Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) S. Cheshire
Request for Comments: 6762 M. Krochmal
Category: Standards Track Apple Inc.
ISSN: 2070-1721 February 2013 Multicast DNS
As networked devices become smaller, more portable, and more
ubiquitous, the ability to operate with less configured
infrastructure is increasingly important. In particular, the ability
to look up DNS resource record data types (including, but not limited
to, host names) in the absence of a conventional managed DNS server
Multicast DNS (mDNS) provides the ability to perform DNS-like
operations on the local link in the absence of any conventional
Unicast DNS server. In addition, Multicast DNS designates a portion
of the DNS namespace to be free for local use, without the need to
pay any annual fee, and without the need to set up delegations or
otherwise configure a conventional DNS server to answer for those
The primary benefits of Multicast DNS names are that (i) they require
little or no administration or configuration to set them up, (ii)
they work when no infrastructure is present, and (iii) they work
during infrastructure failures.
Status of This Memo
This is an Internet Standards Track document.
This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has
received public review and has been approved for publication by the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Further information on
Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 5741.
Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
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Table of Contents
1. Introduction ....................................................42. Conventions and Terminology Used in This Document ...............43. Multicast DNS Names .............................................54. Reverse Address Mapping .........................................75. Querying ........................................................86. Responding .....................................................137. Traffic Reduction ..............................................228. Probing and Announcing on Startup ..............................259. Conflict Resolution ............................................3110. Resource Record TTL Values and Cache Coherency ................3311. Source Address Check ..........................................3812. Special Characteristics of Multicast DNS Domains ..............4013. Enabling and Disabling Multicast DNS ..........................4114. Considerations for Multiple Interfaces ........................4215. Considerations for Multiple Responders on the Same Machine ....4316. Multicast DNS Character Set ...................................4517. Multicast DNS Message Size ....................................4618. Multicast DNS Message Format ..................................4719. Summary of Differences between Multicast DNS and Unicast DNS ..5120. IPv6 Considerations ...........................................5221. Security Considerations .......................................5222. IANA Considerations ...........................................5323. Acknowledgments ...............................................5624. References ....................................................56Appendix A. Design Rationale for Choice of UDP Port Number ........60Appendix B. Design Rationale for Not Using Hashed Multicast
Addresses .............................................61Appendix C. Design Rationale for Maximum Multicast DNS Name
Length ................................................62Appendix D. Benefits of Multicast Responses .......................64Appendix E. Design Rationale for Encoding Negative Responses ......65Appendix F. Use of UTF-8 ..........................................66Appendix G. Private DNS Namespaces ................................67Appendix H. Deployment History ....................................67
Multicast DNS and its companion technology DNS-Based Service
Discovery [RFC6763] were created to provide IP networking with the
ease-of-use and autoconfiguration for which AppleTalk was well-known
[RFC6760]. When reading this document, familiarity with the concepts
of Zero Configuration Networking [Zeroconf] and automatic link-local
addressing [RFC3927] [RFC4862] is helpful.
Multicast DNS borrows heavily from the existing DNS protocol
[RFC1034] [RFC1035] [RFC6195], using the existing DNS message
structure, name syntax, and resource record types. This document
specifies no new operation codes or response codes. This document
describes how clients send DNS-like queries via IP multicast, and how
a collection of hosts cooperate to collectively answer those queries
in a useful manner.
2. Conventions and Terminology Used in This Document
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 "Key words for use in
RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels" [RFC2119].
When this document uses the term "Multicast DNS", it should be taken
to mean: "Clients performing DNS-like queries for DNS-like resource
records by sending DNS-like UDP query and response messages over IP
Multicast to UDP port 5353". The design rationale for selecting UDP
port 5353 is discussed in Appendix A.
This document uses the term "host name" in the strict sense to mean a
fully qualified domain name that has an IPv4 or IPv6 address record.
It does not use the term "host name" in the commonly used but
incorrect sense to mean just the first DNS label of a host's fully
qualified domain name.
A DNS (or mDNS) packet contains an IP Time to Live (TTL) in the IP
header, which is effectively a hop-count limit for the packet, to
guard against routing loops. Each resource record also contains a
TTL, which is the number of seconds for which the resource record may
be cached. This document uses the term "IP TTL" to refer to the IP
header TTL (hop limit), and the term "RR TTL" or just "TTL" to refer
to the resource record TTL (cache lifetime).
DNS-format messages contain a header, a Question Section, then
Answer, Authority, and Additional Record Sections. The Answer,
Authority, and Additional Record Sections all hold resource records
in the same format. Where this document describes issues that apply
equally to all three sections, it uses the term "Resource Record
Sections" to refer collectively to these three sections.
This document uses the terms "shared" and "unique" when referring to
resource record sets [RFC1034]:
A "shared" resource record set is one where several Multicast DNS
responders may have records with the same name, rrtype, and
rrclass, and several responders may respond to a particular query.
