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Organizing Your DNS? 43

Neil Watson asks: "In previous organizations I've kept track of IPs, hostnames and DNS entries by using a single hosts file. I used a script (h2n) to convert the hosts file to DNS entries (BIND). Thus, all information was available in a single text file. For Microsoft Active Directory servers, we had that system's DNS server simply forward all of its requests to the BIND server. Now, I find myself at another organization. This network is considerably larger, with more name servers. The control of IPs, hostnames and DNS entries is somewhat loose, and it is starting take its toll. How do you organize all of your DNS information in order to easily assign and track all of the entries?"
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Organizing Your DNS?

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  • You do it with a point and click UI
    • You do it with a point and click UI

      Or at the very least a command line application.

      You most certainly should not organise DNS or administrate any other part of your network by hand editing ini and config files. That's just plain stupidity.
      • Re:hehe (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That's just plain argument by assertion, and this is just plain ad-hominum attack.

        I suggest that careful editing of configuration files such as a host file processed by h2n might not be a bad approach. Of course, one is allowed to write additional scripts or programs to check configuration file syntax, consistency and the like, and to make it easier to manage large zones. One could even use make to cause the generation, application, and activation of appropriate DNS zones. Or not. If you can't type, those G
  • PowerDNS (Score:5, Informative)

    by bmac83 ( 869058 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @11:55AM (#14948188) Homepage
    You can use PowerDNS [] and any number of administrative tools [] to manage the domains with a SQL database rather than flat text files.
  • by jgaynor ( 205453 ) <jon AT gaynor DOT org> on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:01PM (#14948209) Homepage
    It seems to me that most of your problems can be solved with a little politcal weight-throwing.

    This network is considerably larger, with more name servers. The control of IPs, hostnames and DNS entries is somewhat loose, and it is starting take its toll.

    The number of nameservers is irrelevant as long as they're master/slave. Are each of these NS boxen run by a different business unit/department? If so, find the group with the organizational proponency for DNS (probably you) and demand that they be given full control. Assign a hostmaster for your organization and funnel ANY and ALL dns changes through him/her/it. Authority for subdomains can still be given out, but force a signed waiver to cover your ass when they shoot themselves in the foor by running 2k3 AD as a production NS service.

    Once this is done you'll probably want to ditch the flat-file approach and run some sort of frontend. It guarantees that when your hostmaster eventually quits you wont have to find another expensive geek. I used to run the webmin plugin for BIND [], but stopped once I saw what a security nightmare webmin was. Don't have much experience with anything else besides custom solutions but nictool [] and oDNS [] have their supporters.
  • Ganymede, Doctor DNS (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonabbey ( 2498 ) * <> on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:02PM (#14948215) Homepage

    We have been using our own software, Ganymede [], to handle our DNS for the last 7 years. Ganymede is a programmable directory mastering application.. you give it a schema with objects for real-world items such as systems, interfaces, networks, etc., and Ganymede provides an object database and concurrent client/server GUI for making changes. Whenever an administrator hits 'commit' in their client, Ganymede turns around and updates the DNS (and in our case, our NIS, our Active Directory, our DHCP, and more) on a background thread.

    The schema we use for managing DNS at ARL:UT is not the most flexible, in that we have only a single DNS domain that we are managing, and may well not fit your environment, however there is a consulting company in Germany, [], which has built a complete DNS and DHCP management solution around Ganymede. They are using it to manage the DNS and DHCP for a University of 14,000 hosts, and they might be able to help you out with your environment.

    If you do decide you might like to know more about Ganymede, let me know.. I've been working on it for the last couple of years for internal use and for clients, without posting any new releases on our website. The software has tons of improvements that have been made in the meantime.

  • and sorted by IP for the reverse.

    Easy to enforce via script, and simple enough for even windows admins to remember. Sure, you get problems when people forget to remove old hosts, and in the time it takes for your servers to replicate from the master, but you'll get those with any setup really...
  • by tinkertim ( 918832 ) * on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:28PM (#14948291) Homepage
    Would love to help you, but not sure if these are all internal domains? mixed? How are the zones organized now?

    I use a single system image cluster (A small Xen virtualized one) with my own little sqlite concoction to keep track of what is soa for what. This lets me easily shift things around with a back end I wrote using PHP5.

    I have 2 machines, each has 7 nodes (1 director and 6 real nodes) each with 128 MB allocated to it. This gives me failover, load balancing and the convenience of the single system image without the hassles of nfs breaking, and no trust relationships to hassle with.

    I have each node running a seperate config, with CVIP running directing queries from the Internet to the 2 nodes SOA for the domain as seen from the outside world.

    This lets me put each node on a different network, but using only 1 nic (I should use 2 but I'm cheap) per machine. I really didn't *need* the admin back end, (grep works wonders so does find) but it makes things simple.

    I also haven't had a 3AM wake up due to a DNS outage in quite a while :) Total cost :

    2 P4 HT's, 4 SATA drives, and about 12 hours of time to set it up. No single point of failure either :)

    Sounds like you're in a bowl of spaghetti .. I'd tame it soon before you get blamed for the previous guy's lack of effort.

