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VPN Gateway With Dead Man Switch

VPN Gateway With Dead Man Switch

VPN Gateway Server with Dead Man Switch

Overview

Keep machines on your network safe with all internet traffic leaving using end to end encryption via AirVPN. A dead man switch ensures internet traffic can never be broadcast over your clear internet.

  • A VPN gateway that any client on your network can use.
  • Stop prying eyes seeing your internet activity.
  • Protect yourself on public networks.
  • Protect your net neutrality.

This guide is aimed at Raspberry Pis, but will work for any Debian based OS. E.g. Ubuntu 18.04 server, so just use what suits you. I’ve chosen a Raspberry Pi as it makes for a great low power client.

Technical Jargon

VPN

VPN stands for virtual private network. VPN secures your computer’s internet connection by ensuring all of the data being sent and recieved is encrypted and secure from prying eyes.

Click here for a full detailed description of VPN.

DNS

Domain Name System (DNS) translates easily rememberable names such as google.com into addresses that a machine understands.

Click here for a full detailed description of DNS.

DNS Server

A DNS server is like a telephone directory, you ask for the address of a computer and it will tell you what the address is.

Click here for a full detailed description of DNS server.

DNS Leak

DNS leaking is when your requests are being sent to DNS servers that are not your designated ones (usually your VPN server). This means that while no one can read your encrypted traffic, they can see which addresses you are requesting. To ensure you stay as safe online as possible making sure your DNS does not leak is critical.

Click here for a full detailed description of DNS leak.

VPN Gateway

A computer that routes internet traffic from other computers via its VPN connection.

IPTables

IPTables is a utility program that allows admins to define rules on how to treat packets of data.

Click here for a full detailed description of IPTables.

Assumptions

This guide assumes you have a fresh install of Raspbian on a headless server

This guide assumes you have a VPN client installed and configured on your device.

This guide assumes you have set a static IP for your device.

This guide assumes your network connection is called eth0.

Install Software

We only need to install two extra pieces of software (iptables-persistent & dnsmasq) to get the VPN Gateway working.

Type the following into the command line:

sudo apt install iptables-persistent dnsmasq -y

Select “<yes>” for both IPv4 and IPv6 rules and allow it to complete the installation.

Enable Forwarding

The Raspberry Pi is going to be setup to forward incoming requests from other clients to its VPN connection. By default this is not enabled or setup so we’re going to configure it now.

First ssh into your Raspberry Pi with a sudo enabled user.

Now we need to enable forwarding in the sysctl.conf file by removing the # at the start of line 28 “#net.ipv4.ip_forward=1”:

sudo nano /etc/sysctl.conf

Delete “#” infront of “net.ipv4.ip_forward=1” then press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Enable the forwarding service:

sudo sysctl -p

Update IPTables

Inorder to forward the incoming traffic correctly we need to make some changes to the IPTables on our Raspberry Pi. These updates will create a dead man switch so traffic from any client using our VPN Gateway can only exit it via its VPN connection. This means, if the VPN connection is lost, the clients will lose their internet.

Make sure to update the network interface name to match the one being used on the device. My network interface is called “eth0” for this example. If you were using a Raspberry Pi Zero W and using the WiFi connection, the interface name is wlan0. Use the command “ip -c a” to show all network interface information and confirm the name, as described in the guide set a static IP.

Paste the following into the command line to update the IPTables:

sudo iptables --flush
sudo iptables --delete-chain
sudo iptables -t nat -F
sudo iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o tun+ -j MASQUERADE
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -i lo -m comment --comment "loopback" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -o lo -m comment --comment "loopback" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -I INPUT -i eth0 -m comment --comment "In from LAN" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -I OUTPUT -o tun+ -m comment --comment "Out to VPN" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -o eth0 -p udp --dport 443 -m comment --comment "openvpn" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -o eth0 -p udp --dport 123 -m comment --comment "ntp" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p UDP --dport 67:68 -m comment --comment "dhcp" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -o eth0 -p udp --dport 53 -m comment --comment "dns" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A FORWARD -i tun+ -o eth0 -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A FORWARD -i eth0 -o tun+ -m comment --comment "LAN out to VPN" -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -P FORWARD DROP

The change we’ve made is only temporary. To make it permanent type:

sudo netfilter-persistent save

To ensure these rules are applied every time the device turns on type:

sudo systemctl enable netfilter-persistent

Now that we’ve enabled forwarding, we need to make an edit to the route-up.sh and down.sh files in /etc/openvpn to ensure client traffic is routed correctly.

Navigate to the OpenVPN directory:

cd /etc/openvpn

Open route-up.sh:

sudo nano route-up.sh

At the bottom of the file add:

/etc/openvpn/update-resolv-conf

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Now update down.sh:

sudo nano down.sh

At the bottom of the file add:

/etc/openvpn/update-resolv-conf

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Finally reboot your Raspberry Pi to ensure the changes have been loaded

Client Configuration

Now the VPN Gateway is setup we need to configure a client to use it and do some final checks that everything is working as expected!

It’s as easy as changing two options to point at your VPN Gateway:

  • Default gateway
  • DNS server

Depending what operating system your client is using there are a number of different ways of achieving this. I’ll try to briefly outline the most common ones. I would recommend setting a static IP address for the clients and the below examples will assume that.

Raspberry Pi

The easiest option is to follow the static IP guide and use the VPN Gateway IP address for the static routes and static domain_name_servers.

Linux – Debian Based

If you are running a Debian based Linux distro, open the command line (or ssh into the client) and we’re going to update the static IP options to make sure it’s using our VPN Gateway.

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces

Find the line “iface eth0 inet static” and just below that look for:

  • gateway
  • dns-nameservers

Now update both of them to be the VPN Gateway IP address.

Once updated save and exit and to be sure the change has stuck reboot the client.

Windows 10

Go to the search tool on the task bar and type “Network Settings” to open the network settings panel.

Once open find and click “Change Adaptor Options” to show all of your network adaptors. Locate the one you use to connect to the internet, right click it and select properties.

In the properties window double click “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)” to set a static IP address.

Fill in the boxes with the appropriate configuration, My VPN Gateway has an IP address of 10.8.60.185.

Click OK to close the panels and Windows will take care of updating your settings.

Final Checks

Now we have updated our client to use the VPN Gateway for all of its internet traffic we need up run some checks and make sure everything is working as expected.

There are 3 checks we’ll be carrying out:

  • Can it see the outside world?
  • Does it have the correct external IP?
  • Is the DNS leaking?

We’ll run through two methods of checking these for if you have a command line only client, or one with a full desktop.

