A little while ago Google released an experimental response to the security and performance issues that plague DNS services today. Google Public DNS leverages the power of Google’s infrastructure in order to take the pressure of ISPs’ DNS services and help to provide better all-round experience to end users.

When Google’s search engine crawls the web it caches large amounts of DNS information and by utilising this information Google PublicDNS can help to serve lookups faster than many other DNS services.

I only heard about this service earlier today and thought it sounded promising so I gave it a go. After making some very quick adjustments to my network settings I was up and running and wow… The performance increase was more than noticeable, it was incredible! Obviously there are a lot of factors that come in to play when examining the speed of your browsing experience but the difference was too massive to dismiss the performance boost as coincidence.

If you are interested in trying this out you can find instructions on how to get set up as well as a lot of really interesting information abut the service on the Google Public DNS website.

Here’s some instructions for Ubuntu users. I’m currently using 11.04 beta (which is awesome by the way) but they are pretty generic for most versions of Ubuntu.

1. Go to System Settings
2. Click on Network Connections
3. Select the connection that you use (You will need to repeat the following steps for each connection e.g. wired, wireless, etc)
4. Click Edit
5. Now click on the IPv4 Settings tab
6. Write down the existing settings! (just in case things don’t go according to plan)
7. Change the ‘method’ to Automatic (DHCP) addresses only
8. In ‘DNS Servers’ enter: (there should be a space between the two addresses).
9. Click Save and enter your password if prompted.

You can check to see if your system is configured correctly using the following command:
sudo traceroute -n -w 2 -q 2 -m 30

The last line of the output should contain, if it doesn’t check out the troubleshoot info here.

You might need to install traceroute which can be done using the following command:
sudo apt-get install traceroute

I would add that this is an ‘experimental service’ so be prepared to have to switch back if it is discontinued. If you have any questions post them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Matt West