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• Domain name server
   – a server to translate IP aliases to addresses
• As you know, IP (internet protocol) works by providing
  every Internet machine with a unique address
   – as humans, we tend not to be able to remember lengthy strings
     of numbers so its easier for us to name our machines
   – DNS allows us to reference machines by name and still use IP
• DNS servers exist across the Internet (globally)
   – however, within a given domain, you might have a DNS that
     breaks that domain into subdomains
      • for instance, NKU is a domain known by the global DNS’s but within
        NKU, we might have and and, etc
      • these subdomains are known by our DNS, which then can pass this
        information onto other DNS’s around the world
• DNS requests use UDP (user datagram protocol) and
  typically communicate over port 53 to DNS servers
   – both request and response are usually single UDPs
                   How DNS Works
• The structure of DNS’s is tree-like
   – when you want to translate an IP alias to address, you ask your
     local DNS to perform the lookup of the given domain
      • if that information is not available locally, the DNS asks its nearest
        neighbor DNS, which will be one level higher
      • if that DNS does not have the information, it asks its next nearest
        neighbor (again, one level higher)
      • ultimately, if no DNS has the information on the path up the tree, you
        get an error
   – the precise location of a domain name in this hierarchy is
     known as a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) or absolute
     domain name
• If the alias has subdomains that are not known by the
  responding DNS, then it forwards the request to the
  domain’s DNS
• A DNS can act as a server to translate IP aliases and/or a
  cache which can merely cache previous lookups and
  respond if available
• A fully qualified domain name might be
     • here, the domain name is
     • the subdomain or subnet name is subnet1
     • and the host name is myhost
  – there will probably be a lot of DNS’s that have the IP
    address of
     • if your local DNS does not, it just needs to go to the next higher
       level (and so on up the hierarchy) to find the entry
  – however, it is possible that the DNS that has the mapping
    for does not know of the subnet1
    subdomain, so the DNS requests more information from’s DNS
     • it is likely that the subdomain information will be propagated to
       other DNS’s over time
     • what happens if decides to alter their IP address
       structure so that subnet1 is given a new address?
            The DNS Hierarchy