    HTH :)

    • I second that more information is needed.

      Is it a BIND/AD mix again, BIND only, AD only or something different?

      If he is only running two DNS servers than your "what I run in my parent's basement" solution might work.

      Kidding aside, what are you servicing with that setup?

      • A small office network, only about 300 machines. They also provide web hosting to clients (who also must have access to their own individual zones edited via C-Panel web control panel), and maintain 2 standard caching NS's for co-located clients to query from within leased space in the office.

        Static (and light) use, never really changes so it suits them well. :) The HT's + Debian (almost) never have problems and its very very easy to just toss in more ram to increase the capacity of the nodes later. All the
  • How many hosts? (Score:4, Informative)

    by bernywork ( 57298 ) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [notelpatsb]> on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:30PM (#14948300) Journal
    If you were able to manage out of a single hosts file before, then you would have been looking after a small organisation.

    I find that even up to 1500 hosts, managing IP addresses out of a spreadsheet is fine. The amount of times that admins actually connect machines to networks isn't all that often (with the exception of workstations, but use dynamic DNS for that and don't worry about putting them into a spreadsheet) so the changes are minimal.

    Get the solarwinds software if you are running Windows (or find a box to put it on) and in the engineers edition, there is a DNS auditing tool. Run that every now and again to make sure that what's in the spreadsheet and what's in DNS matches up and all is good.

    If you are looking above 1500 hosts, then you might need to consider some of the other posts above.

    I found in the past as long as your IP allocations are easily managable, and you know what it is that you want to manage, then it's all good.

  • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:32PM (#14948309) Homepage
    You don't say how many domains you are dealing with, but unless it's something obscene then getting all your zones to include one "gold" server on their NS list is a good start. The zone files themselves then provide all the IP information you might need on the hosts, especially if you also include HINFO or TXT records for your hosts. Ideally this would be the SOA for all the domains, and not used for anything other than acting as authoritive DNS for secondaries that would handle the actual queries although if you are delegating administration on subdomains that might not be practical. Note that on BIND (and presumably other DNS servers), your listed "authoritive" DNS servers, including the SOA if you wish, can actually be slaves to a "hidden" server or servers that only they can query, which can be very useful in designing a management structure.

    Depending on how many people are updating the zones, what kind of security you need on that, and how many zones you actually have then start looking at GUI/web based frontends and database backends. Personally, I'd try and assign a few designated hostmasters to administer all DNS changes centrally, but if that meets objection and you don't have or can't get enough weight to overrule it it's not a major problem. There are plenty of quite decent web based GUIs out there to interface with the zone files directly or things like SQL and LDAP based backends, pretty much all of the better ones allow you to apply access control somewhere in the implementatation. If you are considering a database based backend though, be very careful about your selection and implementation if there are any dynamic zones (especially Active Directory, since you mention Windows) in the mix!

  • Infoblox (Score:4, Informative)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:59PM (#14948398) Homepage
    Infoblox [] is a great product for doing this. It's all appliance based, runs Bind (Cricket Liu works for them), and basically everything operates as a grid. I've done a couple of installs of this for clients, and it's a very slick system.
    • Re:Infoblox (Score:2, Informative)

      I've found that Infoblox isn't at all cracked up to what they claim to be. From my experience, BlueCat Networks' [] Adonis DNS/DHCP server kicks ass over anything from Infoblox in ease of management and reliability. As well, BlueCat's technical support is the greatest I have ever dealt with.

      BlueCat has another product called the Proteus that handles IP Address Management. We have found that with multiple locations distributed throughout the world, something like this may greatly help us keep a tighter cont
      • Chris, I started to compare Infoblox and BlueCat's appliance offerings today, because our company is in the market for a managed DNS solution. After reading your Slashdot post, I actually looked more into the BlueCat appliances. Then I googled for your name and BlueCat. Here's the link to your blog Google gave me: irst_Day_at_BlueCat_Networks_Inc.aspx [] Next time you shill for your company/employer, you might want to at least put forward some disclaimer th
        • You are completely right, and I appologize. My intent wasn't to schill for BlueCat. I really do believe that BlueCat is a superior product, not only in terms of product, but customer service as well. And please, don't take my word for it. There are lots of articles and reviews on the Internet that will tell you the same.

          I hope that you will seriously evaluate all otions and decide to go with what you feel is best for you and your organization, despite my decision to not disclose the company I work for i

  • You should update your information architecture to send client DNS resolution requests via your postal service. Employ a small number of columnar mapping table lookup experts to enscribe the proper domain names onto the request sheets and transfer them back to the clients, again via post mail. You should realize the desired sea change in support staff utilization within weeks.

  • IPplan (Score:5, Informative)

    by lucm ( 889690 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @01:22PM (#14948490)
    Here is a nice web-based solution: []

    We are using it at the office and it is very handy.

