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DNS on Windows NT


DNS on Windows NT is a special edition of the classic DNS and BIND, which Microsoft recommends for Windows NT users and administrators. It discusses one of the Internet's fundamental building blocks: the distributed host information database that's responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and many other services. As the authors write in the preface, if you're using the Internet, you're already using DNS — even if you don't know ...

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DNS on Windows NT is a special edition of the classic DNS and BIND, which Microsoft recommends for Windows NT users and administrators. It discusses one of the Internet's fundamental building blocks: the distributed host information database that's responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and many other services. As the authors write in the preface, if you're using the Internet, you're already using DNS — even if you don't know it.

This book covers the DNS server in Windows NT 4.0, as updated with Service Pack 3. In addition to covering general issues, like installing, setting up, and maintaining the server, it covers many issues specific to the Windows environment: integration between DNS and WINS, converting from BIND to the Microsoft DNS server, and registry settings. It pays special attention to security issues, system tuning, caching, and zone change notification. It also pays detailed attention to issues like troubleshooting and planning for growth.

Whether you're an administrator involved with DNS on a daily basis, or a user who wants to be more informed about the Internet and how it works, you'll find that this book is essential reading.

Topics include:

  • What DNS does, how it works, and when you need to use it
  • How to find your own place in the Internet's name space
  • Setting up name servers
  • Using MX records to route mail
  • Configuring hosts to use DNS name servers
  • Subdividing domains (parenting)
  • Securing your name server: preventing unauthorized zone transfers
  • Mapping one name to several servers for load sharing
  • Troubleshooting: using nslookup, diagnosing common problems

This Windows NT version of the author's classic publication DNS and BIND, Second Edition. Designed for system administrators and network managers, this publication focuses on the Windows NT DNS Server release Service Pack 3. Please be familiar with system administration and the Domain Name System, as DNS theory is only covered in two chapters.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565925113
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/8/1998
  • Pages: 345
  • Product dimensions: 7.01 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Albitz is a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard. Paul earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, and a Master of Science degree from Purdue University.

Paul worked on BIND for the HP-UX 7.0 and 8.0 releases. During this time he developed the tools used to run the domain. Since then Paul has worked on various HP products during his 19 year career: HP JetDirect software, HP OfficeJet fax firmware, HPPhoto web site, and HP Photosmart Premier software.

Paul and his wife Katherine live in San Diego California with their two cats, Gracie and Tiffany.

Matt Larson started Acme Byte & Wire, a company specializing in DNS consulting and training, with Cricket Liu in January 1997. Previously, he worked for Hewlett-Packard, first as Cricket's successor as hostmaster, then as a consultant in HP's Professional Services Organization. Matt graduated from Northwestern University in 1992 with two degrees: a bachelor of arts in computer science and a bachelor of music in church music/organ performance. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife, Sonja Kahler, and their two pugs. In his spare time he enjoys playing the 10-rank pipe organ in his house and flying light airplanes. Cricket worked for five and a half years at Hewlett-Packard's Corporate Network Services, where he ran, one of the largest corporate domains in the world, and helped design the HP Internet's security architecture. Cricket left HP in 1997 to start his own company, Acme Byte & Wire, with his friend and co-author Matt Larson. Network Solutions acquired Acme Byte & Wire in June of 2000, and then subsequently, Network Solutions merged with VeriSign. Cricket became Director of DNS Product Management of the merged company, helping determine which new DNS-related products VeriSign would offer.

Cricket Liu matriculated at the University of California's Berkeley campus, that great bastion of free speech, unencumbered Unix, and cheap pizza. He joined Hewlett-Packard after graduation and worked for HP for nine years. Cricket began managing the zone after the Loma Prieta earthquake forcibly transferred the zone's management from HP Labs to HP's Corporate Offices (by cracking a sprinkler main and flooding Labs' computer room). Cricket was for over three years, and then joined HP's Professional Services Organization to cofound HP's Internet Consulting Program. Cricket left HP in 1997 to form Acme Byte & Wire, a DNS consulting and training company, with his friend (and now co-author) Matt Larson. Network Solutions acquired Acme in June 2000, and later the same day merged with VeriSign. Cricket worked for a year as Director of DNS Product Management for VeriSign Global Registry Services. Cricket joined Men & Mice, an Icelandic company specializing in DNS software and services, in September, 2001. He is currently their Vice President, Research & Development. Cricket, his wife, Paige, and their son, Walt, live in Colorado with two Siberian Huskies, Annie and Dakota. On warm weekend afternoons, you'll probably find them on the flying trapeze or wakeboarding behind Betty Blue.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 9: Parenting

When to Become a Parent

Far be it from us to tell you when you should become a parent, but we will be so bold as to offer you some guidelines. You may find some compelling reason to implement subdomains that isn't on our list, but some of the most common reasons are:
  • A need to delegate or distribute management of the domain to a number of organizations
  • The large size of your domain-dividing it would make it easier to manage and offload the name servers for the domain
  • A need to distinguish hosts' organizational affiliation by including them in particular subdomains

Once you've decided to have children, the next question to ask yourself is, naturally, how many children to have.

How Many Children?

Of course, you won't simply say, "I want to create four subdomains." Deciding how many child domains to implement is really choosing the organizational affiliation of your subdomains. For example, if your company has four branch offices, you might decide to create four subdomains, each of which corresponds to a branch office.

