DNS Server Configuration
On this page the DNS protocol and the BIND DNS server are explained,
as is the Webmin module for creating and managing DNS domains.
Introduction to the Domain Name System
DNS is a protocol used primarily for converting hostnames like
www.example.com into IP addresses like 192.168.1.10, and vice-versa.
At the IP level, all hosts on the Internet refer to each other by
IP addresses, not by the hostnames that users enter into programs
like web browsers and telnet clients. This means that a system
needs a way of finding out the IP address associated with a hostname
before they can communicate. Although there are several ways
this can be done (such as reading the /etc/hosts file or querying
an NIS server), DNS is the most common.
As well as looking up IP addresses for hostnames, the DNS protocol
can also be used to find the hostname associated with an IP address.
This is most often used for finding the hostname of a client that
is connecting to a server, such as a webserver or SSH daemon. DNS
can also be used to look up the address of a mail server for a domain,
and additional information about a host such as its location,
operating system or owner. However, by far its most common application
is converting hostnames to IP addresses.
Most systems use the DNS protocol to send requests to a server,
which does most of the work of resolving a hostname into an IP address.
A normal system is only a DNS client, and never has to answer requests
from servers. Almost all companies, organizations and ISPs
will already have one or more DNS servers on their network that
all the other hosts can use. If your company already has a DNS server,
then there is no need to read this page - instead, see the NetworkConfiguration
for information on how to set up your Linux system as a DNS client.
The domain name system is divided into zones (also called domains),
each of which has a name like example.com or foo.com.au. Zones
are arranged in a hierarchy, which means that the foo.com.au
zone is part of the com.au zone, which in turn is part of the au domain.
At the very top of the hierarchy is the . or root zone, upon which
the entire DNS system depends.
For each zone, there is at one DNS server that is primarily responsible
for providing information about it. There may also be several
secondary or slave servers that have copies of information from
the primary, and act as backups in case the master server for the
zone is unavailable. A single DNS server may host multiple zones,
or sometimes may not host any at all. A server is typically responsible
for providing information about the zones that it hosts, and
for looking up information in other zones when requested to by
For a zone hosted by a server to be available to DNS clients that
do not query that server directly, it must be registered in the
parent zone. The most common parent domains like .com, .net and
.com.au are managed by companies that charge for zones registered
under them. This means that you cannot simply set up a DNS server
that hosts a domain like example.com and expect it to be visible
to the rest of the Internet - you must also pay for it to be registered
with one of the companies that adds sub-domains to the .com domain.
Each zone contains multiple DNS records, each of which has a name,
type and values. The most common type of record is the address
or A record, which associates a hostname with an IP address. Other
types include the NS or name server record which specifies the
DNS server for the zone or a sub-domain, and the MX or mail server
record type which defines a host that should receive mail for
Every zone should have at least one secondary server in case the
primary is down or un-contactable for some reason. Secondaries
can also share the load on the primary server, because other servers
looking up records in the domain will randomly choose a server
to query instead of always asking the primary first. In fact,
there is no way for other systems to know which server is the master
and which are the slaves for a particular zone.
Slave servers can request a copy of all the records in a zone at
once by doing a zone transfer. This is done a secondary DNS server
when a zone is first added to it, and periodically when it detects
that the zone has changed or the records in it have expired. A master
server can also be configured to notify slaves when a zone changes
so that they can perform a zone transfer immediately, ensuring
that they are always up to date.
Every zone has a serial number, which is simply a counter that
must be incremented each time any record in the zone is changed.
The serial is used by slave servers to determine if a zone has changed,
and thus if a transfer is needed. Most of the time, it does not matter
what the serial number is as long as it gets incremented. However,
some domain authorities require it to be in a certain date-based
format, such as YYYYMMDDnn.
Normally a single server hosts either entirely master zones,
or entirely slaves. However, this does not have to be the case-
a DNS server can be both a master for some zones and a slave for others.
There is no upper limit on the number of servers a zone can have,
although few have more than three. The important .com and root
domains have 13 servers, as they are critical to the functioning
of the Internet and frequently accessed. Generally, the more
slaves a domain has the better, as long as they can all be kept synchronized.
When a server receives a request from a client to lookup a record,
it first checks to see if the record is in one of the zones that it
hosts. If so, it can supply the answer to the client immediately.
However, if the record is not in a hosted zone then the server must
query other servers to find it. It starts by querying one of the
servers responsible for the root zone, which will reply with
the address of another DNS server. It then queries that other
server, which will either provide an answer, or the address of
yet another DNS server to ask. This process continues until a
server that is responsible for the domain is found and an answer
retrieved from it. If the record that the client asked for does
not actually exist, then one of the servers in the query process
will say so, and the search will be terminated.
For example, imagine if a DNS client asked a server for the IP address
of www.webmin.com. The steps that would be followed by the server
to find the address are :
- Ask one of the root servers, such as a.root-servers.net (220.127.116.11) for the address of www.webmin.com. The server would reply with a list of servers for the .com domain, one of which is a.gtld-servers.net (18.104.22.168).
- Ask the .com server for the address of www.webmin.com. The reply would be a list of servers, one of which is au.webmin.com (22.214.171.124), the master server for the webmin.com domain.
- As the server for webmin.com for the address of www.webmin.com. The reply would be 126.96.36.199, which is the correct IP address.
- The resulting IP address is returned to the client, along with a TTL (time to live) so that the client knows how long it can cache the address for.
As you can see, a DNS server can find the address of any host on the
Internet by following the simple process used in the steps above.
The only addresses that it cannot discover are those of the root
servers - instead, they read from a file when the server program
starts. Because the addresses of the root servers very rarely
change, it is safe for a DNS server to store them in a fixed file.
If the steps above were followed exactly for every DNS request,
then the root servers would have to be queried every time a client
anywhere in the world wanted to lookup an IP address. Even though
there are 13 of them, there is no way that they could deal with this
massive amount of network traffic. Fortunately, DNS servers
do not really query the root servers for every request - instead,
they cache results so that once the IP address of a server for the
.com domain is known, there is no need to ask for root servers for
it again. Because every response from a server includes a TTL,
other servers know how long it can be safely cached for.
The relationships between IP addresses and their hostnames
are stored in the DNS in a different way to the relationship between
hostnames and addresses. This is done so that it is possible to
lookup a hostname from an IP using a similar process to the steps
above. However, this means that there may be a mismatch between
the relationship between an IP address and hostname, and between
the hostname and IP address. For example, www.webmin.com resolves
to 188.8.131.52, but 184.108.40.206 resolves to usw-pr-vhost.sourceforge.net!
This can be confusing, but is an inevitable result of the way that
queries for IP addresses work.
When a client wants to find the hostname for an IP address like
220.127.116.11, it converts this address to the record 18.104.22.168.in-addr.arpa.
As you can see, this is just the IP address reversed with in-addr.arpa
appended to the end. The special in-addr.arpa zone is hosted
by the root DNS servers, and its sub-domains are delegated to
other DNS servers in exactly the same way that forward zones are.
Typically each of the final class C zones (like 171.136.216.in-addr.arpa)
will be hosted by the DNS server for the company or ISP that owns
the matching class C network, so that it can create records that
map IP addresses in that network to hostnames. All of these records
are of the special PTR or reverse address type.
The biggest problem with this method of reverse zone hosting
is that there is no easy way for anything smaller than a class C
network (which contains 256 addresses) to be hosted by a single
DNS server. So if a server hosts the zone example.com which contains
just a single record, www.example.com with IP address 22.214.171.124,
the same server cannot also control the reverse mapping for the
IP address 126.96.36.199. Instead, this will be under the control of
the ISP or hosting company whose network the webserver for www.example.com
is on. Only organizations big enough to own an entire class C network
can host the reverse zone for that network on their own DNS server.
Many organizations have an internal network that uses private
IP addresses such as those starting with 192.168. A network like
this might not be connected to the Internet at all, or connected
only through a firewall doing NAT. Some people even have networks
like this at home, with several machines connected to a small
LAN. Only one of these machines (the gateway) might have a single
real Internet IP address assigned by an ISP.
On a private network like this, it can also make sense to run a DNS
server to assign hostnames to the systems on the internal LAN.
It is quite possible to host a zone called something like home
or internal that contains records for internal systems, as well
as a reverse zone for the 192.168 network so that IP addresses
can be looked up as well. The server can also be set up to resolve
real Internet hostnames by querying the root servers, just as
any normal Internet-connected DNS server would. However, it
will never receive queries from outside the LAN for records in
the home network, because as far as the rest of the Internet is
concerned that zone does not exist.
