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# The Domain Name System

Use of the Domain Name System has been discussed in previous chapters, without 
going into detail on the setup of the server providing the service. This chapter 
describes setting up a simple, small domain with one Domain Name System (DNS) 
nameserver on a NetBSD system. It includes a brief explanation and overview of 
the DNS; further information can be obtained from the DNS Resources Directory 
(DNSRD) at [](

## DNS Background and Concepts

The DNS is a widely used *naming service* on the Internet and other TCP/IP 
networks. The network protocols, data and file formats, and other aspects of the 
DNS are Internet Standards, specified in a number of RFC documents, and 
described by a number of other reference and tutorial works. The DNS has a 
distributed, client-server architecture. There are reference implementations for 
the server and client, but these are not part of the standard. There are a 
number of additional implementations available for many platforms.

### Naming Services

Naming services are used to provide a mapping between textual names and 
configuration data of some form. A *nameserver* maintains this mapping, and 
clients request the nameserver to *resolve* a name into its attached data.

The reader should have a good understanding of basic hosts to IP address mapping 
and IP address class specifications, see
[[Name Service Concepts|guide/net-intro#nsconcepts]].

In the case of the DNS, the configuration data bound to a name is in the form of 
standard *Resource Records* (RRs). These textual names conform to certain 
structural conventions.

### The DNS namespace

The DNS presents a hierarchical name space, much like a UNIX filesystem, 
pictured as an inverted tree with the *root* at the top.

    TOP-LEVEL                                .org  
                        |                      |                        |  

The system can also be logically divided even further if one wishes at different 
points. The example shown above shows three nodes on the domain, but 
we could even divide into subdomains such as 
"", "" and 
""; in this case, 2 nodes reside in 
"" and one in "".

There are directories of names, some of which may be sub-directories of further 
names. These directories are sometimes called *zones*. There is provision for 
symbolic links, redirecting requests for information on one name to the records 
bound to another name. Each name recognised by the DNS is called a *Domain 
Name*, whether it represents information about a specific host, or a directory 
of subordinate Domain Names (or both, or something else).

Unlike most filesystem naming schemes, however, Domain Names are written with 
the innermost name on the left, and progressively higher-level domains to the 
right, all the way up to the root directory if necessary. The separator used 
when writing Domain Names is a period, ".".

Like filesystem pathnames, Domain Names can be written in an absolute or 
relative manner, though there are some differences in detail. For instance, 
there is no way to indirectly refer to the parent domain like with the UNIX `..` 
directory. Many (but not all) resolvers offer a search path facility, so that 
partially-specified names can be resolved relative to additional listed 
sub-domains other than the client's own domain. Names that are completely 
specified all the way to the root are called *Fully Qualified Domain Names* or 
*FQDN*s. A defining characteristic of an FQDN is that it is written with a 
terminating period. The same name, without the terminating period, may be 
considered relative to some other sub-domain. It is rare for this to occur 
without malicious intent, but in part because of this possibility, FQDNs are 
required as configuration parameters in some circumstances.

On the Internet, there are some established conventions for the names of the 
first few levels of the tree, at which point the hierarchy reaches the level of 
an individual organisation. This organisation is responsible for establishing 
and maintaining conventions further down the tree, within its own domain.

### Resource Records

Resource Records for a domain are stored in a standardised format in an ASCII 
text file, often called a *zone file*. The following Resource Records are 
commonly used (a number of others are defined but not often used, or no longer 
used). In some cases, there may be multiple RR types associated with a name, and 
even multiple records of the same type.

#### Common DNS Resource Records

 * *A: Address* -- This record contains the numerical IP address associated with 
   the name.

 * *CNAME: Canonical Name* -- This record contains the Canonical Name (an FQDN 
   with an associated A record) of the host name to which this record is bound. 
   This record type is used to provide name aliasing, by providing a link to 
   another name with which other appropriate RR's are associated. If a name has 
   a CNAME record bound to it, it is an alias, and no other RR's are permitted 
   to be bound to the same name.

   It is common for these records to be used to point to hosts providing a 
   particular service, such as an FTP or HTTP server. If the service must be 
   moved to another host, the alias can be changed, and the same name will reach 
   the new host.

