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Domain Name Server

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical and distributed naming system for computers, services, and other resources in the Internet or other Internet Protocol (IP) networks. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the associated entities. Most prominently, it translates readily memorized domain names to the numerical IP addresses needed for locating and identifying computer services and devices with the underlying network protocols.[1] The Domain Name System has been an essential component of the functionality of the Internet since 1985.

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The Domain Name System delegates the responsibility of assigning domain names and mapping those names to Internet resources by designating authoritative name servers for each domain. Network administrators may delegate authority over sub-domains of their allocated name space to other name servers. This mechanism provides distributed and fault-tolerant service and was designed to avoid a single large central database.

The Internet maintains two principal namespaces, the domain name hierarchy and the IP address spaces.[2] The Domain Name System maintains the domain name hierarchy and provides translation services between it and the address spaces. Internet name servers and a communication protocol implement the Domain Name System. A DNS name server is a server that stores the DNS records for a domain; a DNS name server responds with answers to queries against its database.

The most common types of records stored in the DNS database are for start of authority (SOA), IP addresses (A and AAAA), SMTP mail exchangers (MX), name servers (NS), pointers for reverse DNS lookups (PTR), and domain name aliases (CNAME). Although not intended to be a general purpose database, DNS has been expanded over time to store records for other types of data for either automatic lookups, such as DNSSEC records, or for human queries such as responsible person (RP) records. As a general purpose database, the DNS has also been used in combating unsolicited email (spam) by storing a real-time blackhole list (RBL). The DNS database is traditionally stored in a structured text file, the zone file, but other database systems are common.

An often-used analogy to explain the DNS is that it serves as the phone book for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses. For example, the hostname within the domain name translates to the addresses (IPv4) and 2606:2800:220:1:248:1893:25c8:1946 (IPv6). The DNS can be quickly and transparently updated, allowing a service's location on the network to change without affecting the end users, who continue to use the same hostname. Users take advantage of this when they use meaningful Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) and e-mail addresses without having to know how the computer actually locates the services.

An important and ubiquitous function of the DNS is its central role in distributed Internet services such as cloud services and content delivery networks.[3] When a user accesses a distributed Internet service using a URL, the domain name of the URL is translated to the IP address of a server that is proximal to the user. The key functionality of the DNS exploited here is that different users can simultaneously receive different translations for the same domain name, a key point of divergence from a traditional phone-book view of the DNS. This process of using the DNS to assign proximal servers to users is key to providing faster and more reliable responses on the Internet and is widely used by most major Internet services.[4]

Using a simpler, more memorable name in place of a host's numerical address dates back to the ARPANET era. The Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) maintained a text file named HOSTS.TXT that mapped host names to the numerical addresses of computers on the ARPANET.[7][8] Elizabeth Feinler developed and maintained the first ARPANET directory.[9][10] Maintenance of numerical addresses, called the Assigned Numbers List, was handled by Jon Postel at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (ISI), whose team worked closely with SRI.[11]

Addresses were assigned manually. Computers, including their hostnames and addresses, were added to the primary file by contacting the SRI Network Information Center (NIC), directed by Feinler, telephone during business hours.[12] Later, Feinler set up a WHOIS directory on a server in the NIC for retrieval of information about resources, contacts, and entities.[13] She and her team developed the concept of domains.[13] Feinler suggested that domains should be based on the location of the physical address of the computer.[14] Computers at educational institutions would have the domain edu, for example.[15] She and her team managed the Host Naming Registry from 1972 to 1989.[16]

In 1984, four UC Berkeley students, Douglas Terry, Mark Painter, David Riggle, and Songnian Zhou, wrote the first Unix name server implementation for the Berkeley Internet Name Domain, commonly referred to as BIND.[20] In 1985, Kevin Dunlap of DEC substantially revised the DNS implementation. Mike Karels, Phil Almquist, and Paul Vixie then took over BIND maintenance. Internet Systems Consortium was founded in 1994 by Rick Adams, Paul Vixie, and Carl Malamud, expressly to provide a home for BIND development and maintenance. BIND versions from 4.9.3 onward were developed and maintained by ISC, with support provided by ISC's sponsors. As co-architects/programmers, Bob Halley and Paul Vixie released the first production-ready version of BIND version 8 in May 1997. Since 2000, over 43 different core developers have worked on BIND.[21]

The domain name space consists of a tree data structure. Each node or leaf in the tree has a label and zero or more resource records (RR), which hold information associated with the domain name. The domain name itself consists of the label, concatenated with the name of its parent node on the right, separated by a dot.[24]

The tree sub-divides into zones beginning at the root zone. A DNS zone may consist of as many domains and sub domains as the zone manager chooses. DNS can also be partitioned according to class where the separate classes can be thought of as an array of parallel namespace trees.[25]

Administrative responsibility for any zone may be divided by creating additional zones. Authority over the new zone is said to be delegated to a designated name server. The parent zone ceases to be authoritative for the new zone.[25]

The definitive descriptions of the rules for forming domain names appear in RFC 1035, RFC 1123, RFC 2181, and RFC 5892. A domain name consists of one or more parts, technically called labels, that are conventionally concatenated, and delimited by dots, such as

A label may contain zero to 63 characters. The null label, of length zero, is reserved for the root zone. The full domain name may not exceed the length of 253 characters in its textual representation.[22] In the internal binary representation of the DNS the maximum length requires 255 octets of storage, as it also stores the length of the name.[5]

Although no technical limitation exists to prevent domain name labels using any character which is representable by an octet, hostnames use a preferred format and character set. The characters allowed in labels are a subset of the ASCII character set, consisting of characters a through z, A through Z, digits 0 through 9, and hyphen. This rule is known as the LDH rule (letters, digits, hyphen). Domain names are interpreted in case-independent manner.[27] Labels may not start or end with a hyphen.[28] An additional rule requires that top-level domain names should not be all-numeric.[28]

The limited set of ASCII characters permitted in the DNS prevented the representation of names and words of many languages in their native alphabets or scripts. To make this possible, ICANN approved the Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA) system, by which user applications, such as web browsers, map Unicode strings into the valid DNS character set using Punycode. In 2009 ICANN approved the installation of internationalized domain name country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). In addition, many registries of the existing top-level domain names (TLDs) have adopted the IDNA system, guided by RFC 5890, RFC 5891, RFC 5892, RFC 5893.

An authoritative name server is a name server that only gives answers to DNS queries from data that have been configured by an original source, for example, the domain administrator or by dynamic DNS methods, in contrast to answers obtained via a query to another name server that only maintains a cache of data.

An authoritative name server can either be a primary server or a secondary server. Historically the terms master/slave and primary/secondary were sometimes used interchangeably[29] but the current practice is to use the latter form. A primary server is a server that stores the original copies of all zone records. A secondary server uses a special automatic updating mechanism in the DNS protocol in communication with its primary to maintain an identical copy of the primary records.

An authoritative server indicates its status of supplying definitive answers, deemed authoritative, by setting a protocol flag, called the "Authoritative Answer" (AA) bit in its responses.[5] This flag is usually reproduced prominently in the output of DNS administration query tools, such as dig, to indicate that the responding name server is an authority for the domain name in question.[5]

When a name server is designated as the authoritative server for a domain name for which it does not have authoritative data, it presents a type of error called a "lame delegation" or "lame response".[30][31] 041b061a72


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