Command line

If like me your client is a headless server and you only have a command line we’ll go about making these checks as follows, in the command line type:

ping google.com -c 4

You should see returns from google.

To check if you have the correct external IP type:

wget -qO- ifconfig.me/ip

The IP address shown should be the same as the VPN Gateway shows when you run the same command there.

Finally to check if the DNS is leaking we’ll use the same script we did when setting up the VPN Gateway.

There is a commandline tool that will check if our DNS is leaking. For more information on the script we’re going to use see the authors GitHub page.

First make sure all dependencies are installed:

sudo apt install curl jq -y

We’re going to download it to the opt folder:

cd /opt

Download using:

sudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/macvk/dnsleaktest/master/dnsleaktest.sh

Let’s make it executable:

sudo chmod +x dnsleaktest.sh

To run the script from /opt use:

./dnsleaktest.sh

Or outside this folder use:

/opt/dnsleaktest.sh

If everything is successful you should see something like the image below:

From a Web Browser

If you have a web browser on your client the checks are very quick and easy.

To see if you have access to the outside world let’s open up the browser and try navigating to your favourite site. e.g. https://philldavis.co.uk

If you can see the site, great news! You’re connected to the internet.

Now lets have a look at our IP address, go to https://whatismyipaddress.com/ and you’ll be shown your current external IP address. This should be the same one you see on your VPN Gateway.

To see if our DNS is leaking lets going to https://dnsleaktest.com and click “Standard Test”. Let it run and it should return the same DNS servers that your VPN Gateway returned when running the command line tool.

Check the Dead Man Switch

The final and possibly most immportant check is the dead man switch. Will the internet connection be terminated when the VPN connection drops?

This is easy to test, SSH into your VPN Gateway and stop the VPN client by typing:

sudo systemctl stop openvpn

Now back on your client machine try to access the internet. You shouldn’t be able to get any internet connection at all. If this is the case, hop back into the VPN Gateway and start the VPN client by typing:

sudo systemctl start openvpn

Finished

Congratulations! Assuming all of the checks passed with flying colours you have successfully created a VPN Gateway and are providing secure connection to the world to any clients that use it.

So what do we actually have in this setup?

  • A VPN Client that is not leaking its IP address or DNS.
  • A VPN Client that still has access to the internet when the VPN connection drops so regular maintenance and updates are simple.
  • A VPN Gateway with a dead man switch so no client traffic can accidentally go out via the regular internet connection.

Raspberry Pi Install Lidarr

Raspberry Pi Install Lidarr

Raspberry Pi – Install Lidarr

Overview

  • Install Lidarr.
  • Automatically manage your music.
  • Find new and missing albums.

Lidarr automates the finding, downloading, naming and organisation of Music libraries. It is designed to work in conjunction with a torrent client and media server. E.g. qBittorrent to download files and your choice of distribution software e.g. Plex Media Server to distribute the music to clients.

If you haven’t already, check out the guide to setup a secure torrent client before continuing with the install of Lidarr.

I do not in any way, shape or form condone or support the downloading of illegal or copyrighted material.

I use Lidarr to organise all of my legally purchased music, its tags, names etc and track which albums I’m missing. The Calendar view is great for seeing release dates of new albums from my favourite artists.

Technical Jargon

SSH

SSH stands for secure shell. SSH is an encrypted connection established between two computer programs. On the server side (the computer being connected to) a service is running that listens for another computer trying to contact it via SSH.

Click here for a full detailed description of SSH.

Assumptions

This guide assumes you have a fresh install of Raspbian on a headless server.

This guide assumes you either have a folder on the Raspberry Pi for your Music, or have setup a connection to your network share that contains all of your current Music.

If it is legal to download copyrighted music where you are and you wish to use Lidarr’s ability to tap into torrent RSS feeds, it’s assumed you have setup a secure torrent client.

Install Lidarr

Before we start we’re going to ensure the Raspberry Pi is up to date. Run the following commands to grab and install the latest packages:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade -y

We want Lidarr to sit in the /opt directory so let’s cd into it:

cd: /opt

Now let’s grab the latest Lidar.tar.gz file. For me that is version 0.6.0.815, check https://github.com/lidarr/Lidarr/releases to find out which is the latest for you:

sudo wget https://github.com/lidarr/Lidarr/releases/download/v0.6.0.815/Lidarr.develop.0.6.0.815.linux.tar.gz

Once it’s downloaded extract the package:

sudo tar -xzvf Lidarr.develop.0.6.0.815.linux.tar.gz

Create a Service

It is recommended to run Lidarr as its own user for security purposes. We’re going to use qbtuser to own the Lidarr install and run the service. This is to tie in with the user setup in the secure torrent client guide. Feel free to use any user you like. E.g. pi:

sudo chown -R qbtuser:qbtuser /opt/Lidarr

sudo chmod -R a=,a+X,u+rw,g+r /opt/Lidarr

We’re going to create a file under /etc/systemd/system that will tell the Raspberry Pi how to handle Lidarr and ensure it runs as a service:

sudo nano /lib/systemd/system/lidarr.service

Now that we’ve created the file, paste the following into it:

[Unit]
Description=Lidarr Daemon
After=syslog.target network.target

[Service]
User=qbtuser
Group=media
Type=simple
ExecStart=/usr/bin/mono /opt/Lidarr/Lidarr.exe -nobrowser
TimeoutStopSec=20
KillMode=process
Restart=on-failure
[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Start the Sonarr Service

If everything has gone to plan we can start the service.

Start the service for the first time with:

sudo systemctl start lidarr

Check it all Works

Now we’ve finished installing Lidarr and the service is running, lets check it all works by going to http://*Rasbperry Pi Ip Address*:8686 and we should see the default page.

Auto Start Lidarr – No Torrenting

If Lidarr is used to check the status of your collections we want to start Lidarr with the Raspberry Pi:

sudo systemctl enable lidarr

Now ensure everything works, reboot your Raspberry Pi:

sudo reboot

If you intend to use Sonarr to find torrents enable it by following the below section. Note I do not condone this.

Auto Start Lidarr – Linked to Torrent Client

If Lidarr is used to find torrents, we only want the Lidarr service to be active when there is a VPN connection available.

To do this we’re going to update some files in the OpenVPN directory so cd into /etc/openvpn:

cd /etc/openvpn

To auto start Lidarr when the VPN connection is established we need to edit route-up.sh.

sudo nano route-up.sh

And paste the following at the bottom of the file:

systemctl start lidarr

The file should look like:

#!/bin/sh
iptables -t nat -I POSTROUTING -o tun0 -j MASQUERADE
systemctl start qbittorrent

systemctl start lidarr

 Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Auto Stop Lidarr – Linked to Torrent Client

To make sure no peer 2 peer traffic is sent over your clear internet connection we’re going to ensure the Lidarr service is stopped before we lose our VPN connection.

