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LinuxDig.com Request For Comments

RFC Number : 1035

Title : Domain names - implementation and specification.
Network Working Group P. Mockapetris
Request for Comments: 1035 ISI
November 1987
Obsoletes: RFCs 882, 883, 973

DOMAIN NAMES - IMPLEMENTATION AND SPECIFICATION


1. STATUS OF THIS MEMO

This RFC describes the details of the domain system and protocol, and
assumes that the reader is familiar with the concepts discussed in a
companion RFC, 'Domain Names - Concepts and Facilities' [RFC-1034].

The domain system is a mixture of functions and data types which are an
official protocol and functions and data types which are still
experimental. Since the domain system is intentionally extensible, new
data types and experimental behavior should always be expected in parts
of the system beyond the official protocol. The official protocol parts
include standard queries, responses and the Internet class RR data
formats (e.g., host addresses). Since the previous RFC set, several
definitions have changed, so some previous definitions are obsolete.

Experimental or obsolete features are clearly marked in these RFCs, and
such information should be used with caution.

The reader is especially cautioned not to depend on the values which
appear in examples to be current or complete, since their purpose is
primarily pedagogical. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Table of Contents

1. STATUS OF THIS MEMO 1
2. INTRODUCTION 3
2.1. Overview 3
2.2. Common configurations 4
2.3. Conventions 7
2.3.1. Preferred name syntax 7
2.3.2. Data Transmission Order 8
2.3.3. Character Case 9
2.3.4. Size limits 10
3. DOMAIN NAME SPACE AND RR DEFINITIONS 10
3.1. Name space definitions 10
3.2. RR definitions 11
3.2.1. Format 11
3.2.2. TYPE values 12
3.2.3. QTYPE values 12
3.2.4. CLASS values 13



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RFC 1035 Domain Implementation and Specification November 1987


3.2.5. QCLASS values 13
3.3. Standard RRs 13
3.3.1. CNAME RDATA format 14
3.3.2. HINFO RDATA format 14
3.3.3. MB RDATA format (EXPERIMENTAL) 14
3.3.4. MD RDATA format (Obsolete) 15
3.3.5. MF RDATA format (Obsolete) 15
3.3.6. MG RDATA format (EXPERIMENTAL) 16
3.3.7. MINFO RDATA format (EXPERIMENTAL) 16
3.3.8. MR RDATA format (EXPERIMENTAL) 17
3.3.9. MX RDATA format 17
3.3.10. NULL RDATA format (EXPERIMENTAL) 17
3.3.11. NS RDATA format 18
3.3.12. PTR RDATA format 18
3.3.13. SOA RDATA format 19
3.3.14. TXT RDATA format 20
3.4. ARPA Internet specific RRs 20
3.4.1. A RDATA format 20
3.4.2. WKS RDATA format 21
3.5. IN-ADDR.ARPA domain 22
3.6. Defining new types, classes, and special namespaces 24
4. MESSAGES 25
4.1. Format 25
4.1.1. Header section format 26
4.1.2. Question section format 28
4.1.3. Resource record format 29
4.1.4. Message compression 30
4.2. Transport 32
4.2.1. UDP usage 32
4.2.2. TCP usage 32
5. MASTER FILES 33
5.1. Format 33
5.2. Use of master files to define zones 35
5.3. Master file example 36
6. NAME SERVER IMPLEMENTATION 37
6.1. Architecture 37
6.1.1. Control 37
6.1.2. Database 37
6.1.3. Time 39
6.2. Standard query processing 39
6.3. Zone refresh and reload processing 39
6.4. Inverse queries (Optional) 40
6.4.1. The contents of inverse queries and responses 40
6.4.2. Inverse query and response example 41
6.4.3. Inverse query processing 42






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RFC 1035 Domain Implementation and Specification November 1987


6.5. Completion queries and responses 42
7. RESOLVER IMPLEMENTATION 43
7.1. Transforming a user request into a query 43
7.2. Sending the queries 44
7.3. Processing responses 46
7.4. Using the cache 47
8. MAIL SUPPORT 47
8.1. Mail exchange binding 48
8.2. Mailbox binding (Experimental) 48
9. REFERENCES and BIBLIOGRAPHY 50
Index 54

2. INTRODUCTION

2.1. Overview

The goal of domain names is to provide a mechanism for naming resources
in such a way that the names are usable in different hosts, networks,
protocol families, internets, and administrative organizations.