 * *PTR: Pointer* -- This record contains a textual name. These records are 
   bound to names built in a special way from numerical IP addresses, and are 
   used to provide a reverse mapping from an IP address to a textual name. This 
   is described in more detail in [[Reverse Resolution|guide/dns#bg-reverse]].

 * *NS: Name Server* -- This record type is used to *delegate* a sub-tree of the 
   Domain Name space to another nameserver. The record contains the FQDN of a 
   DNS nameserver with information on the sub-domain, and is bound to the name 
   of the sub-domain. In this manner, the hierarchical structure of the DNS is 
   established. Delegation is described in more detail in 

 * *MX: Mail eXchange* -- This record contains the FQDN for a host that will 
   accept SMTP electronic mail for the named domain, together with a priority 
   value used to select an MX host when relaying mail. It is used to indicate 
   other servers that are willing to receive and spool mail for the domain if 
   the primary MX is unreachable for a time. It is also used to direct email to 
   a central server, if desired, rather than to each and every individual 

 * *HINFO: Host Information* -- Contains two strings, intended for use to 
   describe the host hardware and operating system platform. There are defined 
   strings to use for some systems, but their use is not enforced. Some sites, 
   because of security considerations, do not publicise this information.

 * *TXT: Text* -- A free-form text field, sometimes used as a comment field, 
   sometimes overlaid with site-specific additional meaning to be interpreted by 
   local conventions.

 * *SOA: Start of Authority* -- This record is required to appear for each zone 
   file. It lists the primary nameserver and the email address of the person 
   responsible for the domain, together with default values for a number of 
   fields associated with maintaining consistency across multiple servers and 
   caching of the results of DNS queries.

### Delegation

Using NS records, authority for portions of the DNS namespace below a certain 
point in the tree can be delegated, and further sub-parts below that delegated 
again. It is at this point that the distinction between a domain and a zone 
becomes important. Any name in the DNS is called a domain, and the term applies 
to that name and to any subordinate names below that one in the tree. The 
boundaries of a zone are narrower, and are defined by delegations. A zone starts 
with a delegation (or at the root), and encompasses all names in the domain 
below that point, excluding names below any subsequent delegations.

This distinction is important for implementation - a zone is a single 
administrative entity (with a single SOA record), and all data for the zone is 
referred to by a single file, called a *zone file*. A zone file may contain more 
than one period-separated level of the namespace tree, if desired, by including 
periods in the names in that zone file. In order to simplify administration and 
prevent overly-large zone files, it is quite legal for a DNS server to delegate 
to itself, splitting the domain into several zones kept on the same server.

### Delegation to multiple servers

For redundancy, it is common (and often administratively required) that there be 
more than one nameserver providing information on a zone. It is also common that 
at least one of these servers be located at some distance (in terms of network 
topology) from the others, so that knowledge of that zone does not become 
unavailable in case of connectivity failure. Each nameserver will be listed in 
an NS record bound to the name of the zone, stored in the parent zone on the 
server responsible for the parent domain. In this way, those searching the name 
hierarchy from the top down can contact any one of the servers to continue 
narrowing their search. This is occasionally called *walking the tree*.

There are a number of nameservers on the Internet which are called *root 
nameservers*. These servers provide information on the very top levels of the 
domain namespace tree. These servers are special in that their addresses must be 
pre-configured into nameservers as a place to start finding other servers. 
Isolated networks that cannot access these servers may need to provide their own 
root nameservers.

### Secondaries, Caching, and the SOA record

In order to maintain consistency between these servers, one is usually 
configured as the *primary* server, and all administrative changes are made on 
this server. The other servers are configured as *secondaries*, and transfer the 
contents of the zone from the primary. This operational model is not required, 
and if external considerations require it, multiple primaries can be used 
instead, but consistency must then be maintained by other means. DNS servers 
that store Resource Records for a zone, whether they be primary or secondary 
servers, are said to be *authoritative* for the zone. A DNS server can be 
authoritative for several zones.

When nameservers receive responses to queries, they can *cache* the results. 
This has a significant beneficial impact on the speed of queries, the query load 
on high-level nameservers, and network utilisation. It is also a major 
contributor to the memory usage of the nameserver process.

