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Ins and Outs of DNS
by Paul Adams 19 July 2002

Page 1

You are a savvy Net wrangler; doubtless you already know a bit about the Domain Name System. You know that it's why we are able to have nice memorizable domain names, and not just numbers. You probably even know that when you type "" into your browser, your computer contacts a DNS server to find out what numerical IP address the domain name corresponds to.

Let's take a closer look, though, at exactly how this all works, what exactly is going on, and even how to set up a DNS server of your very own. Wait, you say — your ISP already provides DNS service for you. Why would you want to set up your own? I knew you'd ask that.

There are a few reasons why it can be beneficial to run your own DNS server. First, it's fun and educational. Second, you are a control freak, and want to have as much of your site under your thumb as possible. If you are frequently or imminently changing machines, host names, IP addresses, ISPs, or other factors, or if you have a whole lot of Web addresses to maintain, it is much easier to update your own data each time rather than faxing forms to the various providers and hoping you get everything right and they get everything right and that a virtual tug-of-war doesn't ensue. Also, if you control your own DNS, you can do all sorts of neat tricks.

In this article, I'll explain the different types of DNS records, what they contain, and then go over the basics of running a name server on a Unix network.

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