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LPI Linux Essentials Exam 010-160 - Topic 4.4 - Domain Name System (DNS)

Introduction to DNS

DNS, or Domain Name System, is an integral component of the internet's functionality. It serves as a directory for the internet, translating human-readable domain names like into IP addresses which computers use to locate each other on the network. This process is essential for users to access websites and services without needing to remember complex numerical IP addresses.

How DNS Works

When you type a website address into your browser, your computer doesn't inherently know where is located. It uses DNS to find out. Here's a simplified view of the process:

  1. Query Initiation: Your computer sends a query to a DNS resolver, typically provided by your internet service provider (ISP), asking for the IP address of
  2. Resolver Role: The resolver starts the process of converting the domain name into an IP address. It may have this information cached from previous queries. If not, it will contact a root DNS server.
  3. Root DNS Server: The root server directs the resolver to a top-level domain (TLD) server based on the extension of the domain (e.g., .com, .org).
  4. TLD DNS Server: The TLD server then points the resolver to the authoritative DNS server for the specific domain.
  5. Authoritative DNS Server: Finally, the authoritative server provides the IP address for to the resolver.
  6. Response to Client: The resolver sends this IP address back to your computer, allowing your browser to establish a connection with the website's server.

Significance of DNS

  • User-Friendly Internet Navigation: DNS makes it possible for users to navigate the internet easily without memorizing IP addresses.
  • Internet Infrastructure: It's a crucial part of internet infrastructure, facilitating the connection between domain names and IP addresses.
  • Security and Scalability: DNS has evolved to include measures for security and to handle the vast number of domain names on the internet.

DNS Record Types

DNS records are essential elements in the Domain Name System. Each record serves a specific purpose, providing information about domains and how they should be handled. Here’s a detailed look at the most commonly used DNS record types.

A Record (Address Record)

The A record is one of the most fundamental types of DNS records. It maps a domain name to its corresponding IPv4 address. For example, an A record would link to an IPv4 address like This record ensures that when someone types in your domain name, the DNS system knows which IP address to direct them to.

AAAA Record (IPv6 Address Record)

Similar to the A record, the AAAA record links a domain name to an IPv6 address. As the internet evolves and IPv4 addresses become scarce, IPv6 addresses are increasingly important. An AAAA record might link to an IPv6 address like 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334.

CNAME Record (Canonical Name Record)

CNAME records are used to alias one domain name to another. For instance, if you have and you want it to point to, a CNAME record can be used. This means that will resolve to the same IP address as

MX Record (Mail Exchange Record)

MX records are crucial for email functionality. They specify the mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a domain. An MX record points to a mail server and prioritizes mail delivery if multiple servers are used. For instance, it directs emails sent to to a specific mail server like

TXT Record (Text Record)

TXT records are versatile and can hold any text-based information. They are often used for various verification purposes, such as verifying domain ownership, implementing email security measures like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail).

SRV Record (Service Record)

SRV records are used to define the location of servers for specific services. They specify the hostname and port number for services such as VOIP, instant messaging, and other communication systems. This record is essential for services that require more specific connection information than just an IP address.

NS Record (Name Server Record)

NS records are used to identify the DNS servers responsible for a domain. This record indicates which server contains the authoritative DNS information about a domain. It’s a way of delegating control over a segment of the domain namespace to a specific DNS server.

PTR Record (Pointer Record)

Often used in reverse DNS lookups, PTR records map an IP address to a domain name. They are the opposite of A and AAAA records. PTR records are primarily used for diagnostic purposes, like checking if an IP address aligns with the domain name it's supposed to represent.

Understanding these DNS record types is crucial for managing domain names and their corresponding services. Each record type serves a specific function, playing a vital role in the overall operation of the DNS system.

DNS Client Configuration

When configuring a DNS client in a Linux environment, two critical files often come into play: /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/hosts. Understanding the purpose and structure of these files is essential for effective DNS configuration and troubleshooting.


This file is the primary configuration file for DNS client settings. It's used by the resolver library to determine where to send DNS queries. Here are the key components found in /etc/resolv.conf:

  • Nameserver Entries: These are lines that begin with nameserver, followed by the IP address of a DNS server. You can specify multiple nameserver lines, and the resolver will use them in the order listed.
  • Search Domain: Specified with the search keyword, this setting allows the system to attempt to complete a non-fully qualified domain name (FQDN) with domain names from this list.
  • Domain Name: The domain setting is similar to search but is used for the local domain. It's less common than search and is typically used in simpler network configurations.

The resolver library checks /etc/resolv.conf to determine which DNS server to query when resolving domain names.


This is a local file that maps hostnames to IP addresses. Before querying DNS servers, the system checks this file to resolve any hostnames listed in it. The structure is straightforward, with each line containing an IP address followed by the hostname(s) associated with that IP. For example:    localhost myserver

In this example, localhost is mapped to, and (along with the shorter alias myserver) is mapped to

Interaction Between /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/hosts

  1. Initial Resolution Attempt: When a DNS query is made, the system first looks at /etc/hosts to see if the queried hostname is listed there. If it is, the corresponding IP address is returned, and the process ends here.
  2. Querying DNS Servers: If the hostname is not found in /etc/hosts, the system then uses the information in /etc/resolv.conf to query DNS servers for the hostname resolution.

Importance of Proper Configuration

Proper configuration of these files is essential for the correct functioning of network services on a Linux system. Misconfiguration can lead to issues like failure to resolve domain names, slow network response due to timeout in DNS resolution, and incorrect routing of network requests.

