Netflix DNS-unblocking without SNI for your Xbox 360, PS3, WDTV, Samsung TV

My poor man’s DNS-unblocking configuration using just a single, public IP address has one serious limitation: it will not run Netflix or Hulu Plus with non-SNI players like the PS3, Xbox 360, Samsung TVs, Sony BluRay players and possibly quite a few other devices. A commenter (kudos go out to Alex) suggested to use Netfilter’s DNAT port forwarding mechanism to overcome this limitation. Using DNAT you can forward packets based on the source-ip:port to a remote-ip:port.

So, here’s a modified version of the poor man’s DNS-unblocking approach. You will need some sort of Linux server at home to do this. I’m using a Raspberry Pi Linux mini computer which is up 24/7 on my LAN. And of course you will need a remote Linux server with an IP address registered in the U.S. You can get a low-end virtual private server for as low as $5/year. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to come up with a step-by-step tutorial because every LAN setup is different, hence you have to have some Linux and networking skills in order to get this baby up and running.

And here’s how this approach works: A DNS forwarder like Dnsmasq on your local Linux server will intercept domain names relevant for DNS unblocking. All other queries will be forwarded to the DNS resolver/forwarder of your choice (usually, this will be your router). The intercepted domain names will be resolved to IP addresses which are routed to your Linux server within your LAN. Depending on the resolved IP addresses and ports, iptables DNAT rules will forward the request to a HAProxy proxy on your remote server. Each domain name can have its own internal IP adress and thus its own listening port on your remote server’s HAProxy. And since every domain name can have it’s own HAProxy TCP proxy on your remote server, there’s no need for SNI! Continue reading

DNS unblocking using Dnsmasq and HAProxy

As I mentioned in my previous post, the open source DNS forwarder Dnsmasq is ideal for the DNS part of DNS unblocking. I’m running Dnsmasq on a $30 Raspberry Pi credit card sized mini computer which is up 24/7 anyway since it also handles all VOIP phone calls at home. I point my Mac, Apple TV and iPad to the RPi as the primary DNS server.
On the server side, I’ve setup a HAProxy instance using just a single IP address as a proof of concept. This poor-man’s approach works beautifully with SNI-capable devices like my Mac and iOS devices. I think newer Android devices are SNI-compatible as well but I haven’t tested it. Windows 7 and up should be OK too. Older devices like the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 are most likely not SNI-compatible and won’t work with my highly cost-efficient single IP address approach. Unfortunately, even some of the newest multimedia players don’t support SNI.

The HAProxy server is running on a lowend virtual private server in the U.S. As a starting point, feel free to use my proof of concept server as shown in the Dnsmasq configuration below. In the web browser, you should be able to watch Netflix, Hulu/HuluPlus, free episodes/TV shows on MTV, Disney XD, Syfy, NBC, ABC, Vevo, Crackle, PBS and CWTV. Netflix works on iPad and Apple TV too. HuluPlus could work on iOS as well. Continue reading

Tunlr-style DNS unblocking for Pandora, Netflix, Hulu et al

Since Tunlr closed down unexpectedly this week, I decided to publish my ideas and findings on the subject of DNS unblocking. I used Tunlr for some time when I decided to develop my own, private DNS unblocking solution last year.

Why VPNs are no good for streaming

DNS unblocking refers to a technique used to circumvent geo-fenced Internet services without the use of a VPN. When we’re using a VPN to access geo-fenced websites, usually all our Internet traffic gets routed through a remote VPN server. With DNS unblocking, only selected traffic gets routed through a remote proxy server, ideally just the minimum traffic required to trick geo-fenced services like Pandora, Netflix or Hulu into “thinking” our current geolocation is within the United States (or any other country required to pass the geo-fence). One advantage is that DNS unblocking works for all devices that allow custom DNS settings while a VPN only works on a computer or in the router. But the big advantage over a VPN is that DNS unblocking allows the full and intended use of Content Delivery Networks (CDN).

Continue reading