My home network is based around Ubiquiti’s UniFi, with a Security Gateway (USG) handling the NAT/firewall/routing duties. For ad blocking and to have better control over DNS I use Pi-hole running on a Raspberry Pi.
With the following settings you can have the two working well together with UniFi doing DHCP and Pi-hole doing DNS. Internal forward and reverse resolution will work, which means hostnames will appear properly for internal devices on both consoles while requests are still appropriately Pi-hole’d.
- Set up the Pi-hole and put it on the network at a static IP.
- In Pi-hole, under Settings → DNS turn on:
- Never forward non-FQDNs
- Never forward reverse lookups for private IP ranges
- Conditional forwarding with IP address of your DHCP server (router) as the USG
- Local domain name (optional) as your internal DNS suffix
- In the USG, set DHCP to hand out the Pi-hole’s IP for DHCP Name Server.
- In USG, under Services → DHCP → DHCP Server, set Register client hostname from DHCP requests in USG DNS forwarder to On.
- Leave the WAN interface’s DNS set to something public, such as what the ISP provides or Google’s 126.96.36.199/188.8.131.52 or whatever. This ensures that if the Pi-hole goes down then the USG can still resolve DNS.
After setting this up clients will use Pi-hole for DNS, as configured via DHCP. Requests for hostnames and addresses on the local network (shortnames or local suffix) will get forwarded to the USG, ensuring ensures that internal requests work properly.
Taking this a step further, I also have PiVPN running on the same Pi, to provide an endpoint for connecting into my home network via Wireguard. Pi-hole and PiVPN integrate very nicely and are designed to work together, making the setup very smooth.
By default, PiVPN sets the Pi-hole as the DNS via a
DNS option in the
[Interface] section of the config. To ensure appropriately geolocated search results when connected to VPN, use a DNS which supports Extended Client Subnet (ECS) (under Settings → DNS) on the Pi-hole.
(For reference, I’m running Pi-hole on a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B with 2GB of RAM and it has plenty of overhead for both Pi-hole for ~20 devices and sustaining 50 MByte/sec via Wireguard. The Pi-hole section of this was originally written up here on Reddit.)