Nameservers and Delegations

Nameservers and Delegations

DNSControl can handle a variety of provider scenarios. The registrar and DNS provider can be the same company, different company, they can even be unknown! The document shows examples of many common and uncommon configurations.

Constants

All the examples use the variables. Substitute your own.
// ========== Registrars:
// A typical registrar.
var REG_NAMECOM = NewRegistrar("namedotcom_main");
// The "NONE" registrar is a "fake" registrar.
// This is useful if the registrar is not supported by DNSControl,
// or if you don't want to control the domain's delegation.
var REG_THIRDPARTY = NewRegistrar("ThirdParty");
// ========== DNS Providers:
var DNS_NAMECOM = NewDnsProvider("namedotcom_main");
var DNS_AWS = NewDnsProvider("aws_main");
var DNS_GOOGLE = NewDnsProvider("gcp_main");
var DNS_CLOUDFLARE = NewDnsProvider("cloudflare_main");
var DNS_BIND = NewDnsProvider("bind");

Typical Delegations

Same provider for REG and DNS

Purpose: Use the same provider as a registrar and DNS service.
Why? Simplicity.
D("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM,
DnsProvider(DNS_NAMECOM),
A("@", "10.2.3.4")
);

Different provider for REG and DNS

Purpose: Use one provider as registrar, a different for DNS service.
Why? Some registrars do not provide DNS server, or their service is sub-standard and you want to use a high-performance DNS server.
D("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM,
DnsProvider(DNS_AWS),
A("@", "10.2.3.4")
);

Registrar is elsewhere

Purpose: This is a "DNS only" configuration. Use it when you don't control the registrar but you do control the DNS records.
Why? You don't have access to the registrar, or the registrar is not supported by DNSControl. However you do have API access for updating the zone's records (most likely at a different provider).
D("example1.com", REG_THIRDPARTY,
DnsProvider(DNS_NAMECOM),
A("@", "10.2.3.4")
);

Zone is elsewhere

Purpose: This is a "Registar only" configuration. Use it when you control the registar but want to delegate the zone to someone else.
Why? We are delegating the domain to someone else. In this example we're pointing the domain to the nsone.net DNS service, which someone else is controlling.
D("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM,
NAMESERVER("dns1.p03.nsone.net."),
NAMESERVER("dns2.p03.nsone.net."),
NAMESERVER("dns3.p03.nsone.net."),
NAMESERVER("dns4.p03.nsone.net."),
);

Override nameservers

Purpose: Ignore the provider's default nameservers and substitute our own.
Why? Rarely used unless the DNS provider's API does not support querying what the nameservers are, or the API is returning invalid data, or if the API returns no information. Sometimes APIs return no (useful) information when the domain is new; this is a good temporary work-around until the API starts working.
D("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM,
DnsProvider(DNS_CLOUDFLARE, 0), // Set the DNS provider but ignore the nameservers it suggests (0 == take none of the names it reports)
NAMESERVER("kim.ns.cloudflare.com."),
NAMESERVER("walt.ns.cloudflare.com."),
A("@", "10.2.3.4")
);

Add nameservers

Purpose: Use the default nameservers from the registrar but add additional ones.
Why? Usually only to correct a bug or misconfiguration elsewhere.
D("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM,
DnsProvider(DNS_NAMECOM),
NAMESERVER("ns1.myexample.tld"),
A("@", "10.2.3.4")
);

Shadow nameservers

Purpose: Secretly publish your DNS zone records to another server.
Why? There are many reasons to do this:
  • You are preparing to move to a different DNS provider and want to test it before you cut over.
  • You want your DNS records stored somewhere else in case you have to switch over in an emergency.
  • You are sending the zone to a local caching DNS server.
D("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM,
DnsProvider(DNS_NAMECOM), // Our real DNS server
DnsProvider(DNS_CLOUDFLARE, 0), // Quietly send a copy of the zone here.
DnsProvider(DNS_BIND, 0), // And here too!
A("@", "10.2.3.4")
);

Dual DNS Providers

Purpose: Use two different DNS services:
Why? Diversity. If one DNS provider goes down, the other will be used.
Little known fact: Most DNS recursive resolvers monitor which DNS servers are performing the best and automatically start avoiding servers that are slow or down. This means that if you use this technique and one DNS provider goes down, after a while your users won't be affected. Not all software does this properly. More info: https://www.dns-oarc.net/files/workshop-201203/OARC-workshop-London-2012-NS-selection.pdf
NOTE: This is overkill unless you have millions of users and strict up-time requirements.
D("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM,
DnsProvider(DNS_AWS, 2), // Take 2 nameservers from AWS
DnsProvider(DNS_GOOGLE, 2), // Take 2 nameservers from GCP
A("@", "10.2.3.4")
);

Other uses

Make zonefile backups

Purpose: Make backups of DNS records in a zone. This generates a zonefile listing all the records in the zone.
Why? You want to write out a BIND-style zonefile for debugging, historical, or auditing purposes. Some sites do backups of these zonefiles to create a history of changes. This is different than keeping a history of dnsconfig.js because this is the output of DNSControl, not the input.
NOTE: This won't work if you use pseudo rtypes that BIND doesn't support.
D("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM,
DnsProvider(DNS_NAMECOM),
DnsProvider(DNS_BIND, 0), // Don't activate any nameservers related to BIND.
A("@", "10.2.3.4")
);

Monitor delegation

Purpose: You don't control the registrar but want to detect if the delegation changes. You can specify the existing nameservers in dnsconfig.js and you will get a notified if the delegation diverges.
Why? Sometimes you just want to know if something changes!
See the DNS-over-HTTPS Provider documentation for more info.
var REG_MONITOR = NewRegistrar('DNS-over-HTTPS');
D("example1.com", REG_MONITOR,
NAMESERVER("ns1.example1.com."),
NAMESERVER("ns2.example1.com."),
);
NOTE: This checks the NS records via a DNS query. It does not check the registrar's delegation (i.e. the Name Server: field in whois). In theory these are the same thing but there may be situations where they are not.

Helper macros

DNSControl has some built-in macros that you might find useful.

DOMAIN_ELSEWHERE

Easily delegate a domain to a specific list of nameservers.
DOMAIN_ELSEWHERE("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM, [
"dns1.example.net.",
"dns2.example.net.",
"dns3.example.net.",
]);

DOMAIN_ELSEWHERE_AUTO

Easily delegate a domain to a nameservers via an API query.
This is similar to DOMAIN_ELSEWHERE but the list of nameservers is queried from the API of a single DNS provider.
DOMAIN_ELSEWHERE_AUTO("example1.com", REG_NAMECOM, DNS_AWS);
DOMAIN_ELSEWHERE_AUTO("example2.com", REG_NAMECOM, DNS_GOOGLE);

Limits

NOTE: Not all providers allow full control over the NS records of your zone. It is not recommended to use these providers in complicated scenarios such as hosting across multiple providers. See individual provider docs for more info.