Should you create subdomains for each site, for each division, or even for each department? You have a lot of latitude in your choice because of DNS's scalability. You can create a few large subdomains or many small subdomains. There are trade-offs whichever you choose, though.

Delegating to a few large subdomains isn't much work for the parent zone, because there's not much delegation to keep track of. However, you wind up with larger subdomains, which require more memory and faster name servers, and administration isn't as distributed. If you implement site-level subdomains, for example, you may force autonomous or unrelated groups at a site to share a single name space and a single point of administration.

Delegating to many smaller subdomains can be a headache for the administrator of the parent. Keeping delegation data current involves keeping track of which hosts run name servers and which zones they're authoritative for. The data change each time a subdomain adds a new name server, or when the address of a name server for the subdomain changes. If the subdomains are all administered by different people, that means more administrators to train, more relationships for the parent administrator to maintain, and more overhead for the organization overall.

On the other hand, the subdomains are smaller and easier to manage, and the administration is more widely distributed, allowing closer management of subdomain data.

Given the advantages and disadvantages of either alternative, it may seem difficult to make a choice. Actually, there's probably a natural division in your organization. Some companies manage computers and networks at the site level; others have decentralized, relatively autonomous workgroups that manage everything themselves. Here are a few basic rules to help you find the right way to carve up your name space:

  • Don't shoehorn your organization into a weird or uncomfortable domain structure. Trying to fit 50 independent, unrelated U.S. divisions into four regional subdomains may save you work (as the administrator of the parent zone), but it won't help your reputation. Decentralized, autonomous operations demand different zones-that's the raison detre of the Domain Name System.
  • The structure of your domain should mirror the structure of your organization, especially your organization's support structure. if departments run networks, assign IP addresses, and manage hosts, then departments should manage the subdomains.
  • If you're not sure or can't agree about how the namespace should be organized, try to come up with guidelines for when a group within your organization can carve off their own subdomain (for example, how many hosts do you need to create a new subdomain, what level of support must the group provide) and grow the namespace organically, only as needed.

What to Name Your Children

Once you've decided how many subdomains you'd like to create and what they correspond to, you should choose good names for them. Rather than unilaterally deciding on your subdomains' names, it's considered polite to involve your future subdomain administrators and their constituencies in the decision. In fact, you can leave the decision entirely to them if you like.

This can lead to problems, though. It's nice to use a relatively consistent naming scheme across your subdomains. It makes it easier for users in one subdomain, or outside your domain entirely, to guess or remember your subdomain names and to figure out in which domain a particular host or user lives.

Leaving the decision to the locals can result in naming chaos. Some will want to use geographical names, and others will insist on organizational names. Some will want to abbreviate; others will want to use full names.

Therefore, it's often best to establish a naming convention before choosing subdomain names. Here are some suggestions from our experience:

  • In a dynamic company, the names of organizations can change frequently. Naming subdomains organizationally in a climate like this can be disastrous. One month the Relatively Advanced Technology (RAT) group seems stable enough, the next month they've been merged into the Questionable Computer Systems organization, and the following quarter they're all sold to a German conglomerate. Meanwhile, you're stuck with well-known hosts in a subdomain whose name no longer has any meaning.
  • Geographical names are more stable than organizational names but sometimes not as well known. You may know that your famous Software Evangelism Business Unit is in Poughkeepsie or Waukegan, but people outside your company may have no idea where it is (and might have trouble spelling either name).
  • Don't sacrifice readability for convenience. Two-letter subdomain names may be easy to type, but impossible to recognize. Why abbreviate "Italy" to "it" and have it confused with your Information Technology organization, when for a paltry three more letters you can use the full name and eliminate ambiguity?
  • Too many companies use cryptic, inconvenient domain names. The general rule seems to be: the larger the company, the more indecipherable the domain names. Buck the trend: make the names of your subdomains obvious!
  • Don't use existing or reserved top-level domain names as subdomain names. It might seem sensible to use two-letter country abbreviations for your international subdomains, or to use organizational top-level domain names like net for your networking organization, but it can cause nasty problems. For example, naming your Communications department's subdomain com might impede your ability to communicate with hosts under the top-level com domain. Imagine the administrators of your com subdomain naming their new Sun workstation sun and their new HP 9000 hp (they aren't the most imaginative folks): users anywhere within your domain sending mail to friends at or could have their letters end up in your com subdomain, since the name of your parent zone may be in some of your hosts' search lists.

How to Become a Parent: Creating Subdomains

Once you've decided on names, creating child domains is easy. But first, you've got to decide how much autonomy you're going to give your subdomains. It's odd that you have to decide that before you actually create them....
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Table of Contents

1 Background 1
2 How Does DNS Work? 11
3 Where Do I Start? 37
4 Setting Up the Microsoft DNS Server 58
5 DNS and Electronic Mail 97
6 Configuring Hosts 106
7 Maintaining the Microsoft DNS Server 120
8 Growing Your Domain 135
9 Parenting 159
10 Advanced Features and Security 183
11 nslookup 203
12 Troubleshooting DNS 226
13 Miscellaneous 246
A DNS Message Format and Resource Records 277
B Installing the DNS Server from CD-ROM 296
C Converting from BIND to the Microsoft DNS Server 297
D Top-Level Domains 301
E Domain Registration Form 305
F Registration Form 310
G Microsoft DNS Server Registry Settings 316
Index 321
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