From the user's point of view, domain names are useful as arguments to a
local agent, called a resolver, which retrieves information associated
with the domain name. Thus a user might ask for the host address or
mail information associated with a particular domain name. To enable
the user to request a particular type of information, an appropriate
query type is passed to the resolver with the domain name. To the user,
the domain tree is a single information space; the resolver is
responsible for hiding the distribution of data among name servers from
the user.

From the resolver's point of view, the database that makes up the domain
space is distributed among various name servers. Different parts of the
domain space are stored in different name servers, although a particular
data item will be stored redundantly in two or more name servers. The
resolver starts with knowledge of at least one name server. When the
resolver processes a user query it asks a known name server for the
information; in return, the resolver either receives the desired
information or a referral to another name server. Using these
referrals, resolvers learn the identities and contents of other name
servers. Resolvers are responsible for dealing with the distribution of
the domain space and dealing with the effects of name server failure by
consulting redundant databases in other servers.

Name servers manage two kinds of data. The first kind of data held in
sets called zones; each zone is the complete database for a particular
'pruned' subtree of the domain space. This data is called
authoritative. A name server periodically checks to make sure that its
zones are up to date, and if not, obtains a new copy of updated zones



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RFC 1035 Domain Implementation and Specification November 1987


from master files stored locally or in another name server. The second
kind of data is cached data which was acquired by a local resolver.
This data may be incomplete, but improves the performance of the
retrieval process when non-local data is repeatedly accessed. Cached
data is eventually discarded by a timeout mechanism.

This functional structure isolates the problems of user interface,
failure recovery, and distribution in the resolvers and isolates the
database update and refresh problems in the name servers.

2.2. Common configurations

A host can participate in the domain name system in a number of ways,
depending on whether the host runs programs that retrieve information
from the domain system, name servers that answer queries from other
hosts, or various combinations of both functions. The simplest, and
perhaps most typical, configuration is shown below:

Local Host | Foreign
|
+---------+ +----------+ | +--------+
| | user queries | |queries | | |
| User |-------------->| |---------|->|Foreign |
| Program | | Resolver | | | Name |
| |<--------------| |<--------|--| Server |
| | user responses| |responses| | |
+---------+ +----------+ | +--------+
| A |
cache additions | | references |
V | |
+----------+ |
| cache | |
+----------+ |

User programs interact with the domain name space through resolvers; the
format of user queries and user responses is specific to the host and
its operating system. User queries will typically be operating system
calls, and the resolver and its cache will be part of the host operating
system. Less capable hosts may choose to implement the resolver as a
subroutine to be linked in with every program that needs its services.
Resolvers answer user queries with information they acquire via queries
to foreign name servers and the local cache.

Note that the resolver may have to make several queries to several
different foreign name servers to answer a particular user query, and
hence the resolution of a user query may involve several network
accesses and an arbitrary amount of time. The queries to foreign name
servers and the corresponding responses have a standard format described



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RFC 1035 Domain Implementation and Specification November 1987


in this memo, and may be datagrams.

Depending on its capabilities, a name server could be a stand alone
program on a dedicated machine or a process or processes on a large
timeshared host. A simple configuration might be:

Local Host | Foreign
|
+---------+ |
/ /| |
+---------+ | +----------+ | +--------+
| | | | |responses| | |
| | | | Name |---------|->|Foreign |
| Master |-------------->| Server | | |Resolver|
| files | | | |<--------|--| |
| |/ | | queries | +--------+
+---------+ +----------+ |

Here a primary name server acquires information about one or more zones
by reading master files from its local file system, and answers queries
about those zones that arrive from foreign resolvers.

