FTLDNS™: Pi-hole’s Own DNS/DHCP server

What Is FTLDNS™?

In a sentence, FTLDNS™ is dnsmasq blended with Pi-hole’s special sauce.  We bring the two pieces of software closer together while maintaining maximum compatibility with any updates Simon adds to dnsmasq.

The Problems

We have used dnsmasq as our DNS/DHCP server since Pi-hole began.  However, as the project has grown and evolved, we reached a point where we started looking into providing our own powerful resolver for a few reasons:

  • With FTL, we generate a variety of statistics by interpreting dnsmasq‘s log file. While this works, doing it through a middleman (a log file) is obviously quite inefficient
  • If a user chooses to disable logging, we’re unable to compute any statistics at all
  • There are some details of the DNS server we do not have access to (like cache usage) through the log file alone
  • Each OS distribution provides a different version of dnsmasq and this can prevent users for getting a flawless Pi-hole experience

The Solution

All these problems lead us to the idea of actually integrating a DNS resolver directly into FTL. The obvious choice for this is, of course, to base it on dnsmasq. We have a proof-of-concept implementation of FTL already developed and running.  So we’re officially announcing FTLDNS™ and you can find it right here.  

One of the many ways to support us is purchasing from our Swag Store.  Get your hands on this sweet mug to help spread the word.

The Non-technical Details

FTLDNS has many benefits for you as user:

  • No more dnsmasq version compatibility issues since we develop and provide the DNS resolver and FTL together
  • Upstream updates to dnsmasq can easily be integrated into our code since we don’t modify its code heavily
  • Processing will be much faster since we interact directly with the resolver instead of periodically parsing a log file
  • We can provide stats on cache usage and probably much more, which has been previously unavailable
  • Due to the direct integration into the resolver (using “FTL hooks”), we can compute statistics without any need for a log file. Instead of a “must have”, the log file will become an “opt-in” feature!

Continue reading “FTLDNS™: Pi-hole’s Own DNS/DHCP server”

Pi-hole v3.3 Released: It’s “Extra” Special

Update 2018-02-20 18:05

Hi All, After a few days of pulling out our hair and troubleshooting this whitelisting issue that some of you have reported, we’re finally getting to the bottom of it.

The good news is, whitelisting is not completely broken. You can still whitelist domains from the cli with no issues by calling pihole -w [domain-to-whitelist]. The issue only affects whitelisting from the admin page (whitelist page, query log, and block page).

Take a look over this pull request where /u/promofaux has attempted to explain what is going on. Though, we’re a bit confused ourselves, and any insight from the community would be greatly appreciated!

There are a couple of options, we can either revert the change that broke it, or use the fix in the above pull request. Whichever way we go, rest assured that we are working hard internally to make sure that we have the bug well and truly squashed, and will try to get a fix out as soon as we can (and really, take that soon™ in the Blizzard sense of the word).

In the mean time, do not attempt to whitelist from the web admin, it wont work… apologies for any inconvenience this causes.

In other news, we have updated the to include instructions on how you may possibly be able to update your version of dnsmasq to be able to update to Pi-hole 3.3

Update 2018-02-18 06:12

If you’re running Raspbian Jessie and you updated Pi-hole to v3.3, you likely ran into issues.  This is because the version of dnsmasq that ships with it does not support the log-queries=extra option, which we use in v3.3.

You have two options to resolve this: revert Pi-hole to a previous version or upgrade dnsmasq manually.

Option one: downgrade Pi-hole to the previous version

Instructions for this can be found here.

Option two:  install the version of dnsmasq that supports the extra flag (v2.76)

Please note, you should only try this on Rasbpian Jessie and do so at your own risk (but in our opinion the risk is low)

First step: Download more recent version of dnsmasq compiled for Raspbian Jessie from the official sources

wget https://archive.raspberrypi.org/debian/pool/main/d/dnsmasq/dnsmasq-base_2.76-5+rpi1_armhf.deb
wget https://archive.raspberrypi.org/debian/pool/main/d/dnsmasq/dnsmasq_2.76-5+rpi1_all.deb

Second step: Ensure requirements are fulfilled

sudo apt-get install libnetfilter-conntrack3 libmnl0

Third step: Install downloaded packages

sudo dpkg -i dnsmasq-base_2.76-5+rpi1_armhf.deb
sudo dpkg -i dnsmasq_2.76-5+rpi1_all.deb

Fourth step: Verify it worked:

dnsmasq -v

should return:

Dnsmasq version 2.76  Copyright (c) 2000-2016 Simon Kelley
Compile time options: IPv6 GNU-getopt DBus i18n IDN DHCP DHCPv6 no-Lua TFTP conntrack ipset auth DNSSEC loop-detect inotify

You should now be able to use Pi-hole v3.3 on Raspbian Jessie.

Update 2018-02-14 18:43 (version issues and not working after update)

If you’re running Rasbian Jessie, your version of dnsmasq will not work with this release, so you’ll need to revert to the previous versions:

cd /etc/.pihole
sudo git fetch --tags
sudo git checkout v3.2.1
cd /var/www/html/admin
sudo git fetch --tags
sudo git checkout v3.2.1
pihole -r
pihole checkout ftl v2.13.2

The Release


This release takes full advantage of dnsmasq‘s extra logging feature, which means you’ll get 100% accurate log analysis.  This release also includes full DNSSEC support, Teleporter enhancements, several important security fixes, as well as some other tweaks. This blog post will focus on the main features of this release, but if you want a detailed breakdown, the full changelogs can always be found at changes.pi-hole.net. Continue reading “Pi-hole v3.3 Released: It’s “Extra” Special”

Why Some Pages Load Slow When Using Pi-hole And How To Fix It

Pi-hole can make your network run faster, however, there are certain situations where Webpages will take a very long time to load (10-60 seconds or more).  There are several reasons behind this–most of which can be remedied.  This post explain the technical reasons why you may experience slow load times and provides solutions for them. Continue reading “Why Some Pages Load Slow When Using Pi-hole And How To Fix It”