Classless reverse DNS delegation


The goal of these notes is to try and clarify the reasoning behind my recommendations on implementing RFC-2317 delegations. In particular the following issues keep coming up repeatedly with each vendor:

  • why use “-” instead of “/”
  • why use particular NS records
  • why delegate within IN-ADDR.ARPA

I am hoping that the these notes can help ISP’s provide an efficient and smooth implementation of RFC-2317 with the least amount of headache for the end-user.

  1. Selecting the CNAME target zone

    RFC-2317 shows an example case where the target zone is a delegated sub-zone of the IN-ADDR.ARPA zone for a natural class C network. This will allow for the NS records for the zone to be independently selected (see benefits described below). An example of such a zone would be 0-

    Now pay careful attention to the last paragraph of RFC-2317. There are broken resolver implementations that apply the “valid host name” restrictions on the CNAME target (it should only be applied to the PTR target name). To avoid problems with such implementations it is best to use a character that is allowed in a hostname. I prefer using a hyphen, as I did in the example above.

    Some ISP’s may at first refuse to delegate these zones (without any explanation). Approach such ISP’s with the reasoning in here first, but if that fails consider using your “forward” zone as a fallback.

    There is nothing magic about the IN-ADDR.ARPA zone for RFC-2317 delegations. You will have to sacrifice the optimization provided by a correct IN-ADDR.ARPA delegation, but you will still retain the ease of local administration for all name changes.

    I recommend using a dedicated subdomain for the PTR records, e.g. if your forward domain is “EXAMPLE.COM” use “REV.EXAMPLE.COM” for the PTR records.

  2. Selecting the NS records

    The NS records for the delegated zone should include all the NS records of the parent zone, in addition to any NS records pointing to the public name servers the delegate may want to use. Having the name servers of the parent zone secondary the delegated zone allows them to have the necessary authoritative data to return the CNAME target in the additional records of a response to a PTR record query (minimizing the number of queries needed to resolve an address).

    This can be achieved using any zone (i.e. even a subdomain of your “forward” domain), of course. However, having the ISP delegate an IN-ADDR.ARPA zone for your PTR records rather than you delegating a zone to your ISP maintains the logical “owner” and “delegate” roles.

    If the primary server for the delegated zone is not permanently on the Internet (e.g. a dial-on-demand connection) then you would not want to advertise it in the NS records. It would just be a stealth server which the advertised secondaries poll for updates.

  3. Example delegation

    To delegate our example zone 0- first look at the NS records of the parent zone 113.0.203.IN-ADDR.ARPA. Let’s say they are the following:

    $ORIGIN 113.0.203.IN-ADDR.ARPA.

    To delegate to SRV.EXAMPLE.COM you would then insert these records in the parent zone data:

    $ORIGIN 113.0.203.IN-ADDR.ARPA.
    $GENERATE 0-15 $ IN CNAME $.0-

    The necessary modifications to /etc/named.conf will be left as an exercise to the reader.

Kimmo Suominen
Global Wire Oy