has ad-blocking lists)
    1. https://raw.githubusercontent.com/StevenBlack/hosts/master/hosts
    2. https://raw.githubusercontent.com/StevenBlack/hosts/master/alternates/fakenews-gambling-porn/hosts
    3. https://raw.githubusercontent.com/chadmayfield/pihole-blocklists/master/lists/pi_blocklist_porn_top1m.list
  4. Save and Update

The PiHole installation will pull all the hosts into its configuration and ensure the sites are blocked on a DNS level.

Sample screen of my current configuration

PiHoleBlockLists

You may find however that some sites are classified as “porn” (i.e. Maxim.com, etc.) but this is probably due to some potential content on there which is deemed “close” to porn 🙂

A small price to pay for better piece of mind – although the lists will not block all content (new sites pop up every day), it will help with the majority of the content.

You always have the option to add your own Blacklist sites and I recommend you review the PiHole DNS queries on a regular basis to see any potential additional items to add.

Have fun !

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Raspberry Pi, Homebridge, Apple & Siri

About a year ago I was playing with my Raspberry Pi, connecting it via HomeBridge to my Apple TV & iPhone.

HomeBridge links of interest:

This was just a proof of concept and I never posted about it on my blog 😦

I am planning on doing some work on this again (soon) – doing some automation at home for my garden, etc.

In the meantime – some of the videos from a year ago:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFq824Yditw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9tFEF8FzdI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZEXJil-KD8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrMXOTM2-wM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncvaOB08CGE

 

Struggling with Locales on your Raspberry Pi ? Here’s a fix !

I tend to tinker with my Raspberry Pi every now & then, but keep on running into a Locale issue.

Even using the sudo raspi-config utility doesn’t seem to fix things 😦 [btw – I’m setting the locale to en_ZA.UTF-8 as I’m in South Africa :-)]

I found the following way seems to work best as it FORCES the locale info 🙂

Use the following:

sudo nano /etc/default/locale

In the editor, make the following changes:

LANG=en_ZA.UTF-8
LC_ALL=en_ZA.UTF-8
LANGUAGE=en_ZA.UTF-8

Save and reboot !

This fixed the issue for me.

Have fun !

Deleting your Facebook account #DELETEFACEBOOK

Used this article as a guide on how to delete my Facebook account permanently.

 

https://mashable.com/2018/03/19/how-to-delete-facebook-account/#EKUnvbrLdPqp

 

Quite a big step for me – although I’ve not been using FB actively the last year 🙂

Tunnelblick – free software for OpenVPN on OS X and macOS

I installed PiVPN on one of my Raspberry Pi’s at home yesterday to set up my own VPN server at home. (blog post)

As PiVPN makes use of OpenVPN on the Raspberry Pi, I’ve been looking for an easy to use  OpenVPN client for my Mac.

Tunnelblick is a free open source OpenVPN VPN client which fits the bill 🙂

Have a look here to get it – Tunnelblick

Setup is easy:

  •  Install Tunnelblick on your Mac
  • Download the .ovpn configuration file from your VPN server (PiVPN in my case)
  • Double-click on the file.
  • Tunnelblick will automatically open the configuration and you’re ready to connect 🙂

Easy !

Have fun !

Running your own Home VPN Server from a Raspberry Pi (PiVPN)

I recently installed Pi-Hole as an ad-blocking service on our home network – it’s working quite well and I’m truly impressed!

While on holiday recently I thought it would be quite “cool” to have VPN access to our network at home and came across the following article – “How to turn your Raspberry Pi into a Home VPN Server using PiVPN” using PiVPN.

Installing PiVPN on the same Raspberry Pi I’m running Pi-Hole on seemed like a good idea (and it IS a supported installation).

So needless to say, once we got back from holiday I had a quick look at the article and followed the instructions. Within a very short period of time I had a PiVPN (OpenVPN) server running on our network and just had to configure our router for port-forwarding.

I’ve also signed up for the free option from noip.com to make it easier for us to connect to our VPN at home.

NOTE: One tweak I added to our configuration was to edit the /etc/dnsmasq.conf file to ensure that when I connect to the VPN that my clients would also have ad-blocking enabled 🙂

For more detail on this, refer to the FAQ for the PiVPN software.

Installation was quick & easy!

Have fun !

Network-wide ad-blocking using a Raspberry Pi and “Pi-hole(tm)”

Ad-blocking seems to be quite a “thing” these days and I have to say that sometimes the amount of ads on web pages just gets too much !