A "unique" resource record set is one where all the records with
that name, rrtype, and rrclass are conceptually under the control
or ownership of a single responder, and it is expected that at
most one responder should respond to a query for that name,
rrtype, and rrclass. Before claiming ownership of a unique
resource record set, a responder MUST probe to verify that no
other responder already claims ownership of that set, as described
in Section 8.1, "Probing". (For fault-tolerance and other
reasons, sometimes it is permissible to have more than one
responder answering for a particular "unique" resource record set,
but such cooperating responders MUST give answers containing
identical rdata for these records. If they do not give answers
containing identical rdata, then the probing step will reject the
data as being inconsistent with what is already being advertised
on the network for those names.)
Strictly speaking, the terms "shared" and "unique" apply to resource
record sets, not to individual resource records. However, it is
sometimes convenient to talk of "shared resource records" and "unique
resource records". When used this way, the terms should be
understood to mean a record that is a member of a "shared" or
"unique" resource record set, respectively.
3. Multicast DNS Names
A host that belongs to an organization or individual who has control
over some portion of the DNS namespace can be assigned a globally
unique name within that portion of the DNS namespace, such as,
"cheshire.example.com.". For those of us who have this luxury, this
works very well. However, the majority of home computer users do not
have easy access to any portion of the global DNS namespace within
which they have the authority to create names. This leaves the
majority of home computers effectively anonymous for practical
To remedy this problem, this document allows any computer user to
elect to give their computers link-local Multicast DNS host names of
the form: "single-dns-label.local.". For example, a laptop computer
may answer to the name "MyComputer.local.". Any computer user is
granted the authority to name their computer this way, provided that
the chosen host name is not already in use on that link. Having
named their computer this way, the user has the authority to continue
utilizing that name until such time as a name conflict occurs on the
link that is not resolved in the user's favor. If this happens, the
computer (or its human user) MUST cease using the name, and SHOULD
attempt to allocate a new unique name for use on that link. These
conflicts are expected to be relatively rare for people who choose
reasonably imaginative names, but it is still important to have a
mechanism in place to handle them when they happen.
This document specifies that the DNS top-level domain ".local." is a
special domain with special semantics, namely that any fully
qualified name ending in ".local." is link-local, and names within
this domain are meaningful only on the link where they originate.
This is analogous to IPv4 addresses in the 169.254/16 prefix or IPv6
addresses in the FE80::/10 prefix, which are link-local and
meaningful only on the link where they originate.
Any DNS query for a name ending with ".local." MUST be sent to the
mDNS IPv4 link-local multicast address 184.108.40.206 (or its IPv6
equivalent FF02::FB). The design rationale for using a fixed
multicast address instead of selecting from a range of multicast
addresses using a hash function is discussed in Appendix B.
Implementers MAY choose to look up such names concurrently via other
mechanisms (e.g., Unicast DNS) and coalesce the results in some
fashion. Implementers choosing to do this should be aware of the
potential for user confusion when a given name can produce different
results depending on external network conditions (such as, but not
limited to, which name lookup mechanism responds faster).
It is unimportant whether a name ending with ".local." occurred
because the user explicitly typed in a fully qualified domain name
ending in ".local.", or because the user entered an unqualified
domain name and the host software appended the suffix ".local."
because that suffix appears in the user's search list. The ".local."
suffix could appear in the search list because the user manually
configured it, or because it was received via DHCP [RFC2132] or via
any other mechanism for configuring the DNS search list. In this
respect the ".local." suffix is treated no differently from any other
search domain that might appear in the DNS search list.
DNS queries for names that do not end with ".local." MAY be sent to
the mDNS multicast address, if no other conventional DNS server is
available. This can allow hosts on the same link to continue
communicating using each other's globally unique DNS names during
network outages that disrupt communication with the greater Internet.
When resolving global names via local multicast, it is even more
important to use DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) [RFC4033] or other
security mechanisms to ensure that the response is trustworthy.
Resolving global names via local multicast is a contentious issue,
and this document does not discuss it further, instead concentrating
on the issue of resolving local names using DNS messages sent to a
This document recommends a single flat namespace for dot-local host
names, (i.e., the names of DNS "A" and "AAAA" records, which map
names to IPv4 and IPv6 addresses), but other DNS record types (such
as those used by DNS-Based Service Discovery [RFC6763]) may contain
as many labels as appropriate for the desired usage, up to a maximum
of 255 bytes, plus a terminating zero byte at the end. Name length
issues are discussed further in Appendix C.
Enforcing uniqueness of host names is probably desirable in the
common case, but this document does not mandate that. It is
permissible for a collection of coordinated hosts to agree to
maintain multiple DNS address records with the same name, possibly
for load-balancing or fault-tolerance reasons. This document does
not take a position on whether that is sensible. It is important
that both modes of operation be supported. The Multicast DNS
protocol allows hosts to verify and maintain unique names for
resource records where that behavior is desired, and it also allows
hosts to maintain multiple resource records with a single shared name
where that behavior is desired. This consideration applies to all
resource records, not just address records (host names). In summary:
It is required that the protocol have the ability to detect and
handle name conflicts, but it is not required that this ability be
used for every record.
