List the hostnames and ip addresses for three of the name servers for the edu top-level domain

System Administration Guide: Naming and Directory Services (DNS, NIS, and LDAP)

Chapter 3 Domain Name System (Overview)

This chapter describes the structure and provides an overviewof the Domain Name System (DNS).

Note –

One of the most common and important uses of DNS is connectingyour network to the global Internet. To connect to the Internet, your networkIP address must be registered with whomever is administering your parent domain.

This chapter covers the following topics.

DNS Basics

The Domain Name System (DNS) is an application–layer protocolthat is part of the standard TCP/IP protocol suite. This protocol implementsthe DNS naming service, which is the naming service used on the Internet.

This section introduces the basic DNS concepts. It assumes that youhave some familiarity with network administration, particularly TCP/IP, andsome exposure to other naming services, such as NIS+ and NIS.

Refer to Chapter 4, Administering DNS (Tasks) for information regarding initialsetup and configuration of DNS.

Note –

DNS, NIS+, NIS, and FNS provide similar functionality and sometimesuse the same terms to define different entities. Thus, this chapter takescare to define terms like domain and name server according to their DNS functionality,a very different functionality than NIS+ and NIS domains and servers.

Name-to-Address Resolution

Though it supports the complex, worldwide hierarchy of computerson the Internet, the basic function of DNS is actually very simple: providing name-to-address resolution for TCP/IP-based networks. Name-to-addressresolution, also referred to as mapping, is the process of finding the IPaddress of a computer in a database by using its host name as an index.

Name-to-address mapping occurs when a program running on your localmachine needs to contact a remote computer. The program most likely will knowthe host name of the remote computer but might not know how to locate it,particularly if the remote machine is in another company, miles from yoursite. To get the remote machine’s address, the program requests assistancefrom the DNS software running on your local machine, which is considered a DNS client.

Your machine sends a request to a DNS name server,which maintains the distributed DNS database. The files in the DNS databasebear little resemblance to the NIS+ host or ipnodes Table or even the local /etc/hosts or /etc/inet/ipnodes file, though they maintain similar information:the host names, the ipnode names, IPv4 and IPv6 addresses,and other information about a particular group of computers. The name serveruses the host name your machine sent as part of its request to find or “resolve”the IP address of the remote machine. It then returns this IP address to yourlocal machine if the host name is in its DNS database.

The following figure shows name-to-address mapping as it occurs betweena DNS client and a name server, probably on the client’s local network.

Figure 3–1 Name to Address Resolution


If the host name is not in that name server’s DNS database, this indicatesthat the machine is outside of its authority, or, to use DNS terminology,outside the local administrative domain. Thus, each nameserver is spoken of as being “authoritative” for its local administrativedomain.

Fortunately, the local name server maintains a list of host names andIP addresses of root domain name servers, to which itwill forward the request from your machine. These root name servers are authoritativefor huge organizational domains, as explained fully in DNS Hierarchy and the Internet.These hierarchies resemble UNIX file systems, in that they are organized intoan upside down tree structure.

Each root name server maintains the host names and IP addresses of toplevel domain name servers for a company, a university, or other large organizations.The root name server sends your request to the top-level name servers thatit knows about. If one of these servers has the IP address for the host yourequested, it will return the information to your machine. If the top-levelservers do not know about the host you requested, they pass the request tosecond-level name servers for which they maintain information. Your requestis then passed on down through the vast organizational tree. Eventually, aname server that has information about your requested host in its databasewill return the IP address back to your machine.

The following figure shows name-to-address resolution outside the localdomain.

Figure 3–2 Name to Address Resolution for a Remote Host


DNS Administrative Domains

From a DNS perspective, an administrative domain is a group of machines which are administered as a unit. Informationabout this domain is maintained by at least two name servers, which are “authoritative”for the domain. The DNS domain is a logical grouping of machines. The domaingroupings could correspond to a physical grouping of machines, such as allmachines attached to the Ethernet in a small business. Similarly, a localDNS domain could include all machines on a vast university network that belongto the computer science department or to university administration.