I do understand it’s a way to get your product noticed, but some web pages have way too many ads on it 😦 and most of the time not really related to me [sorry Google/whoever for profiling me 🙂 ]

I’ve been looking around for an easy and cost-effective solution and found “Pi-hole(tm) : A black hole for Internet advertisements” 🙂

The idea is not to “hide away” (i.e. get some privacy), but rather to block ads so we don’t see them anymore.

I had a Raspberry Pi 2+ available (using it for some home automation testing) and I thought I’d give Pi-hole a go.

Pi-hole essentially runs as a DNS server on your network and block requests for known ad-serving addresses/domains.

Pi-hole can also be used as a DHCP server and in my configuration, I decided to utilize this feature as well (main reason being that my router’s configuration limits me from specifying my own DNS settings). Using DHCP on the Raspberry Pi, I can serve out IP addresses on the network and as part of the configuration, the Pi-hole server is specified as the DNS server !

Installation is very easy:

  • Install a unix based OS on your Raspberry Pi
    • I opted for the latest Raspbian Lite version (Jessie) found here
  • Once you have the basic configuration going, with your Raspberry Pi on your network and connected to the internet, you need to start the installation.
  • I used the following command (although you can get the code from GitHub & run the installer locally as well)
    • curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash
    • This connects to the latest Pi-hole installation and runs the scripts to install it on your Raspberry Pi
  • Basically follow the instructions
    • Select the IP address you want to use (your Pi-hole server needs a static address, as you want to ensure your network clients point to it even after restarts, etc.)
    • Once installed, the installer will tell you which IP address to connect to for the web configuration and the password to use (192.168.x.x/admin)
      • It’s important to note the password as it’s only given to you once
      • If you loose it for some reason, you can only change it via command line (see notes below)
    • Configure your router DNS to point to the Pi-hole server to ensure it uses it for your network traffic OR as in my case, configure DHCP on the Pi-hole to serve the IP addresses with the DNS information.
    • Use the web interface to check the DHCP configuration, etc. and rest of the configuration (very easy to follow)

The dashboard view gives you a quick overview of the DNS blocking, requests, etc. as well as access to the settings page to configure DHCP, etc.

Pi-Hole-Dashboard_1

That’s essentially it !

Some notes:

The Web interface password is only given to you ONCE at the end of the installation – if you don’t make a note of this, you will have to use the command line on your Raspberry Pi to reset the password.

Use the following command from the command line to reset your password:

  • “pihole -a -p somepasswordhere”
  • You can also remove the password using the following command – “pihole -a -p”

Have fun !

BTW – this is an interesting article as well … “Ad-blockers might actually make it easier for advertisers to track you” – TNW

 

 

Installing a NAS on a Raspberry PI (OpenMediaVault)

It seems I’ve been on a roll the last couple of weeks/days 🙂

Recently my DROBO died and then I installed NAS4Free on my Home Server to serve our storage needs at home.

Well, we’re going on holiday soon and we need to take some of the media content we have with us !

So I had the following hardware available:

  • Raspberry Pi 3+
  • 2.5″ 500GB external drive (powered)
  • Apple TV
  • iPads
  • MacBook Air

What to do, what to do ?

🙂

Well, I tried installing Plex on the Raspberry Pi and although it worked “okay” it could not keep up with the transcoding process 😦

So I had a couple of options:

  • transcode ALL the content to something usable [very time consuming]
  • have the content available on the network and do the transcoding ON the device you’re using
    • iPad
    • OSX
    • Windows 10
    • etc.

Well, I opted for the latter (well – it’s a proof of concept at the moment)

Looking around I found the following NAS software for the Raspberry Pi (OpenMediaVault)

OpenMediaVault runs on Debian Linux (Jessie) and they have a Raspberry Pi 3 image to download (here)

Installation is fairly simple:

  • download the image
  • write it to your SD card (I recommend Etcher)
  • Boot up the Raspberry Pi and let the configuration complete
  • The setup will then tell you which IP address to connect to (in my instance it was 192.168.1.10) [I forced the Router to have a static IP address for the Raspberry Pi – makes it easier in the long-run]
  • Using your browser, connect to the IP address specified
  • Use admin/openmediavault (remember to change the password)
    • OpenVault_Login
  • Use the Web Interface to add your devices (I have an external USB drive (500GB), which I mounted)
    • OpenMediaVault_Drives
  • Once mounted, you have need to SHARE this drive on the network
  • Under Services ->SMB/CIFS you need to enable the service
  • Once enabled, go to Shares and configure the Share (defaults are fine)
    • I allowed GUEST access to make it easier and it’s contained to my local network
    • OpenMediaVault_Shares
  • That’s it !

OpenMediaVault_Stats

The plan for the holiday is to have the Raspberry Pi connected to our 3G/LTE router and use the router as a local WiFi hotspot.