4. Reverse Address Mapping
Like ".local.", the IPv4 and IPv6 reverse mapping domains are also
defined to be link-local:
Any DNS query for a name ending with "254.169.in-addr.arpa." MUST
be sent to the mDNS IPv4 link-local multicast address 220.127.116.11
or the mDNS IPv6 multicast address FF02::FB. Since names under
this domain correspond to IPv4 link-local addresses, it is logical
that the local link is the best place to find information
pertaining to those names.
Likewise, any DNS query for a name within the reverse mapping
domains for IPv6 link-local addresses ("8.e.f.ip6.arpa.",
"9.e.f.ip6.arpa.", "a.e.f.ip6.arpa.", and "b.e.f.ip6.arpa.") MUST
be sent to the mDNS IPv6 link-local multicast address FF02::FB or
the mDNS IPv4 link-local multicast address 18.104.22.168.
There are two kinds of Multicast DNS queries: one-shot queries of the
kind made by legacy DNS resolvers, and continuous, ongoing Multicast
DNS queries made by fully compliant Multicast DNS queriers, which
support asynchronous operations including DNS-Based Service Discovery
Except in the rare case of a Multicast DNS responder that is
advertising only shared resource records and no unique records, a
Multicast DNS responder MUST also implement a Multicast DNS querier
so that it can first verify the uniqueness of those records before it
begins answering queries for them.
5.1. One-Shot Multicast DNS Queries
The most basic kind of Multicast DNS client may simply send standard
DNS queries blindly to 22.214.171.124:5353, without necessarily even
being aware of what a multicast address is. This change can
typically be implemented with just a few lines of code in an existing
DNS resolver library. If a name being queried falls within one of
the reserved Multicast DNS domains (see Sections 3 and 4), then,
rather than using the configured Unicast DNS server address, the
query is instead sent to 126.96.36.199:5353 (or its IPv6 equivalent
[FF02::FB]:5353). Typically, the timeout would also be shortened to
two or three seconds. It's possible to make a minimal Multicast DNS
resolver with only these simple changes. These queries are typically
done using a high-numbered ephemeral UDP source port, but regardless
of whether they are sent from a dynamic port or from a fixed port,
these queries MUST NOT be sent using UDP source port 5353, since
using UDP source port 5353 signals the presence of a fully compliant
Multicast DNS querier, as described below.
A simple DNS resolver like this will typically just take the first
response it receives. It will not listen for additional UDP
responses, but in many instances this may not be a serious problem.
If a user types "http://MyPrinter.local." into their web browser, and
their simple DNS resolver just takes the first response it receives,
and the user gets to see the status and configuration web page for
their printer, then the protocol has met the user's needs in this
While a basic DNS resolver like this may be adequate for simple host
name lookup, it may not get ideal behavior in other cases.
Additional refinements to create a fully compliant Multicast DNS
querier are described below.
5.2. Continuous Multicast DNS Querying
In one-shot queries, the underlying assumption is that the
transaction begins when the application issues a query, and ends when
the first response is received. There is another type of query
operation that is more asynchronous, in which having received one
response is not necessarily an indication that there will be no more
relevant responses, and the querying operation continues until no
further responses are required. Determining when no further
responses are required depends on the type of operation being
performed. If the operation is looking up the IPv4 and IPv6
addresses of another host, then no further responses are required
once a successful connection has been made to one of those IPv4 or
IPv6 addresses. If the operation is browsing to present the user
with a list of DNS-SD services found on the network [RFC6763], then
no further responses are required once the user indicates this to the
user-interface software, e.g., by closing the network browsing window
that was displaying the list of discovered services.
Imagine some hypothetical software that allows users to discover
network printers. The user wishes to discover all printers on the
local network, not only the printer that is quickest to respond.
When the user is actively looking for a network printer to use, they
open a network browsing window that displays the list of discovered
printers. It would be convenient for the user if they could rely on
this list of network printers to stay up to date as network printers
come and go, rather than displaying out-of-date stale information,
and requiring the user explicitly to click a "refresh" button any
time they want to see accurate information (which, from the moment it
is displayed, is itself already beginning to become out-of-date and
stale). If we are to display a continuously updated live list like
this, we need to be able to do it efficiently, without naive constant
polling, which would be an unreasonable burden on the network. It is
not expected that all users will be browsing to discover new printers
all the time, but when a user is browsing to discover service
instances for an extended period, we want to be able to support that
Therefore, when retransmitting Multicast DNS queries to implement
this kind of continuous monitoring, the interval between the first
two queries MUST be at least one second, the intervals between
successive queries MUST increase by at least a factor of two, and the
querier MUST implement Known-Answer Suppression, as described below
in Section 7.1. The Known-Answer Suppression mechanism tells
responders which answers are already known to the querier, thereby
allowing responders to avoid wasting network capacity with pointless
repeated transmission of those answers. A querier retransmits its
question because it wishes to receive answers it may have missed the
first time, not because it wants additional duplicate copies of
answers it already received. Failure to implement Known-Answer
Suppression can result in unacceptable levels of network traffic.