To do this we’re going to add a line to down.sh:

sudo nano down.sh

Paste the following line above “iptables -t nat -D POSTROUTING -o tun0 -j MASQUERADE”:

systemctl stop lidarr

The file should look like:

#!/bin/sh
systemctl stop qbittorrent

systemctl stop lidarr
iptables -t nat -D POSTROUTING -o tun0 -j MASQUERADE

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Reboot your Raspberry Pi to ensure all our changes are applied:

sudo reboot

Check Everything is Working

After the reboot lets check everything is working as we expect.

In your web browser navigate to the Lidarr Web UI as you did earlier and make sure it loads.

Import Your Current Library

Now that everything is working let’s import your current music library so Lidarr can start handling it – showing you what albums you are missing and the current track quality. This process can take a very long time, so once you’ve kicked it off it’s probably best to leave it over night. The time it takes will depend on your internet connection and device you’ve installed Lidarr on. The Raspberry Pi isn’t very powerful so will take a long time if you have a big library.

Before we start the import we want to update some settings to tell Lidarr how to handle file naming and imported track metadata.

Media Management

Click on “Settings and then “Media Management”:

I only include the track number and title in my naming scheme so as can be seen above I’ve updated the Standard Track Format. Click the “?” if you want to customise the naming convention.

Once you’re happy click “Save Changes” at the top.

Metadata

Now click on “Metadata” to update how Lidarr will handle track Metadata:

Lidarr will handle all of your music metadata and you’ve got a few options on how and when it does this. From the dropdown box next to “Tag Audio Files with Metadata” select the right options for you.

I’ve already got my music tagged so I only want Lidarr to handle new files.

If you are unsure click “More Info” to find out which option is right for you.

Once you’re happy click “Save Changes” at the top.

Import Music

To perform a bulk import of our existing library click “Artist”, “Import” and then the big green “Choose Folder” button.

Use the menu to navigate to your music folder and click “Ok”: 

Once the folder is selected Lidarr will scrape through all of the sub folders matching the artists. If any are miss matches or not found use the drop down to search for the correct artist.

It will only try to import artists that aren’t already imported:

After clicking “Import” Lidarr will take you to the Artist page and start downloading all of the album artwork, artist/album information and scrapping your folders to see which albums you currently have.

Don’t worry if the images don’t show up straight away, this process can take a long time:

Finished

The installation and basic setup of Lidarr is complete and it’s up to you to play around with the rest of the settings to get everything sorted. Jump in and have a go.

Raspberry Pi Install Sonarr

Raspberry Pi Install Sonarr

Raspberry Pi – Install Sonarr

Overview

  • Install Sonarr.
  • Automatically manage your media.
  • Find missing episodes.

Sonarr automates the finding, downloading, naming and organisation of TV shows. It is designed to work in conjunction with a torrent client and media server. E.g. qBittorrent to download files and Plex Media Server to distribute them to clients.

If you haven’t already, check out the guide to setup a secure torrent client before continuing with the install of Sonarr.

I do not in any way, shape or form condone or support the downloading of illegal or copyrighted material.

Technical Jargon

SSH

SSH stands for secure shell. SSH is an encrypted connection established between two computer programs. On the server side (the computer being connected to) a service is running that listens for another computer trying to contact it via SSH.

Click here for a full detailed description of SSH.

Assumptions

This guide assumes you have a fresh install of Raspbian on a headless server.

This guide assumes you either have a folder on the Raspberry Pi for your TV shows, or have setup a connection to your network share that contains your TV media.

If it is legal to download TV box sets where you are and you wish to use Sonarr’s ability to tap into torrent RSS feeds, it’s assumed you have setup a secure torrent client.

Install Sonarr

Before we start we’re going to ensure the Raspberry Pi is up to date. Run the following commands to grab and install the latest packages:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade -y

As Sonarr isn’t in the default Raspbian repository we’ll want to add Sonarr’s. To do this let’s install the directory manager to allow us to modify our repositories:

sudo apt-get install dirmngr

Now we can add new repositories let’s make sure we can use secure connections:

sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https -y --force-yes

With all that sorted we can add Sonarr’s repository:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 0xA236C58F409091A18ACA53CBEBFF6B99D9B78493
echo "deb http://apt.sonarr.tv/ master main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/sonarr.list

With the repository available we’ll now be able to install Sonarr, but before we do we need to update our sources so the Pi knows where to look:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nzbdrone -y

Create a Service

It is recommended to run Sonarr as its own user for security purposes. We’re going to use qbtuser to own the Sonarr install and run the service. This is to tie in with the user setup in the secure torrent client guide. Feel free to use any user you like. E.g. pi:

sudo chown -R qbtuser:qbtuser /opt/NzbDrone

We’re going to create a file under /etc/systemd/system that will tell the Raspberry Pi how to handle Sonarr and ensure it runs as a service:

sudo nano /lib/systemd/system/sonarr.service

Now that we’ve created the file, paste the following into it:

[Unit]
Description=Sonarr Daemon
After=syslog.target network.target

[Service]
User=qbtuser
Group=qbtuser

Type=simple
ExecStart=/usr/bin/mono --debug /opt/NzbDrone/NzbDrone.exe -nobrowser
TimeoutStopSec=20
KillMode=process
Restart=on-failure

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Start the Sonarr Service

If everything has gone to plan we can start the service.

Start the service for the first time with:

sudo systemctl start sonarr

Check it all Works

Now we’ve finished installing Sonarr and the service is running, lets check it all works by going to http://*Rasbperry Pi Ip Address*:8989 and we should see the default page.

Auto Start Sonarr – No Torrenting

If Sonarr is just used to check the status of your collections we want to start Sonarr with the Raspberry Pi:

sudo systemctl enable sonarr

Now ensure everything works, reboot your Raspberry Pi:

sudo reboot

Once the Raspberry Pi has rebooted check the status of the sonarr service to ensure it is working:

sudo systemctl status sonarr

If you intend to use Sonarr to find torrents enable it by following the below section. Note I do not condone this.

Auto Start Sonarr – Linked to Torrent Client

If Sonarr is used to find torrents, we only want the Sonarr service to be active when there is a VPN connection available.