There are a number of parameters that are important to maintaining consistency 
amongst the secondaries and caches. The values for these parameters for a 
particular domain zone file are stored in the SOA record. These fields are:

#### Fields of the SOA Record

 * *Serial* -- A serial number for the zone file. This should be incremented any 
   time the data in the domain is changed. When a secondary wants to check if 
   its data is up-to-date, it checks the serial number on the primary's SOA 

 * *Refresh* -- A time, in seconds, specifying how often the secondary should 
   check the serial number on the primary, and start a new transfer if the 
   primary has newer data.

 * *Retry* -- If a secondary fails to connect to the primary when the refresh 
   time has elapsed (for example, if the host is down), this value specifies, in 
   seconds, how often the connection should be retried.

 * *Expire* -- If the retries fail to reach the primary within this number of 
   seconds, the secondary destroys its copies of the zone data file(s), and 
   stops answering requests for the domain. This stops very old and potentially 
   inaccurate data from remaining in circulation.

 * *TTL* -- This field specifies a time, in seconds, that the resource records 
   in this zone should remain valid in the caches of other nameservers. If the 
   data is volatile, this value should be short. TTL is a commonly-used acronym, 
   that stands for "Time To Live".

### Name Resolution

DNS clients are configured with the addresses of DNS servers. Usually, these are 
servers which are authoritative for the domain of which they are a member. All 
requests for name resolution start with a request to one of these local servers. 
DNS queries can be of two forms:

 * A *recursive* query asks the nameserver to resolve a name completely, and 
   return the result. If the request cannot be satisfied directly, the 
   nameserver looks in its configuration and caches for a server higher up the 
   domain tree which may have more information. In the worst case, this will be 
   a list of pre-configured servers for the root domain. These addresses are 
   returned in a response called a *referral*. The local nameserver must then 
   send its request to one of these servers.

 * Normally, this will be an *iterative* query, which asks the second nameserver 
   to either respond with an authoritative reply, or with the addresses of 
   nameservers (NS records) listed in its tables or caches as authoritative for 
   the relevant zone. The local nameserver then makes iterative queries, walking 
   the tree downwards until an authoritative answer is found (either positive or 
   negative) and returned to the client.

In some configurations, such as when firewalls prevent direct IP communications 
between DNS clients and external nameservers, or when a site is connected to the 
rest of the world via a slow link, a nameserver can be configured with 
information about a *forwarder*. This is an external nameserver to which the 
local nameserver should make requests as a client would, asking the external 
nameserver to perform the full recursive name lookup, and return the result in a 
single query (which can then be cached), rather than reply with referrals.

### Reverse Resolution

The DNS provides resolution from a textual name to a resource record, such as an 
A record with an IP address. It does not provide a means, other than exhaustive 
search, to match in the opposite direction; there is no mechanism to ask which 
name is bound to a particular RR.

For many RR types, this is of no real consequence, however it is often useful to 
identify by name the host which owns a particular IP address. Rather than 
complicate the design and implementation of the DNS database engine by providing 
matching functions in both directions, the DNS utilises the existing mechanisms 
and creates a special namespace, populated with PTR records, for IP address to 
name resolution. Resolving in this manner is often called *reverse resolution*, 
despite the inaccurate implications of the term.

The manner in which this is achieved is as follows:

 * A normal domain name is reserved and defined to be for the purpose of mapping 
   IP addresses. The domain name used is `` which shows the 
   historical origins of the Internet in the US Government's Defence Advanced 
   Research Projects Agency's funding program.

 * This domain is then subdivided and delegated according to the structure of IP 
   addresses. IP addresses are often written in *decimal dotted quad notation*, 
   where each octet of the 4-octet long address is written in decimal, separated 
   by dots. IP address ranges are usually delegated with more and more of the 
   left-most parts of the address in common as the delegation gets smaller. 
   Thus, to allow delegation of the reverse lookup domain to be done easily, 
   this is turned around when used with the hierarchical DNS namespace, which 
   places higher level domains on the right of the name.

 * Each byte of the IP address is written, as an ASCII text representation of 
   the number expressed in decimal, with the octets in reverse order, separated 
   by dots and appended with the domain name. For example, to 
   determine the hostname of a network device with IP address, this 
   algorithm would produce the string `` which is a 
   legal, structured Domain Name. A normal nameservice query would then be sent 
   to the nameserver asking for a PTR record bound to the generated name.
 * The PTR record, if found, will contain the FQDN of a host.