When the interval between queries reaches or exceeds 60 minutes, a
querier MAY cap the interval to a maximum of 60 minutes, and perform
subsequent queries at a steady-state rate of one query per hour. To
avoid accidental synchronization when, for some reason, multiple
clients begin querying at exactly the same moment (e.g., because of
some common external trigger event), a Multicast DNS querier SHOULD
also delay the first query of the series by a randomly chosen amount
in the range 20-120 ms.
When a Multicast DNS querier receives an answer, the answer contains
a TTL value that indicates for how many seconds this answer is valid.
After this interval has passed, the answer will no longer be valid
and SHOULD be deleted from the cache. Before the record expiry time
is reached, a Multicast DNS querier that has local clients with an
active interest in the state of that record (e.g., a network browsing
window displaying a list of discovered services to the user) SHOULD
reissue its query to determine whether the record is still valid.
To perform this cache maintenance, a Multicast DNS querier should
plan to retransmit its query after at least 50% of the record
lifetime has elapsed. This document recommends the following
The querier should plan to issue a query at 80% of the record
lifetime, and then if no answer is received, at 85%, 90%, and 95%.
If an answer is received, then the remaining TTL is reset to the
value given in the answer, and this process repeats for as long as
the Multicast DNS querier has an ongoing interest in the record. If
no answer is received after four queries, the record is deleted when
it reaches 100% of its lifetime. A Multicast DNS querier MUST NOT
perform this cache maintenance for records for which it has no local
clients with an active interest. If the expiry of a particular
record from the cache would result in no net effect to any client
software running on the querier device, and no visible effect to the
human user, then there is no reason for the Multicast DNS querier to
waste network capacity checking whether the record remains valid.
To avoid the case where multiple Multicast DNS queriers on a network
all issue their queries simultaneously, a random variation of 2% of
the record TTL should be added, so that queries are scheduled to be
performed at 80-82%, 85-87%, 90-92%, and then 95-97% of the TTL.
An additional efficiency optimization SHOULD be performed when a
Multicast DNS response is received containing a unique answer (as
indicated by the cache-flush bit being set, described in Section
10.2, "Announcements to Flush Outdated Cache Entries"). In this
case, there is no need for the querier to continue issuing a stream
of queries with exponentially increasing intervals, since the receipt
of a unique answer is a good indication that no other answers will be
forthcoming. In this case, the Multicast DNS querier SHOULD plan to
issue its next query for this record at 80-82% of the record's TTL,
as described above.
A compliant Multicast DNS querier, which implements the rules
specified in this document, MUST send its Multicast DNS queries from
UDP source port 5353 (the well-known port assigned to mDNS), and MUST
listen for Multicast DNS replies sent to UDP destination port 5353 at
the mDNS link-local multicast address (188.8.131.52 and/or its IPv6
5.3. Multiple Questions per Query
Multicast DNS allows a querier to place multiple questions in the
Question Section of a single Multicast DNS query message.
The semantics of a Multicast DNS query message containing multiple
questions is identical to a series of individual DNS query messages
containing one question each. Combining multiple questions into a
single message is purely an efficiency optimization and has no other
5.4. Questions Requesting Unicast Responses
Sending Multicast DNS responses via multicast has the benefit that
all the other hosts on the network get to see those responses,
enabling them to keep their caches up to date and detect conflicting
However, there are situations where all the other hosts on the
network don't need to see every response. Some examples are a laptop
computer waking from sleep, the Ethernet cable being connected to a
running machine, or a previously inactive interface being activated
through a configuration change. At the instant of wake-up or link
activation, the machine is a brand new participant on a new network.
Its Multicast DNS cache for that interface is empty, and it has no
knowledge of its peers on that link. It may have a significant
number of questions that it wants answered right away, to discover
information about its new surroundings and present that information
to the user. As a new participant on the network, it has no idea
whether the exact same questions may have been asked and answered
just seconds ago. In this case, triggering a large sudden flood of
multicast responses may impose an unreasonable burden on the network.
To avoid large floods of potentially unnecessary responses in these
cases, Multicast DNS defines the top bit in the class field of a DNS
question as the unicast-response bit. When this bit is set in a
question, it indicates that the querier is willing to accept unicast
replies in response to this specific query, as well as the usual
multicast responses. These questions requesting unicast responses
are referred to as "QU" questions, to distinguish them from the more
usual questions requesting multicast responses ("QM" questions). A
Multicast DNS querier sending its initial batch of questions
immediately on wake from sleep or interface activation SHOULD set the
unicast-response bit in those questions.
When a question is retransmitted (as described in Section 5.2), the
unicast-response bit SHOULD NOT be set in subsequent retransmissions
of that question. Subsequent retransmissions SHOULD be usual "QM"
questions. After the first question has received its responses, the
querier should have a large Known-Answer list (Section 7.1) so that
subsequent queries should elicit few, if any, further responses.
Reverting to multicast responses as soon as possible is important
because of the benefits that multicast responses provide (see
Appendix D). In addition, the unicast-response bit SHOULD be set
only for questions that are active and ready to be sent the moment of
wake from sleep or interface activation. New questions created by
local clients afterwards should be treated as normal "QM" questions
and SHOULD NOT have the unicast-response bit set on the first
question of the series.