In summary, /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/hosts play crucial roles in DNS client configuration on Linux systems. They work together to ensure that domain name resolution is handled efficiently and correctly, with /etc/hosts providing a local mechanism for hostname resolution and /etc/resolv.conf specifying how external DNS queries should be conducted.

Querying DNS Client Configuration

Querying DNS client configuration and performing DNS lookups in Linux are primarily accomplished using the host and dig commands. These tools are indispensable for diagnosing DNS-related issues and obtaining detailed domain name information.

The host Command

The host command is straightforward, designed for converting domain names into IP addresses and vice versa. For example, to find the IP address of a domain like, the command would be:


This command may return something like: has address has IPv6 address 2606:2800:220:1:248:1893:25c8:1946

For reverse DNS lookups, where you have an IP and need to find the corresponding domain, you could run:


This command would return similar to domain name pointer

The dig Command

dig, or domain information groper, is a more detailed tool for querying DNS name servers. It's used for obtaining elaborate information about DNS responses, making it ideal for troubleshooting. A basic query like:


Provides thorough output, including the query section, answer section and additional info section:

; <<>> DiG 9.18.18-0ubuntu0.22.04.1-Ubuntu <<>>
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 43209
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 1

; EDNS: version: 0, flags:; udp: 65494
;           IN  A

;; ANSWER SECTION:        20349   IN  A

;; Query time: 15 msec
;; WHEN: Tue Dec 05 08:11:48 GMT 2023
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 56

dig is also capable of reverse DNS lookups when using the -x option:

dig -x

This provides detailed output, including the query section, authority section and additional info section:

; <<>> DiG 9.18.18-0ubuntu0.22.04.1-Ubuntu <<>> -x
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NXDOMAIN, id: 33789
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 1, ADDITIONAL: 1

; EDNS: version: 0, flags:; udp: 65494
;    IN  PTR

;; AUTHORITY SECTION: 600    IN  SOA 1589310095 3600 600 604800 600

;; Query time: 31 msec
;; WHEN: Tue Dec 05 08:12:33 GMT 2023
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 126

Command Output Analysis

With the host command, the output is more direct and concise, quickly providing the necessary information for the query. In contrast, dig delivers a comprehensive set of data, detailing aspects such as TTL (Time To Live) values, DNS record types, and the server that responded to the query. This depth makes dig more suitable for in-depth analysis and troubleshooting of DNS configurations.

IPv6 Neighbor Discovery Protocol

The IPv6 Neighbor Discovery Protocol is an essential component of the IPv6 protocol suite. It operates at the link layer of the Internet model and is responsible for several key functions that were handled by different protocols in IPv4. These functions include address autoconfiguration, discovery of other IPv6 nodes on the link, determining the link-layer addresses of other nodes, finding available routers and DNS servers, and maintaining reachability information about the paths to active neighbors.

Functionality of IPv6 Neighbor Discovery Protocol

  1. Address Autoconfiguration: IPv6 nodes use Neighbor Discovery to automatically generate their own addresses. It begins with the creation of a link-local address, followed by verification that it's unique on the network using Neighbor Solicitation and Advertisement messages.
  2. Discovery of IPv6 Nodes: Neighbor Discovery is used to find other IPv6 nodes on the same local link. This is crucial for direct communication between nodes on the same local network.
  3. Determining Link-Layer Addresses: Through Neighbor Solicitation and Advertisement messages, IPv6 nodes discover the link-layer addresses of other nodes on the same link. This process is akin to ARP in IPv4 but is more integrated with other network functions in IPv6.
  4. Router Discovery: IPv6 hosts use Neighbor Discovery to locate routers on the local link. This is important for identifying default gateways and other router-related functionalities.
  5. DNS Configuration: Recent extensions to Neighbor Discovery allow IPv6 nodes to discover DNS recursive server addresses and the domain search list through Router Advertisements.
  6. Reachability Information: Neighbor Discovery is used to track the reachability of neighbors and to detect unreachable neighbors.

Neighbor Discovery Messages

Neighbor Discovery uses five types of ICMPv6 messages to perform its functions:

  • Router Solicitation: Sent by hosts to locate routers.
  • Router Advertisement: Routers advertise their presence along with various link and Internet parameters.
  • Neighbor Solicitation: Sent by nodes to determine the link-layer address of a neighbor, or to verify that a neighbor is still reachable.
  • Neighbor Advertisement: A response to Neighbor Solicitations, indicating a node's presence and its link-layer address.
  • Redirect: Used by routers to inform hosts of a better first-hop route to a destination.

Significance of Neighbor Discovery Protocol

The Neighbor Discovery Protocol is critical in IPv6 networks for several reasons. It replaces several IPv4 protocols and functionalities, making IPv6 self-configuring and more efficient. It simplifies many aspects of network configuration and management, reducing the need for manual configuration and helping IPv6 networks scale effectively. This protocol is fundamental in ensuring smooth operation and connectivity in IPv6 networks, marking a significant advancement over its IPv4 counterparts.


Throughout this guide, we have explored the fundamental aspects of DNS and IPv6 protocols, crucial for anyone working with modern network systems. Starting with an introduction to DNS, we delved into the various types of DNS records, understanding their specific roles in domain name resolution. We then navigated through the essentials of DNS client configuration in Linux, emphasizing the importance and functionality of the /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/hosts files. Further, we examined the practical applications of host and dig commands, tools indispensable for querying and troubleshooting DNS configurations. Finally, we unpacked the intricacies of the IPv6 Neighbor Discovery Protocol, a cornerstone in the IPv6 architecture. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive foundation, empowering you with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage and troubleshoot DNS and IPv6 network environments.

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