One consequence of this is that it is possible for mismatch to occur. Resolving 
a name into an A record, and then resolving the name built from the address in 
that A record to a PTR record, may not result in a PTR record which contains the 
original name. There is no restriction within the DNS that the "reverse" mapping 
must coincide with the "forward" mapping. This is a useful feature in some 
circumstances, particularly when it is required that more than one name has an A 
record bound to it which contains the same IP address.

While there is no such restriction within the DNS, some application server 
programs or network libraries will reject connections from hosts that do not 
satisfy the following test:

 * the state information included with an incoming connection includes the IP 
   address of the source of the request.

 * a PTR lookup is done to obtain an FQDN of the host making the connection

 * an A lookup is then done on the returned name, and the connection rejected if 
   the source IP address is not listed amongst the A records that get returned.

This is done as a security precaution, to help detect and prevent malicious 
sites impersonating other sites by configuring their own PTR records to return 
the names of hosts belonging to another organisation.

## The DNS Files

Now let's look at actually setting up a small DNS enabled network. We will 
continue to use the examples mentioned in [Chapter 24, *Setting up TCP/IP on 
NetBSD in practice*](chap-net-practice.html "Chapter 24. Setting up TCP/IP on 
NetBSD in practice"), i.e. we assume that:

 * Our IP networking is working correctly
 * We have IPNAT working correctly
 * Currently all hosts use the ISP for DNS

Our Name Server will be the `strider` host which also runs IPNAT, and our two 
clients use "strider" as a gateway. It is not really relevant as to what type of 
interface is on "strider", but for argument's sake we will say a 56k dial up 

So, before going any further, let's look at our `/etc/hosts` file on "strider"
before we have made the alterations to use DNS.

**Example strider's `/etc/hosts` file**       localhost     strider     samwise sam     wormtongue worm

This is not exactly a huge network, but it is worth noting that the same rules 
apply for larger networks as we discuss in the context of this section.

The other assumption we want to make is that the domain we want to set up is 
``, and that the domain is only known on our internal network, and 
not worldwide. Proper registration of the nameserver's IP address as primary 
would be needed in addition to a static IP. These are mostly administrative 
issues which are left out here.

The NetBSD operating system provides a set of config files for you to use for 
setting up DNS. Along with a default `/etc/named.conf`, the following files are 
stored in the `/etc/namedb` directory:

 * `localhost`
 * `127`
 * `loopback.v6`
 * `root.cache`

You will see modified versions of these files in this section, and I strongly 
suggest making a backup copy of the original files for reference purposes.

*Note*: The examples in this chapter refer to BIND major version 8, however, it 
should be noted that format of the name database and other config files are 
almost 100% compatible between version. The only difference I noticed was that 
the `$TTL` information was not required.

### /etc/named.conf

The first file we want to look at is `/etc/named.conf`. This file is the config 
file for bind (hence the catchy name). Setting up system like the one we are 
doing is relatively simple. First, here is what mine looks like:

    options {
            directory "/etc/namedb";
            allow-transfer {; };
            allow-query {; };
            listen-on port 53 {; };
    zone "localhost" {
       type master;
       notify no;
       file "localhost";
    zone "127.IN-ADDR.ARPA" {
       type master;
       notify no;
       file "127";
    zone "" {
       type master;
       file "loopback.v6";
    zone "" {
       type master;
       notify no;
       file "";
    zone "" {
       type master;
       notify no;
       file "1.168.192";
    zone "." in {
       type hint;
       file "root.cache";

Note that in my `named.conf` the root (".") section is last, that is because 
there is another domain called on the internet (I happen to own it) 
so I want the resolver to look out on the internet last. This is not normally 
the case on most systems.

Another very important thing to remember here is that if you have an internal 
setup, in other words no live internet connection and/or no need to do root 
server lookups, comment out the root (".") zone. It may cause lookup problems if 
a particular client decides it wants to reference a domain on the internet, 
which our server couldn't resolve itself.

Looks like a pretty big mess, upon closer examination it is revealed that many 
of the lines in each section are somewhat redundant. So we should only have to 
explain them a few times.

Lets go through the sections of `named.conf`:

#### options

This section defines some global parameters, most noticeable is the location of 
the DNS tables, on this particular system, they will be put in `/etc/namedb` as 
indicated by the "directory" option.