When receiving a question with the unicast-response bit set, a
responder SHOULD usually respond with a unicast packet directed back
to the querier. However, if the responder has not multicast that
record recently (within one quarter of its TTL), then the responder
SHOULD instead multicast the response so as to keep all the peer
caches up to date, and to permit passive conflict detection. In the
case of answering a probe question (Section 8.1) with the unicast-
response bit set, the responder should always generate the requested
unicast response, but it may also send a multicast announcement if
the time since the last multicast announcement of that record is more
than a quarter of its TTL.
Unicast replies are subject to all the same packet generation rules
as multicast replies, including the cache-flush bit (Section 10.2)
and (except when defending a unique name against a probe from another
host) randomized delays to reduce network collisions (Section 6).
5.5. Direct Unicast Queries to Port 5353
In specialized applications there may be rare situations where it
makes sense for a Multicast DNS querier to send its query via unicast
to a specific machine. When a Multicast DNS responder receives a
query via direct unicast, it SHOULD respond as it would for "QU"
questions, as described above in Section 5.4. Since it is possible
for a unicast query to be received from a machine outside the local
link, responders SHOULD check that the source address in the query
packet matches the local subnet for that link (or, in the case of
IPv6, the source address has an on-link prefix) and silently ignore
the packet if not.
There may be specialized situations, outside the scope of this
document, where it is intended and desirable to create a responder
that does answer queries originating outside the local link. Such a
responder would need to ensure that these non-local queries are
always answered via unicast back to the querier, since an answer sent
via link-local multicast would not reach a querier outside the local
When a Multicast DNS responder constructs and sends a Multicast DNS
response message, the Resource Record Sections of that message must
contain only records for which that responder is explicitly
authoritative. These answers may be generated because the record
answers a question received in a Multicast DNS query message, or at
certain other times that the responder determines than an unsolicited
announcement is warranted. A Multicast DNS responder MUST NOT place
records from its cache, which have been learned from other responders
on the network, in the Resource Record Sections of outgoing response
messages. Only an authoritative source for a given record is allowed
to issue responses containing that record.
The determination of whether a given record answers a given question
is made using the standard DNS rules: the record name must match the
question name, the record rrtype must match the question qtype unless
the qtype is "ANY" (255) or the rrtype is "CNAME" (5), and the record
rrclass must match the question qclass unless the qclass is "ANY"
(255). As with Unicast DNS, generally only DNS class 1 ("Internet")
is used, but should client software use classes other than 1, the
matching rules described above MUST be used.
A Multicast DNS responder MUST only respond when it has a positive,
non-null response to send, or it authoritatively knows that a
particular record does not exist. For unique records, where the host
has already established sole ownership of the name, it MUST return
negative answers to queries for records that it knows not to exist.
For example, a host with no IPv6 address, that has claimed sole
ownership of the name "host.local." for all rrtypes, MUST respond to
AAAA queries for "host.local." by sending a negative answer
indicating that no AAAA records exist for that name. See Section
6.1, "Negative Responses". For shared records, which are owned by no
single host, the nonexistence of a given record is ascertained by the
failure of any machine to respond to the Multicast DNS query, not by
any explicit negative response. For shared records, NXDOMAIN and
other error responses MUST NOT be sent.
Multicast DNS responses MUST NOT contain any questions in the
Question Section. Any questions in the Question Section of a
received Multicast DNS response MUST be silently ignored. Multicast
DNS queriers receiving Multicast DNS responses do not care what
question elicited the response; they care only that the information
in the response is true and accurate.
A Multicast DNS responder on Ethernet [IEEE.802.3] and similar shared
multiple access networks SHOULD have the capability of delaying its
responses by up to 500 ms, as described below.
If a large number of Multicast DNS responders were all to respond
immediately to a particular query, a collision would be virtually
guaranteed. By imposing a small random delay, the number of
collisions is dramatically reduced. On a full-sized Ethernet using
the maximum cable lengths allowed and the maximum number of repeaters
allowed, an Ethernet frame is vulnerable to collisions during the
transmission of its first 256 bits. On 10 Mb/s Ethernet, this
equates to a vulnerable time window of 25.6 microseconds. On higher-
speed variants of Ethernet, the vulnerable time window is shorter.
In the case where a Multicast DNS responder has good reason to
believe that it will be the only responder on the link that will send
a response (i.e., because it is able to answer every question in the
query message, and for all of those answer records it has previously
verified that the name, rrtype, and rrclass are unique on the link),
it SHOULD NOT impose any random delay before responding, and SHOULD
normally generate its response within at most 10 ms. In particular,
this applies to responding to probe queries with the unicast-response
bit set. Since receiving a probe query gives a clear indication that
some other responder is planning to start using this name in the very
near future, answering such probe queries to defend a unique record
is a high priority and needs to be done without delay. A probe query
can be distinguished from a normal query by the fact that a probe
query contains a proposed record in the Authority Section that
answers the question in the Question Section (for more details, see
Section 8.2, "Simultaneous Probe Tiebreaking").
