Miscellaneous ephemera…

Ad Blocking with Hostsblock

The relentless commercialization of traditional holidays, not just the December variety but all of them now, means that what was ostensibly an occasion for celebrating your particular flavour of $deity, pagan ritual or just an opportunity to reconnect with your wider family, has been co-opted to the worship of the most pernicious of all cults, consumerism.

Concomitant with this is the increasing corporatisation of the Internet; the deliberate and seemingly ineluctable effort by a relatively small number of global interests to turn most of the Internet into something more like cable television. As someone who has not lived with a television for decades precisely because I don’t want to live in a Skinner box that is solely designed to condition me to compliantly purchase more product, I find this rankly offensive (in the sense of morally repugnant as well as a coordinated and remorseless assault).

With the escalation of both the level and nauseating intensity of advertising around the “holiday season” and the almost hysterical exhortations to purchase more happiness, I decided that the one thing that I would be really thankful for this Christmas was better ad blocking.

I had been using Privoxy and an AUR script, blocklist-to-privoxy but I was still experiencing a lot of ads sneaking through (particularly local ones) and some unintended side effects of using Privoxy for this job, so I decide to give Jake VanderKolk’s Hostsblock a shot.

I went with the basic, entry level setup: kwakd for serving blank HTML in place of ads and hostsblock to write to my /etc/hosts. I didn’t see the need for dnsmasq and, after a week or so or using it haven’t seen the need to revisit that decision.

Suffice to say, it is working brilliantly. Where once web pages were festooned with garish advertisements promising me ripped abdominals, tropical holidays and the lasting serenity that only Apple products can really truly deliver, I now have glorious whitespace

There are a couple of other factors to consider with Hostsblock. There is a very simple command line interface for managing black and white listing of websites, and the various “content distribution networks” that infest most commercial sites like fleas. You can easily allow advertisements on or from sites and organizations that you want to support, while forever muting the inane drivel from the likes of Failbook et al.

Installation and setup are very straightforward, with simple instructions on the Hostsblock site. There is also an active thread on the Arch boards where Jake and a couple of others are extremely helpful.

If you are feeling listless, run-down and lacking in energy, why not try Hostsblock? It will make your web pages brighter, speed up your page loads, protect your privacy and make you insanely popular. Try Hostsblock today!


ad free, a Creative Commons image by Louisa Billeter on Flickr.