The BIND DNS Server module
BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) is the most common DNS server
for Unix systems. Several versions have been released over the
years, the most recent being version 9. The BIND DNS Server module
(found under the Servers category) supports the configuration
of versions 8 and 9. The older version 4 has a different configuration
file format, and can be configured using the BIND 4 DNS Server
module, documented in a later section of this chapter.
Because BIND is available for almost all Unix systems and works
identically regardless of operating system, the instructions
in this chapter apply not just to Linux but to other versions of
Unix as well. Most versions of Unix and Linux include BIND 8 or
9 as a standard package, so it is rarely necessary to install it.
If the module cannot find the DNS server, an error message will
be displayed on the main page - if this happens, check your operating
system CD or website for a BIND package, or download and compile
the source from http://www.isc.org/
BIND's primary configuration file is /etc/named.conf, which
contains all of the zones that the server hosts, and global configuration
settings that apply to all zones. The records in each zone are
stored in separate files, usually found in the /var/named directory.
This Webmin module always updates all of these files directly,
instead of by communicating with the running BIND process. This
means that if you are running some other program that dynamically
updates zones by communicating with BIND (such as a DHCP server),
then this module should not be used as it may interfere with these
changes. However, very few systems have this kind of dynamic
Versions 9 of BIND has some features that version 8 does not. The
most important one that is supported by this Webmin module is
views. A view is a set of zones that are visible to only some DNS
clients. Normally all clients see the same zones, but with BIND
9 you can restrict the visibility of some domains to only particular
clients, identified by their IP addresses. This can be useful
for creating zones that are only visible to systems on an internal
network, even if your DNS server is connected to the Internet.
If you have never set up BIND on your system, when you enter the
module for the first time the main page will display a form for
setting up the DNS server, as shown below. This form is
only shown if Webmin detects that the configuration file named.conf
does not exist, or if the zone files directory that is specifies
is non-existent. If you are certain that your BIND configuration
is valid and that the DNS server is already running, do not click
button, as your named.conf file will be overwritten.
Instead, click on the Module Config
link and check that all
the paths are correct for your system.
The BIND setup form
If you are setting up BIND for the first time, the setup form gives
you three choices :
- Setup nameserver for internal non-internet use only
If you choose this option, your DNS server will be set up so that it can only resolve records in zones that it hosts. This is only useful on a private network that has no Internet connection at all.
- Setup as an internet name server, and download root server information
This is the most useful option - it sets your DNS server up to be able to host zones and to lookup records on the Internet. In order to query other Internet domains, a list of the root zone servers is needed, as explained in the introduction. When this option is selected, Webmin will FTP to rs.internic.net and download a file listing the server names and IP addresses for inclusion in the BIND configuration.
- Setup as an internet name server, but use Webmin's older root server information
This option is identical to the previous one, but does not download the root zone file. Instead, it uses a copy of the file that comes with Webmin which may not be as up to date. However, if for some reason your system cannot connect to the rs.internic.net FTP server, this is your best choice.
Depending on which option you choose, a basic named.conf file
will be created the root zone added to it. The module's main page
will then be re-displayed, so that you can add more zones or configure
the server further.
When BIND has been set up on your system, the main page will appear
as shown in the screenshot below. At the top is a table of icons for setting
global options that apply to your entire DNS server. Below them
are icons for each of the zones your server hosts, followed by
icons for views if you are running BIND version 9. At the very bottom
are buttons for applying the current DNS configuration or starting
the BIND server.
If you have just set up BIND for the first time, there will probably
be only one zone icon - the root zone. Some Linux distributions
that include a BIND package come with a basic configuration file
that defines zones like localdomain and 127.0.0, which are used
for resolving the localhost and 127.0.0.l loopback hostname
and IP address.
The BIND DNS Server module main page
Creating a new master zone
A master zone is one for which your DNS server is the authoritative
source of information. A single zone may be hosted by multiple
servers, but only one is the master - all the rest are slaves. If
you want to add a new master zone to your server's configuration,
the steps to follow are :
- Decide on a name for the new zone, such as example.com or internal. If this is going to be Internet domain that will be visible to other everyone in the world, the domain name must not have been registered by anyone else yet. However, you cannot normally register it yourself until your DNS server has been set up to host it.
- On the module's main page, click on the Create a new master zone link below the table of existing zones. This will take you to the page shown in the image below for entering the details of the new zone.
- If this is to be a forward zone like example.com or foo.com.au, leave the Zone type field set to Forward. However, if it is a reverse zone for looking up hostnames from IP addresses, set the field to Reverse.
- In the Domain name / Network field, enter the name of the zone without any trailing dot. For a reverse zone, just enter the network address like 192.168.1. Webmin will automatically convert this to the in-addr.arpa format for you when the domain is created.
- The Records file field controls where the configuration file containing the zone's records is stored. If you leave it set to Automatic, the filename will be determined automatically based on the module's configuration and the directory setting in the named.conf file. This is usually the best option, as it will result in the records file being created in the same directory as any existing zones, such as /var/named. However, if you de-select the Automatic option and enter a filename instead, all records for the zone will be written to that file. If you enter the name of an existing file, it will be overwritten when the domain is created.
- In the Master server field, enter the full domain name of the master DNS server for this zone. This must be the canonical name of your system, such as server.example.com, not a short name like server. This server (and the values from the next
- fields) are used to create the new zone's SOA record.
- In the Email address field, enter the address of the person responsible for this zone. You can use the @ symbol in the address, which Webmin will automatically convert to a dot for inclusion in the SOA record.
- The Refresh time field determines how often secondary servers should check with this master server for updates to the zone. The default is reasonable, but you may want to increase it for zones that rarely change, or decrease it for those that are frequently updated.
- The Transfer retry time field determines how long a secondary server should wait after a failed zone transfer before trying again.
- The Expiry time field controls the maximum amount of time that a secondary DNS server for the zone should cache records for before re-transferring them from the master.
- The Default time-to-live field determines the TTL of records in the zone that do not have one set explicitly.
- Click the Create button at the bottom of the page. As long as the form has been filled in correctly and the zone does not already exist on your server, you will be taken to a page for adding new records to the zone.
- Return to the module's main page which will now include an icon for your new zone, and click the Apply Changes button at the bottom to activate it.
The master zone creation form
A newly created zone will contain only one record (unless you
have set up a template). To add more, follow the instructions
in the next section. Once you have set up the basic records in your
domain, you can register it with the authority that manages the
parent domain, such as .com or .com.au. Some domain authorities
will not allow you to register zones that do not have at least two
servers (one master and one slave), and name server records in
the zone for those servers.
Adding and editing records
The most useful feature of the BIND DNS Server module is the ability
to add, edit and delete records in the master zones hosted by your
server. For example, if you wanted to set up a webserver in your
domain example.com, you would need to add an Address record for
www.example.com with the IP address of the server. To add a new
record like this, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the zone that you want to add to. This will bring up the page shown below, at the top of which is a table of icons, one for each record type.
- Click on the icon for the type of record that you want to add. The most common type is Address, which associates an IP address with a hostname. See the Record types section below for a complete list of all the supported record types.
- Clicking on the icon will take you to a page listing all existing records of that type. Above the list is a form for entering a new record.
- In the Name field, enter the name of the new record relative to the zone name. For example, if you wanted to add the record www.example.com, you should just enter www. It is also possible to enter the full record name, as long as it has a dot at the end to indicate that it is not relative to the zone. Do not enter just www.example.com, as it will be converted to www.example.com.example.com, which is probably not what you want.
- If this record is going to change more frequently than the rest of the zone, change the Time-To-Live field from Default to the estimated time between changes. This determines how long DNS clients and other servers will cache the record for.
- If you are adding an Address record, enter the complete IP address of the host into the Address field. See the table below for a description of the fields that appear when adding other types of records and what they mean.
- The field Update reverse? only appears when adding an Address record. It controls the automatic creation of a corresponding record in a reverse zone which associates the hostname with the IP address. Naturally, this can only be done if the IP that you enter is in a network that your system is the primary reverse DNS server for. This keeps the forward and reverse zones synchronized, which can be very useful. If Yes is selected, a reverse address record will be added as long as one does not already exist in the reverse zone for the same IP address. Often many hostnames will have the same IP, such as those use for name-based virtual hosting. In cases like these, you don't want to change the reverse mapping if one already exists. The Yes (and replace existing) option works the same as Yes, but if a reverse record for the IP address already exists it will be updated with the new hostname. This can be useful if you know there is an existing record that you want to replace. If No is selected, no reverse address will be created even if it is possible.
