Network Working Group M. Crawford
Request for Comments: 2672 Fermilab
Category: Standards Track August 1999 Non-Terminal DNS Name Redirection
Status of this Memo
This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
improvements. Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
and status of this protocol. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999). All Rights Reserved.
This document defines a new DNS Resource Record called "DNAME", which
provides the capability to map an entire subtree of the DNS name
space to another domain. It differs from the CNAME record which maps
a single node of the name space.
The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
"SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
document are to be interpreted as described in [KWORD].
This Resource Record and its processing rules were conceived as a
solution to the problem of maintaining address-to-name mappings in a
context of network renumbering. Without the DNAME mechanism, an
authoritative DNS server for the address-to-name mappings of some
network must be reconfigured when that network is renumbered. With
DNAME, the zone can be constructed so that it needs no modification
when renumbered. DNAME can also be useful in other situations, such
as when an organizational unit is renamed.
3. The DNAME Resource Record
The DNAME RR has mnemonic DNAME and type code 39 (decimal).
DNAME has the following format:
<owner> <ttl> <class> DNAME <target>
The format is not class-sensitive. All fields are required. The
RDATA field <target> is a <domain-name> [DNSIS].
The DNAME RR causes type NS additional section processing.
The effect of the DNAME record is the substitution of the record's
<target> for its <owner> as a suffix of a domain name. A "no-
descendants" limitation governs the use of DNAMEs in a zone file:
If a DNAME RR is present at a node N, there may be other data at N
(except a CNAME or another DNAME), but there MUST be no data at
any descendant of N. This restriction applies only to records of
the same class as the DNAME record.
This rule assures predictable results when a DNAME record is cached
by a server which is not authoritative for the record's zone. It
MUST be enforced when authoritative zone data is loaded. Together
with the rules for DNS zone authority [DNSCLR] it implies that DNAME
and NS records can only coexist at the top of a zone which has only
The compression scheme of [DNSIS] MUST NOT be applied to the RDATA
portion of a DNAME record unless the sending server has some way of
knowing that the receiver understands the DNAME record format.
Signalling such understanding is expected to be the subject of future
Naming loops can be created with DNAME records or a combination of
DNAME and CNAME records, just as they can with CNAME records alone.
Resolvers, including resolvers embedded in DNS servers, MUST limit
the resources they devote to any query. Implementors should note,
however, that fairly lengthy chains of DNAME records may be valid.
4. Query Processing
To exploit the DNAME mechanism the name resolution algorithms [DNSCF]
must be modified slightly for both servers and resolvers.
Both modified algorithms incorporate the operation of making a
substitution on a name (either QNAME or SNAME) under control of a
DNAME record. This operation will be referred to as "the DNAME
4.1. Processing by Servers
For a server performing non-recursive service steps 3.c and 4 of
section 4.3.2 [DNSCF] are changed to check for a DNAME record before
checking for a wildcard ("*") label, and to return certain DNAME
records from zone data and the cache.
DNS clients sending Extended DNS [EDNS0] queries with Version 0 or
non-extended queries are presumed not to understand the semantics of
the DNAME record, so a server which implements this specification,
when answering a non-extended query, SHOULD synthesize a CNAME record
for each DNAME record encountered during query processing to help the
client reach the correct DNS data. The behavior of clients and
servers under Extended DNS versions greater than 0 will be specified
when those versions are defined.
The synthesized CNAME RR, if provided, MUST have
The same CLASS as the QCLASS of the query,
TTL equal to zero,
An <owner> equal to the QNAME in effect at the moment the DNAME RR
was encountered, and
An RDATA field containing the new QNAME formed by the action of
the DNAME substitution.
If the server has the appropriate key on-line [DNSSEC, SECDYN], it
MAY generate and return a SIG RR for the synthesized CNAME RR.