Following are the rest of the params:

 * `allow-transfer` -- This option lists which remote DNS servers acting as 
   secondaries are allowed to do zone transfers, i.e. are allowed to read all 
   DNS data at once. For privacy reasons, this should be restricted to secondary 
   DNS servers only.

 * `allow-query` -- This option defines hosts from what network may query this 
   name server at all. Restricting queries only to the local network 
   ( prevents queries arriving on the DNS server's external 
   interface, and prevent possible privacy issues.

 * `listen-on port` -- This option defined the port and associated IP addresses 
   this server will run 
   on. Again, the "external" interface is not listened here, to prevent queries 
   getting received from "outside".

The rest of the `named.conf` file consists of `zone`s. A zone is an area that 
can have items to resolve attached, e.g. a domain can have hostnames attached to 
resolve into IP addresses, and a reverse-zone can have IP addresses attached 
that get resolved back into hostnames. Each zone has a file associated with it, 
and a table within that file for resolving that particular zone. As is readily 
apparent, their format in `named.conf` is strikingly similar, so I will 
highlight just one of their records:

#### zone

 * `type` -- The type of a zone is usually of type "master" in all cases except 
   for the root zone `.` and for zones that a secondary (backup) service is 
   provided - the type obviously is "secondary" in the latter case.

 * `notify` -- Do you want to send out notifications to secondaries when your 
   zone changes? Obviously not in this setup, so this is set to "no".

 * `file` -- This option sets the filename in our `/etc/namedb` directory where 
   records about this particular zone may be found. For the "" zone, 
   the file `/etc/namedb/` is used.

### /etc/namedb/localhost

For the most part, the zone files look quite similar, however, each one does 
have some unique properties. Here is what the `localhost` file looks like:

     1|$TTL    3600
     2|@              IN SOA (
     3|                        1       ; Serial
     4|                        8H      ; Refresh
     5|                        2H      ; Retry
     6|                        1W      ; Expire
     7|                        1D)     ; Minimum TTL
     8|               IN NS   localhost.
     9|localhost.     IN      A
    10|               IN      AAAA    ::1

Line by line:

 * *Line 1*: This is the Time To Live for lookups, which defines how long other 
   DNS servers will cache that value before discarding it. This value is 
   generally the same in all the files.

 * *Line 2*: This line is generally the same in all zone files except 
   `root.cache`. It defines a so-called "Start Of Authority" (SOA) header, which 
   contains some basic information about a zone. Of specific interest on this 
   line are "" and "" (note the trailing 
   dots!). Obviously one is the name of this server and the other is the contact 
   for this DNS server, in most cases root seems a little ambiguous, it is 
   preferred that a regular email account be used for the contact information, 
   with the "@" replaced by a "." (for example, mine would be 

 * *Line 3*: This line is the serial number identifying the "version" of the 
   zone's data set (file). The serial number should be incremented each time 
   there is a change to the file, the usual format is to either start with a 
   value of "1" and increase it for every change, or use a value of "YYYYMMDDNN" 
   to encode year (YYYY), month (MM), day (DD) and change within one day (NN) in 
   the serial number.

 * *Line 4*: This is the refresh rate of the server, in this file it is set to 
   once every 8 hours.

 * *Line 5*: The retry rate.

 * *Line 6*: Lookup expiry.

 * *Line 7*: The minimum Time To Live.

 * *Line 8*: This is the Nameserver line, which uses a "NS" resource record to 
   show that "localhost" is the only DNS server handing out data for this zone 
   (which is "@", which indicates the zone name used in the `named.conf` file, 
   i.e. "") is, well, "localhost".

 * *Line 9*: This is the localhost entry, which uses an "A" resource record to 
   indicate that the name "localhost" should be resolved into the IP-address for IPv4 queries (which specifically ask for the "A" record).

 * *Line 10*: This line is the IPv6 entry, which returns ::1 when someone asks 
   for an IPv6-address (by specifically asking for the AAAA record) of 

### /etc/namedb/zone.127.0.0

This is the reverse lookup file (or zone) to resolve the special IP address back to "localhost":

     1| $TTL    3600
     2| @              IN SOA (
     3|                        1       ; Serial
     4|                        8H      ; Refresh
     5|                        2H      ; Retry
     6|                        1W      ; Expire
     7|                        1D)     ; Minimum TTL
     8|                 IN NS   localhost.
     9| 1.0.0           IN PTR  localhost.

