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  1. Introduction
  2. Network Model
  3. Topology
  4. Physical Media
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  6. Network Card
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  9. Wide Area Network Connections
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  19. TCP/IP
  20. IPX/SPX
  21. NetBEUI
  22. AppleTalk
  23. SNA
  24. Others
  25. Suites and Network Layers
  26. Installing Drivers
  27. DNS
  28. Network Operating Systems
  29. Applications, mail, groupware, DBMS
  30. Backing up the network
  31. Troubleshooting
  32. Web, SNMP, admin, firewalls
  33. Networking Terms and Definitions
  34. Credits

DNS

General

Domain Name System (DNS) is used on the internet to correlate between IP address and readable names. There are servers providing DNS information to clients. The part of the system sending the queries is called the resolver and is the client side of the configuration. The name server answers the queries. Read RFCs 1034 and 1035. These contain the bulk of the DNS information and are superceded by RFCs 1535-1537. Naming is in RFC 1591. The main function of DNS is the mapping of IP addresses to human readable names.

Three main components of DNS

  1. resolver
  2. name server
  3. database of resource records(RRs)

The Domain Name System (DNS) is basically a large database which resides on various computers and it contains the names and IP addresses of various hosts on the internet and various domains. The Domain Name System is similar to a file system in Unix or DOS starting with a root. Branches attach to the root to create a huge set of paths. Each branch in the DNS is called a label. Each label can be 63 characters long, but most are less. Each text word between the dots can be 63 characters in length, with the total domain name (all the labels) limited to 255 bytes in overall length. The domain name system database is divided into sections called zones. The name servers in their respective zones are responsible for answering queries for their zones. A zone is a subtree of DNS and is administered separately. There are multiple name servers for a zone. There is usually one primary name server and one or more secondary name servers. A name server may be authoritative for more than one zone.

DNS names are assigned through the Internet Registries by the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA). The domain name is a name assigned to a domain. For example, mycollege.edu represents the domain name of an educational institution. The names microsoft.com and 3Com.com represent the domain name at those commercial companies. Naming hosts within the domain is up to individuals administer their domain.

Access to the Domain name database is through a resolver which may be a program that resides on users? workstations. In Unix the resolver is accessed by using the library functions "gethostbyname" and "gethostbyaddr". The resolver will send requests to the name servers to return information requested by the user. The requesting computer tries to connect to the name server using its IP address rather than the name.

Structure and message format

The drawing below shows a partial DNS hierarchy. At the top is what is called the root and it is the start of all other branches in the DNS tree. It is designated with a period. Each branch moves down from level to level. When referring to DNS addresses, they are referred to from the bottom up with the root designator (period) at the far right. Example: "myhost.mycompany.com.".

Partial DNS Hierarchy

DNS is hierarchical in structure. A domain is a subtree of the domain name space. From the root, the assigned top-level domains in the U.S. are:

  • GOV - Government body.
  • EDU - Educational body.
  • INT - International organization
  • NET - Networks
  • COM - Commercial entity.
  • MIL - U. S. Military.
  • ORG - Any other organization not previously listed.

Outside this list are top level domains for various countries.

Each node on the domain name system is separated by a ".". Example: "mymachine.mycompany.com.". Note that any name ending in a "." is an absolute domain name since it goes back to root.