- When you are done filling in the form, click the Create button at the bottom. As long as it is filled in correctly, the record will be added to the list below the form. When writing to the zone's records file, Webmin will use the full canonical format for the record name, such as www.example.com., even if you just enter www.
- To activate the new record so that it can be looked up by DNS clients and other servers, you will need to click the Apply Changes button on the module's main page. If you are planning to add or edit several records, it is usually better to wait until all the changes are complete before hitting the apply button. If it is available, you can instead use the Apply Changes button at the bottom of the master zone page shown below. This uses the ndc command to tell BIND to re-read only the file for this zone, which can be much faster on a system that hosts are large number of domains.
The master zone editing page
Although the instructions above are focused on adding an Address
record, the process of adding other record types to a forward
zone is almost identical. The Update reverse?
field does not
exist, and the Address
field is replaced with one or more different
fields. The Record types
section below explains in detail
what fields are available for each type of record known to Webmin.
When adding a Reverse Address record to a reverse zone, the form
is quite different. The Address
field appears before the Hostname
and the hostname must always be entered in canonical form with
a dot at the end, like www.example.com.
. The Update reverse?
field is replaced with Update forward?
, which controls the
automatic creation of a record in the corresponding forward
zone. However, there is no option to overwrite an existing forward
record - if one with the same name already exists, it will not be
touched even if Yes
Every time a record is added to or updated in a zone using Webmin,
its serial number will be automatically incremented. This also
applies to reverse zones that are automatically updated when
adding an Address record, and vice-versa. This means that when
you apply the changes, other DNS servers will be able to detect
that the zone has changed by comparing the new serial number with
the old one that they have cached.
To edit an existing record in a zone, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the zone that you want to edit, which will bring you to the page show above.
- Click on the icon for the type of record that you want to change, which will display a page listing all records of that type in the zone. Alternately, you can click on the All Record Types icon which will bring up a list of every single record in the zone regardless of type.
- Click on the name of the record that you want to edit. Your browser will display a form similar to the one used for adding a record, but with the fields already filled in with the details of the existing address.
- To re-name the record, edit the contents of the Name field. It will be shown in canonical form with a dot at the end initially, but you can change it to a name relative to the domain if you wish.
- Adjust the Time-To-Live field in you want this record to have a different TTL, or set it to Default to make it the same as the rest of the zone.
- If this is an Address record, change the IP in the Address field. For other record types, the fields are the same as those on the record creation form, and have the same meanings.
- For Address records, the field Update reverse? is displayed. Selecting Yes will cause the corresponding record in the reverse zone to be have its name and address changed to match this forward record. If you change the IP so that the reverse address is no longer in the same network, it will be removed from the old reverse zone and added to the new reverse zone (if it is hosted by your server).
- For Reverse Address records, the field Update forward? is shown instead. If Yes is selected, the corresponding Address record in its forward zone will be changed to match any changes that you make on this form.
- Click the Save button to update the record in the zone file, and return to the list of record types.
- To activate the changes, click the Apply Changes button back on the module's main page.
To delete a record from a zone, click on the Delete
the editing form instead of Save
. For Address records, if the
field is set to Yes
, the corresponding Reverse
Address record will be deleted as well. Apart from that, the process
of deleting a record is identical no matter what type it is. The
same thing happens when deleting a Reverse Address record - the
matching Address record is deleted as well, as long as the *Update
forward?* field is set to Yes
The list of records in a zone is initially sorted according to
the module configuration, which usually means that records
will be displayed in the order that they were added. To change
this, you can click on a column heading like Name
or Real Name
to sort them by that column instead. The sorting
is only temporary though, and will be lost if you return to the
main page and re-open the zone. To change it permanently, see
the Order to display records in
field in the section on *Configuring
the BIND DNS Server module*.
Webmin does not support all of the record types that BIND knows
about, only those that are most commonly used. The list below
covers all of the supported types, and explains what they are
used for and what fields are available when adding or editing
a record of that type in Webmin. Next to each type name is the short
code used by BIND itself for identifying the type in the records
- Address (A) An Address records associates an IP address with a hostname. Any system that you want to be able to connect to via HTTP, telnet or some other protocol using its hostname must have an address record so that clients can look up its IP. A single hostname can have more than one Address record, which is often done to spread the load for a website across multiple servers. It is also valid to create multiple records of this type with different names but the same IP, such as when setting up name-based Apache virtual servers. When creating or editing an Address record, the field Address is displayed for entering the IP associated with the hostname. A field labelled Update reverse? also appears, which controls the automatic creation and modification of a Reverse Address record in the appropriate reverse zone. See the Adding and editing records section above for more details.
- Name Sever (NS) Records of this type defines a name server that is responsible for a zone. Every zone must have at least one Name Server record for itself, and may have additional records that specify the DNS servers responsible for subdomains. If you set up a secondary DNS server for a zone, be sure to add a Name Server record for the zone on the master server. In this case, the name of the record will be the canonical name of the zone, such as example.com.. When creating or editing a record of this type, a field labelled Name Server will be displayed. This must be filled in with the IP address or hostname of the DNS server that is responsible for the zone. If you enter a hostname, it must have an IP address set by an Address record in some zone on your server.
- Name Alias (CNAME) This type of record creates an additional name for an existing Address or Reverse Address record. When a DNS client requests the IP address of a record of this type, it will get the IP of the record that the Name Alias points to instead. This kind of record can be useful if you have a single host that needs to be accessible under several different names, such as a web server doing name-based virtual hosting. Even though this could also be done by creating multiple Address records, creating just a single Address and multiple Name Aliases is more flexible as it allows easier updating if the IP address of the host ever changes. The forms for editing and creating Name Alias records contains a field labelled Real Name. This must be filled in with either the canonical name of the record that the alias points to (such as webserver.example.com.), or with a short name that is relative to the zone that the Name Alias record is in.
- Mail Server (MX) Mail Server records tell mail delivery programs like Sendmail and Qmail which system to contact when delivering mail to a domain or host. Without a record of this type, mail for a domain will be delivered to the system whose IP is specified in the Address record for the zone itself. This is not always desirable, as you may want that IP to be the address of a webserver, so that web browsers can connect to http://example.com/ as well as http://www.example.com/. A Mail Server record can solve this problem by having only email for example.com sent to another hosts, and all other traffic to the webserver. Each Mail Server record has a priority, which tells mail delivery programs which mail server should be tried first. The record with the lowest priority should point to the system that actually receives and stores email for the domain, while those with higher priorities generally point to systems that will simply relay mail. Delivery programs will try each in turn starting with the lowest, so that if the primary mail server is down email will still be sent to a relay that can hold it until the primary comes back up.
When adding or editing a Mail Server record, two additional fields
are displayed. The first is labelled Mail Server
, and must
be filled in with the canonical or relative hostname of a system
that can accept mail for the domain or hostname entered in the
field. The second is labelled Priority
, and must be
used to specify a numerical priority for this particular mail
server. Normally a priority of 5 is used for the primary mail server,
and 10 for backup relays. If you only have one mail server for your
domain, it doesn't really matter what number is entered into
this field. It is possible for two servers to have the same priority,
in which case one will be chosen randomly to deliver to. A Mail
Server record can use the * wildcard in its name, which indicates
to mail programs that a particular mailserver is responsible
for all hosts in a domain. For example, a record named like *.example.com
would match the hostname pc1.example.com and any other hosts
in the zone. This can be useful if you want to force mail that would
otherwise be delivered directly to workstations in your domain
to go through a central mailserver instead. Webmin will not let
you use wildcards unless the Allow wildcards
option is set to Yes
though, as explained in the *Configuring
the BIND DNS Server module* section.
- Host Information (HINFO) Records of this type are used to record information about the hardware and operating system of a particular host. For example, you might create one that says that server1.example.com is an x86 PC running Linux. However, they are very rarely used and are in fact considered a security risk, as they give out information to potential attackers that could be used to take over a server. When creating or editing a Host Information record, the fields Hardware and Operating System are displayed for entering the architecture and operating system type of a host. The values you enter must not contain any spaces - typically, they are replaced in the hardware type and operating system strings with _ characters.
- Text (TXT) A Text record associates an arbitrary message of some kind with a name. Although they are hardly ever used, they can be useful for attaching comments to hostnames. Be aware though that any such comments will be available to anyone on the Internet that can look up records in your domain, and so should not contain sensitive information. The field Message is displayed when entering or editing a Text record. You can enter any text that you like, including spaces.
