nonamed - not a name daemon, but acts like one
nonamed [-qs] [-d[level]] [-p port]
Nonamed is not a name daemon. It can answer simple queries from
/etc/hosts, but anything else is relayed to a real name daemon. Nonamed
maintaines a small cache of replies it has seen from a name daemon, and
will use this cache to minimize traffic if the machine is permanently
connected to the Internet, or to answer requests if the machine is often
disconnected from the Internet, i.e. a computer at home.
On startup nonamed sends a simple query to each of its name servers to
see if one is up. This is repeated every five minutes in an "at home"
situation, or when necessary if the current name daemon doesn't respond.
The first name server to answer is used as the current name server to
If no name servers are found in the DHCP data or /etc/hosts then only the
hosts file is used to answer queries, and any query for a name not in
that file gets a failure response.
Nonamed accepts both UDP and TCP queries under Minix-vmd. Under standard
Minix only UDP queries are accepted. 256 relayed UDP queries can be
outstanding before it forgets where the first one came from.
Using the hosts file, nonamed can answer simple DNS queries to translate
a host name to an IP address, or an IP address to a host name. Suppose
/etc/hosts looks like this:
10.0.0.1 flotsam.cs.vu.nl www
Then queries for the host names listed can be answered with the IP
addresses to the left of them. An alias like "www" above is seen as a
CNAME for the first host name on the line, in the same domain as the
first host name if unqualified (no dots). A reverse lookup for an IP
address on the left is answered by the first host name on the right. If
more than one match is possible then all matches are put in the answer,
so all IP addresses of multihomed hosts can be listed by multiple entries
in the hosts file.
Requests for names like "flotsam.cs.vu.nl.cs.vu.nl" that are often
generated on a domain search for an already fully qualified domain name
are recognized and made to fail. This kludge avoids a lot of unnecessary
requests to possibly unreachable name servers and client timeouts.
The name "localhost" in any domain is given the IP address 127.0.0.1.
Nonamed employs several timeouts for efficient operation:
If no UDP reply is seen in four seconds then a new search is started for
a name server in the hope of finding one that does work. A failing TCP
connection will also invoke a search, the TCP connection is then made to
the new name server. A client using UDP will retry eventually, a client
using TCP will notice nothing but a short delay. If a TCP connection
fails after 5 tries then an answer is sought in the hosts file, and
failing that the connection is closed.
Any TCP operation is given five minutes to show any action before the
connection is aborted.
UDP replies from a name server are put in a cache of by default 8 (16-bit
system) or 16 kilobytes (32-bit system). New queries are first sought in
the cache, and if found answered from the cache. An entry in the cache
is expired when the resource record with the smallest TTL (time to live)
expires, unless its expire time is artificially extended by the "%stale"
parameter (see below). An answer from the cache has all TTLs
appropriately lowered, and the AA bit ("answer authoritive") is cleared.
Any request answered by stale data is refreshed as soon as nonamed
notices that one of the external name daemons is reachable.
Data is only cached if it is has "no error" result code, or a "no such
domain" result code with a SOA record in the name server section, and all
records have a nonzero TTL. The %stale parameter has no effect on the
decision to cache a result.
The cache is rewritten to the cache file five minutes after a new entry
has been added. Mere changes to the order in the cache don't cause a
Configuration through /etc/hosts
The real name servers, stale data extension, and cache size can be
configured by special entries in the hosts file. For example:
86400 %ttl # Answers from this file get this TTL
2419200 %stale # Stale data may linger on for 4 weeks
32768 %memory # 32k cache size
10.0.0.1 %nameserver # flotsam
172.16.24.3 %nameserver # dns1.example.com
172.16.24.6 %nameserver # dns2.example.com
10.0.0.1 flotsam.home.example.com www
In this example we have two machines, flotsam and jetsam, that are at
home. Answers from the hosts file get a TTL of one day, by default this
is one hour. Normally there is no connection to the Internet, so any
stale data in the cache is allowed to linger on for 2419200 seconds (4
weeks) before it is finally discarded. The cache size is set to 32
kilobytes. The first name server is the flotsam. On the flotsam itself
this entry is ignored, but the jetsam will now run its requests through
flotsam if possible. This means that both flotsam and jetsam use the
cache of the flotsam. The other nameserver entries are external name
servers of the Internet provider.
If no nameservers are listed in the hosts file then they are obtained
from data gathered by DHCP. This is the preferred situation.