For example, suppose the Ajax company has two sites, one in San Franciscoand one in Seattle. The domain mightbe in Seattle and the domainmight be in San Francisco. One part of the would be in one city, the other part in the second city.

Each administrative domain must have its own unique subdomain name.Moreover, if you want your network to participate in the Internet, the networkmust be part of a registered administrative domain. The section Joining the Internethas full details about domain names and domain registration.

in.named and DNS Name Servers

As mentioned previously, name servers in an administrativedomain maintain the DNS database. They also run the in.nameddaemon, which implements DNS services. in.named is a publicdomain TCP/IP program and is included with the Solaris operating environment.

Note –

The in.named daemon is also called the BerkeleyInternet Name Domain service, or BIND, because it was developed at the Universityof California at Berkeley.

There are three types of DNS name servers.:

  • Master server

  • Slave server

  • Stub server

Each domain must have one master server and should have at least oneslave server to provide backup. Implementing DNS explains primaryand secondary servers in detail.

Server Configuration and Data File Names

To function correctly, the in.named daemon requiresa configuration file and four data files.

Configuration File

The master server configuration file is /etc/named.conf.The configuration file contains a list of domain names and the file namescontaining host information. See The named.conf File for additionalinformation on the named.conf file.

Names of DNS Data Files

If you are internally consistent, you can name the zone data files anythingyou want. This flexibility might lead to some confusion when working at differentsites or referring to different DNS manuals and books.

For example, the file names used in Sun manuals and at most many Solarissites vary from those used in the book DNS and BINDpublished by O’Reilly & Associates and both of those nomenclatures havesome differences from that used in the public-domain Name ServerOperations Guide for BIND.

In addition, this manual and other DNS documentation use generic namesthat identify a file’s main purpose, and specific example names for that filein code samples. For example, this manual uses the generic name hosts when describing the function and role of that file, and theexample names db.doc and db.sales incode samples.

The required data files are the following.

  • /var/named/ See The Filefor additional information on the file. As longas you are internally consistent, you can name this file anything you want.

  • /var/named/hosts See The hosts Filefor additional information on hosts files.

    The name hosts is a generic name indicating thefile’s purpose and content. But to avoid confusion with /etc/hosts, you should name this file something other than hosts. The most common naming convention is db.domainname. Thus, the hosts file for the domain would be called db.doc.

    If you have more than one zone, each zone must have its own hosts file and each of these zone hosts filesmust have a unique name. For example, if your DNS domain is divided into and zones, you could nameone hosts file db.doc and the other db.sales.

  • /var/named/hosts.rev See The hosts.rev Filefor additional information on the hosts.rev file.

    The name hosts.rev is a generic name indicatingthe file’s purpose and content. If you have more than one zone, each zonemust have its own hosts.rev file and each of these zone hosts.rev files must have a unique name. For example, if your DNSdomain is divided into and zones, you could name one hosts.rev file doc.rev and the other sales.rev.

  • /var/named/named.local See The named.local Fileand for additional information on the named.local file.As long as you are internally consistent, you can name this file anythingyou want.


An include file is any file named in an $INCLUDE()statement in a DNS data file. $INCLUDE files can be usedto separate different types of data into multiple files for your convenience.See $INCLUDE Files.

For reference purposes, the following table compares BIND file namesfrom the above mentioned sources.

Solaris Names 

O’Reilly Names or Other Names 

U.C. Berkeley Names 

Content and Purpose of File 

/etc/named.conf, same file name forall three sources

BIND8.1 adds a new named.conf file to replace the earlier named.boot file. This configuration file adds security, startupoptions, logging. It specifies the type of server it is running on and selectivelyapplies options on a per-zone or per-server basis, rather than all zones orservers. It contains a list of domain names and the names of the data files.

/etc/resolv.conf, same file name for all three sources

This file resides on every DNS client(including DNS servers) and designates the servers that the client queriesfor DNS information.




This file establishes the names of root servers and lists their addresses. 