- Well Known Service (WKS) A record of this type associates a hostname, port and protocol with a name. It can be thought of as a generalized variant of the Mail Server record, which tells clients which host provides a particular service for some domain or hostname. However, almost no programs actually look up WKS records, so in practice they are pretty much useless. When adding or editing one of these records, the fields Address, Protocol and Services are available. The first is for entering the IP address of a host that provides the services for the host or domain entered into the Name field. The second is for selecting the network protocol that the services use, either TCP or UDP. The last is for entering a list of port numbers or names (from the /etc/services file) for services that the host provides.
- Responsible Person (PR) This type of record is used for specifying the person or group responsible for a particular host. Each of these records has two values associated with it - an email address, and the name of Text record containing the person's name. Responsible Person records are rarely seen, and are not used by any mail delivery program or Internet client. The Email Address field shown when editing or adding one of these records is for entering the complete address (like email@example.com) of the person responsible for the host whose name is entered into the Name field. The Text Record Name field is for entering the relative or canonical name of a Text record that contains the person's real name.
- Location (LOC) Location records are used to specify the physical location in latitude and longitude of a host. They are hardly ever seen, and thus not used by many programs. However, they can be useful in large organizations that have hosts in many countries. When adding or editing a Location record, the field Latitude and Longitude is displayed for entering the location of the host in the Name field. It must be formatted like 42 21 43.528 N 71 05 06.284 W 12.00m 30.00m 10000.00m 10.00m.
- Service Address (SRV) Records of this type are used to associate a domain name, service name and protocol with a particular host. They allow you to specify which server a client should contact for a particular service and hostname, instead of just connecting to the host. In a way, they are like Mail Server records but far more flexible. For example, you can specify that the POP3 server for example.com is mail.example.com, but the webserver is www.example.com. At the time of writing, SRV records are mostly used by Windows client systems.
When adding or editing a Service
Address record, the fields Protocol
and Service name
displayed near the Name
text box. For the protocol, you must
select either TCP or UDP from the menu. For the service name, you
must enter a well-known name from the /etc/services file, such
. To look up an SRV record, a client combines
the service name, protocol and name to get a record name like ___telnet.___tcp.example.com
Webmin does this for you automatically when editing or adding
a Service Address record, but you can see the combined name on
the page listing records of this type. Webmin also automatically
added the _s before the service and protocol, but hides them when
a SRV record is being displayed or edited. This means that there
is no need to enter then manually when creating or editing a record
of this type. The Priority
field must be used to enter a numeric
priority for this server, which has the same meaning as the priority
in a Mail Server record. The Weight
field must contain a weighing
for this particular server, or zero if there is only one record
with the same name, protocol and service name. A higher weighting
tells clients to try this server more often than one with a lower
weight. The Port
field must contain a port number for clients
to connect to on the server, which does not necessarily have to
be the standard port for the service. In the Server
must enter the hostname or IP address of the system that actually
provides the service, and that clients actually connect to.
The record types support by Webmin in reverse zones are :
- Reverse Address (PTR) A reverse address record associates a hostname with an IP address in a reverse zone. For DNS clients to be able to lookup hostnames from IP addresses in your network, you will need to create one record of this type for each host. However, most of the time this is done automatically by Webmin when adding and editing Address records. If you create your own Reverse Address records, make sure that they are synchronized with the matching Address records. When adding or editing a record of this type, the fields Address and Hostname are displayed. The first is for entering a complete IP address, like 192.168.1.10. This will be automatically converted by Webmin to the in-addr.arpa format used internally by the DNS system for reverse addresses. The second field is for entering a hostname in canonical form, such as pc1.example.com., be sure to always put a dot at the end, or else the hostname will be relative to the reverse zone, which is definitely not what you want.
- Name Server (NS) Name Server records in a reverse zone have an identical purpose to those in a forward domain - they tell other DNS servers the IP address or hostname of a server responsible for the zone or a sub-domain. This means that one must be added for each primary or secondary DNS server for the zone. The Zone Name field that appears when adding or editing a record of this type is for entering the name of the zone that the server is responsible for, which will typically be the zone that contains the record. However, unlike Reverse Address records this field is not automatically converted to in-addr.arpa format. Instead, you must enter it in fully qualified form like 1.168.192.in-addr.arpa. if defining an nameserver for the 192.168.1 network. In the Name Server field, you must enter an IP address or canonical form hostname for the DNS server, such as ns1.example.com..
- Name Alias (CNAME) Records of this type behave exactly the same in reverse zones as they do in forward domains. However, you must fill in the Name and Real Name fields with reverse names in in-addr.arpa format, as Webmin will not convert them for you. Name Alias fields are most useful in reverse zones for doing partial subnet delegation, as covered in the Partial reverse delegation section below.
Editing a master zone
You can use Webmin to edit many of the settings that apply to an
entire master zone, such as the expiry and retry times, and the
clients that are allowed to query it. These settings effectively
apply to all records in the zone, although some (such as the TTL)
can be overridden on a per-record basis.
Webmin uses the term zone parameters to refer to all information
stored in the domain's SOA record, including the primary nameserver,
administrator email address and retry and expiry times. All
of these are set when the zone is created, but you can edit them
at any time by following these steps :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the zone that you want to edit.
- Click on the Zone Parameters icon, which will bring up a form for editing the parameters.
- The Master server field only needs to be edited if the Internet hostname of the DNS server has changed. Enter a fully-qualified hostname, with a dot at the end.
- To change the address of the person responsible for the zone, edit the Email address field. Any @ symbols that it contains will be automatically converted to dots for use in the SOA record, as BIND requires.
- The Refresh time, Transfer retry time, Expiry time and Default time-to-live fields all have the same meanings as explained in the section on Creating a new master zone. If records in your zone are going to be changing frequently in future, you may want to reduce some of these times. However, any changes, may not be detected by secondary servers and DNS clients until the old refresh or expiry time has elapsed, even if the new times are much lower. This is because they will wait for the old times to elapse before checking with the master server again to discovered the new ones.
- Click the Save button at the bottom of the page when you are done, and then the Apply Changes button back on the module's main page. The serial number in the SOA record will be automatically incremented when the form is saved, so that secondaries now that the zone has changed.
The is another set of options that you can edit for a master zone,
stored in the named.conf file in the zone's section. These control
which servers and clients are allowed to query records in the
zone, do zone transfers and update records over the network.
The most useful of these options specifies a list of slave DNS
servers for the zone that should be notified when a change occurs,
so that they can perform immediate zone transfers and thus remain
To edit these master zone options, the process to follow is :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the zone that you want to edit. This will take you to the form shown in Figure
- Click on the Edit Zone Options icon, which will bring up a form showing the existing settings.
- The Check names? field determines the level of checking that BIND performs on records in this zone when it reads the records file. The available options are :
- Warn If an invalid record is found, an error will be written to the system log file but processing of other records continues normally.
- Fail Invalid records cause the entire zone to be rejected, but other zones will still be processed normally.
- Ignore No checking is done at all.
- Default The global default from the Zone Defaults page is used. If it is not set, then the default complied into BIND will be used instead, which is to fail when invalid records are encounterd.
- To have secondary servers notified when records in the zone change, set the Notify slaves of changes? field to Yes. BIND works out which slaves will be notified by looking at the Name Server records for the zone, and the list of IP addresses in the Also notify slaves field. If your zone has an secondary servers, then you should definitely turn this option on.
- To allow some systems to update records in the zone dynamically, fill in the Allow updates from field with a list of IP addresses, IP networks (like 192.168.1.0/24) and BIND ACL names. Only those hosts that match will be able to modify records using commands like nsupdate, and if the list is left empty updates will not be allowed at all. You should be careful allowing the dynamic update of zones in which Webmin is also being used to edit records, as it is very likely that updates made dynamically will be overwritten by changes made in this module, or vice-versa.
- By default, all DNS clients and servers will be able to lookup records in the zone. This may not be what you want for a zone that is used only on an internal network, as it may give away sensitive information to potential attackers. To restrict queries, fill in the Allow queries from field with a list of IP addresses, IP networks and BIND ACL names. If the field is left empty, the field with the same name on the global Zone Defaults page determines which clients are allowed.
- To restrict the clients and servers that are allowed to perform zone transfers of all the records in this domain, fill in the Allow transfers from field. Often you will only want to allow secondary servers to perform transfers, especially if your zone is very large or contains records that you want to hide from attackers. Enter a list of IP addresses, IP networks and ACL names into the field to limit transfers to only matching clients. If it is left empty, the Allow transfers from field on the Zone Defaults page applies instead.