The revised server algorithm is:
1. Set or clear the value of recursion available in the response
depending on whether the name server is willing to provide
recursive service. If recursive service is available and
requested via the RD bit in the query, go to step 5, otherwise
2. Search the available zones for the zone which is the nearest
ancestor to QNAME. If such a zone is found, go to step 3,
otherwise step 4.
3. Start matching down, label by label, in the zone. The matching
process can terminate several ways:
a. If the whole of QNAME is matched, we have found the node.
If the data at the node is a CNAME, and QTYPE doesn't match
CNAME, copy the CNAME RR into the answer section of the
response, change QNAME to the canonical name in the CNAME RR,
and go back to step 1.
Otherwise, copy all RRs which match QTYPE into the answer
section and go to step 6.
b. If a match would take us out of the authoritative data, we have
a referral. This happens when we encounter a node with NS RRs
marking cuts along the bottom of a zone.
Copy the NS RRs for the subzone into the authority section of
the reply. Put whatever addresses are available into the
additional section, using glue RRs if the addresses are not
available from authoritative data or the cache. Go to step 4.
c. If at some label, a match is impossible (i.e., the
corresponding label does not exist), look to see whether the
last label matched has a DNAME record.
If a DNAME record exists at that point, copy that record into
the answer section. If substitution of its <target> for its
<owner> in QNAME would overflow the legal size for a <domain-
name>, set RCODE to YXDOMAIN [DNSUPD] and exit; otherwise
perform the substitution and continue. If the query was not
extended [EDNS0] with a Version indicating understanding of the
DNAME record, the server SHOULD synthesize a CNAME record as
described above and include it in the answer section. Go back
to step 1.
If there was no DNAME record, look to see if the "*" label
If the "*" label does not exist, check whether the name we are
looking for is the original QNAME in the query or a name we
have followed due to a CNAME. If the name is original, set an
authoritative name error in the response and exit. Otherwise
If the "*" label does exist, match RRs at that node against
QTYPE. If any match, copy them into the answer section, but
set the owner of the RR to be QNAME, and not the node with the
"*" label. Go to step 6.
4. Start matching down in the cache. If QNAME is found in the cache,
copy all RRs attached to it that match QTYPE into the answer
section. If QNAME is not found in the cache but a DNAME record is
present at an ancestor of QNAME, copy that DNAME record into the
answer section. If there was no delegation from authoritative
data, look for the best one from the cache, and put it in the
authority section. Go to step 6.
5. Use the local resolver or a copy of its algorithm (see resolver
section of this memo) to answer the query. Store the results,
including any intermediate CNAMEs and DNAMEs, in the answer
section of the response.
6. Using local data only, attempt to add other RRs which may be
useful to the additional section of the query. Exit.
Note that there will be at most one ancestor with a DNAME as
described in step 4 unless some zone's data is in violation of the
no-descendants limitation in section 3. An implementation might take
advantage of this limitation by stopping the search of step 3c or
step 4 when a DNAME record is encountered.
4.2. Processing by Resolvers
A resolver or a server providing recursive service must be modified
to treat a DNAME as somewhat analogous to a CNAME. The resolver
algorithm of [DNSCF] section 5.3.3 is modified to renumber step 4.d
as 4.e and insert a new 4.d. The complete algorithm becomes:
1. See if the answer is in local information, and if so return it to
2. Find the best servers to ask.
3. Send them queries until one returns a response.
4. Analyze the response, either:
a. if the response answers the question or contains a name error,
cache the data as well as returning it back to the client.
b. if the response contains a better delegation to other servers,
cache the delegation information, and go to step 2.
c. if the response shows a CNAME and that is not the answer
itself, cache the CNAME, change the SNAME to the canonical name
in the CNAME RR and go to step 1.
d. if the response shows a DNAME and that is not the answer
itself, cache the DNAME. If substitution of the DNAME's
<target> for its <owner> in the SNAME would overflow the legal
size for a <domain-name>, return an implementation-dependent
error to the application; otherwise perform the substitution
and go to step 1.
e. if the response shows a server failure or other bizarre
contents, delete the server from the SLIST and go back to step
A resolver or recursive server which understands DNAME records but
sends non-extended queries MUST augment step 4.c by deleting from the
reply any CNAME records which have an <owner> which is a subdomain of
the <owner> of any DNAME record in the response.