To do this we’re going to update some files in the OpenVPN directory so cd into /etc/openvpn:

cd /etc/openvpn

To auto start Sonarr when the VPN connection is established we need to edit route-up.sh.

sudo nano route-up.sh

And paste the following at the bottom of the file:

systemctl start sonarr

The file should look like:

#!/bin/sh
/etc/openvpn/update-systemd-resolved
# replace /etc/resolv.conf with special version for AirVPN
rm /etc/resolv.conf
cp /etc/resolv.conf.airvpn /etc/resolv.conf
systemctl start qbittorrent
systemctl start sonarr

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Auto Stop Sonarr – Linked to Torrent Client

To make sure no peer 2 peer traffic is sent over your clear internet connection we’re going to ensure the Sonarr service is stopped before we lose our VPN connection.

To do this we’re going to add a line to down.sh:

sudo nano down.sh

Paste the following line below systemctl stop qbittorrent:

systemctl stop sonarr

The file should look like:

#!/bin/sh
systemctl stop qbittorrent
systemctl stop sonarr
/etc/openvpn/update-systemd-resolved
# replace /etc/resolv.conf with special version for AirVPN
rm /etc/resolv.conf
cp /etc/resolv.conf.airvpn /etc/resolv.conf

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Reboot your Raspberry Pi to ensure all our changes are applied:

sudo reboot

Check Everything is Working

After the reboot lets check everything is working as we expect.

In your web browser navigate to the Sonarr Web UI as you did earlier and make sure it loads.

Add A TV Show

Now that everything is working let’s add a TV show. Click Add Series and search for the series you want to monitor. I’ve searched for one of my favourite shows Black Books.

Point the path to the parent folder containing your TV Shows and click the green plus button to add it to your list.

You can either add a single series that you don’t currently have by searching for it and clicking add, or you can import your entire folder by clicking “Import Existing Series On Disk” and selecting the parent folder of your TV shows. This will bulk import everything you have already.

Finished

The installation of Sonarr is complete and it’s up to you to play around with the settings to get everything sorted. Jump in and have a go.

Setup a Secure Torrent Client

Setup a Secure Torrent Client

Setup a Secure Torrent Client with AirVPN

Overview

 Keep yourself safe with all traffic leaving your Raspberry Pi using end to end encryption via AirVPN.

  • Download and upload peer 2 peer files with anonymity.
  • Increase your privacy from your ISP
  • Protect your net neutrality

This guide is aimed at Raspberry Pis, but will work for any Debian based OS. E.g. Ubuntu 18.04 server, so just use what suits you. I’ve chosen a Raspberry Pi as it makes for a great low power, always on torrent client.

There is nothing too complicated, but it is a long guide. Setup time could be a couple of hours.

Disclaimer

This tutorial is provided with the intention of protecting your identity and for use with strictly legal torrent files.

I do not in any way, shape or form condone or support the downloading of illegal or copyrighted material.

Technical Jargon

VPN

VPN stands for virtual private network. VPN secures your computer’s internet connection by ensuring all of the data being sent and recieved is encrypted and secure from prying eyes.

Click here for a full detailed description of VPN.

Port Forwarding

Port forwarding allows remote computers to connect to a specific computer within a LAN. When a router sees an incoming connection on a set port it will forward all that traffic to the computer named in the port forwarding rules.

Click here for a full detailed description of Port Forwarding.

Samba

Samba is a network protocol to allow Windows clients to share files, printers and access other Windows services such as Active Directory.

Click here for a full detailed description of Samba.

SSH

SSH stands for secure shell. SSH is an encrypted connection established between two computer programs. On the server side (the computer being connected to) a service is running that listens for another computer trying to contact it via SSH.

Click here for a full detailed description of SSH.

What you’ll need

  • A Raspberry Pi  4 Model B (for better ethernet).
  • A powered USB hard drive.
  • An active account with AirVPN.

Note Other VPN services will work, but this guide will concentrate on AirVPN. If you chose another provider ensure they are reputable, do not keep logs and are pro net neutrality. Often you get what you pay for.

How to Setup a Secure Torrent Client

We’re going to split this tutorial into 5 parts:

  • Install and configure the OpenVPN client.
  • Install qBittorrent.
  • Configure qBittorrent.
  • Configure port forwarding.
  • Creating a network share to access the downloaded content.

Assumptions

This guide assumes you have a fresh install of Raspbian on a headless server.

This guide assumes you have set a static IP address.

This guide assumes you have mounted an external USB hard drive

This guide assumes your Raspberry Pi is able to use any DNS server it choses. If it can’t, you’ll need to make an exception in your firewall.

Install the VPN Client

Before we start we’re going to ensure the Raspberry Pi is up to date. Run the following commands to grab and install the latest packages:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade -y

Now we’re ready to install our VPN client, which for this guide will be OpenVPN. Install using:

sudo apt-get install openvpn -y

Once OpenVPN has been installed you’ll notice a new folder at /etc/openvpn.

This is where we’re going to do the next few bits so lets cd into it:

cd /etc/openvpn

Before we start thinking about connecting to AirVPN we’re going to create 2 files.

  • route-up.sh – To divert all traffic to AirVPN once a connection is established.
  • down.sh – Remove the divert rule and restore normal routing.

Create the file called route-up.sh that will divert all traffic to AirVPN:

sudo nano route-up.sh

Now add the instruction to route all traffic over the VPN connection:

#!/bin/sh
/etc/openvpn/update-systemd-resolved
# replace /etc/resolv.conf with special version for AirVPN
rm /etc/resolv.conf
cp /etc/resolv.conf.airvpn /etc/resolv.conf

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Create the file called down.sh that will reverse the actions of route-up.sh:

sudo nano down.sh

Now add the instruction to stop routing traffic over the VPN connection:

#!/bin/sh
/etc/openvpn/update-systemd-resolved
# restore default resolv.conf
rm /etc/resolv.conf
cp /etc/resolv.conf.original /etc/resolv.conf

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Now let’s give them the correct permissions, we want only the owner (root) to be able to read, write and execute the files:

sudo chmod 700 route-up.sh
sudo chmod 700 down.sh

If it’s all gone to plan, our folder should look like this. To check file permissions use:

ls -al

You’ll have noticed that we referenced some files that don’t currently exist:

  • update-systemd-resolved
  • /etc/resolve.conf.original
  • /etc/resolve.confairvpn

These files are used to ensure we don’t get any DNS leakage and this will help keep our connection more secure and private.