Responding without delay is appropriate for records like the address
record for a particular host name, when the host name has been
previously verified unique. Responding without delay is *not*
appropriate for things like looking up PTR records used for DNS-Based
Service Discovery [RFC6763], where a large number of responses may be
In any case where there may be multiple responses, such as queries
where the answer is a member of a shared resource record set, each
responder SHOULD delay its response by a random amount of time
selected with uniform random distribution in the range 20-120 ms.
The reason for requiring that the delay be at least 20 ms is to
accommodate the situation where two or more query packets are sent
back-to-back, because in that case we want a responder with answers
to more than one of those queries to have the opportunity to
aggregate all of its answers into a single response message.
In the case where the query has the TC (truncated) bit set,
indicating that subsequent Known-Answer packets will follow,
responders SHOULD delay their responses by a random amount of time
selected with uniform random distribution in the range 400-500 ms, to
allow enough time for all the Known-Answer packets to arrive, as
described in Section 7.2, "Multipacket Known-Answer Suppression".
The source UDP port in all Multicast DNS responses MUST be 5353 (the
well-known port assigned to mDNS). Multicast DNS implementations
MUST silently ignore any Multicast DNS responses they receive where
the source UDP port is not 5353.
The destination UDP port in all Multicast DNS responses MUST be 5353,
and the destination address MUST be the mDNS IPv4 link-local
multicast address 184.108.40.206 or its IPv6 equivalent FF02::FB, except
when generating a reply to a query that explicitly requested a
* via the unicast-response bit,
* by virtue of being a legacy query (Section 6.7), or
* by virtue of being a direct unicast query.
Except for these three specific cases, responses MUST NOT be sent via
unicast, because then the "Passive Observation of Failures"
mechanisms described in Section 10.5 would not work correctly. Other
benefits of sending responses via multicast are discussed in Appendix
D. A Multicast DNS querier MUST only accept unicast responses if
they answer a recently sent query (e.g., sent within the last two
seconds) that explicitly requested unicast responses. A Multicast
DNS querier MUST silently ignore all other unicast responses.
To protect the network against excessive packet flooding due to
software bugs or malicious attack, a Multicast DNS responder MUST NOT
(except in the one special case of answering probe queries) multicast
a record on a given interface until at least one second has elapsed
since the last time that record was multicast on that particular
interface. A legitimate querier on the network should have seen the
previous transmission and cached it. A querier that did not receive
and cache the previous transmission will retry its request and
receive a subsequent response. In the special case of answering
probe queries, because of the limited time before the probing host
will make its decision about whether or not to use the name, a
Multicast DNS responder MUST respond quickly. In this special case
only, when responding via multicast to a probe, a Multicast DNS
responder is only required to delay its transmission as necessary to
ensure an interval of at least 250 ms since the last time the record
was multicast on that interface.
6.1. Negative Responses
In the early design of Multicast DNS it was assumed that explicit
negative responses would never be needed. A host can assert the
existence of the set of records that it claims to exist, and the
union of all such sets on a link is the set of Multicast DNS records
that exist on that link. Asserting the nonexistence of every record
in the complement of that set -- i.e., all possible Multicast DNS
records that could exist on this link but do not at this moment --
was felt to be impractical and unnecessary. The nonexistence of a
record would be ascertained by a querier querying for it and failing
to receive a response from any of the hosts currently attached to the
However, operational experience showed that explicit negative
responses can sometimes be valuable. One such example is when a
querier is querying for a AAAA record, and the host name in question
has no associated IPv6 addresses. In this case, the responding host
knows it currently has exclusive ownership of that name, and it knows
that it currently does not have any IPv6 addresses, so an explicit
negative response is preferable to the querier having to retransmit
its query multiple times, and eventually give up with a timeout,
before it can conclude that a given AAAA record does not exist.
Any time a responder receives a query for a name for which it has
verified exclusive ownership, for a type for which that name has no
records, the responder MUST (except as allowed in (a) below) respond
asserting the nonexistence of that record using a DNS NSEC record
[RFC4034]. In the case of Multicast DNS the NSEC record is not being
used for its usual DNSSEC [RFC4033] security properties, but simply
as a way of expressing which records do or do not exist with a given
On receipt of a question for a particular name, rrtype, and rrclass,
for which a responder does have one or more unique answers, the
responder MAY also include an NSEC record in the Additional Record
Section indicating the nonexistence of other rrtypes for that name
Implementers working with devices with sufficient memory and CPU
resources MAY choose to implement code to handle the full generality
of the DNS NSEC record [RFC4034], including bitmaps up to 65,536 bits
long. To facilitate use by devices with limited memory and CPU
resources, Multicast DNS queriers are only REQUIRED to be able to
parse a restricted form of the DNS NSEC record. All compliant
Multicast DNS implementations MUST at least correctly generate and
parse the restricted DNS NSEC record format described below:
o The 'Next Domain Name' field contains the record's own name.
