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How to Install Pi-hole on the Orange Pi Zero

I’ve already written a review of the Orange Pi Zero. As it turns out, this little board is perfect for running your own Pi-hole! It’s probably even better than a Raspberry Pi! The cheapest Raspberry Pi you can get with a wired ethernet connection is the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+, which is listed for $28.95 at PiShop.us (as of May 2021). In contrast, you can get an Orange Pi Zero 512MB for $16.99 + ~$4.00 shipping from AliExpress, or a couple dollars more with a case. (You can also find these items on Amazon, but shipping is more expensive there.) In total, you can save about 30% compared to the Raspberry Pi! Of course, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is probably cheaper, but the Pi-hole really is a lot more stable and fast when it has a wired connection, so the Raspberry Pi Zero W isn’t a good choice for the Pi-hole. But the Orange Pi Zero has a wired connection and performs great!

So, you’ve bought your Orange Pi Zero, now what? All the tutorials seem to be for Raspberry Pi, so how do you set up Pi-hole on your new Orange Pi Zero? There are 2 things you need to accomplish. First, you need to install Linux on your Pi and get SSH access. Then, you need to install and set up the Pi-hole software.

Install Armbian Linux on the Orange Pi Zero

  1. Download Armbian Focal from the Armbian Orange Pi Zero page. Armbian Focal is based on Ubuntu Focal. (If a newer Ubuntu-based Armbian image is available, that should also work.)
  2. Download Balena Etcher and use it to create an SD card based on the Armbian image you downloaded. For more detailed instructions, see the Armbian docs.
  3. Put the SD card in the Pi, plug the Pi into your network via ethernet, and plug in the power cable to turn it on.
  4. You’ll have to figure out the IP address of the Pi so you can SSH to it. The easiest way is to look for the device in your router’s devices list, often at http://192.168.1.1 or on a label on your router. Alternatively, you can use the Fing App or Angry IP to find the IP of the Pi device.
  5. SSH to the Pi and login. On macOS, you can simply run ssh root@<pi-ip-address-here> (and replace <pi-ip-address-here> with the actual IP from step 4). On Windows, you’ll have to install an SSH client like PuTTY and use that to connect.
  6. As described in the docs, login as root using password 1234 and create a new user account for yourself. You can run exit to log out and disconnect.

Congrats, you’ve installed Linux on your Orange Pi and logged in! Now, let’s install and set up Pi-hole!

Install and Setup Pi-hole

Installing the Pi-hole software is pretty easy, and you can use the official instructions if you get confused or want more detail.

  1. Connect to the Pi using the account you created in step 6 above. To do so, run ssh <your-username>@<pi-ip-address-here> on macOS, or similarly using PuTTY on Windows.
  2. Run curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash on the Pi.
  3. Configure your network to use the Pi-hole as its DNS server. This is the critical step that will make bad domains (advertisers, etc) be blocked on your network.

Well, that’s it! You should now have network-wide ad blocking with your Pi-hole!

And if you ever want to temporarily disable it, see how to do so here.

Did you like this tutorial? Let me know @mike_kasberg

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