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Linux in a Windows World by Roderick W Smith

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Delivering Names with DNS

A second key network management tool is DNS. DNS servers fill two roles: enabling your local clients to convert names to IP addresses for local and remote computers, and enabling remote systems to find local computers that you choose (such as web or mail servers). One important question is whether you should even run a local DNS server; for many purposes, relying on outside servers makes a lot of sense. Sometimes, though, running a DNS server locally is very helpful. If you decide you want to run your own DNS server, you must be able to configure it. The basic DNS server configuration varies with the server software you select. BIND is the most popular Linux DNS server, and so it’s described in this chapter. Once the basic configuration is set, you must create files that describe the computers on your network—their hostnames, IP addresses, and related characteristics. Finally, you must be able to tell clients to use the DNS servers you’ve configured.

Principles of DNS

DNS is, essentially, a global database of computer names. The huge size of the DNS database presents many challenges, including maintenance of the database and providing storage space for it. Both challenges are overcome by the fact that DNS is a distributed database; no one computer holds all the data in the DNS database. Instead, the DNS namespace is arranged hierarchically. At the top of the hierarchy are the top-level domains (TLDs), which appear at the end of a DNS hostname. Common examples ...

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