Domain name resolution

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In general, a domain name represents an IP address and is associated to it in the Domain Name System (DNS). This article explains how to configure domain name resolution and resolve domain names.

Name Service Switch

This article or section needs expansion.

Reason: Mention nss-mdns, nss-tls-gitAUR and others. (Discuss in Talk:Domain name resolution)

The Name Service Switch (NSS) facility is part of the GNU C Library (glibc) and backs the getaddrinfo(3) API, used to resolve domain names. NSS allows system databases to be provided by separate services, whose search order can be configured by the administrator in nsswitch.conf(5). The database responsible for domain name resolution is the hosts database, for which glibc offers the following services:

systemd provides three NSS services for hostname resolution:

Resolve a domain name using NSS

NSS databases can be queried with getent(1). A domain name can be resolved through NSS using:

$ getent ahosts domain_name
Note: While most programs resolve domain names using NSS, some may read /etc/resolv.conf and/or /etc/hosts directly. See Network configuration#localhost is resolved over the network.

Glibc resolver

The glibc resolver reads /etc/resolv.conf for every resolution to determine the nameservers and options to use.

resolv.conf(5) lists nameservers together with some configuration options. Nameservers listed first are tried first, up to three nameservers may be listed. Lines starting with a number sign (#) are ignored.

Note: The glibc resolver does not cache queries. To improve query lookup time you can set up a caching resolver. Glibc resolver also can not validate DNSSEC. A DNSSEC capable validator resolver is required for that one. See #DNS servers for more information.

Overwriting of /etc/resolv.conf

Network managers tend to overwrite /etc/resolv.conf, for specifics see the corresponding section:

To prevent programs from overwriting /etc/resolv.conf, it is also possible to write-protect it by setting the immutable file attribute:

# chattr +i /etc/resolv.conf
Tip: If you want multiple processes to write to /etc/resolv.conf, you can use resolvconf.

Alternative using nmcli

This article or section is a candidate for merging with NetworkManager#/etc/resolv.conf.

Notes: NetworkManager has a dedicated section for this topic. (Discuss in Talk:Domain name resolution)

If you use NetworkManager, nmcli(1) can be used to set persistent options for /etc/resolv.conf. Change "Wired" to the name of your connection. Example:

# nmcli con mod Wired +ipv4.dns-options 'rotate,single-request,timeout:1'

For more options have a look at the man pages of nmcli(1), nm-settings-nmcli(5) and resolv.conf(5).

Limit lookup time

If you are confronted with a very long hostname lookup (may it be in pacman or while browsing), it often helps to define a small timeout after which an alternative nameserver is used. To do so, put the following in /etc/resolv.conf.

options timeout:1

Hostname lookup delayed with IPv6

If you experience a 5 second delay when resolving hostnames it might be due to a DNS-server/Firewall misbehaving and only giving one reply to a parallel A and AAAA request.[1] You can fix that by setting the following option in /etc/resolv.conf:

options single-request

Local domain names

To be able to use the hostname of local machine names without the fully qualified domain name, add a line to /etc/resolv.conf with the local domain such as:


That way you can refer to local hosts such as as simply mainmachine1 when using the ssh command, but the drill command still requires the fully qualified domain names in order to perform lookups.

Lookup utilities

To query specific DNS servers and DNS/DNSSEC records you can use dedicated DNS lookup utilities. These tools implement DNS themselves and do not use NSS.

ldns provides drill(1), which is a tool designed to retrieve information out of the DNS.

For example, to query a specific nameserver with drill for the TXT records of a domain:

$ drill @nameserver TXT domain

Unless a DNS server is specified, drill will use the nameservers defined in /etc/resolv.conf.

Tip: Some DNS servers ship with their own DNS lookup utilities. E.g.

Resolver performance

The Glibc resolver does not cache queries. To implement local caching, use systemd-resolved or set up a local caching DNS server and use it as the name server by setting and ::1 as the name servers in /etc/resolv.conf or in /etc/resolvconf.conf if using openresolv.

  • The drill or dig lookup utilities report the query time.
  • A router usually sets its own caching resolver as the network's DNS server thus providing DNS cache for the whole network.
  • If it takes too long to switch to the next DNS server you can try decreasing the timeout.

Privacy and security

The DNS protocol is unencrypted and does not account for confidentiality, integrity or authentication, so if you use an untrusted network or a malicious ISP, your DNS queries can be eavesdropped and the responses manipulated. Furthermore, DNS servers can conduct DNS hijacking.

You need to trust your DNS server to treat your queries confidentially. DNS servers are provided by ISPs and third-parties. Alternatively you can run your own recursive name server, which however takes more effort. If you use a DHCP client in untrusted networks, be sure to set static name servers to avoid using and being subject to arbitrary DNS servers. To secure your communication with a remote DNS server you can use an encrypted protocol, like DNS over TLS (RFC 7858), DNS over HTTPS (RFC 8484), or DNSCrypt, provided that both the upstream server and your resolver support the protocol. An alternative can be a dedicated software to encrypt and decrypt the communication, such as stunnel. To verify that responses are actually from authoritative name servers, you can validate DNSSEC, provided that both the upstream server(s) and your resolver support it.

