DNSMasq - Best Way to Surf Internet

by Susan Linton - May. 13, 2011Comments (5)

InternetDarkduck blogged today about alternative DNS services such as Google's DNS and OpenDNS. And while these services may function better and faster than your ISPs', there may still be issues that make just running your own caching service preferable.

Once upon a time I ran Bind on my server to upload my DNS record for my Website to root servers and as an added benefit I could use the DNS cache for faster Internet surfing. Well, when I changed ISPs I no longer had a static IP number and didn't wish to do all the grunt work myself anymore. No-IP handles all that for me now and quite adeptly. But that left my personal computers reliant upon my ISP's domain name service, which left a lot to be desired in response time.

After growing tired of slow response times I decided it was time to just run a personal domain name caching service. Bind seemed a bit overkill and it can be quite complicated. Other alternatives are much easier - such as DNSMasq. DNSMasq is available in just about every distro's repository and is really easy to set up and use.

I actually don't have any negative feelings towards OpenDNS other than a bit of lag there too at times. However, Google clearly does not have your best interest at heart. CEO Eric Schmidt has been quoted as basically saying if you want privacy, you have something to hide. They know enough about you already, don't voluntarily give them any more if you have a choice. And in this case you do.

DNSMasq not only offers a modicum of privacy, it speeds up surfing quite noticeably. Well, not actual surfing, but the time wait for my ISP's DNS response was getting to as much as 3 or 5 seconds. That can grow quite tiresome. DNSMasq will knock that down to milliseconds.

Now there's no reason for me to write a howto. First of all, it's not my forte. And more importantly, there are already dozens available. If you really want to jump in head first, here's a detailed article. Here's one Debian specific and one Ubuntu specific, although either are generic enough for any distro with minor adjustments. And several months ago when I went looking, I referred to the one here because it just looked the easiest to read.

So, yes, use OpenDNS or Google DNS is you really have to, but given a choice, DNSMasq is a much better solution.

Image credit: Lanet-vi program of I. Alvarez-Hamelin et al.

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"apt-get install bind9" now you are running bind. Set your wifi to hand out the IP address of the machine to your friends. You can get fancy with ispconfig but bind is not really that hard to run because Debian and other distributions have reasonable defaults.

Every house should have a gnu/linux NAT gateway and private lan. IP tables used to be easy to set up with KDE's guidedog but there are plenty of guides. This provides internet storage, OpenSSH file and X11 access to your entire network without port forwarding through a relatively insecure commercial box. Bind works well behind your NAT as well as on your free gateway. Give your local gnu/linux person a few hours worth of work. After initial set up, a day or two of effort with an old PC brought me a decade worth of benefits.

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Hi Susan,

Thanks for mentioning me on your blog!

To be honest, I prefer DNS pre-fetching to DNS cashing. Simply because of the same reasons I mentioned in my blog: domain can change IP address for whatever reason.

Google Chrome does pre-fetching of "fresh" DNS data, which means you (almost) do not need to wait for DNS server reply to skip to next page.

Dmitry (darkduck)

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I don't think the negative comments about Google Public DNS are warranted. Have you actually read the privacy policy for that particular service? Unless you think Google is lying, it is much better for the consumer than that of OpenDNS.

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John Selden is a fucking moron. Thank you.

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