Generic: hostsExamples: db.doc, db.sales

Generic: db.domain Examples:, db.fx

Generic: hosts

Example: ucbhosts

This file contains all the data aboutthe machines in the local zone that the server serves. 

Generic: hosts.revExamples: doc.rev

Generic: db.ADDR Examples db.192.249.249 db.192.249.253


This file specifies a zone in the domain,a special domain that allows reverse (address-to-name) mapping.


Generic: db.cacheExample: db.127.0.0


This file specifies the address for the local loopback interface, or localhost. 

$INCLUDE files, same convention for all three sources

Any file identified by an $INCLUDE() statement in a data file.

Table 3–1 File Name ExamplesDomain Names

A domain name is the name assigned to a group ofsystems on a local network that share DNS administrative files. A domain nameis required for the network information service database to work properly.

Default Domain Name

DNS obtains your default domain name fromyour resolv.conf file.

  • If the resolv.conf file is not available,or does not identify a default domain, and if your enterprise-level namingservice is either NIS+ or NIS, the Sun implementation of DNS obtains the defaultdomain name from those services.

  • If resolv.conf is not available or doesnot provide a domain name and you are not running eitherNIS+ or NIS, you must either provide a resolv.conf fileon each machine that does specify the domain or set the LOCALDOMAIN environment variable.

Trailing Dots in Domain Names

When working with DNS-relatedfiles, follow these rules regarding the trailing dot in domain names:

  • Use a trailing dot in domain names in hosts, hosts.rev,, and named.local data files. For example, iscorrect for these files.

  • Do not use a trailing dot in domain names in named.boot or resolv.conf files. For example, is correct for these files.

DNS Clients and the Resolver

To be a DNS client, a machine must run the resolver. The resolver is neither a daemon nor a single program. It isa set of dynamic library routines used by applications that need to know machinenames. The resolver’s function is to resolve users’ queries. To do that, itqueries a name server, which then returns either the requested informationor a referral to another server. Once the resolver is configured, a machinecan request DNS service from a name server.

The DNS name server uses several files to load its database. At theresolver level, it needs the file /etc/resolv.conf listingthe addresses of the servers where it can obtain its information. The resolverreads this resolv.conf file to find the name of the localdomain and the location of name servers. It sets the local domain name andinstructs the resolver routines to query the listed name servers for information.Normally, each DNS client system on your network has a resolv.conf file in its /etc directory. If a client doesnot have a resolv.conf file, it defaults to using a serverat IP address

Whenever the resolver has to find the IP address of a host (or the hostname corresponding to an address), the resolver builds a query package andsends it to the name servers listed in /etc/resolv.conf.The servers either answer the query locally or contact other servers knownto them, ultimately returning the answer to the resolver.

When a machine’s /etc/nsswitch.conf file specifies hosts: dns (or any other variant that includes dnsin the hosts line), the resolver libraries are automaticallyused. If the nsswitch.conf file specifies some othernaming service before dns, that naming service is consultedfirst for host information and only if that naming service does not find thehost in question are the resolver libraries used.

For example, if the hosts line in the nsswitch.conffile specifies hosts: nisplus dns, the NIS+ naming servicewill first be searched for host information. If the information is not foundin NIS+, then the DNS resolver is used. Since naming services such as NIS+and NIS only contain information about hosts in their own network, the effectof a hosts:nisplus dns line in a switch file is to specifythe use of NIS+ for local host information and DNS for information on remotehosts out on the Internet.

There are two kinds of DNS clients.

  • Client-only

    A client-only DNS client does not run in.named. Instead,it consults the resolver. The resolver knows about a list of name serversfor the domain, to which queries are then directed.

  • Client-server

    A client-server uses the services provided by in.namedto resolve queries forwarded to it by client-machine resolvers.

The resolv.conf File

For a detailed description of what the resolv.conffile does, see resolv.conf(4).

See Setting Up the resolv.conf File for a discussion on how to set up the resolv.conf file.