When used with name compression, this means that the 'Next
Domain Name' field always takes exactly two bytes in the
o The Type Bit Map block number is 0.
o The Type Bit Map block length byte is a value in the range 1-32.
o The Type Bit Map data is 1-32 bytes, as indicated by length
Because this restricted form of the DNS NSEC record is limited to
Type Bit Map block number zero, it cannot express the existence of
rrtypes above 255. Consequently, if a Multicast DNS responder were
to have records with rrtypes above 255, it MUST NOT generate these
restricted-form NSEC records for those names, since to do so would
imply that the name has no records with rrtypes above 255, which
would be false. In such cases a Multicast DNS responder MUST either
(a) emit no NSEC record for that name, or (b) emit a full NSEC record
containing the appropriate Type Bit Map block(s) with the correct
bits set for all the record types that exist. In practice this is
not a significant limitation, since rrtypes above 255 are not
currently in widespread use.
If a Multicast DNS implementation receives an NSEC record where the
'Next Domain Name' field is not the record's own name, then the
implementation SHOULD ignore the 'Next Domain Name' field and process
the remainder of the NSEC record as usual. In Multicast DNS the
'Next Domain Name' field is not currently used, but it could be used
in a future version of this protocol, which is why a Multicast DNS
implementation MUST NOT reject or ignore an NSEC record it receives
just because it finds an unexpected value in the 'Next Domain Name'
If a Multicast DNS implementation receives an NSEC record containing
more than one Type Bit Map, or where the Type Bit Map block number is
not zero, or where the block length is not in the range 1-32, then
the Multicast DNS implementation MAY silently ignore the entire NSEC
record. A Multicast DNS implementation MUST NOT ignore an entire
message just because that message contains one or more NSEC record(s)
that the Multicast DNS implementation cannot parse. This provision
is to allow future enhancements to the protocol to be introduced in a
backwards-compatible way that does not break compatibility with older
Multicast DNS implementations.
To help differentiate these synthesized NSEC records (generated
programmatically on-the-fly) from conventional Unicast DNS NSEC
records (which actually exist in a signed DNS zone), the synthesized
Multicast DNS NSEC records MUST NOT have the NSEC bit set in the Type
Bit Map, whereas conventional Unicast DNS NSEC records do have the
NSEC bit set.
The TTL of the NSEC record indicates the intended lifetime of the
negative cache entry. In general, the TTL given for an NSEC record
SHOULD be the same as the TTL that the record would have had, had it
existed. For example, the TTL for address records in Multicast DNS
is typically 120 seconds (see Section 10), so the negative cache
lifetime for an address record that does not exist should also be 120
A responder MUST only generate negative responses to queries for
which it has legitimate ownership of the name, rrtype, and rrclass in
question, and can legitimately assert that no record with that name,
rrtype, and rrclass exists. A responder can assert that a specified
rrtype does not exist for one of its names if it knows a priori that
it has exclusive ownership of that name (e.g., names of reverse
address mapping PTR records, which are derived from IP addresses,
which should be unique on the local link) or if it previously claimed
unique ownership of that name using probe queries for rrtype "ANY".
(If it were to use probe queries for a specific rrtype, then it would
only own the name for that rrtype, and could not assert that other
rrtypes do not exist.)
The design rationale for this mechanism for encoding negative
responses is discussed further in Appendix E.6.2. Responding to Address Queries
When a Multicast DNS responder sends a Multicast DNS response message
containing its own address records, it MUST include all addresses
that are valid on the interface on which it is sending the message,
and MUST NOT include addresses that are not valid on that interface
(such as addresses that may be configured on the host's other
interfaces). For example, if an interface has both an IPv6 link-
local and an IPv6 routable address, both should be included in the
response message so that queriers receive both and can make their own
choice about which to use. This allows a querier that only has an
IPv6 link-local address to connect to the link-local address, and a
different querier that has an IPv6 routable address to connect to the
IPv6 routable address instead.
When a Multicast DNS responder places an IPv4 or IPv6 address record
(rrtype "A" or "AAAA") into a response message, it SHOULD also place
any records of the other address type with the same name into the
additional section, if there is space in the message. This is to
provide fate sharing, so that all a device's addresses are delivered
atomically in a single message, to reduce the risk that packet loss
could cause a querier to receive only the IPv4 addresses and not the
IPv6 addresses, or vice versa.
In the event that a device has only IPv4 addresses but no IPv6
addresses, or vice versa, then the appropriate NSEC record SHOULD be
placed into the additional section, so that queriers can know with
certainty that the device has no addresses of that kind.
Some Multicast DNS responders treat a physical interface with both
IPv4 and IPv6 address as a single interface with two addresses.
Other Multicast DNS responders may treat this case as logically two
interfaces (one with one or more IPv4 addresses, and the other with
one or more IPv6 addresses), but responders that operate this way
MUST NOT put the corresponding automatic NSEC records in replies they
send (i.e., a negative IPv4 assertion in their IPv6 responses, and a
negative IPv6 assertion in their IPv4 responses) because this would
cause incorrect operation in responders on the network that work the
6.3. Responding to Multiquestion Queries
Multicast DNS responders MUST correctly handle DNS query messages
containing more than one question, by answering any or all of the
questions to which they have answers. Unlike single-question
queries, where responding without delay is allowed in appropriate
cases, for query messages containing more than one question, all
(non-defensive) answers SHOULD be randomly delayed in the range
20-120 ms, or 400-500 ms if the TC (truncated) bit is set. This is
because when a query message contains more than one question, a
Multicast DNS responder cannot generally be certain that other
responders will not also be simultaneously generating answers to
other questions in that query message. (Answers defending a name, in
response to a probe for that name, are not subject to this delay rule
and are still sent immediately.)
