Automating The Update of the Android ‘Hosts’ File to Block Ads And Other Stuff

HupdateRecently, I wrote two posts (see here and here) on how to use the Android/Linux 'hosts' file to block advertising and unwanted automatic OS downloads. Since then I've taken the approach further and have put the 'hosts' file for blocking on Github from where it can be downloaded by anyone.

To simplify usage I've put together a couple of scripts:

One script that runs in a terminal app on Android can be used for occasional updates of the blocking list. The script would have been a no-brainer but unfortunately the Android Busybox 'wget' implementation does not support https. Github, however, rightly insists on using https. So I had to find a different solution. The solution I found is to use 'curl'. Fortunately, the curl developers provide binaries for a number of operating systems, including Android here. The zip file for Android contains 'curl' and 'openssl' which have to be copied to '/system/bin' on a rooted Android device. The script to download the hosts file and copy it to '/etc/hosts' then looks as follows:  

mount -o rw,remount /system
cd /etc
mv hosts.blocked hosts.blocked.bak

curl -k >hosts.blocked

cp hosts.blocked hosts
mount -o ro,remount /system

In addition, '' (hosts — open) puts the original 'hosts' file back in place to disable blocking while '' (hosts — block) overwrites the 'hosts' file with a local copy of the blocking list to switch blocking back on again.

Simple, effective and quick!