In this file, all of the lines are the same as the localhost zonefile with 
exception of line 9, this is the reverse lookup (PTR) record. The zone used here 
is "@" again, which got set to the value given in `named.conf`, i.e. 
"". This is a special "domain" which is used to do 
reverse-lookup of IP addresses back into hostnames. For it to work, the four 
bytes of the IPv4 address are reserved, and the domain "" attached, 
so to resolve the IP address "", the PTR record of 
"" is queried, which is what is defined in that line.

### /etc/namedb/

This zone file is populated by records for all of our hosts. Here is what it 
looks like:

     1| $TTL    3600
     2| @              IN SOA (
     3|                         1       ; serial
     4|                         8H      ; refresh
     5|                         2H      ; retry
     6|                         1W      ; expire
     7|                         1D )    ; minimum seconds
     8|                 IN NS
     9|                 IN MX   10   ; primary mail server
    10|                 IN MX   20   ; secondary mail server
    11| strider         IN A
    12| samwise         IN A
    13| www             IN CNAME
    14| worm            IN A

There is a lot of new stuff here, so lets just look over each line that is new 

 * *Line 9*: This line shows our mail exchanger (MX), in this case it is 
   "strider". The number that precedes "" is the priority 
   number, the lower the number their higher the priority. The way we are setup 
   here is if "strider" cannot handle the mail, then "samwise" will.

 * *Line 11*: CNAME stands for canonical name, or an alias for an existing 
   hostname, which must have an A record. So we have aliased `` 
   to ``.

The rest of the records are simply mappings of IP address to a full name (A 

### /etc/namedb/1.168.192

This zone file is the reverse file for all of the host records, to map their IP 
numbers we use on our private network back into hostnames. The format is similar 
to that of the "localhost" version with the obvious exception being the 
addresses are different via the different zone given in the `named.conf` file, 
i.e. "" here:

     1|$TTL    3600
     2|@              IN SOA (
     3|                     1       ; serial
     4|                     8H      ; refresh
     5|                     2H      ; retry
     6|                     1W      ; expire
     7|                     1D )    ; minimum seconds
     8|               IN NS
     9|1              IN PTR
    10|2              IN PTR
    11|3              IN PTR

### /etc/namedb/root.cache

This file contains a list of root name servers for your server to query when it 
gets requests outside of its own domain that it cannot answer itself. Here are 
first few lines of a root zone file:

    ;       This file holds the information on root name servers needed to
    ;       initialize cache of Internet domain name servers
    ;       (e.g. reference this file in the "cache  .  <file>"
    ;       configuration file of BIND domain name servers).
    ;       This file is made available by InterNIC
    ;       under anonymous FTP as
    ;           file                /domain/db.cache
    ;           on server           FTP.INTERNIC.NET
    ;       -OR-                    RS.INTERNIC.NET
    ;       last update:    Jan 29, 2004
    ;       related version of root zone:   2004012900
    ; formerly NS.INTERNIC.NET
    .                        3600000  IN  NS    A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET.
    A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET.      3600000      A
    ; formerly NS1.ISI.EDU
    .                        3600000      NS    B.ROOT-SERVERS.NET.
    B.ROOT-SERVERS.NET.      3600000      A
    ; formerly C.PSI.NET
    .                        3600000      NS    C.ROOT-SERVERS.NET.
    C.ROOT-SERVERS.NET.      3600000      A

This file can be obtained from ISC at <> and usually comes 
with a distribution of BIND. A `root.cache` file is included in the NetBSD 
operating system's "etc" set.

This section has described the most important files and settings for a DNS 
server. Please see the BIND documentation in `/usr/src/dist/bind/doc/bog` and 
for more information.

## Using DNS

In this section we will look at how to get DNS going and setup "strider" to use 
its own DNS services.

Setting up named to start automatically is quite simple. In `/etc/rc.conf` 
simply set `named=yes`. Additional options can be specified in `named_flags`, 
for example, I like to use `-g nogroup -u nobody`, so a non-root account runs 
the "named" process.

In addition to being able to startup "named" at boot time, it can also be 
controlled with the `ndc` command. In a nutshell the `ndc` command can stop, 
start or restart the named server process. It can also do a great many other 
things. Before use, it has to be setup to communicate with the "named" process, 
see the [ndc(8)]( 
man pages for more details on setting up communication channels between "ndc" 
and the "named" process.