Although one may use an encrypted DNS resolver, the browser still leaks the domain names in the Server Name Indication when requesting the website certificate. This leak can be checked using the Wireshark filter tls.handshake.extensions_server_name_len > 0, or using the command line below. A proposed solution is to use the Encrypted Client Hello (ECH), a TLS 1.3 protocol extension.

# tshark -p -Tfields -e tls.handshake.extensions_server_name -Y 'tls.handshake.extensions_server_name_len>0'

Application-level DNS

Be aware that some client software, such as major web browsers[2][3], are starting to implement DNS over HTTPS. While the encryption of queries may often be seen as a bonus, it also means the software sidetracks queries around the system resolver configuration.[4]

Firefox provides configuration options to enable or disable DNS over HTTPS and select a DNS server. Mozilla has setup a Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) programme with transparency information on their default providers. It is notable that Firefox supports and automatically enables the Encrypted Client Hello (ECH) for TRR providers, see Firefox/Privacy#Encrypted Client Hello.

Chromium will examine the user's system resolver and enable DNS over HTTPS if the system resolver addresses are known to also provide DNS over HTTPS. See this blog post for more information and how DNS over HTTPS can be disabled.

Mozilla has proposed universally disabling application-level DNS if the system resolver cannot resolve the domain Currently, this is only implemented in Firefox.

Oblivious DNS

Oblivious DNS (RFC:9230) is a system which addresses a number of DNS privacy concerns. See Cloudflare's article for more information.

Third-party DNS services

Note: Before using a third-party DNS service, check its privacy policy for information on how user data is handled. User data has value and can be sold to other parties.

There are various third-party DNS services available, some of which also have dedicated software:

  • cloudflared — A DNS client for Cloudflare DNS over HTTPS || cloudflared
  • opennic-up — Automates the renewal of the DNS servers with the most responsive OpenNIC servers || opennic-upAUR
  • nextdns — A DNS-over-HTTPS CLI client for NextDNS || nextdnsAUR

You can use dnsperftest to test the performance of the most popular DNS resolvers from your location. provides global benchmarks between providers.

DNS servers

DNS servers can be authoritative and recursive. If they are neither, they are called stub resolvers and simply forward all queries to another recursive name server. Stub resolvers are typically used to introduce DNS caching on the local host or network. Note that the same can also be achieved with a fully-fledged name server. This section compares the available DNS servers, for a more detailed comparison, refer to Wikipedia:Comparison of DNS server software.

This article or section needs expansion.

Reason: Fill in the unknowns. (Discuss in Talk:Domain name resolution)
Name Package Capabilities resolvconf Supported protocols
Authoritative Recursive Cache Validates
over TLS
over HTTPS
over QUIC
BIND bind Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Server1 Server No
CoreDNS corednsAUR Yes No Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes No
DNS-over-HTTPS dns-over-https No No No No ? ? No No Yes No
Deadwood (MaraDNS recursor) maradnsAUR No Yes Yes No No Yes No No No No
dnscrypt-proxy dnscrypt-proxy No No Yes No No Server Resolver No Yes ?
dnsmasq dnsmasq Partial2 No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No
dnsproxy dnsproxyAUR No No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Knot Resolver knot-resolver No Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Server No
pdnsd pdnsd Partial2 Yes Permanent No Yes Yes No No No No
PowerDNS Recursor powerdns-recursor No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Partial No ?
Rescached rescached-gitAUR No No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
RouteDNS routedns-gitAUR No No Yes3 No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
SmartDNS smartdns No No Yes No ? Yes No Resolver Resolver No
Stubby stubby No No No Yes No Server No Resolver No No
systemd-resolved systemd No No Yes Yes Yes Resolver and limited server No Resolver No No
Unbound unbound Partial Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes Server Yes Server No
  1. BIND can serve both DNS over TLS and DNS over HTTPS (see tls{} and listen-on), but cannot yet forward queries to a DNS over TLS/DNS over HTTPS upstream. The dig tool can make queries over DNS over TLS and DNS over HTTPS (using +tls and +https options), though without any certificate checks.
  2. From Wikipedia: limited authoritative support, intended for internal network use rather than public Internet use.
  3. Supports persistent cache using the Redis backend.

Authoritative-only servers

Name Package DNSSEC Geographic
gdnsd gdnsd No Yes
Knot DNS knot Yes Yes
MaraDNS maradnsAUR No ?
NSD nsd Yes No
PowerDNS powerdns Yes Yes

Conditional forwarding

It is possible to use specific DNS resolvers when querying specific domain names. This is particularly useful when connecting to a VPN, so that queries to the VPN network are resolved by the VPN's DNS, while queries to the internet will still be resolved by your standard DNS resolver. It can also be used on local networks.

To implement it, you need to use a local resolver because glibc does not support it.

In a dynamic environment (laptops and to some extents desktops), you need to configure your resolver based on the network(s) you are connected to. The best way to do that is to use openresolv because it supports multiple subscribers. Some network managers support it, either through openresolv, or by configuring the resolver directly. NetworkManager supports conditional forwarding without openresolv.

Note: Although you could use other conditions for forwarding (for example, source IP address), "conditional forwarding" appears to be the name used for the "domain queried" condition.

See also