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16.2. /etc/named.conf

The named.conf file is a collection of statements using nested options surrounded by opening and closing ellipse characters, { }. Administrators must be careful when editing named.conf to avoid syntax errors as many seemingly minor errors prevent the named service from starting.

A typical named.conf file is organized similar to the following example:

<statement-1> ["<statement-1-name>"] [<statement-1-class>] {
	<option-N>; };  
	<statement-2> ["<statement-2-name>"] [<statement-2-class>] {    
	<option-N>; };  
	<statement-N> ["<statement-N-name>"] [<statement-N-class>] {    

16.2.1. Common Statement Types

The following types of statements are commonly used in /etc/named.conf: acl Statement

The acl statement (or access control statement) defines groups of hosts which can then be permitted or denied access to the nameserver.

An acl statement takes the following form:

acl <acl-name> {
	[<match-element>; ...] 

In this statement, replace <acl-name> with the name of the access control list and replace <match-element> with a semi-colon separated list of IP addresses. Most of the time, an individual IP address or IP network notation (such as is used to identify the IP addresses within the acl statement.

The following access control lists are already defined as keywords to simplify configuration:

  • any — Matches every IP address

  • localhost — Matches any IP address in use by the local system

  • localnets — Matches any IP address on any network to which the local system is connected

  • none — Matches no IP addresses

When used in conjunction with other statements (such as the options statement), acl statements can be very useful in preventing the misuse of a BIND nameserver.

The following example defines two access control lists and uses an options statement to define how they are treated by the nameserver:

 acl black-hats {;;  };  
	acl red-hats {;  };  
options {     
	blackhole { black-hats; };     
	allow-query { red-hats; };     
	allow-recursion { red-hats; };  

This example contains two access control lists, black-hats and red-hats. Hosts in the black-hats list are denied access to the nameserver, while hosts in the red-hats list are given normal access. include Statement

The include statement allows files to be included in a named.conf file. In this way, sensitive configuration data (such as keys) can be placed in a separate file with restrictive permissions.

An include statement takes the following form:

include  "<file-name>"

In this statement, <file-name> is replaced with an absolute path to a file. options Statement

The options statement defines global server configuration options and sets defaults for other statements. It can be used to specify the location of the named working directory, the types of queries allowed, and much more.

The options statement takes the following form:

options {          
	[<option>; ...]  

In this statement, the <option> directives are replaced with a valid option.

The following are commonly used options:


Specifies which hosts are allowed to query this nameserver. By default, all hosts are allowed to query. An access control list, or collection of IP addresses or networks, may be used here to allow only particular hosts to query the nameserver.


Similar to allow-query, this option applies to recursive queries. By default, all hosts are allowed to perform recursive queries on the nameserver.


Specifies which hosts are not allowed to query the server.


Specifies the named working directory if different from the default value, /var/named/.


Specifies a list of valid IP addresses for nameservers where requests should be forwarded for resolution.


Specifies the forwarding behavior of a forwarders directive.

The following options are accepted:

  • first — Specifies that the nameservers listed in the forwarders directive be queried before named attempts to resolve the name itself.

  • only — Specifies that named does not attempt name resolution itself in the event that queries to nameservers specified in the forwarders directive fail.


Specifies the network interface on which named listens for queries. By default, all interfaces are used.

Using this directive on a DNS server which also acts a gateway, BIND can be configured to only answer queries that originate from one of the networks.

The following is an example of a listen-on directive:

options {    
	listen-on {; }; 

In this example, only requests that arrive from the network interface serving the private network ( are accepted.


Controls whether named notifies the slave servers when a zone is updated. It accepts the following options:

  • yes — Notifies slave servers.

  • no — Does not notify slave servers.

  • explicit — Only notifies slave servers specified in an also-notify list within a zone statement.


Specifies the location of the process ID file created by named.


Turns on the enforcement of delegation properties in top-level domains (TLDs) and root zones with an optional exclude list. Delegation is the process of dividing a single zone into multiple subzones. In order to create a delegated zone, items known as NS records are used. NameServer records (delegation records) announce the authoritative nameservers for a particular zone.

The following root-delegation-only example specifies an exclude list of TLDs from whom undelegated responses are expected and trusted:

options {    
	root-delegation-only exclude { "ad"; "ar"; "biz"; "cr"; "cu"; "de"; "dm"; "id";
		"lu"; "lv"; "md"; "ms"; "museum"; "name"; "no"; "pa";  
		"pf"; "se"; "sr"; "to"; "tw"; "us"; "uy"; }; 

Specifies an alternate location for statistics files. By default, named statistics are saved to the /var/named/named.stats file.

There are several other options also available, many of which rely upon one another to work properly. Refer to the BIND 9 Administrator Reference Manual referenced in Section 16.7.1, “Installed Documentation” and the bind.conf man page for more details. zone Statement

A zone statement defines the characteristics of a zone, such as the location of its configuration file and zone-specific options. This statement can be used to override the global options statements.

A zone statement takes the following form:

zone <zone-name> <zone-class> {      
	[<zone-options>; ...] 

In this statement, <zone-name> is the name of the zone, <zone-class> is the optional class of the zone, and <zone-options> is a list of options characterizing the zone.

The <zone-name> attribute for the zone statement is particularly important. It is the default value assigned for the $ORIGIN directive used within the corresponding zone file located in the /var/named/ directory. The named daemon appends the name of the zone to any non-fully qualified domain name listed in the zone file.


If you have installed the caching-nameserver package, the default configuration file will be in /etc/named.rfc1912.zones.

For example, if a zone statement defines the namespace for, use as the <zone-name> so it is placed at the end of hostnames within the zone file.

For more information about zone files, refer to Section 16.3, “Zone Files”.

