This week I set up a pi-hole on my home network, and apart from a couple of minor hiccups, it has been very nice so far. If you haven’t heard of it, pi-hole is software that handles DNS requests and blocks online ads for every device on your home network, even on devices which won’t normally let you install a plugin like Adblock Plus (like smart TVs and un-rooted phones). The installation guide was nice and simple, and even setting up a DNS-over-HTTPS client was pretty straightforward.
One place where things got a little tricky was setting it up as my DHCP server. That’s very useful for improved statistics (requests will show as coming from the originating device instead of from the router) and just general usability (using pi-hole as a DHCP server also lets it resolve hostnames on your local network, as opposed to forwarding those requests to your router if everything goes just right). Once you disable DHCP on your router, whatever device you are using to connect to the router and pi-hole will most likely no longer have an IP address assigned to it. You need to set a static IP, connect to the pi-hole via its IP, and enable its DHCP server. Then once you switch your computer back to DHCP, you’ll get an address from the pi-hole and everything should work as expected.
I did also lose Internet connectivity the morning after I set up the pi-hole, and I ended up restarting all the network devices to get it back up and running. I’m not sure whether that was something going badly wrong with the pi-hole, old router DHCP leases expiring, or just my ISP-provided router/gateway coincidentally deciding not to work (that has happened before). Time will tell, although I’m hoping it was a one-time thing. I’m already liking it a lot better than ad blocking directly on my router, which was also nice, but not nearly as customizable or information-rich.