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A regular expression, or RegEx for short, is a pattern that can be used for building arbitrarily complex blocking rules in FTLDNS. We implement the POSIX Extended Regular Expressions similar to the one used by the UNIX egrep (or grep -E) command.

Our implementation is light and fast as each domain is only checked once for a match (if you query, it will be checked against your RegEx. Any subsequent query to the same domain will not be checked again until you restart pihole-FTL).

How to use regular expressions for blocking

FTLDNS reads in regular expression filters from /etc/pihole/regex.list (one expression per line, lines starting with # will be skipped). To tell FTLDNS to reload the list, either:

  • Execute the >recompile-regex API command (echo ">recompile-regex" | nc localhost 4711) or
  • Send SIGHUP to pihole-FTL (sudo killall -SIGHUP pihole-FTL) or
  • Restart the service (sudo service pihole-FTL restart)

Pi-hole Regex debugging mode

To ease the usage of regular expression filters in FTLDNS, we offer a regex debugging mode. Set

in your /etc/pihole/pihole-FTL.conf and restart pihole-FTL to enable or disable this mode.

Once the debugging mode is enabled, each match will be logged to /var/log/pihole-FTL.log in the following format:

[2018-07-17 17:40:51.304] DEBUG: Regex in line 2 "((^)|(\.))twitter\." matches ""
The given line number corresponds to the line in the file /etc/pihole/regex.list.

Note that validation is only done on the first occurrence of a domain to increase the computational efficiency of FTLDNS.