The named.conf File

BIND 8.1 added a new configurationfile, /etc/named.conf, that replaces the /etc/named.boot file. The /etc/named.conf file establishesthe server as a master, slave, or cache-only name server. It also specifiesthe zones over which the server has authority and which data files it shouldread to get its initial data.

The /etc/named.conf file contains statements thatimplement:

  • Security through an access control list (ACL) that definesa collection of IP addresses that an NIS+ host can read and write

  • Logging specifications

  • Selectively applied options for a set of zones, rather thanto all zones

The configuration file is read by in.named when thedaemon is started by the server’s startup script, /etc/init.d/inetsvc. The configuration file directs in.named toother servers or to local data files for a specified domain.

The named.conf file contains statements and comments.Statements end with a semicolon. Some statements can contain a block of statements.Again, each statement in the block is terminated with a semicolon.

named.conf Statementsacl

Defines a named IP address match list usedfor access control. The address match list designates one or more IP addresses(dotted-decimal notation) or IP prefixes (dotted-decimal notation followedwith a slash and the number of bits in the netmask). The named IP addressmatch list must be defined by an acl statement before itcan be used elsewhere. No forward references are allowed.


Inserts an include file at the point wherethe include statement is encountered. Use include to break up the configuration into more easily managed chunks.


Specifies a key ID used for authenticationand authorization on a particular name server. See the serverstatement.


Specifies what information the server logsand the destination of log messages. 


Controls global server configuration optionsand sets default values for other statements. 


Sets designated configuration options associatedwith a remote name server. Selectively applies options on a per-server basis,rather than to all servers. 


Defines a zone. Selectively applies optionson a per-zone basis, rather than to all zones. 

Table 3–2Statements

Example 3–1 Example Master Configuration File for a Master Server
options { directory "/var/named"; datasize 2098; forward only; forwarders {; }; recursion no; transfers-in 10; transfers-per-ns 2; allow-transfer {; };}; logging { category queries { default_syslog; };}; include "/var/named/abcZones.conf" // here are the names of the master fileszone "cities.zn" { type master; file "db.cities.zn";}; zone "" { type master; file "db.127.cities.zn";}; zone "" { type master; file "db.cities.zn.rev";}; zone "" { type slave; file "slave/db.sales.doc"; masters {; };}; zone "" { type slave; file "slave/db.sales.doc.rev"; masters {; };};

DNS Hierarchy in a Local Domain

If your company is large enough, it might support a number of domains,organized into a local namespace. The following figure shows a domain hierarchythat might be in place in a single company. The top-level, or “root”domain for the organization is, which has threesubdomains,,,and

Figure 3–3 Hierarchy of DNS Domains in a Single Organization


DNS clients request service only from the servers that support theirdomain. If the domain’s server does not have the information the client needs,it forwards the request to its parent server, which is the server in the nexthigher domain in the hierarchy. If the request reaches the top-level server,the top-level server determines whether the domain is valid. If it is not valid, the server returns a “not found” type messageto the client. If the domain is valid, the server routes the request downto the server that supports that domain.

DNS Hierarchy and the Internet

The domain hierarchy shown in the following figure is a “leaf”of the huge DNS namespace supported on the global Internet.

It consists of the root directory, represented as a dot (.), and twotop level domain hierarchies, one organizational and one geographical. Notethat the com domain introduced in this figure is one ofa number of top-level organizational domains in existence on the Internet.

Figure 3–4 Hierarchy of Internet Domains


At the present time, the organizational hierarchy divides its namespaceinto the top-level domains listed shown in the following table. It is probablethat additional top-level organizational domains will be added in the future.




Commercial organizations  


Educational institutions 


Government institutions 


Military groups 


Major network support centers 


Nonprofit organizations and others 


International organizations 

Table 3–3 Internet Organizational Domains

The geographic hierarchy assigns each country in the world a two orthree-letter identifier and provides official names for the geographic regionswithin each country. For example, domains in Britain are subdomains of the uk top-level domain, Japanese domains are subdomains of jp, and so on.

Joining the Internet

The Internet root domain, top-level domains (organizationaland geographical) are maintained by the various Internet governing bodies.People with networks of any size can “join” the Internet by registeringtheir domain name in either the organizational or the geographical hierarchy.