If the hosts file contains a line that says:
Then the current hosts file is closed and the file named is read next.
If your connection to the Internet is set up on demand, either in
software on the machine that has the modem, or by a special box such as
an ISDN router, then you need to filter the name server probes that
nonamed sends out every five minutes to see if a real name daemon is
reachable. These probes need to be recognized as packets that must not
trigger a call, and that must not keep the line up. You can either
filter all IP packets destined for port 53 decimal (the domain port).
This may be a bit too much, the first packet out is often a normal DNS
request (not a probe), so you may want to do better. A probe by nonamed
is a nonrecursive request for the name servers of the root domain. You
can recognize them by looking at the flags, they are all off. Here is a
typical probe in hex (twenty octets per line), followed by the names of
interesting fields, and the octets values you should look for:
45 00 00 2D C8 19 00 00 1D 11 53 18 AC 10 66 41 AC 10 18 03
00 35 00 35 00 19 79 93 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 02 00 01
ip ip ip ip ip ip ip ip ip ip ip ip si si si si di di di di
sp sp dp dp xx xx xx xx id id fl fl qd qd an an ns ns ar ar
dn ty ty cl cl
45 xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx 11 xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx
xx xx 00 35 xx xx xx xx xx xx 00 00 xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx
xx xx xx xx xx
(ip = IP header, si = source IP, di = dest IP, sp = source port, dp
= dest port, id = DNS ID, fl = DNS flags, qd = query count, an =
answer count, ns = nameserver count, ar = additional records count,
dn = domain (""), ty = type (NS), cl = class (IN).)
So if a packet has octets 45, 11, 00 35, and 00 00 at the appropriate
places then don't let it cause a call. Read the documentation of your
software/router to find out how to do this. Hopefully it is possible to
view the contents of the packet that triggered the last call. If so you
simply let nonamed bring up the line once with a probe.
The program version and name servers it is working with can be obtained
host -r -v -c chaos -t txt version.bind. server
Server is the name or IP address of the host whose name server you want
to know this of. (This call is really an undocumented hack to ask the
version numbers of the BIND name daemon. It just had to be implemented
for nonamed as well.)
The % variables in the hosts file can be viewed like this:
host -r -t a %nameserver. server
Don't forget the dot at the end of the name. %ttl and %stale will be
shown as a dotted quad, e.g. 0.36.234.0. The proper value can be
computed as 36 * 65536 + 234 * 256 + 0 = 2419200.
The options are only useful when debugging nonamed, although it can be
very instructive to watch DNS queries being done.
Set debugging level to level (by default 1.) Debug mode 1 makes
nonamed decode and display the DNS queries and replies that it
receives, sends and relays. In debug mode 2 it prints tracing
information about the internal jobs it executes. In debug mode 3 it
core dumps when an error causes it to exit. The debugging level may
also be increased by 1 at runtime by sending signal SIGUSR1 or
turned off (set to 0) with SIGUSR2.
Port to listen on instead of the normal domain port.
[-q] Read the cache file with the debug level set to 2, causing its
contents to be printed, then exit.
[-s] Run single: ignore hosts or cache file, only use the DHCP
information. This allows another nonamed to be run on a different
interface to serve a few programs that run there.
/etc/hosts Hosts to address translation table and configuration file.
Process ID of the currently running nonamed.
Copy of the cache. Read when the program starts, written
five minutes after something has been added to it, and
written when a SIGTERM signal is received, which is
normally sent at system shutdown.
Data gathered by the DHCP daemon. Among lots of other
junk it lists name servers that we should use.
gethostbyname(3), resolver(3), hosts(5), inet(8), boot(8), inetd(8),
RFC-1034 and RFC-1035.
Do not use the %stale parameter for a PC that is directly connected to
the Internet. You run the risk of getting wrong answers, a risk that is
only worth taking for a system that is mostly disconnected from the
You can specify one or more remote name servers in /etc/resolv.conf so
that nonamed isn't needed. This will save memory, but you'll lose
nonamed's cache and its "offline" tricks. That's no problem if you can
use a neighbouring name daemon on another PC at home.
The default cache size seems to be more than enough for normal use, but
if you do decide to make it larger then don't forget to increase the
stack size of the program under standard Minix.
Don't let two nonamed's forward queries to each other. They will
pingpong a query over the network as fast as they can.
The idea of serving "stale DNS data" will probably make some purists
Kees J. Bot (email@example.com)