- To specify additional slave servers to be notified when the zone changes, fill in the Also notify slaves field with a list of IP addresses. BIND normally works out with addresses of all secondary servers for the zone from its Name Server records, but this may not always be complete.
- When you are done, click the Save button at the bottom of the page to update the BIND configuration file with your changes. You will need to use the Apply Changes button on the module's main page to make them active.
If a master zone is no longer needed, you can use this Webmin module
to totally delete it along with all the records that it contains.
To do this, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the zone that you want to edit.
- Click on the Delete Zone button at the bottom of the page.
- When deleting a forward zone, the field Delete reverse records in other zones? controls whether matching Reverse Address records in hosted reverse zones for all of the Address records in this one should be removed as well. This is generally safe to set to Yes, as only records with the exact same IP address and hostname will be deleted.
- Similarly, when deleting a reverse zone the field Delete forward records in other zones? determines whether matching forward records should be deleted too.
- Once you have made your selection and are sure you want to go ahead with the deletion, click the Delete button. The zone's entry in the named.conf file will be removed, and its records file deleted.
You can convert a master zone to a slave zone of the same name without
needing to delete and re-create it. This can be useful if the new
server is taking over as the master for some domain, or if the master
and secondary servers are switching roles. The section on *Editing
a slave zone* explains how to carry out the reverse action of converting
a slave zone to a master, which may be useful in this situation.
To convert a zone, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the zone that you want to edit, then on the Edit Zone Options icon.
- When you click on the Convert to slave zone button, zone's entry in named.conf will be immediately updated to convert it to a slave zone. The browser will then return to the module's main page.
- Normally, every slave zone has a list of master server IP addresses that it can use to perform zone transfers from. In the case of converted zones, this list will be initially empty unless the Default master server(s) for slave zones module configuration option is set. Follow the instructions in the Edit a slave zone section to set the master servers addresses correctly.
- To activate the change, click on the Apply Changes button the module's main page.
Creating a new slave zone
A slave or secondary zone is one for which your DNS server gets
the list of records from a master server for the zone. Generally,
slave servers are used to reduce the load on the primary server,
or act as a backup in case it goes down. For important zones (such
as a company's Internet domain), you should always have at least
one slave server so that your website is still accessible and
email can still be delivered even if the primary goes down.
The secondary DNS server for a domain should not usually be located
on the same network as the master, so that the failure of that network
cannot take them both down. Many ISPs and hosting companies will
host secondary zones for their customer's domains for free,
on their own DNS servers. If your ISP provides this service and
you want to set up a secondary server for an Internet domain, you
should take advantage of it. If so, most of this section can be
skipped. However, if you want to add a slave server for an internal
domain or have a large company network with many connections
to the Internet, then the instructions below explain how to set
it up :
- On the main page of the BIND DNS Server module, click on the Create a new slave zone link above or below the list of existing zones. This will bring up the form shown below, for entering the details of the new domain.
- For a forward zone like example.com, set the Zone type field to Forward and enter the zone name into the Domain name / Network field. For a reverse zone that maps IP addresses to hostnames for a network, choose the Reverse option and enter the network address (like 192.168.1) into the Domain name / Network text field.
- The Records file field determines if BIND keeps a cache of the records in this zone in a file, and if so where that file is located. If the option None is chosen, records that the DNS server transfers from the master will be kept in memory only, and lost when the server is re-started. This should only be chosen if there is a good network connect between the master and slave servers, as it will increase the number of zone transfers that your server must perform. If you choose Automatic, Webmin will generate a filename in the zone files directory specified in the named.conf file (usually /var/named). Whenever your server does a zone transfer, all records will be written to this file in the standard format. If the final option is selected, you can enter the full path to a file in which records should be stored into the field next to. This can be useful if you want to separate the records files for master and slave zones.
- In the Master servers field, enter the IP addresses of the master DNS server and any other secondary servers for the zone. BIND will try these servers in order when doing a zone transfer, so the master should be first on the list. You must enter at least one address, so that your server knows where to get records from.
- Click the Create button to have the new slave zone added to your server's configuration. Your browser will be re-directed to a page for editing options for the zone.
- Return to the module's main page, and click the Apply Changes button on the main page to make the addition active.
- On the master server, add a new Name Server (NS) record for the zone with the IP address of the secondary server. This can be easily done in Webmin by following the instructions in the Adding and editing records section.
- Configure the master DNS server to notify this slave of any changes to records in the zone. The steps in the section on Editing a master zone explain how.
- If this is an Internet domain, notify the registrar for the parent zone of the new secondary server. Most provide online forms for editing the list of nameservers for a domain, to which you can add the secondary's IP. This is necessary so that other hosts on the Internet know to use the slave server is the master is down.
The slave zone creation form
Another type of zone that is closely related to the slave zone
is the stub. They are like slave zones, but only contain Name Server
records that have been transferred from a master server, instead
of all the records. Stub zones are rarely used, but can be useful
for ensuring that the Name Server records in a zone for its sub-domains
are the same as those use in the sub-domain itself. The steps for
creating one are almost identical to those above, but in step
1 you must use the Create a new stub zone
link on the main page
Editing a slave zone
After a slave zone has been created, it is still possible to edit
several options that apply to it. Naturally there is no way to
add or edit the actual records within the zone, but you can still
change the list of master servers, the records file and the clients
that allowed to query it. To change these setting, the steps to
follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the slave zone that you want to edit. Your browser will display the form shown in the screenshot below.
- Scroll down to the Zone Options form at the bottom of the page.
- To edit the list of other master and slave servers for this zone, change the IP addresses in the *Master servers *field. If a new secondary server has been added, it should be added to this list on all other secondaries so that they can do zone transfers from it. If the IP address of the master has changed, the list must be updated with the new address.
- To change the amount of time that the server will wait before giving up on a zone transfer, de-select Default for the Maximum transfer time field and enter a number of minutes into the text box next to it.
- If the Records file field is set to None, records transferred from the master server for this zone will be kept in memory only. However if a filename is entered, records will be written to that file instead in the standard format. This is the best option, as it minimizes zone transfers and allows you to view the records on the secondary server, as explained below.
- To have this DNS server notify others when the zone changes, change the Notify slaves of changes? field to Yes. This is only really useful if there are other secondary servers that perform zone transfers from this one, and may not be able to receive update notifications from the master server. The DNS servers to notify are determined from the Name Server records for the zone, and the contents of the Also notify slaves field.
- By default, all DNS clients and servers will be able to lookup records in the zone. To change this, fill in the Allow queries from field with a list of IP addresses, IP networks and BIND ACL names. If the field is left empty, the field with the same name on the global Zone Defaults page determines which clients are allowed.
- To restrict the clients and servers that are allowed to perform zone transfers of all the records in this domain, fill in the Allow transfers from field with a list of IP addresses, IP networks and ACL names. If it is left empty, the Allow transfers from field on the Zone Defaults page applies instead.
- The other fields on the form such as Check names? and Allow updates from? are not really used for slave zones, and so can be left unchanged.
- When you are done making changes, click the Save button. As long as there were no syntax errors in your input, you will be returned to the module's main page. Click the Apply Changes button there to make the modifications active. Note that this will not always force a re-transfer of the zone, even if the master servers have changed. For slave zones that use records files, BIND will only do a transfer when it the zone expires or the server receives notification of a change.
The slave zone editing form
When editing a slave zones that uses a records file, it is possible
to browse the records in Webmin. At the top of the page that appears
when you click on the slave zone's icon is a table of record types,
just like the one that appears on the master zone form. Each can
be clicked on to list the names and values of records of that type
in the zone, as known to the secondary server. Editing or adding
to them is impossible of course, as any changes must be made on
the master server which is the authoritative source of records
for the domain.
To stop your system acting as a slave server for a zone, you will
need to delete it from the BIND configuration. This is generally
a safe procedure, as the all the records in the zone have been copied
from a master server and can be easily replaced. However, you
should update the Name Server records in the zone and notify the
parent domain's registrar that you system is no longer a secondary
for the zone, so that other DNS servers do not waste time querying
To delete a slave zone, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the slave zone that you want to edit. This will take you to the form shown in the screenshot above.
- Click on the Delete button in the bottom right-hand corner of the page, which will display a confirmation form.
- Hit the Delete button if you are sure you want to delete the zone.
- After your browser returns to the module's main page, click on Apply Changes to make the deletion active.