The most common zone statement options include the following:


Specifies the clients that are allowed to request information about this zone. The default is to allow all query requests.


Specifies the slave servers that are allowed to request a transfer of the zone's information. The default is to allow all transfer requests.


Specifies the hosts that are allowed to dynamically update information in their zone. The default is to deny all dynamic update requests.

Be careful when allowing hosts to update information about their zone. Do not enable this option unless the host specified is completely trusted. In general, it is better to have an administrator manually update the records for a zone and reload the named service.


Specifies the name of the file in the named working directory that contains the zone's configuration data.


Specifies the IP addresses from which to request authoritative zone information and is used only if the zone is defined as type slave.


Specifies whether or not named notifies the slave servers when a zone is updated. This directive accepts the following options:

  • yes — Notifies slave servers.

  • no — Does not notify slave servers.

  • explicit — Only notifies slave servers specified in an also-notify list within a zone statement.


Defines the type of zone.

Below is a list of valid options:

  • delegation-only — Enforces the delegation status of infrastructure zones such as COM, NET, or ORG. Any answer that is received without an explicit or implicit delegation is treated as NXDOMAIN. This option is only applicable in TLDs or root zone files used in recursive or caching implementations.

  • forward — Forwards all requests for information about this zone to other nameservers.

  • hint — A special type of zone used to point to the root nameservers which resolve queries when a zone is not otherwise known. No configuration beyond the default is necessary with a hint zone.

  • master — Designates the nameserver as authoritative for this zone. A zone should be set as the master if the zone's configuration files reside on the system.

  • slave — Designates the nameserver as a slave server for this zone. Also specifies the IP address of the master nameserver for the zone.


Configures named to keep statistics concerning this zone, writing them to either the default location (/var/named/named.stats) or the file listed in the statistics-file option in the server statement. Refer to Section 16.2.2, “Other Statement Types” for more information about the server statement. Sample zone Statements

Most changes to the /etc/named.conf file of a master or slave nameserver involves adding, modifying, or deleting zone statements. While these zone statements can contain many options, most nameservers require only a small subset to function efficiently. The following zone statements are very basic examples illustrating a master-slave nameserver relationship.

The following is an example of a zone statement for the primary nameserver hosting (

zone "" IN {   
	type master;   
	file "";   
	allow-update { none; }; 

In the statement, the zone is identified as, the type is set to master, and the named service is instructed to read the /var/named/ file. It also tells named not to allow any other hosts to update.

A slave server's zone statement for is slightly different from the previous example. For a slave server, the type is set to slave and in place of the allow-update line is a directive telling named the IP address of the master server.

The following is an example slave server zone statement for zone:

zone "" {   
	type slave;   
	file "";   
	masters {; }; 

This zone statement configures named on the slave server to query the master server at the IP address for information about the zone. The information that the slave server receives from the master server is saved to the /var/named/ file.

16.2.2. Other Statement Types

The following is a list of lesser used statement types available within named.conf:


Configures various security requirements necessary to use the rndc command to administer the named service.

Refer to Section 16.4.1, “Configuring /etc/named.conf” to learn more about how the controls statement is structured and what options are available.

key "<key-name>"

Defines a particular key by name. Keys are used to authenticate various actions, such as secure updates or the use of the rndc command. Two options are used with key:

  • algorithm <algorithm-name> — The type of algorithm used, such as dsa or hmac-md5.

  • secret "<key-value>" — The encrypted key.

Refer to Section 16.4.2, “Configuring /etc/rndc.conf” for instructions on how to write a key statement.


Allows for the use of multiple types of logs, called channels. By using the channel option within the logging statement, a customized type of log can be constructed — with its own file name (file), size limit (size), versioning (version), and level of importance (severity). Once a customized channel is defined, a category option is used to categorize the channel and begin logging when named is restarted.

By default, named logs standard messages to the syslog daemon, which places them in /var/log/messages. This occurs because several standard channels are built into BIND with various severity levels, such as default_syslog (which handles informational logging messages) and default_debug (which specifically handles debugging messages). A default category, called default, uses the built-in channels to do normal logging without any special configuration.

Customizing the logging process can be a very detailed process and is beyond the scope of this chapter. For information on creating custom BIND logs, refer to the BIND 9 Administrator Reference Manual referenced in Section 16.7.1, “Installed Documentation”.


Specifies options that affect how named should respond to remote nameservers, especially with regard to notifications and zone transfers.

The transfer-format option controls whether one resource record is sent with each message (one-answer) or multiple resource records are sent with each message (many-answers). While many-answers is more efficient, only newer BIND nameservers understand it.


Contains assorted public keys used for secure DNS (DNSSEC). Refer to Section 16.5.3, “Security” for more information concerning BIND security.

view "<view-name>"

Creates special views depending upon which network the host querying the nameserver is on. This allows some hosts to receive one answer regarding a zone while other hosts receive totally different information. Alternatively, certain zones may only be made available to particular trusted hosts while non-trusted hosts can only make queries for other zones.

Multiple views may be used, but their names must be unique. The match-clients option specifies the IP addresses that apply to a particular view. Any options statement may also be used within a view, overriding the global options already configured for named. Most view statements contain multiple zone statements that apply to the match-clients list. The order in which view statements are listed is important, as the first view statement that matches a particular client's IP address is used.

Refer to Section 16.5.2, “Multiple Views” for more information about the view statement.

16.2.3. Comment Tags

The following is a list of valid comment tags used within named.conf:

  • // — When placed at the beginning of a line, that line is ignored by named.

  • # — When placed at the beginning of a line, that line is ignored by named.

  • /* and */ — When text is enclosed in these tags, the block of text is ignored by named.

  Published under the terms of the Open Publication License Design by Interspire