                        DNS Zone
• As shown on the previous slide, the DNS
  hierarchy is divided into zones
• What is a zone?
  – it represents an area of the Internet that is in one
    administered space
  – that is, there is a unit whose job is to administer that
     • as an example, is administered by IT while is administered by the computer science
       department, so these represent separate zones
        – it just so happens that IT administers the and the
     • these zones are not administered by other organizations on
       the Internet though so they are separate from say and
           Types of Name Servers
• An Authoritative name server is one that is configured
  from an original source
   – e.g., the system administrator for the given domain
• Two forms of authoritative name servers
   – master – where the original records are stored
   – slave – obtains its information from masters but can still be
     authoritative as long as they are up to date
      • to register a domain name, the information must be stored on at
        least one primary name server (a master) and at least one secondary
        name server (usually a slave)
      • you register your domain with the ICANN
• Aside from authoritative name servers, there are also
   – caching name servers – store recent DNS mapping results
     for more efficient access (these are configured with a
     “time-to-live” value to indicate how long entries are
   – recursive name servers – see the next slide
                Recursive Queries
• The DNS resolver is responsible for resolving a DNS
   – this runs on the client machine and its task is essentially to
     call the local DNS
      • the term “resolve” is used in linux to name the file, /etc/resolv.conf
• What happens if the mapping is either not available or
  only partially available at the local DNS?
   – if the local DNS is set up to be a recursive query DNS then
     it will pass the request on to the next DNS, recursively up
     the hierarchy until the address is fully resolved
           DNS Resource Records
• The DNS stores its mapping information as resource
  records, which contain the following fields
   – name (the fully qualified name, may use * wildcards to
     represent all subdomains of a given domain)
   – type of record (IPv4 addresses, IPv6 addresses, type of
     database records, certificate records, DHCP identifier, key
     records or key types (for encryption), PTRs, email address of
     the domain’s administrator, and other information)
   – class (IN for Internet), CN (for Chaos), HS (for Hesiod)
   – time to live in seconds (that is, how long the record is
   – length of the data field
   – type-specific data
• Example: *.X.Example.         MX 10 A.X.Example.
   – all hosts in the domain X.Example use the mail exchanger
     (MX) of A.X.Example
   – this record has a time to live of 10 second
• The Berkeley Internet Name Domain
  – this is the common tool used in Linux/Unix to implement
    a DNS
• BIND uses daemon named, which is the program in
  Linux for resolving IP addresses
  – bind’s configuration file is typically stored in
     • we will primarily be editing and working with this file
     • the syntax of this file is peculiar (based on C code), you have to
       be careful to keep it syntactically correct or else bind won’t run!
  – other bind resources are usually found in the /var/named
• If you choose to implement just a caching DNS then
  you would find the configuration file in
  /etc/named.caching-namserver.conf instead
• The file contains a list of statements in the form:
   – <statement> [“comment”] [<statement-class>] {
     <option>;<option>;…;<option>; };
      • the comment and statement-class are optional
      • you can have as many options as desired (at least 1 or else there would
        be no need for the statement!)
• Statements include
   – acl (access control statement) – dictate who can access the
     DNS – options are any, localhost, localnets, none, or a list of
     IP addresses or networks ending with ; (as in; or;)
   – include – to include other files with configuration information
     here to keep this file relatively short
      • since named.conf is readable by the world, to keep information secure
        you can move such information into include files
   – options – global server configuration settings (see next slide)
   – zone – to specify a zone within this domain
• allow-query, allow-recursion, blackhole
   – you provide previously defined acls here to indicate who can
     query or recurse with this DNS or who is disallowed access
• directory
   – Specifies the working directory if different from the default
• forwarders, forward
   – list of DNS’s that we should forward a request onto and how we
     should forward (first or only)
• listen-on
   – specify a particular machine or subnet that we will only listen to,
     e.g., listen-on {; }; would force us to only listen on
     the 10.2.3 subnet
   – defaults to listen to any incoming IP address
• notify
   – used to specify whether and which slaves to notify for updates
• The zone statement defines the characteristics of a
  given zone (subdomain)
   – you can define multiple zones here
• The format of the zone statement is
   – zone <name> <class> { <option>; <option>;…;
     <option>; };
      • class is optional
   – the zone name is extended to the domain name, so for
     instance if the domain name is and the zone
     is sales. then we have the subdomain
   – zone options are largely the same as the previous options
     but also include
      • allow-transfer – which slaves can obtain info
      • allow-update – the masters which can update this DNS
      • masters – list of DNS’s that are masters – only used if the type of
        this DNS is slave
      • type – delegation-only, forward, hint, master, slave
                      Zone Files
• Any zone statements in your main config file will
  also have an associated zone file
  – the zone file is stored in the named working directory
    (e.g., /var/named/)
• Each zone file will (may) include directives about
  that zone and resource records
  – the directives to specialize that zone
  – resource records define parameters of the zone and
    assign identifiers to individual hosts within that zone
    (e.g., an email server, a web server)
     • zone file directives begin with a $
  – the most common directives are
     • ORIGIN (to denote the name of this subdomain)
     • $INCLUDE
     • $TTL (time to live, or the default amount of time that a given
       resource record is valid)
 Zone Resource Record Statements
• These make up most of any zone file and consist
  of a number of record statements
• The format is <name> <class> <type> <value>
  where class is the network class (usually IN for
  Internet) and type is the type of record
  – an address record to specify the IP address of a given
    host name
     • e.g., zappa IN A
     • if the name is omitted, then the record is used for the zone’s
       name itself
  – a canonical name (CNAME) record maps one name
    onto another (for aliases) as in
     • ftp IN CNAME zappa ;; this makes zappa our ftp server
  – there are similar records to define a mail exchange
    (type is MX), name server (NS), pointer record (PTR)
    or start of authority (SOA) – see the next slide
                        SOA Format
• The SOA is used to specify authoritative information for the
  slave DNSs for the given zone
   – the SOA must be located after any directives but before any other
     resource records
• The format is: @ IN SOA <primary DNS> <hostmaster>
  (<serial-number>; <time-to-refresh>; <time-to-retry>; <time-
  to-expire>; <minimum-TTL>)
   – @ is replaced by $ORIGIN’s value, or the zone’s name if no
     $ORIGIN was provided
   – the <primary DNS> value is this zone’s authoritative DNS
   – <hostmaster> is the email of this zone’s administrator
   – <serial-number> is an initial numeric value used to indicate if this
     record has been modified and therefore needs to be sent to the slaves
     for updating
   – times default to be in seconds but can be modified using M (minute),
     H (hour), D (day) or W (week)
   – the values are the time before a slave should be refreshed, the time a
     slave should wait before requesting new information from the master
     if none is sent, the time before cached entries should expire and the
     default TTL if none is given
          Example /etc/named.conf file
options {
    directory "/var/named"; #tells DNS to use listed directory for other config files

     forward first; #check the "forwarders" before doing any resolution
     forwarders { # list of domain servers the check ("local" DNS)
    ; #internal DNS server for company

zone "." { #Settings for the ROOT ZONE
   type hint;          #Specifies this as the ROOT ZONE type
   file "root.hints"; #File containing links to root servers (/var/named/root.hints)

zone “" { #Used for reverse lookup
               #notice it is your network address backwards+"“
    type master; #Specifies this as a MASTER ZONE
    file "pz/10.2.3"; #File that contains the details for zone (/var/named/pz/10.2.3)
    allow-update { none; };
                   The pz/10.2.3 File
;Defines the local zone.
$ORIGIN         # defines our zone’s name
$TTL 86400                  # minimum TTL is 1 day
@ IN SOA  (
         1 ;Serial
         8H ;Refresh
         2H ;Retry
         1W ;Expire
         1D) ;Minimum TTL (not needed since we defined $TTL above)

server1 IN A # specifies a machine
www      IN CNAME server1 # assigns an alias as
dns     IN A # specifies authoritative DNS for this zone

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