Let’s grab a copy of update-systemd-resolved from github:

sudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/jonathanio/update-systemd-resolved/master/update-systemd-resolved -P /etc/openvpn/

Once it’s downloaded we need to give it the correct permissions:

sudo chmod +x /etc/openvpn/update-systemd-resolved

Double check the file permissions and folder contents, it should look like:

ls -al

Finally let’s make sure OpenVPN uses the AirVPN DNS servers for all of its requests so nothing is leaked. This change will mean the Raspberry Pi will use AirVPNs DNS servers while the VPN connection is established and the default DNS servers when the VPN connection drops.

Let’s copy resolve.conf so we have an original to default back to when there is no VPN connection:

sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /etc/resolv.conf.original

And now let;s create a new resolv.conf file that includes AirVPNs DNS servers. I’ve chosen two of their servers that work well for me, but feel free to check out their website if you want to use different servers:

sudo nano /etc/resolv.conf.airvpn

Inside this file paste the following:

# --- BEGIN PVE ---
search local.lan
nameserver 10.4.0.1
nameserver 10.5.0.1
# --- END PVE --

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

There is a risk here that if the VPN connection drops your traffic will be sent over your clear internet and will be fully visible to your internet provider. To remove this risk, follow the tutorial on setting up a VPN gateway server with dead man switch to ensure traffic is only sent over VPN.

We’re all sorted now and can go on to create the AirVPN config!

Create an AirVPN Config File

To be able to connect to AirVPN we need to generate a config from the Client Area. For a direct link to the generator click here.

  • Login to AirVPN.
  • Click Client Area from the tabs across the top.
  • Click Config Generator from the menu on the left hand side.
  • Select your operating system (RPi).
  • Select UDP protocol.
  • Choose a server – I’m using Europe.
  • Scroll to the bottom.
  • Diligently read the Terms of Service.
  • Accept both terms of services boxes.
  • Select Generate.
  • Download the .ovpn file.

If you open up the .ovpn file in a text editor (I recommend something like Visual Studio Code) you’ll see a comment about the file, some VPN parameters, two certificates, a private key and a static key. The top should look something like:

# --------------------------------------------------------
# Air VPN | https://airvpn.org | Sunday 24th of February 2019 09:50:09 PM
# OpenVPN Client Configuration
# AirVPN_Europe_UDP-443
# --------------------------------------------------------

client
dev tun
remote europe.vpn.airdns.org 443
resolv-retry infinite
nobind
persist-key
persist-tun
auth-nocache
route-delay 5
verb 3
explicit-exit-notify 5
remote-cert-tls server
cipher AES-256-CBC
comp-lzo no
proto udp
key-direction 1

We have chosen the UDP protocol on port 443, if you have issues connecting or have frequent dropouts your Internet Service Provider may be monitoring your connection a little more closely than mine. Some will throttle or not allow VPN traffic and if this is the case you will want to try using TCP instead of UDP. If you’ve had to do this change the line “proto udp” to “proto tcp” in the .ovpn file.

We need to add 7 more lines to the .ovpn file to make sure route-up.sh and down.sh are used when we establish or close the VPN connection. While the .ovpn file is open in your text editor add the following lines below “key-direction 1”:

dhcp-option DOMAIN-ROUTE .
script-security 2
setenv PATH /usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin
up /etc/openvpn/route-up.sh
up-restart
down /etc/openvpn/down.sh
down-pre

script-security 2 allows the execution of the two scripts and down-pre means that this line is executed before the connection is lost. I.e. no traffic is sent from the device before this line is executed in the event of the connection failing.

Configure AirVPN on the Raspberry Pi

We now have everything we need to connect our Raspberry Pi to AirVPN.

If you’ve left the directory, cd back into /etc/openvpn and create a new file called AirVPN.conf:

cd /etc/openvpn
sudo nano AirVPN.conf

Now paste the content of the .ovpn file you edited in the section above into AirVPN.conf before saving and exiting. Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Now ensure it has the right file permissions with:

sudo chmod 644 AirVPN.conf

If it’s all gone to plan, our folder should look like this:

Before we connect to the VPN lets make sure we know what our clear public IP address is.

wget -qO- ifconfig.me/ip

Make a note of the number returned to be confident your VPN connection works.

Auto Connect to AirVPN on Boot

There is no point having a headless secure torrent client that requires human input each time it reboots to make sure it connects to VPN server. This would make unexpected power outages a security nightmare. Let’s make sure OpenVPN connects using your AirVPN config every time the Raspberry Pi boots up.

Open the file responsible for default actions on OpenVPN:

sudo nano /etc/default/openvpn

Now scroll to the bottom and add:

AUTOSTART="AirVPN"

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

This new line tells OpenVPN to use our AirVPN.conf config file each time it starts. Now go ahead and reboot the Raspberry Pi.

Once the Raspberry Pi has rebooted, check that is is now connected to the VPN:

wget -qO- ifconfig.me/ip

Compare the IP address shown now to the one taken before and if all things have gone to plan they should be different!

Check if DNS is Leaking

There is a commandline tool that will check if our DNS is leaking. For more information on the script we’re going to use see the authors GitHub page.

First make sure all dependencies are installed: 

sudo apt install curl jq -y

We’re going to download it to the opt folder:

cd /opt

Download using:

sudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/macvk/dnsleaktest/master/dnsleaktest.sh

Let’s make it executable:

sudo chmod +x dnsleaktest.sh

To run the script from /opt use:

./dnsleaktest.sh

Or outside this folder use:

/opt/dnsleaktest.sh

If everything is successful you should see something like the image below:

Install qBittorrent

qBittorrrent is available from the standard Raspbian packages so installation is a simple case of:

sudo apt-get install qbittorrent-nox -y

Now you may be wondering why we’ve used qbittorrent-nox for the install. The Nox edition is the headless version of qbittorrent so it’s perfect for our needs.

Once the install is complete it’s time to set everything up before we can access the web interface. We’re going to:

  • Create a new use to run qBittorrent.
  • Create a service.
  • Initialise the configuration of qBittorrent.
  • Disable the user from logging in via SSH.
  • Start the service.

User

It is recommended to run qBittorrent as its own user for security purposes. We’re going to create a new user with a password and leave all other options blank by just pressing return to continue:

sudo adduser qbtuser

When prompted with “Is the information correct? [Y/n]” type “y” and hit return to create the user.

Create a Service

 We’re going to create a file under /etc/systemd/system that will tell the Raspberry Pi how to handle qBittorrent and ensure it runs as a service:

sudo nano  /etc/systemd/system/qbittorrent.service

Now that we’ve created the file, paste the following into it:

[Unit]
Description=qBittorrent Daemon Service
After=network.target

[Service]
User=qbtuser
ExecStart=/usr/bin/qbittorrent-nox
ExecStop=/usr/bin/killall -w qbittorrent-nox

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Initialise the Configuration

Before continuing we need to accept the disclaimer from when qBittorrent first runs, and to do this we need to run it manually. As it’s set to be run by qbtuser lets impersonate them:

sudo su qbtuser

Now lets start qBittorrent:

qbittorrent-nox

And accept the legal notice by pressing “y”.

