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Domain Name System (DNS)#

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers connected to the Internet 1. It allows to access servers by name instead of an IP address which is hard to remember.

Public DNS#

Google DNS: or 2001:4860:4860::8888

Resource Record Format#

All RRs have the same top level format shown below:



  • NAME: the name of the node
  • TTL: a 32 bit signed integer that specifies the time interval that the resource record may be cached
  • CLASS: two octets containing one of the RR CLASS codes.
  • TYPE: two octets containing one of the RR TYPE codes.
  • RDLENGTH: an unsigned 16 bit integer that specifies the length in octets of the RDATA field.
  • RDATA: a variable length string of octets that describes the resource.

Resource Record Types#

DNS Type Return Type Application
A IPv4 address map domain to 1 static IP
AAAA IPv6 address map domain to 1 static IP
ALIAS Domain name map domain to domain
CNAME Canonical name map 1 domain to 1 domain
DNAME Delegation name map domain + subdomains to domain
NS Name server delegate to other DNS
SSHFP Public key provide authentication
MX URL Mail exchange server
URL URL redirect (HTTP 301) domain to URL


The DNAME record provides redirection for a subtree of the domain name tree in the DNS 2. Note that a DNAME entry that maps to will also map to


The ALIAS type is not part of the DNS standard and should only be used to map an Apex domain to another domain because CNAME cannot be used for this task.

Rules for setting up a DNS entry#

  • use an A and AAAA record if your destination is a server with one static and fixed IP address (this is the most common case)
  • use a CNAME record if you want to alias a name to another name, and you don't need other records (such as MX records for emails) for the same name
  • use an ALIAS record if you are trying to alias the root domain or if you need other records for the same name

Propagation Time#

Changes propagate within the network in about 24 hours. TTL of records: 5 minutes to 24 hours.

DNS Softwre#

Linux: dig DOMAIN, host DOMAIN, nslookup DOMAIN


  1. RFC 1035, Domain Names - Implementation and Specification , 1987 

  2. RFC 6672, DNAME Redirection in the DNS, 2012