- On the master server, remove the Name Server (NS) record for this secondary server from the zone.
- If this is an Internet domain, notify the parent zone registrar of the removal of this secondary server. Failure to do so could cause problems if other DNS servers attempt to query this one for records in the domain when it cannot provide answers.
The final thing that you can do to a slave zone is convert it to a
master. This is only possible for zones that use a records file,
so that Webmin can view and edit that file in future. If you do such
a conversion, make sure that the original master server is changed
to become a slave or stops hosting the zone altogether - the same
domain cannot be served by two masters.
The steps to convert a zone are :
- Click on its icon on the module's main page.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the slave zone page, and hit the Convert to master zone button. This will immediately update the named.conf file to change the zone's type, but will not make any other changes.
- To make the conversion active, click on the Apply Changes button on the module's main page.
- You can now edit records in the domain just as you would with any normal master zone, by following the instructions in the section on Adding and editing records.
Creating and editing a forward zone
A forward zone is one for which your DNS server simply forwards
queries to another server on behalf of whoever is making the request.
They can be useful if the zone is actually hosted by another server
that cannot be reached by clients of this server. It is possible
to set up BIND to forward all requests for any non-hosted zones
to another server, as explained in the *Configuring forwarding
and transfers* section below. A forward zone entry does the same
thing, but for just a single domain.
To set one up, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the Create a new forward zone link above or below the list of existing domain icons. This will take you to the zone creation form.
- Set the Zone type field to either Forward or Reverse, as when creating master and slave zones.
- For a forward zone, enter its full name (without a dot at the end) into the Domain name / Network field. For a reverse zone, enter its network (like 192.168.1) into the field instead - Webmin will automatically convert it to in-addr.arpa format when the zone is added.
- In the Master servers field, enter a list of IP addresses for the DNS servers that can be queried to lookup records in the zone. These must all be master, slave or forward hosts for the domain. If no addresses are entered at all, BIND will always perform normal lookups of records in the zone instead of forwarding requests to another server. This can be used to override the global forwarding settings on the Forwarding and Transfers page for a single zone.
- Click the Create button to have the zone added to BIND's configuration file. Your browser will be taken to a page for editing options in the new domain.
- Return to the module's main page, and hit the Apply Changes button to make it active.
After a forward zone has been created, you can delete it or edit
the few settings that it has by following these steps :
- Click on the icon for the zone on the module's main page, which will bring your browser to a small form for editing its options.
- To change the list of DNS servers that requests are forwarded to, edit the IP addresses in the Master servers field. If none are entered, requests for records in this domain will be looked up directly.
- If the Try other servers? field is set to Yes, BIND will try a normal direct lookup for requests in this zone if it cannot contact any of the listed servers.
- Click the Save button to store your changes, and then Apply Changes back on the main page to activate them. Or to delete the forward zone, click on Delete and then Delete again on the confirmation page.
Creating a root zone
As the introduction explains, a root zone is one that contains
the information that your DNS server needs to contain the Internet
root servers. Without one, it is impossible to resolve records
in domains other than those hosted by your server. Fortunately,
one will almost always exist already in your BIND configuration,
created either by Webmin or included as part of the default setup.
You may need to create a root zone if one does not exist yet because
you selected the internal non-internet use only
setting up the module for the first time, but have now connected
your system to the Internet. Adding a second root zone can also
be useful when views have been configured, as explained in the
Using BIND views
Webmin will only allow you to create a root zone if none exists
yet, or if a view exists that does not contain one, because there
is no point having two such zones. To add one, the steps to follow
- On the module's main page, click on the Create a new root zone icon.
- Fill in the Store root servers in file field with a filename to use for the root zone file. If one already exists, then this field will already contain its path - otherwise, you should enter something like /var/named/db.cache.
- The Get root servers from field controls where Webmin copies the root file from. The choices are : *Download from root FTP server *This is the best option, as it tells the module to make an FTP connection to rs.internic.net and download the latest version of the file. However, this may not work if your system cannot make perform FTP downloads due to a firewall. *Use Webmin's older root server information *This option should be used if the first will not work. If selected, the module will use a copy of the root zone file that comes with Webmin, which will work but may not be up to date. *Existing root servers in file *If the file entered in step 2 already exists, then this option should be chosen. If you are adding a root zone to a view and one already exists in another view, it will be selected by default so that the file can be shared between both zones.
- Click the Create button to add the zone and return to the module's main page. Then hit Apply Changes to make it active.
Once a root zone has been added, an icon representing it will appear
on the main page. You can delete it by clicking on the icon and hitting
button - however, this may prevent the lookup of
records in non-hosted Internet domains from working as explained
Editing zone defaults
If you add lots of zones that contain similar records, then it
can be a lot of work to add them manually after creating each one.
For example, in a web hosting company all of your domains might
contain a www Address record for the IP address of your webserver,
and an Mail Server record that directs mail to a central server.
Fortunately, Webmin allows you to create a list of records that
get added to all new domains, called a zone template.
A template consists of one or more records, each of which has a
name, type and value. For Address records, the value can be option
which indicates that it can be entered by the user at zone creation
time. This is useful if one of the records (such as www) in the new
domains does not have a fixed address, and you want to be able to
easily set it when the zone is added. Templates can only be used
when creating forward zones, as they do not make much sense for
It is also possible to edit the default expiry, refresh, TTL and
retry times for new zones. Webmin's initial defaults are reasonable,
but may not be appropriate for your network. To change these defaults
and set up template records, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the Zone Defaults icon. The form at the top of the page labeled Defaults for new master zones contains all the fields that need to be edited.
- Edit the Refresh time, Transfer retry time, Expiry time and Default time-to-live fields if you want to change the defaults times for new zones. Existing master zones will not be effected by any changes you make here though.
- If all your new domains are managed by the same person, enter his address into the Default email address field. This will save you from having to type it in on the master zone creation page every time.
- In the Template records table, two blanks rows appear for entering new records. To add more than two, you will need to save this page and re-edit it. The records in existing rows can be edited by just changing their fields, or deleted by clearing out the record name. Under the Record name column you must enter the name of the record relative to the zone, such as www or ftp. To create a record for the zone itself (such as a Mail Server record for the domain), just enter a single dot. Under the Type column, select a type for the record from the list. See the Record types section for more information on what each is used for. As its name suggests, the field under the Value column is for entering a value for the new record. For the Address type, you can select From form in which case you will be able to enter an address when creating a new domain, which will be used by all template records that have this option selected. For Mail Server records, both the priority and server name must be entered separated by a space, such as 5 mail.example.com.. Values for records of all other types should be entered in the same format as is used when adding a record to a zone.
- If you are familiar with the records file format used by BIND, you can create your own file of records to be included in new zones. If a filename is entered into the Additional template file field, its contents will be added to the zone file created by Webmin for new master domains.
- When you are done adding template records, click the Save button at the bottom of the page. The changes will apply to any new master zones created from now on.
Now that you have created a template, you can choose whether or
not to use it for each new master zone that you create. On the creation
form (explained in the Creating a new master zone
is a field labeled Use zone template?
, which is set to Yes
by default if there are any template records. Next to it is a field
named IP address for template records
, which used for entering
the IP for records for which the From form
option is selected.
If you chose to use a template and if there are any records that
do not have an IP address specified, then this field must be filled
The Zone Defaults page also contains several options that apply
to all existing domains, but can all be set or overridden on a per-zone
basis as explained in the Editing a master zone
can control which clients are allowed to query the server, and
what kind of checking is done for the records of various domain
types. Being able to limit the allowed client hosts is particularly
useful, so that you can stop non-internal clients using your
DNS server. However, you should make sure that master Internet
zones hosted by your server are accessible to everyone, so that
other DNS servers on the Internet can look them up.
To change these global options, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the Zone Defaults icon and scroll down to the *Default zone settings *section.
- To control which hosts are allowed to query your DNS server, change the Allow queries from field to Listed and enter a list of IP addresses, IP networks (like 192.168.1.0/24) and ACL names into the text box below. Clients that do not match any entry on the list will be denied, unless they are requesting a record in a zone which has its own separate settings allowing them.
- To control which hosts are allowed to perform zone transfers from your server, change the Allow transfers from field to Listed and fill in the text box below with a list of IP addresses, IP networks and ACL names. Only servers that are acting as secondaries for zones that this server hosts really need to be able to do transfers, so it is usually a good idea to enter just their IP addresses. If you are restricting queries, this field must be filled in so that hosts that cannot lookup records are not allowed to perform transfers either.