Once done you’ll see an information readout with the default username, password and listening port:

  • User: admin
  • Password: adminadmin
  • Listening Port: 8080

To get back to the command line press Ctrl+C until you see “qbtuser@”.

Stop impersonating qbtuser by typing:

exit

Improve Security

To improve security we’re going to disable qbtuser from logging in via SSH:

sudo usermod -s /usr/sbin/nologin qbtuser

Start the qBittorrent-nox Service

If everything has gone to plan we can start the service.

Start the service for the first time with:

sudo systemctl start qbittorrent

Check it all Works

Now we’ve finished installing qBittorrent and the service is running, lets check it all works by going to http://*Rasbperry Pi Ip Address*:8080 and we should see a login screen.

Login to qBittorrrent using the default username and password shown earlier in the guide, we will be updating these.

  • Username: admin
  • Password: adminadmin

You will see an empty interface that is ready to start downloading torrents. BUT we’re not at that point yet as we’ve got some configuration left and we need to make sure the qBittorrent automatically stops when we lose the VPN connection and starts when the connection returns.

Auto Start qBittorrent

We’re going to go back to the OpenVPN files so cd into /etc/openvpn:

cd /etc/openvpn

To auto start qBittorrent when the VPN connection is established we need to edit route-up.sh.

sudo nano route-up.sh

And paste the following at the bottom of the file:

systemctl start qbittorrent

The file should look like:

#!/bin/sh
/etc/openvpn/update-systemd-resolved
# replace /etc/resolv.conf with special version for AirVPN
rm /etc/resolv.conf
cp /etc/resolv.conf.airvpn /etc/resolv.conf
systemctl start qbittorrent

 Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Auto Stop qBittorrent

To make sure no peer 2 peer traffic is sent over your clear internet connection we’re going to ensure the qBittorrent service is stopped before we lose our VPN connection.

To do this we’re going to add a line to down.sh:

sudo nano down.sh

Paste the following on line 2, above /etc/openvpn/update-systemd-resolved:

systemctl stop qbittorrent

The contents of the file should look like:

#!/bin/sh
systemctl stop qbittorrent
/etc/openvpn/update-systemd-resolved
# replace /etc/resolv.conf with special version for AirVPN
rm /etc/resolv.conf
cp /etc/resolv.conf.airvpn /etc/resolv.conf

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

Reboot your Raspberry Pi to ensure all our changes are applied:

sudo reboot

Check Everything is Working

After the reboot lets check everything is working as we expect.

In your web browser navigate to the qBittorrent Web UI as you did earlier and make sure it loads.

Now in the command line of the Raspberry Pi make sure the VPN has started automatically:

wget -qO- ifconfig.me/ip

Confirm the IP address is different from your clear public address.

Now we’re going to stop the OpenVPN service, make sure it stops qBittorrent and that we are now accessing the internet via our clear IP address:

sudo systemctl stop openvpn

Back in your web browser refresh the qBittorrent Web UI page and it should be unavailable.

Now start OpenVPN back up and do one final check to make sure qBittorrent came back to life:

sudo systemctl start openvpn

Once we’ve confirmed everything is working as expected we can pat our selves on the back for a job well done on installing the basics of our secure torrent client.

Configure qBittorrent

We won’t be storing the active or completed torrent files on the Raspberry Pi’s microSD card, we’ll want these stored on the external hard drive so we want to make sure qbtuser has access to this external drive. 

I’m mounting the drive to /mnt/Torrents so let’s update that with the right owner:

sudo chown -R qbtuser:qbtuser /mnt/Torrents

This will now allow qBittorrent to create and delete files from this directory.

We’re going to store the active and completed torrent files in separate folder on our external drive, so let’s create those:

sudo mkdir /mnt/Torrents/Active
sudo mkdir /mnt/Torrents/Finished

Now we have our folders setup, let’s login to the qBittorrent web ui and get configuring some basics.

Once logged in, click the options button from the top bar (crossed spanner and screw driver), or go to Tools then Options to open the options dialog.

Note: Depending on the version installed, the options button may be a cog as seen below.

The Options dialog will open on the Downloads tab. From here we’re going to update where finished and active torrents are stored.

In Save files to location replace the default with:

/mnt/Torrents/Finished

Tick the box to the left of Keep incomplete torrents in, and update the textbox to be:

/mnt/Torrents/Active

With the folder locations sorted now we want to update the port that qBittorrent listens on.

Click on theConnection tab at the top of the open dialog and at the top you will see Listening Port.

Lets update the Port used for incoming connections:

  • 165587

It can be anything (usually higher than 2048), but best to try and find something that is very rarely used as it will improve the odds of it being available when we request port forwarding from AirVPN.

Finally we want to change the default password for the Web UI.

Click on the Web UI tab at the top of the open dialog and scroll to the bottom.

In the Authentication section update the password to something secure that only you know and you’ll remember.

Port Forwarding

To be able to download torrents we need to do some port forwarding on our router and to get the best performance port forwarding for our VPN connection.

Port Forwarding AirVPN

To forward ports in AirVPN we do this from the Forwarded Ports section of the Client Area. For a direct link to Forwarded Ports click here.

    • Login to AirVPN.
    • Click Client Area from the tabs across the top.
    • Click Forwarded Ports from the menu on the left hand side.
    • In the large box at the top: 16587.
    • Protocol: TCP & UDP.
    • Local port: 16587.
    • Leave DDNS (?) blank.
    • Click Add.

If you get a message telling you the port is already reserved by another user, don’t worry, just keep trying others until you find one that works. Make sure to update qBittorrent as well.

Port Forwarding on Your Router

The principle of port forwarding is universal across all routers, but for this guide I’ll be showing how to do it with pfSense.

To add and apply the port forwarding follow the steps below:

  • Login to pfSense.
  • Firewall -> NAT -> Port Forward.
  • Add.
  • Interface – WAN.
  • Protocol – TCP/UDP.
  • Destination – WAN_Address.
  • Destination Port range – Other, 16587, Other, 16587.
  • Redirect target IP – Raspberry Pi IP (10.9.10.115).
  • Redirect target port – Other, 16587.
  • Description – qBittorrent Port Forward.
  • Save.
  • Apply Changes – At the top of the NAT page.

Your new NAT rule should like the one above before clicking save and applying the settings.

