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2. Introduction.

What this is and isn't.

For starters, DNS is is the Domain Name System. DNS converts machine names to the IP numbers that are all the machines addresses, it maps from name to address and from address to name. This HOWTO documents how to define such mappings using a Linux system. A mapping i simply a association between two things, in this case a machine name, like, and the machines IP number,

DNS is, to the uninitiated (you ;-), one of the more opaque areas of network administration. This HOWTO will try to make a few things clearer. It describes how to set up a simple DNS name server. Starting with a caching only server and going on to setting up a primary DNS server for a domain. For more complex setups you can check the FAQ section of this document. If it's not described there you will need to read the Real Documentation. I'll get back to what this Real Documentation consists of in the last chapter.

Before you start on this you should configure your machine so that you can telnet in and out of it, and make successfully make all kinds of connections to the net, and you should especially be able to do telnet and get your own machine (test it now!). You also need a good /etc/nsswitch.conf (or /etc/host.conf), /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/hosts files as a starting point, since I will not explain their function here. If you don't already have all this set up and working the NET-3 and or the PPP-HOWTO explains how to set it up. Read it.

When I say `your machine' I mean the machine you are trying to set up DNS on. Not any other machine you might have that's involved in your networking effort.

I assume you're not behind any kind of firewall that blocks name queries. If you are you will need a special configuration, see the section on FAQ.

Name serving on Unix is done by a program called named. This is a part of the bind package which is coordinated by Paul Vixie for The Internet Software Consortium. Named is included in most Linux distributions and is usually installed as /usr/sbin/named. If you have a named you can probably use it; if you don't have one you can get a binary off a Linux ftp site, or get the latest and greatest source from This HOWTO is about bind version 8. The old version of the HOWTO, about bind 4 is still available at in case you use bind 4. If the named man page talks about named.conf you have bind 8, if it talks about named.boot you have bind 4. If you have 4 and are security conscious you really ought to upgrade to a recent 8.

DNS is a net-wide database. Take care about what you put into it. If you put junk into it, you, and others will get junk out of it. Keep your DNS tidy and consistent and you will get good service from it. Learn to use it, admin it, debug it and you will be another good admin keeping the net from falling to it's knees overloaded by mismanagement.

In this document I state flatly a couple of things that are not completely true (they are at least half truths though). All in the interest of simplification. Things will (probably ;-) work if you believe what I say.

Tip: Make backup copies of all the files I instruct you to change if you already have them, so if after going through this nothing works you can get it back to your old, working state.

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