- The fields Check names in master zones? and Check names in slave zones? control the checking of records in all zone files for master and slave zones respectively. The available options for each are : Warn *If an invalid record is found, an error will be written to the system log file but processing of other records continues normally. *Fail *Invalid records cause the entire zone to be rejected, but other zones will still be processed normally. *Ignore *No checking is done at all. *Default *The default checking level is used, which is *Fail.
- To have BIND check responses that it receives from other DNS servers, set the Check names in responses? field to Warn or Fail. The default is simply to pass potentially erroneous responses on to clients.
- The Notify slaves of changes? field determines whether BIND sends a notification to all slaves of master zones hosted by this server when they change. To turn this on, select Yes - otherwise, select No or Default. Enabling notification is a good idea, as it ensures that secondary servers are kept in sync with the master.
- When done, click the Save button at the bottom of the page to update the BIND configuration file, and then the Apply Changes button on the module's main page to make the changes active. The new settings will apply to all zones that do not explicitly override them on their own options pages.
Configuring forwarding and transfers
BIND can be configured to forward all requests for zones that
it is not the master or slave for to another DNS server. When doing
this, it acts like a DNS client itself, accepting requests from
real clients and then sending them off to another server or servers
for resolution instead of carrying out the normal process of
contacting the root zone servers and finding the correct server
for the domain. This can be useful if your DNS server is unable
to contact the rest of the Internet, but can still communicate
with a DNS server that does have full network access. For example,
it may be on an internal network behind a firewall that only allows
connections to a limited set of destinations.
To set up forwarding, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the Forwarding and Transfers icon.
- In the form that appears, fill in the Servers to forward queries to field the IP addresses of DNS servers that requests should be sent to. BIND will try them in order until one returns a positive or negative a response. If the list is empty, the server will revert to the normal method of looking up records by contacting the root servers and so on.
- If you want your server to attempt to resolve a client's query directly when it cannot contact any of the forwarding servers, set the Lookup directly if no response from forwarder field to Yes. This is only useful if your server is actually capable of doing lookups.
- Click the Save button at the bottom of the page, and then hit Apply Changes back on the main page to make the new setting active. Assuming the forwarding list was filled in, your server will now send all client queries to the listed servers.
The same form also contains fields for configuring BIND's behavior
when doing zone transfers. You can control how long it will wait
for a transfer to complete, the protocol used for transfers and
the number that can be active at the same time. To edit these settings,
follow these steps :
- On the module's main page, click on the Forwarding and Transfers icon.
- By default, BIND will wait 120 minutes (2 hours) for a zone transfer from a master to complete. To change this, enter a different number of minutes into the Maximum zone transfer time field. This can also be set or overridden on a per-slave zone basis.
- BIND versions before 8.1 only support the transfer of a single zone at a time. Because this can be slow when transferring many zones from the same master server, the Zone transfer format field can be set to Many to use a new format that combines multiple domains into the same transfer. If One at a time or Default is chosen, then each zone will be transferred separately. This is the best choice unless you are sure that all slave servers are running BIND 8.1 or above.
- By default, your nameserver will not carry out more than 2 concurrent zone transfers from the same master server. To increase this limit, change the Maximum concurrent zone transfers field to something higher. This can speed up the process of transferring a large number of domains, but at the expense of putting a higher load on the master server.
- Click the Save button when you are done making changes, and then Apply Changes on the main page to activate them. The new settings will apply to all subsequent zone transfers.
Editing access control lists
An access control list (or ACL) is list of IP addresses, IP networks
or other ACLs that are grouped together under a single name. The
ACL name can then be used when specifying the list of clients allowed
to query, update or perform zone transfers from a zone. This can
make be used to reduce the amount of duplication in your BIND configuration,
and to make it clearer. For example, the ACL corpnet
the IP networks 192.168.1.0/24
which are all part of your company's network. When configuring
who can query a zone, you could just enter corpnet
that list of network addresses.
To view and edit ACLs in Webmin, the steps to follow are :
- On the module's main page, click on the Access Control Lists icon. This will take you to a page listing existing ACLs and allowing the addition of one more. If you want to add more than one ACL, you will need to save the form and re-edit it to force the display of a new blank row.
- To add a new ACL, find the blank row at the bottom of the table and enter a short name consisting of only letters and numbers in the ACL Name column. Then in the field under Matching addresses, networks and ACLs, enter a list of IP addresses, IP networks and other ACL names that this new ACL will contain. IP addresses must be entered in their standard format like 192.168.1.1, but hostnames are not allowed. IP networks must be entered in network/prefix format like 192.168.1.0/24 or 192.168.1/24. You can also precede any address, network or ACL name with a ! to negate it, so for example the entry !192.168.1.0/24 would match all hosts outside the_ 192.168.1 _network.
- Existing entries in the list can be edited by changing their fields in the table, and ACLs can be deleted by clearing out the field containing their names.
- When you are done adding and editing ACLs, click the Save button. To activate the changes, hit Apply Changes back on the main page. As soon as an ACL is created, it can be used in other query, transfer and update restrictions of other zones.
BIND has four built-in ACLs that can be used in all the same places
that user-defined ACLs can. They are :
- any Matches any client address.
- none Matches nothing.
- localhost Matches the IP addresses of all network interfaces on your system. Even though it is called localhost, it doesn't just match 127.0.0.1.
- localnets Matches all clients on all networks that your system is directly connected to. BIND works this out by looking at the IP addresses and netmasks of all network interfaces.
Setting up partial reverse delegation
Partial reverse zone delegation is method for transferring
the management of a small set of reverse IP addresses to another
DNS server. Normally, reverse zones cover an entire class C network
containing 256 addresses. However, many organizations have
networks much smaller than this, containing maybe 16 or 32 addresses.
Normally, this would make it impossible for the organization
to manage its own reverse address mappings, as the addresses
come from a network that is owned by an ISP or hosting company.
Fortunately, there is a solution - the ISP can set up Name Alias
(CNAME) records in the reverse zone for the parent network that
point to Reverse Address records in a special zone on the organization's
DNS server. The parent zone must also contain a Name Server (NS)
record for the special sub-zone that points to the customer's
server, so that other DNS clients know where to look when resolving
the Name Alias records.
An example may make this clearer - imagine for example than an
ISP had granted addresses in the range 192.168.1.100 to 192.168.1.110
to Example Corporation, which owns the example.com domain.
The company already runs its own DNS server to host the example.com
zone, but wants to control reverse address resolution for its
IP range as well. The ISP would create Name Alias records in the
192.168.1 zone pointing to the special sub-zone 192.168.1.100-110,
which will contain the actual Reverse Address records named
like 192.168.1.100-100.101. The ISP also needs to create a Name
Server record for 192.168.1.100-110 which tells other servers
that Example Corporation's DNS server should be used to find
records under that zone.
Webmin handles reverse address delegation well, and automatically
converts special network zones like 192.168.1.100-110 to and
from the real zone names used by BIND such as 100-188.8.131.52.in-addr.arpa.
The exact steps to follow on both the server that hosts the actual
class C network zone and the server that a subset of it is being
delegated to are :
- Decide on the range of addresses that are being delegated, such as 192.168.1.100 to 192.168.1.110. Typically, the sub-zone name is based on the range of addresses being delegated, but this does not have to be the case as long as it is under the parent network domain.
- On the server that hosts the class C network zone, add a Name Server record for 192.168.1.100-110 with the server set to the IP address or name of the sub-zone's DNS server.
- For each address in the range, add a Name Alias record to the reverse zone named like 184.108.40.206.in-addr.arpa. with the Real Name set like 101.100-220.127.116.11.in-addr.arpa. As you can see, the alias points to a record inside the zone for the sub-network.
- When all of the Name Alias records have been created, everything that needs to be done on this server is finished and you can hit Apply Changes.
- On the DNS server for the sub-network, create a new master zone for the reverse network 192.168.1.100-110. Webmin will automatically convert this to the correct in-addr.arpa format for you.
- Add Reverse Address records to the new zone as normal for IP addresses like 192.168.1.100-110.101. Adding a record for the IP 192.168.1.101 will not work.
- When you are done creating reverse records, click the Apply Changes button to make them active. You should now be able to look them up using a command like nslookup on the server for the parent network zone.
The instructions above can be used to delegate multiple ranges
from a single class C network to several different DNS servers.
There is no limit on the size of ranges, nor any requirement that
they follow normal network block boundaries - however, for routing
reasons most IP allocation is done in power-of-two sized blocks
(like 4, 8, 16 and so on), which means that any sub-zone ranges
will be the same size.