Once you’ve added and enabled the rule it should be visible on the page of NAT rules and look similar to the image above.

Firewall Rules

If you’re using pfSense you’ve most likely got everything locked down as much as possible. We’re going to need to open some ports to allow the torrent trackers to work. The trackers run on ports:

  • 1337.
  • 6969.

To enable these, let’s hop onto the firewall rules page, Firewall -> Rules -> LAN (or VLAN that the Raspberry Pi is on).

  • Firewall -> Rules -> LAN (or VLAN that the Raspberry Pi is on).
  • Add.
  • Action – Pass.
  • Interface – LAN (or VLAN that the Raspberry Pi is on).
  • Protocol TCP/UDP.
  • Source – Single host or alias 10.8.10.115 (Raspberry Pi IP Address).
  • Destination *tick Invert match*, LAN Address (I have multiple LAN networks so have an alias setup).
  • Destinate Port Range – Other, 1337, Other, 1337.
  • Description – Torrent tracker port 1337.

Let’s create another rule for port 6969. We could add these to an alias so only one rule is required, but fow now it keeps it simple and clear.

  • Firewall -> Rules -> LAN (or VLAN that the Raspberry Pi is on).
  • Add.
  • Action – Pass.
  • Interface – LAN (or VLAN that the Raspberry Pi is on).
  • Protocol TCP/UDP.
  • Source – Single host or alias 10.8.10.115 (Raspberry Pi IP Address).
  • Destination *tick Invert match*, LAN Address (I have multiple LAN networks so have an alias setup).
  • Destinate Port Range – Other, 6969, Other, 6969.
  • Description – Torrent tracker port 6969.

Once you’ve added and enabled the rules they should be visible on the page of firewall rules and look similar to the image below.

Complete!

The port forwarding is now complete. We can check that everything is working as expected by logging into qBittorrent and at the bottom the connection should now be green instead of yellow.

Download First Torrent

Now that everything is configured and setup let’s download our first torrent.

I use qBittorrent to download all my Linux images, so that’s a good place to start to check everything is working. Head on over to the Raspbian download page again and download the torrent file (ending .torrent).

In qBittorrent click the green Plus icon in the top left to add a new torrent file.

In the dialog that opens click brows to find your torrent file and select it.

Confirm the download location is correct (This was setup earlier and will stay the default).

Click Upload Torrents to start downloading.

Once you’ve added the torrent file you’ll notice it starts downloading. The download speed will depend on a number of factors, total seeds, your connection speed, speed of the VPN connection and on very fast connections, the processing power of the Raspberry Pi may be the limiting factor to maximising connection speeds as it needs to encrypt and de-encrypt all the traffic.

Once the download is complete lets check the finished folder to make sure it’s saved in the right place and with the correct user and group.

ls -al /mnt/Torrents/Finished/

Finished!

That’s it, we’ve finished setting up the secure torrent client. Now all downloads will be done via a VPN connection and it has a kill switch to stop any traffic being leaked if the connection drops.

One problem, how do we get the files off the Raspberry Pi now they’re downloaded? We’ll need to setup a network share!

Create a Network Share

 This guide assumes you’ll be connecting from a Windows computer so we are going to create a Samba share by installing the Samba server package:

sudo apt-get install samba -y

Once the package has installed we can configure the Samba server, this is done by editing the smb.conf file in /etc/samba/smb.conf.

Before we make any edits, lets make a backup of the original so we can always roll back:

sudo cp /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.bak

Now to update smb.conf:

sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

We’re going to enable WINS (Windows Internet Name Service) support.

Look for the line:

# wins support = no

And replace it with:

wins support = yes

Now to setup the Samba share, go to the end of the file and paste the following:

[FinishedTorrents] #This is the name of the share it will show up as when you browse
comment = Finished Torrents Folder
path = /mnt/Torrents/Finished
create mask = 0775
directory mask = 0775
read only = no
browseable = yes
public = yes
force user = qbtuser
valid users = qbtuser
only guest = no

Press Ctrl+x to exit and you’ll be prompted to Save modified. Type Y and then return to save the file.

We need to set a samba (memorable and secure) password for qbtuser, this will be used to connect to the share:

sudo smbpasswd -a qbtuser

Now we’ve finished setting it up lets restart the samba service:

sudo service smbd restart

Once the service has restarted let’s try and connect. If this fails, reboot your Raspberry Pi to ensure all settings have been updated.

The Raspberry Pi should be visible on your Network tab, but you can directly navigate to it using either the hostname or IP address of the Raspberry Pi in the address bar of a file explorer window.

\\10.8.10.115\FinishedTorrents

Logging in

On the first time logging in you’ll need to provide the user details

  • username: qbtuser
  • password: *Setup earlier*

Ticking Remember my credentials means you won’t have to go through this process each time you try to access the Raspberry Pi’s file share.

It’s not recommended to remember credentials on a shared computer as anyone will be able to access the share.

With everything going to plan you’ll see all of your finished torrents and be able to copy them out.

Finished! – Fully this time

Congratulations! If you’ve stuck with me until now, you have successfully finished setting up a secure torrent client with Samba server.

Pat yourself on the back and enjoy downloading completely legal torrents over a secure connection.

Further Reading

A lot of people like to manage their torrents using Sonarr, Radarr and Lidar, if this is something that interests you, checkout my guides:

Setup and Configure a Network Wide Adblocker

Setup and Configure a Network Wide Adblocker

Setup and Configure a Network Wide Adblocker

Overview

  • Completely Free.
  • Network-wide ad block on all devices.
  • Simple install – Just one line of code!

Pi-hole is one of the greatest Raspberry Pi projects ever, a network wide ad-blocker that’s easy to install and ensures all devices on you network benefit from it’s fantastic advert blocking magic.

It’s highly recommended to use a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ that is connected to the network via an Ethernet cable. Earlier models of Raspberry Pi will work as well, but for the best performance on a busy network use a Pi 3 B+.

Technical Jargon

IP Address (IP)

An IP address is a unique (numeral) address that is used to identify a device on the network. Every computer has an IP address and these are used by computers to talk to one another.

Think of it like your postal address or telephone number. If someone wants to contact you they use your unique address, this is the same for a computer and its IP.

Click here for a full detailed description of IP address.

Hostname

A computer hostname is similar to you wearing a name badge. Computers can be known by their unique IP address, or a nick name (hostname) can be assigned to them. The hostname is the easy to remember name of a computer and like the IP address must be unique on the network.

Click here for a full detailed description of computer hostnames.