The DNS requires that all zones be redundantly supported by more than
one name server. Designated secondary servers can acquire zones and
check for updates from the primary server using the zone transfer
protocol of the DNS. This configuration is shown below:

Local Host | Foreign
|
+---------+ |
/ /| |
+---------+ | +----------+ | +--------+
| | | | |responses| | |
| | | | Name |---------|->|Foreign |
| Master |-------------->| Server | | |Resolver|
| files | | | |<--------|--| |
| |/ | | queries | +--------+
+---------+ +----------+ |
A |maintenance | +--------+
| +------------|->| |
| queries | |Foreign |
| | | Name |
+------------------|--| Server |
maintenance responses | +--------+

In this configuration, the name server periodically establishes a
virtual circuit to a foreign name server to acquire a copy of a zone or
to check that an existing copy has not changed. The messages sent for



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RFC 1035 Domain Implementation and Specification November 1987


these maintenance activities follow the same form as queries and
responses, but the message sequences are somewhat different.

The information flow in a host that supports all aspects of the domain
name system is shown below:

Local Host | Foreign
|
+---------+ +----------+ | +--------+
| | user queries | |queries | | |
| User |-------------->| |---------|->|Foreign |
| Program | | Resolver | | | Name |
| |<--------------| |<--------|--| Server |
| | user responses| |responses| | |
+---------+ +----------+ | +--------+
| A |
cache additions | | references |
V | |
+----------+ |
| Shared | |
| database | |
+----------+ |
A | |
+---------+ refreshes | | references |
/ /| | V |
+---------+ | +----------+ | +--------+
| | | | |responses| | |
| | | | Name |---------|->|Foreign |
| Master |-------------->| Server | | |Resolver|
| files | | | |<--------|--| |
| |/ | | queries | +--------+
+---------+ +----------+ |
A |maintenance | +--------+
| +------------|->| |
| queries | |Foreign |
| | | Name |
+------------------|--| Server |
maintenance responses | +--------+

The shared database holds domain space data for the local name server
and resolver. The contents of the shared database will typically be a
mixture of authoritative data maintained by the periodic refresh
operations of the name server and cached data from previous resolver
requests. The structure of the domain data and the necessity for
synchronization between name servers and resolvers imply the general
characteristics of this database, but the actual format is up to the
local implementor.




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RFC 1035 Domain Implementation and Specification November 1987


Information flow can also be tailored so that a group of hosts act
together to optimize activities. Sometimes this is done to offload less
capable hosts so that they do not have to implement a full resolver.
This can be appropriate for PCs or hosts which want to minimize the
amount of new network code which is required. This scheme can also
allow a group of hosts can share a small number of caches rather than
maintaining a large number of separate caches, on the premise that the
centralized caches will have a higher hit ratio. In either case,
resolvers are replaced with stub resolvers which act as front ends to
resolvers located in a recursive server in one or more name servers
known to perform that service:

Local Hosts | Foreign
|
+---------+ |
| | responses |
| Stub |<--------------------+ |
| Resolver| | |
| |----------------+ | |
+---------+ recursive | | |
queries | | |
V | |
+---------+ recursive +----------+ | +--------+
| | queries | |queries | | |
| Stub |-------------->| Recursive|---------|->|Foreign |
| Resolver| | Server | | | Name |
| |<--------------| |<--------|--| Server |
+---------+ responses | |responses| | |
+----------+ | +--------+
| Central | |
| cache | |
+----------+ |

In any case, note that domain components are always replicated for
reliability whenever possible.

2.3. Conventions

The domain system has several conventions dealing with low-level, but
fundamental, issues. While the implementor is free to violate these
conventions WITHIN HIS OWN SYSTEM, he must observe these conventions in
ALL behavior observed from other hosts.

2.3.1. Preferred name syntax

The DNS specifications attempt to be as general as possible in the rules
for constructing domain names. The idea is that the name of any
existing object can be expressed as a domain name with minimal changes.



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However, when assigning a domain name for an object, the prudent user
will select a name which satisfies both the rules of the domain system
and any existing rules for the object, whether these rules are published
or implied by existing programs.

For example, when naming a mail domain, the user should satisfy both the
rules of this memo and those in RFC-822. When creating a new host name,
the old rules for HOSTS.TXT should be followed. This avoids problems
when old software is converted to use domain names.

The following syntax will result in fewer problems with many

applications that use domain names (e.g., mail, TELNET).

::= | ' '

::=



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