6.4. Response Aggregation
When possible, a responder SHOULD, for the sake of network
efficiency, aggregate as many responses as possible into a single
Multicast DNS response message. For example, when a responder has
several responses it plans to send, each delayed by a different
interval, then earlier responses SHOULD be delayed by up to an
additional 500 ms if that will permit them to be aggregated with
other responses scheduled to go out a little later.
6.5. Wildcard Queries (qtype "ANY" and qclass "ANY")
When responding to queries using qtype "ANY" (255) and/or qclass
"ANY" (255), a Multicast DNS responder MUST respond with *ALL* of its
records that match the query. This is subtly different from how
qtype "ANY" and qclass "ANY" work in Unicast DNS.
A common misconception is that a Unicast DNS query for qtype "ANY"
will elicit a response containing all matching records. This is
incorrect. If there are any records that match the query, the
response is required only to contain at least one of them, not
necessarily all of them.
This somewhat surprising behavior is commonly seen with caching
(i.e., "recursive") name servers. If a caching server receives a
qtype "ANY" query for which it has at least one valid answer, it is
allowed to return only those matching answers it happens to have
already in its cache, and it is not required to reconsult the
authoritative name server to check if there are any more records that
also match the qtype "ANY" query.
For example, one might imagine that a query for qtype "ANY" for name
"host.example.com" would return both the IPv4 (A) and the IPv6 (AAAA)
address records for that host. In reality, what happens is that it
depends on the history of what queries have been previously received
by intervening caching servers. If a caching server has no records
for "host.example.com", then it will consult another server (usually
the authoritative name server for the name in question), and, in that
case, it will typically return all IPv4 and IPv6 address records.
However, if some other host has recently done a query for qtype "A"
for name "host.example.com", so that the caching server already has
IPv4 address records for "host.example.com" in its cache but no IPv6
address records, then it will return only the IPv4 address records it
already has cached, and no IPv6 address records.
Multicast DNS does not share this property that qtype "ANY" and
qclass "ANY" queries return some undefined subset of the matching
records. When responding to queries using qtype "ANY" (255) and/or
qclass "ANY" (255), a Multicast DNS responder MUST respond with *ALL*
of its records that match the query.
6.6. Cooperating Multicast DNS Responders
If a Multicast DNS responder ("A") observes some other Multicast DNS
responder ("B") send a Multicast DNS response message containing a
resource record with the same name, rrtype, and rrclass as one of A's
resource records, but *different* rdata, then:
o If A's resource record is intended to be a shared resource
record, then this is no conflict, and no action is required.
o If A's resource record is intended to be a member of a unique
resource record set owned solely by that responder, then this is
a conflict and MUST be handled as described in Section 9,
If a Multicast DNS responder ("A") observes some other Multicast DNS
responder ("B") send a Multicast DNS response message containing a
resource record with the same name, rrtype, and rrclass as one of A's
resource records, and *identical* rdata, then:
o If the TTL of B's resource record given in the message is at
least half the true TTL from A's point of view, then no action
o If the TTL of B's resource record given in the message is less
than half the true TTL from A's point of view, then A MUST mark
its record to be announced via multicast. Queriers receiving
the record from B would use the TTL given by B and, hence, may
delete the record sooner than A expects. By sending its own
multicast response correcting the TTL, A ensures that the record
will be retained for the desired time.
These rules allow multiple Multicast DNS responders to offer the same
data on the network (perhaps for fault-tolerance reasons) without
conflicting with each other.
6.7. Legacy Unicast Responses
If the source UDP port in a received Multicast DNS query is not port
5353, this indicates that the querier originating the query is a
simple resolver such as described in Section 5.1, "One-Shot Multicast
DNS Queries", which does not fully implement all of Multicast DNS.
In this case, the Multicast DNS responder MUST send a UDP response
directly back to the querier, via unicast, to the query packet's
source IP address and port. This unicast response MUST be a
conventional unicast response as would be generated by a conventional
Unicast DNS server; for example, it MUST repeat the query ID and the
question given in the query message. In addition, the cache-flush
bit described in Section 10.2, "Announcements to Flush Outdated Cache
Entries", MUST NOT be set in legacy unicast responses.
The resource record TTL given in a legacy unicast response SHOULD NOT
be greater than ten seconds, even if the true TTL of the Multicast
DNS resource record is higher. This is because Multicast DNS
responders that fully participate in the protocol use the cache
coherency mechanisms described in Section 10, "Resource Record TTL
Values and Cache Coherency", to update and invalidate stale data.
Were unicast responses sent to legacy resolvers to use the same high
TTLs, these legacy resolvers, which do not implement these cache
coherency mechanisms, could retain stale cached resource record data
long after it is no longer valid.