5. Examples of Use
5.1. Organizational Renaming
If an organization with domain name FROBOZZ.EXAMPLE became part of an
organization with domain name ACME.EXAMPLE, it might ease transition
by placing information such as this in its old zone.
frobozz.example. DNAME frobozz-division.acme.example.
MX 10 mailhub.acme.example.
The response to an extended recursive query for www.frobozz.example
would contain, in the answer section, the DNAME record shown above
and the relevant RRs for www.frobozz-division.acme.example.
5.2. Classless Delegation of Shorter Prefixes
The classless scheme for in-addr.arpa delegation [INADDR] can be
extended to prefixes shorter than 24 bits by use of the DNAME record.
For example, the prefix 188.8.131.52/22 can be delegated by the
8/22 NS ns.slash-22-holder.example.
8 DNAME 8.8/22
9 DNAME 9.8/22
10 DNAME 10.8/22
11 DNAME 11.8/22
A typical entry in the resulting reverse zone for some host with
address 184.108.40.206 might be
33.9 PTR somehost.slash-22-holder.example.
The same advisory remarks concerning the choice of the "/" character
apply here as in [INADDR].
5.3. Network Renumbering Support
If IPv4 network renumbering were common, maintenance of address space
delegation could be simplified by using DNAME records instead of NS
records to delegate.
189.190 DNAME in-addr.example.net.
188 DNAME in-addr.customer.example.
1 PTR www.customer.example.
2 PTR mailhub.customer.example.
; etc ...
This would allow the address space 220.127.116.11/16 assigned to the ISP
"example.net" to be changed without the necessity of altering the
zone files describing the use of that space by the ISP and its
Renumbering IPv4 networks is currently so arduous a task that
updating the DNS is only a small part of the labor, so this scheme
may have a low value. But it is hoped that in IPv6 the renumbering
task will be quite different and the DNAME mechanism may play a
6. IANA Considerations
This document defines a new DNS Resource Record type with the
mnemonic DNAME and type code 39 (decimal). The naming/numbering
space is defined in [DNSIS]. This name and number have already been
registered with the IANA.
7. Security Considerations
The DNAME record is similar to the CNAME record with regard to the
consequences of insertion of a spoofed record into a DNS server or
resolver, differing in that the DNAME's effect covers a whole subtree
of the name space. The facilities of [DNSSEC] are available to
authenticate this record type.
[DNSCF] Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - concepts and facilities",
STD 13, RFC 1034, November 1987.
[DNSCLR] Elz, R. and R. Bush, "Clarifications to the DNS
Specification", RFC 2181, July 1997.
[DNSIS] Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - implementation and
specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, November 1987.
[DNSSEC] Eastlake, 3rd, D. and C. Kaufman, "Domain Name System
Security Extensions", RFC 2065, January 1997.
[DNSUPD] Vixie, P., Ed., Thomson, S., Rekhter, Y. and J. Bound,
"Dynamic Updates in the Domain Name System", RFC 2136, April
[EDNS0] Vixie, P., "Extensions mechanisms for DNS (EDNS0)", RFC
2671, August 1999.
[INADDR] Eidnes, H., de Groot, G. and P. Vixie, "Classless IN-
ADDR.ARPA delegation", RFC 2317, March 1998.
[KWORD] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
Requirement Levels," BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.
[SECDYN] D. Eastlake, 3rd, "Secure Domain Name System Dynamic
Update", RFC 2137, April 1997.
9. Author's Address
Fermilab MS 368
PO Box 500
Batavia, IL 60510
Phone: +1 630 840-3461
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