Workshop on 08/10/2019: DNS Sinkholes (inc. Pi-hole)

The talk this week was about setting up a DNS sinkhole. Essentially instead of the machines on your network sending their DNS requests either to your ISPs recursive name server (or to your router which then forwards the request to the same place)… instead setup your own DNS server which forwards these requests on instead, but it has the ability to record and create statistics for the kinds of things seeking to be resolved.

The software used in the lab demonstration was…

Click to visit their website

Basically we had a number of Raspberry Pi Zero boards in cases powered by PoE (with PoE splitters) and hooked up to USB ethernet adapters scattered around the desks.

Pi-hole can however run on various platforms including VMs and pretty much any distribution or hardware you like. See their website.

The Pi’s had been pre-setup with Raspbian already and just needed the software installing which is largely just done with a one liner (see this page for details)… Please note: this is very case sensitive!

curl -sSL | bash

Richard was leading this particular talk as he’d used the software before and was following his own notes which are provided below and were available for people to download on the day… (note: these are largely based on a thread/guide found over in the Linus Tech Tips forum)

Worked out very well, got some interesting results. Will definitely be revisiting this topic and others similar again in the near future.

In action!

You might have noticed we chose to go with Raspberry Pi Zero devices when testing out Pi-hole mostly due to their affordability, but they do need an additional USB ethernet adapter.

We’ve also found that a Zero model (compared to say a normal v3 model B for example) can be powered (if you’ve got a PoE switch or injector) with little micro USB PoE splitter adapter quite well.

Richard has also very graciously donated two kits of Raspberry Pi Zero’s to Function Office so they can be used with other similar StaffsLUG workshops which might need to use them.

Workshop on 24/09/2019: 20 years of StaffsLUG and Relaunch

A quick group photo to celebrate the relaunch, not all of us – just those that wanted to brave having their photo taken!

So we’ve decided to make a little blog post every time there has been a workshop meeting. It may be that these posts get created before the meeting with useful information that you may need before coming along… and then it’ll get updated afterwards.

The point of these isn’t to be a massively long drawn out recap of everything, but mostly to list out roughly what was covered/discussed and share any images/files (e.g. slides, if there was a presentation) that might be of use to people afterwards.

Basically this is mostly to act a reminder for people who came along, show you what you’re missing if you didn’t make it and generally provide nostalgia much later down the road. If you feel we’ve missed something on these posts just shout out in the comments box below.

Things discussed…

  • The new facilities now available to us courtesy of Function Office and one of their key benefactors Internet Central which is where the room is situated.
  • The numerous ways that we can now interact… Discord / Mailing Lists / Web Forum / IRC… with XMPP and NNTP coming soon.
  • OggCamp 2019 coming up, we’ll be going on the 19th October!
  • Who Richard / Steven / Mark are, that are volunteering the run the newly relaunched LUG.
  • A little talk was given by LUG co-founder Dave Roberts regarding when it all started and the kinds of places/events that the LUG has participated at in the past.
  • Potteries Hackspace being a thing, how they operate and what they do… leaflets available and encouraging people to check them out.
  • The LTSP setup we’ve put in place very quickly for people to use the PC’s.

Ideas raised…

  • Ideas for future workshop meetings included…
    • FreeNAS, OpenMediaVault and similar…
    • Backing up
    • Gaming on Linux
    • Raspberry Pi
    • Virtual Tabletop Gaming
    • Alternative Phablet OS’s
    • OpenWRT and other embedded OS’s
    • CAcert
    • FLOSS CCTV / IPTV controllers
    • Home Automation (in conjunction with Potteries Hackspace)
    • VBS / VBA / Excel macro Alternatives
    • Generally learning JavaScript, Python & Perl
    • Game engine recreations / opened up game engines

These are the rough slides / notes used to give the presentation, in OpenDocument Presentation format…

Whiteboard at the end of the meeting…