DHCP

DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and a DHCP server is the server tasked with giving computers without an IP address their address. It is similar to going to the theater and the box office assigning you a seat. They make a note of your seat row and number so if you’re needed during the performance someone can find you. This is the same job the DHCP server has, it gives computer A an IP address and then gives that address to the DNS server so when other computers want to find computer A they are told where they can find them.

A server usually has a range of IP addresses it is allowed to hand out. E.g. 10.8.110.100 To 10.8.10.199. If you are using a static IP address you’ll want to pick one outside of the range.

Click here for a full detailed description of DHCP.

DNS

DNS  stands for Domain Name System. A DNS server is like an old fashioned address book. It holds all of the hostnames and IP addresses of computers on the network so when we want to talk to Computer A we can ask the DNS server for their address and they will find it for us. Once found we can then go and contact Computer A.

Click here for a full detailed description of DNS.

SSH

SSH stands for secure shell. SSH is an encrypted connection established between two computer programs. On the server side (the computer being connected to) a service is running that listens for another computer trying to contact it via SSH.

Click here for a full detailed description of SSH.

 

Assumptions

This guide assumes you have a fresh install of Raspbian on a headless server.

This guide assumes you have set a static IP address.

How to Install Pi-hole

Before we start we’re going to ensure the Raspberry Pi is up to date. Run the following commands to grab and install the latest packages:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade -y

Once everything is up to date it’s time to install Pi-hole using the following command. Note, this must be run by a user with sudo privileges (the user pi has sudo privileges):

curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

If you receive the error “curl: (60) SSL certificate problem: certificate is not yet valid”, don’t worry, you’ll just need to use the following command that ignores the reported error. We’ve added “k” to the list of options used during the installation. -k (or –insecure) allows curl to perform insecure SSL connections and transfers:

curl -sSLk https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

Once the installation starts you’ll be prompted with a number of windows. Most can be dismissed straight away with hitting return, but some will require input. The following images will run you through what to input.

A plea to support Pi-hole. If you want to donate anything, follow the URL. From here just hit enter to continue.

A network warning that we can ignore because we’ve already setup a static IP address. Hit return to continue.

This section allows you to select the Upstream DNS Provider. Pi-hole lists a number of popular DNS provides or you can input customs ones by scrolling down. Let’s scroll down and pick CloudFlare for this guide.

This page allows us to pick all the block lists that Pi-hole will use. It’s recommended to leave it as default and use all of the selected ones. We can white list any sites we want to allow through. E.g. Google Ads.

This page is asking which protocols we want to use Pi-hole on. It’s best to leave it as default and block ads on both PIv4 and IPv6.

This is just a confirmation before we continue of the IP address and gateway that will be used for Pi-hole configuration. Hit enter to continue.

This is just a warning about IP addresses. We’ve sorted this already so can ignore it. Hit enter to continue.

We’re going to be using the web admin interface to configure Pi-hole and check statistics. Make sure “On” is selected and hit return.

This is a completely fresh install so we don’t have an existing web server. Make sure “On” is selected and hit return to allow the Pi-hole installation to do the hard work for us on installing and configuring the web server.

To generated the statistics for the admin page we need to keep logs. Make sure On is selected and hit return.

FTL is what displays the graphs and statistics. We want to monitor everything we can so we’re going to select “Show everything” and hit return. After this the console will flash on and off as it installs, it could take a while depending on the speed of your microSD card, Raspberry Pi and internet. I made a lovely cuppa while it installed.

Congratulations! You’ve got a successful install of Pi-hole on your Raspberry Pi. Now you’re all ready to update your router and enable network wide adblocking. Make sure to take a note of the admin webpage login password.

Pi-hole Admin

Now you’ve successfully installed Pi-hole go to the url provided at the end of the installation. For mine it is http://10.8.10.115/admin and you should be greeted by an admin page showing high level information. At the moment mine is empty because we we’re not passing dns requests through it.

On the left hand side click Login and then enter the password from earlier. You’ll then be returned to an updated index page with more graphs and a lot more menus on the left hand side. If you have forgotten the password you can run the following command from the console to reset it and pick your own:

pihole -a -p

Once run you’ll be prompted for a new password and can imediately use the password to login to the admin web page.

I won’t be exploring any of the menus here, they are set to excellent defaults and most easily understandable.

The most likely menu you’ll use is Whitelist. The Whitelist is a list of websites that you want to allow adverts from. Maybe it’s your favourite content provide and you want to support them, or maybe you find certain adverts useful in your browsing. Just pop their URL in the Whitelist box, click add and you’ll be greeted with your whitelisted content.

Pi-hole Maintenance

There really isn’t much to do here, Pi-hole is pretty self regulating. Unfortunately it isn’t currently possible to update Pi-hole from the web interface. Keeping it simple and having it updated only when you decide to, if you login and see a new version is available the update process is a simple one.

SSH into the Raspberry Pi running Pi-hole and run the following:

pihole -up

This command will check for updates and if one is available update Pi-hole and reboot. If you’re feeling really clever you could set a CronTask to run periodically to automatically update Pi-hole.

Router Setup – Wiring it all up

The final step in the process is to direct all of your DNS requests through Pi-hole so it will start filtering what comes back and providing an advert free experience to all devices on your network.

I use pfSense as my router, so the following screenshots are probably of little to no use to you. However, the process is the same no matter what router you use so long as you have the ability to update your DNS servers.

First off, log into your router’s admin section and find the settings for DNS servers. If you’re using pfSense it’s System then General Setup.

Make a note of (in case everything goes wrong) the current DNS servers before deleting the entries.

Add a single DNS server with the IP address of the Raspberry Pi that is running Pi-hole and click save.

Now the DNS settings have been updated all of your devices should be using Pi-hole for their DNS resolution and you shouldn’t see any adverts (or at least very few) on any device that is connected to your network.

If you are having problems connecting to the internet after the change try restarting your device first to see if that fixes the problem. If everything fails, hop back into your router’s admin interface and put the original DNS server IPs back.

If you’re able to access the internet, jump back into Pi-hole’s web admin interface and see all the traffic that’s getting blocked!

Finished

Congratulations! You’ve got a working adblocker for every device on your network. It’s time to sit back and enjoy the internet in all it’s advert free glory!

If you want to test your adblocker is working, try a few of the sites below.

https://pi-hole.net/pages-to-test-ad-blocking-performance/ – A list of sites recommended by pi-hole themselves for testing everything is working.

https://ads-blocker.com/testing/ – A simple site for testing if adblock is working. Don’t see an advert? It’s working!

https://thepcspy.com/blockadblock/ – It’s an older site but gives a straight to the point popup telling you if your adblocker is working.