With the Raspberry Pi connected directly to the router, we won’t have WiFi lag, but then we’ll be able to connect to the NAS over WiFi and AirPlay from our iPads or MacBooks to our Apple TV (3rd Gen), or lie in bed in the evening and catch-up on some series on our iPads (I recommend VLC Mobile).

We’ll use AirPlay as it looks like to easiest option at the moment to play content on the TV.

OpenMediaVault has quite a couple of plug-ins you can enable on it – one of which is a Plex Media Server.

My initial tests showed me what I suspected – the Raspberry Pi 3+ (although more powerful than previous iterations) just can’t keep up with the transcoding process – so I disabled that feature again 😦 [especially when the content is 720p or 1080p]

There are a lot of plug-ins to choose from and as I need more time to investigate, I’ll have to report back on my findings in future.

For now it seems we’re set for an OpenMediaVault-RaspberryPi-NAS configuration to stream our content to which-ever device we want 🙂

Like always – HAVE FUN !

Installing a NAS at home using NAS4Free on an HP N40L Mini Server

Recently my DROBO Gen 1 storage device “died” and I was looking for a solution to cater for our media needs (cord-cutter) – movies, TV series, etc. using Plex Media Server to serve it up to our devices in the home.

I also needed a storage area for our day-to-day photo usage, software needs, etc.

The basic requirement was for as much storage as possible, with great speed and easy access on multiple devices (windows/mac/ios/etc.)

I had the following hardware available:

  • HP N40L mini server (more details) with 4GB RAM
  • 2 x 3.5″ 1TB SATA drives
  • 1 x 3.5″ 2TB SATA drive

After some investigation on the web, I found this great piece of software – NAS4Free – which suited my needs and hardware perfectly.

NAS4Free is built on FreeBSD and has multiple features “in-the-box”.

Installing it was a cinch !

  • Basically, download the Live-USB image
  • Extract the image
  • Write the image to USB device (your installation device)
  • Boot from (installation) USB device
  • Follow the prompts and select “9” to install on to (another) USB flash disk (the one you’ll use to boot your server)
  • Installation is quick & easy and once done, remove installation USB drive – insert the actual USB boot device into your server and switch on !

I opted to install the software on a USB flash disk (4 GB is fine), which the HP server allows you to do (there is an internal USB slot for booting your OS).

This opened up the 4 internal drive slots for storage use, ideal for my requirement.

Once the USB boot device was configured, I shut the system down and installed the drives into the slots in the HP server. (using 3 of the 4 available)

I then proceeded to boot the server and started the configuration – all done via web interface (once you boot, the server screen will tell you what the IP address is and you use admin / nas4free as username/password [remember to change it !])

NAS4Free-login

Setup is fairly easy and all the instructions can be followed form here

Once you have the basics done, it’s time to add your drives

Go to Disks -> Management and add the drives you have to the system. NAS4Free supports ZFS storage (which is apparently a great system 🙂 )

LazyNAS-Drives

NOTE:
Please note I made a conscious decision here
– I wanted the MOST drive space at the fastest rate – so I created a single volume, stacking all my drives together.

THIS IS RISKY !
If one of the drives fail, then the whole pool fails …

Typically you’d rather create a pool as a mirror or RAID-X, or something and ensure you have redundancy.

ZFS-options

My aim though was to have a much space available as possible, fast access times and I’ll manage backups separately. (well that’s my initial thoughts 🙂 )

Once the drives are accessible to NAS4Free, you need to create a Virtual Device which contains your drives (under the ZFS menu).

Then you add your drives to the Virtual Device and your NAS has space available.

NOW you need to share this on your network.

Easy with NAS4Free 🙂

Go to Services -> CIFS/SMB (especially if you have Windows devices on your network)

Configure the settings under the settings page (defaults are fine and you just Save&Restart to get going).

Create a SHARE – once you’ve enabled CIFS/SMB.

SMB-Shares

This is easy – create a name, select the mount point on the pool and “Bob’s your uncle” … it’s available to use !

One of the easiest software configurations I’ve had in a while and after about 2-3 weeks I can report that the system is performing amazingly well.

Side note:

Yes, I know … I’m running the risk of loosing a drive (similar to my DROBO experience) and then loosing ALL the content on the NAS.

I do have a plan though … I have 1 slot open in the HP Server and plan on getting another 2TB (maybe 3TB 🙂 ) drive to put in there – then I’ll mirror/sync the (important) content to that drive … but for now I’m VERY HAPPY with NAS4Free !

That’s all folks !

Like always, have fun !

🙂

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