Next we want to point "strider" to itself for lookups. We have two simple steps, 
first, decide on our resolution order. On a network this small, it is likely 
that each host has a copy of the hosts table, so we can get away with using 
`/etc/hosts` first, and then DNS. However, on larger networks it is much easier 
to use DNS. Either way, the file where order of name services used for 
resolution is determined is `/etc/nsswitch.conf` (see 
[[`nsswitch.conf`|guide/net-practice#ex-nsswitch]]. Here is part of a typical 

    group_compat:   nis
    hosts:          files dns
    netgroup:       files [notfound=return] nis

The line we are interested in is the "hosts" line. "files" means the system uses 
the `/etc/hosts` file first to determine ip to name translation, and if it can't 
find an entry, it will try DNS.

The next file to look at is `/etc/resolv.conf`, which is used to configure DNS 
lookups ("resolution") on the client side. The format is pretty self explanatory 
but we will go over it anyway:


In a nutshell this file is telling the resolver that this machine belongs to the 
"" domain, which means that lookups that contain only a hostname 
without a "." gets this domain appended to build a FQDN. If that lookup doesn't 
succeed, the domains in the "search" line are tried next. Finally, the 
"nameserver" line gives the IP addresses of one or more DNS servers that should 
be used to resolve DNS queries.

To test our nameserver we can use several commands, for example:

    # host sam has address

As can be seen, the domain was appended automatically here, using the value from 
`/etc/resolv.conf`. Here is another example, the output of running

    $ host is an alias for has address has address has address has address has address has address has address has address

Other commands for debugging DNS besides 
[host(1)]( are 
[dig(1)]( Note 
is *not* useful for debugging DNS, as it will use whatever is configured in 
`/etc/nsswitch.conf` to do the name-lookup.

At this point the server is configured properly. The procedure for setting up 
the client hosts are easier, you only need to setup `/etc/nsswitch.conf` and 
`/etc/resolv.conf` to the same values as on the server.

## Setting up a caching only name server

A caching only name server has no local zones; all the queries it receives are 
forwarded to the root servers and the replies are accumulated in the local 
cache. The next time the query is performed the answer will be faster because 
the data is already in the server's cache. Since this type of server doesn't 
handle local zones, to resolve the names of the local hosts it will still be 
necessary to use the already known `/etc/hosts` file.

Since NetBSD supplies defaults for all the files needed by a caching only 
server, it only needs to be enabled and started and is immediately ready for 
use! To enable named, put `named=yes` into `/etc/rc.conf`, and tell the system 
to use it adding the following line to the `/etc/resolv.conf` file:

    # cat /etc/resolv.conf

Now we can start named:

    # sh /etc/rc.d/named restart

### Testing the server

Now that the server is running we can test it using the 

    $ nslookup
    Default server: localhost

Let's try to resolve a host name, for example "":

    Server:  localhost

If you repeat the query a second time, the result is slightly different:

    Server:  localhost
    Non-authoritative answer:

As you've probably noticed, the address is the same, but the message 
`Non-authoritative answer` has appeared. This message indicates that the answer 
is not coming from an authoritative server for the domain but from 
the cache of our own server.

The results of this first test confirm that the server is working correctly.

We can also try the 
[host(1)]( and 
[dig(1)]( commands, 
which give the following result.

    $ host has address
    $ dig
    ; <<>> DiG 8.3 <<>>
    ;; res options: init recurs defnam dnsrch
    ;; got answer:
    ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 19409
    ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 5, ADDITIONAL: 0
    ;;, type = A, class = IN
    ;; ANSWER SECTION:         23h32m54s IN A
    ;; AUTHORITY SECTION:             23h32m54s IN NS             23h32m54s IN NS             23h32m54s IN NS             23h32m54s IN NS             23h32m54s IN NS
    ;; Total query time: 14 msec
    ;; FROM: miyu to SERVER:
    ;; WHEN: Thu Nov 25 22:59:36 2004
    ;; MSG SIZE  sent: 32  rcvd: 175 

As you can see 
[dig(1)]( gives 
quite a bit of output, the expected answer can be found in the "ANSWER SECTION". 
The other data given may be of interest when debugging DNS problems.

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