The only problem with reverse address delegation when using
Webmin is that Reverse Address are not automatically created
and updated when Address records are. This means that you will
have to create all such records manually on the sub-zone server,
as in the steps above.
One inconvenience in setting up partial reverse delegation
is the number of similar Name Alias records that must be created
on the parent network zone server. Fortunately, there is a simpler
alternative - record generators. A generator is a special BIND
configuration entry that creates multiple similar records
using an incrementing counter. This module allows you to created
and edit generators, by following these steps :
- On the module's main page, click on the icon for the reverse zone that you want to create records in. This will typically be a class C network domain that is going to have a range of addresses delegated to some other server.
- Click on the Record Generators icon. This takes you to a page containing a table of existing generators, with a blank row for adding a new one.
- In the empty row, select CNAME from the menu under the Type column.
- Under the Range column, enter numbers for the start and end of the address range into the first two fields, such as 100 and 110. The third field is for entering the gap between each step, and should be left blank. If you were to enter 2, then the range would go 100, 102, 104 and so on.
- In the Address pattern field, enter $ (a single dollar sign). When the records are created, the $ will be replaced with the number of each record, which will in turn resolve to an IP address in the range. You could also enter $.1.168.192.in-addr.arpa., which makes things more obvious but is longer to type.
- In the Hostname pattern field, enter $.100-110. Similarly, the $ will be replace with the number of each record, which will resolve to something like 101.100-110. 1.168.192.in-addr.arpa..
- If you like, enter a comment that describes what this generator is for into the Comment field.
- Click the Save button, return to the module's main page and click on Apply Changes.
A generator can replace the Name Alias records that the first
set of instructions in this section tell you to create, so there
is no need for them anymore. Note that the automatically generated
replacements will not be visible or editable in the normal way,
only through the Record Generators page.
Using BIND views
BIND version 9 introduced the concept of views, which are groups
of zones that are visible only to certain DNS clients. Views can
be used to hide internal zones from the Internet, to present the
same zone in two different ways, or to stop non-local clients
resolving non-hosted domains through your server. Every view
has a unique name, and a list of matching IPs addresses and IP networks
that determines which clients and servers it is visible to.
When it detects that you are running BIND 9, several additional
features are available in the module. You can create views, move
zones from one view to another, and choose which view zones are
created in. On the main page, each current view is represented
by an icon under Existing Client Views
heading, and each zone
icon has a label that indicates which view it is in.
If any views exist, then every zone must be in a view. Only if none
are defined will Webmin allow the creation of zones outside views,
as this is not supported by BIND. This includes the root zone,
which must be available to a client for DNS requests for records
in domains not hosted by this server to succeed. For this reason,
it often makes sense to put the root zone in a view that is available
to all clients.
To add a new view to your BIND configuration, the steps to follow
- On the module's main page, click on the Create a new view link in the Existing Client Views section. This will take you to a form for entering its details.
- Enter a short alphanumeric name for the view (such as internal or everyone) into the View name field. Each view must have a unique name.
- Leave the DNS records class field set to Default.
- If this zones in this view are to be visible to everyone, set the Apply this view to clients field to All clients. Otherwise, choose Selected addresses, networks and ACLs and enter a list of IP addresses, IP networks and BIND ACL names into the text box below. Only clients that match one of the entries in this list will have access to the view.
- Click the Create button at the bottom of the form. You will be returned to the main page, which will include an icon for your new view.
- Move any existing zones that you want to be in this view into it. A zone can be moved by clicking on its icon, then on Edit Zone Options, and then selecting the new view from the menu next to the Move to view button before clicking it. If this is your first view, all existing zones must be moved into it (or another view) before the new configuration will be accepted by BIND.
- When you are done moving zones, click the Apply Changes button on the main page.
Once a view has been created, you can change the list of addresses
and networks that it matches by clicking on its icon on the main
page and updating the Apply this view to clients
hit the Save
button followed by Apply Changes
to make the
new client list active.
A view can be deleted by clicking the Delete
button on the same
form. This will bring up a confirmation page that allows you to
choose what should happen to the zones that it contains, if any.
The available options are :
- Delete totally All zones in the view are deleted, along with their records files.
- Move out of views Zones in the view are moved out to the top level. This option should only be used when deleting the last view, for the reasons explained above.
- Move to view Zones are moved to a different existing view.
When one or more views have been defined on your system, you can
choose which one to use when adding new zones. This is done using
the Create in view
field on the master, slave, forward and root
zone creation forms, which allows you to select a view from its
menu. Naturally, there is no option for creating a zone outside
of any views as this is not allowed by BIND.
One common use of views is hiding internal zones from clients
outside your internal network. This is a good way of hiding the
structure of your network and the hosts on it from potential attackers.
To set it up, the steps to follow are :
- Create a new view called internal that matches clients on your internal LAN.
- Create a second view called everyone that matches all clients.
- Move any zones that are for internal use only into the internal view. Zones for Internet domains such as example.com must not be put in this view, as that would make them inaccessible to the rest of the world.
- Move all other zones (including the root zone) to the everyone view.
Views can also be used to prevent clients outside your network
looking up non-hosted domains on your server, as follows :
- Create a new view called internal that matches clients on your internal LAN.
- Create a second view called everyone that matches all clients.
- Move the root zone to the internal view, which will prevent the server from looking up records for non-local clients that require contact with the root servers.
- Move all other zones to the everyone view.
Module access control
Like others, the BIND DNS Server module allows you to control
which of its features are available to a particular Webmin user
or group. This can be useful for giving people the rights to manage
only records in their own zones and nobody else's. Even though
this would normally require root access to the records files,
with Webmin it can be granted to people without giving them level
of power that a root login would allow.
Once you have created a user with access to the module as explained
, the steps to limit his access to only certain zones
- Click on the BIND DNS Server next to the name of the user in the Webmin Users module. This will being up a page of access control options.
- Change the Can edit module configuration? field to No, so that the user is not allowed to change the paths that the module uses to named.conf and other files.
- For the Domains this user can edit *field, choose *Selected zones and select the ones that you want him to have access to from the list to its right. If you want him to be able to edit almost all zones, it may be better to choose All except selected and select only those that he should not be allowed to manage records in. If your DNS server uses views, you can use the Zones in view options to allow or deny access to all zones in a view as well.
- Change the fields Can create master zones?, Can create slave/stub zones?, Can create forward zones? and Can edit global options? to No.
- If you want Reverse Address records in zones that the user does not have access to to be updated by changes to Address records in zones that he does, set the Can update reverse addresses in any domain? field to Yes. This may not be a good idea from a security point of view though, as he would be able to change almost any existing Reverse Address record on your system. For that reason, I suggest that this field be set to No.
- To stop the user creating more than one Address record with the same IP, set the Can multiple addresses have the same IP? *field to *No. Even though creating multiple records is harmless, you may want to set this to No to prevent the user allocating the same IP twice.
- Leave the Read-only access mode? field set to No. If it is changed to Yes, the user will only be able to view zones and records using the module, and not change anything. This might be useful for creating a different kind of restricted user though - one who can see all settings, but not edit them.
- Leave the Can apply changes? field set to Yes, so that he can use the Apply Changes button to make his additions and modifications active.
- Unless you want the user to be able to edit his records file manually, change the Can edit records file? field to No. Most un-trusted users are not smart enough to perform manual editing.
- The Can edit zone parameters? field determines if the user can see and use the Edit Zone Parameters icon for his domains. Setting this to Yes is quite safe, as the user can only harm his own zones by setting the parameters to silly values.
- Similarly, the Can edit zone options? field determines if the Edit Zone Options icon is visible or not. You should set this to No, as it is possible for a user to create a syntax error in named.conf by improper use of the zone options form.
- Unless you want the user to be able to delete his own domains, change the Can delete zones? field to No. Users should contact the master administrator instead if they can to delete zones.
- The Can edit record generators? field can be left set to Yes, as it simply allows the creation of multiple records at once. However, some users may get confused by this feature so it might be a good idea to change the field to No.
- The Can lookup WHOIS information? And Can search for free IP numbers? fields can also be left on Yes, as those features mere display information to the user.
- Change the Can create and edit views? field to No, so that the user cannot manage BIND 9 views. If the user is allowed to create zones, you can use the Views this user can edit and add zones to field to limit those that he can create zones in.
- Can create slave zones on remote servers? should be set to No, but this doesn't really matter as the user is not going to be allowed to create master or slave zones anyway.
- Finally, click the Save button to make the new restrictions for the user active.