Every DNS domain must have a domain name. If your site wants to useDNS for naming service without connecting to the Internet,you can use any name your organization wants for its your domains and subdomains,if applicable. However, if your site plans wants to join the Internet, it must register its domain name with the Internet governing bodies.

To join the Internet, do the following.

  • Register your DNS domain name with the an appropriate Internetgoverning body.

  • Obtain a network IP address from that governing body.

There are two ways to accomplish this.

  • You can communicate directly with the appropriate Internetgoverning body or their agent.

  • You can contract with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) toassist you. ISPs provide a wide range of services from consulting to actuallyhosting your Internet presence.

Domain Names

Domain names indicate a domain’s position in the overallDNS namespace, much as path names indicate a file’s position in the UNIX filesystem. After your local domain is registered, its name is added to the nameof the Internet hierarchy to which it belongs. For example, the ajax domainshown in Figure 3–5 has been registered as part of theInternet com hierarchy. Therefore, its Internet domain name becomes

The following figure shows the position of the ajax.comdomain in the DNS namespace on the Internet.

Figure 3–5 Ajax Domain’s Position in the DNS Namespace


The subdomains now have the following names.

DNS does not require domain names to be capitalized, though they canbe. Here are some examples of machines and domain names.

The Internet organization regulates administration of its domains bygranting each domain authority over the names of its hosts and by expectingeach domain to delegate authority to the levels below it. Thus, the com domain has authority over the names of the hosts in its domain.It also authorizes the formation of the domainand delegates authority over the names in that domain. The domain, in turn, assigns names to the hosts in its domain and approvesthe formation of the,, and domains.

Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDNs)

A domain name is said to be fully-qualified when it includes the names of every DNS domainfrom the local domain on up to “.”, the DNS root domain. Conceptually,the fully qualified domain name indicates the path to the root, as does theabsolute path name of a UNIX file. However, fully qualified domain names areread from lowest, on the left, to highest, on the right. Therefore, a fully-qualifieddomain name has the following syntax.


The fully qualified domain names for the ajax domainand its subdomains are:

Note the dot at the furthest right position of each name.


DNS service for a domain is managed on the set of name servers. Nameservers can manage a single domains or multiple domains, or domains and someor all of their corresponding subdomains. The part of the namespace that agiven name server controls is called a zone. Therefore,the name server is said to be authoritative for the zone. If you are responsiblefor a particular name server, you might be given the title “Zone Administrator”.

The data in a name server’s database are called zone files. One type of zone file stores IP addresses and host names. Whensomeone attempts to connect to a remote host using a host name by a utilitylike ftp or telnet, DNS performs name-to-addressmapping, by looking up the host name in the zone file and converting it intoits IP address.

Figure 3–6 Domains and Zones


For example, the Ajax domain shown in the above containsa top domain (Ajax), four subdomains, and five sub-subdomains.It is divided into four zones.. Thus, the Ajax name serveradministers a zone composed of the Ajax, Sales, Retail, and Wholesale domains.The Manf and QA domains are zones untothemselves served by their own name servers, and the Corpname server manages a zone composed of the Corp, Actg, Finance, and Mktg domains.

Reverse Mapping

The DNS database also includes zone files that use the IPaddress as a key to find the host name of the machine, enabling IP addressto host name resolution. This process is called reverse resolution or more commonly, reverse mapping. Reverse mapping is used primarilyto verify the identity of the machine that sent a message or to authorizeremote operations on a local host.

The Domain

The domain is a conceptual part of the DNS namespace that uses IP addressesfor its leaves, rather than domain names. It is the part of your zone thatenables address-to-name mapping.

Just as DNS domain names are read with the lowest level subdomain occupyingthe furthest left position and the root at the far right, domain IP addresses are read from lowest level to the root. Thus,the IP addresses are read backward. For example, suppose a host has the IPaddress In the in-addr.arpazone files, its address is listed as with the dot at the end indicating the root of the domain.

Written by Jane