    There is a lot of features, including DNS management, search tools, routing tables management, ...
  • Our sys admins are switching to dynamic dns for that very reason.
  • If you have an all-Windows server environment (it doesn't sound like you do, but if you do), MS AD and DNS under Server 2003 handles almost everything automatically. You can insert your own entries if you want (CNAMEs), but on all small and many medium sized networks you can leave DNS as a totally hands off affair. Just make sure the DDNS updates are set to secure.
  • I'm fortunate enough to have an all Windows 2000/XP domain, the automatic DNS really makes things easier internally.

    I even have a couple of old WINS servers running for the legacy clients, which don't exist anymore, which reminds me to turn off the WINS servers. Well, at least they integrate into DNS automatically.

    Microsoft actually provides some easy to use and powerful DNS tools with Windows. Recently I had to add a batch of 35 domains to our hosted environment, was pretty easy with DNSCMD and a few batch
  • MyDNS Rocks (Score:3, Informative)

    by pyite69 ( 463042 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @10:56PM (#14950556)
    We have hundreds of thousands of domains and millions of A, PTR, MX records. It is quite manageable with MyDNS. It uses a MySQL database with two simple tables - one for the domains and one for the address information.

    It makes multiple name servers easier because you don't need to AXFR - you just use MySQL replication which is quite easy to deal with.
  • Nictool (Score:3, Informative)

    by LogicX ( 8327 ) * <slashdot AT logicx DOT us> on Saturday March 18, 2006 @11:43PM (#14950665) Homepage Journal
    Nictool [] is an excellent DNS management system which uses mysql as a backend, rsync/ssh to update djbdns servers, and has a web frontend with very granular delegation to different users.

    I've been using it for many many months on multiple DNS setups, and many other organizations use it also. It takes a bit of knowledge to setup, but is very reliable once its setup. I've written a few guides on configuration and installation (though now a little outdated) -- they can be found in the mail toaster forum.
  • One of the big problems I've always had with most DNS management frontends is that they seem to all need a separate database of some sort, and then they try to sync up the contents of the zonefiles with what's in that database.

    This wreaks all sorts of unholy havoc if you do any sort of changes outside of that interface (like a DHCP server that updates DNS).

    I wrote a small app to manage DNS for my home that plays well with DHCP, though I'll confess I have no reports of anyone using it for a large site:

    http:/ []
  • Seriously.

    You probably don't want to jump into LDAP if this would be your sole use. However a site large enough to make maintainenance of the DNS files a pain is probably large enough that it either does, or at least should consider, using LDAP for user and system information. See the recent series of articles (in Linux Journal?) on setting up a single sign-on system using LDAP and Kerberos for an idea of how powerful it can be.

    Yes, maintenance can be a bitch. But it's better than having to maintain sepa
    • I run ldap2dns and unfortunatly (or not, as pertains to your viewpoint), the author believes dyndns isn't fundamentally a good idea, as DNS is a resolver, and thus shouldn't have write access to the DB. Which does kind of make sense from a security standpoint, as DHCP is never externally facing whilst DNS is far more likely to be. Still, it causes me no end of pain as I haven't found a DHCP server that will update my LDAP...and I haven't got the faintest idea where to begin hacking ISC's dhcpd.
  • I'm in a similar boat and specifically need my UI to support views (BIND's answer to split-horizon DNS). It looks to me like nictool also has no concept of views... :(

    I haven't evaluated it yet, but here's another option: []

    Can anyone comment on the Men&Mice suite?
  • Assuming by the nature of your question, you have multiple sites each wanting control over their DNS. You should simply delegate control for individual zones to their admins. Say you have hq, la, dc and ny offices. You should have being top level, only thing in there are web entries, and maybe the mail servers. You then have,, and and you put all the machines in DNS zone respective to their location. I recommend using Windows 2k3 DNS if
  • Carnegie Mellon's NetReg [] (*) is a DNS & DHCP management system (and much more) that we wrote in house to replace our previous database. We manage DNS & DHCP for 50K machines, and NetReg does it all. It is available under an OSS license and is in use at several other locations. NetReg provides a self service web interface with flexible permissions, privilege delegation, IP address space management, DNS record validation, and more.

    As the current primary developer of the system I'm a bit biased, b

  • First, let me say that I am an employee of Lucent Technologies, Inc. If you are interested in highly scaleable and fault tolerant IPAM, DNS and DHCP solution, we can offer VItalQIP. This depends on how much you need to move beyond a single hosts file or spreadsheet. The VitalQIP product is a centralized solution for the management of your IP address space, DNS and DHCP. As part of the application we also provide the Lucent DNS Server (BIND based) and the Lucent DHCP server. The system is integrated with Wi
  • You may want to look at this entry [] on Wikipedia as a jumping-off point.
  • I work for International Network Services (INS) so I'll throw our hat in the ring with our IPAM product, IPControl []. IPControl provides many features to manage IP address space, DNS, and DHCP in one integrated web interface. We offer software or appliance platforms, and IPControl can manage your existing Windows, ISC, or BIND DHCP and DNS services. The web GUI provides a simpler interface for configuring complex DHCP/DNS server parameters, from DHCP failover to DNS views, to TSIG keys and much more.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.