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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:07 pm 
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I have been a Network Engineer/Consultant/Microsoft Certified Trainer for 10 years. THE service necessary for the proper functioning of the internet (and Active Directory if you use it) is DNS. Everytime you type in a URL like http://www.mediasmartserver.net into your web browser, DNS is the service that resolves that name into an IP address so your computer can connect.

I have Comcast as my ISP and they have been notorious for simply taking their DNS servers off line without warning. In the past, I have built Windows NT and Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 boxes at various times on my home network and used THEM for my DNS. Many folks don't realize that Microsoft's version of DNS has everything it needs to provide name resolution for you. Install it, point your computer at it and it will resolve http://www.mediasmartserver.net for you, every time.

Now, my new MSS is running Windows Home Server which is actually Windows Server 2003 at its core. So I tried a little experiment after I built the server. CAUTION If you are not comfortable with configuring Windows components, using Remote Desktop or configuring the Windows Firewall, stop here. Otherwise, follow me....

1. Remote into the MSS using Remote Desktop.
2. Click Start, point to Control Panel and choose Add or Remove Programs
3. Click Add/Remove Windows Components
4. Click on the words Networking Services and then click the Details button.
5. Put a check in the box next to DNS and then click Next, Next...Finish.
6. Close the Add or Remove Programs windos
7. Click Start, point to Control Panel and choose Windows Firewall
8. Click on the tab for the Exceptions page
9. Click the Add Port button
10. In the Name box type DNS, in the Port number box type 53, ensure TCP is selected and click OK.
11. Click the Add Port button again
12. In the Name box type DNS, in the Port number box type 53, ensure UDPis selected and click OK.
13. Click OK to close the Windows Firewall window
14. Configure your DHCP server to give out the address of your MSS as the DNS server for the network

Edited to add: I also reconfigured the IP Configuration on the MSS so it uses its own address for DNS.

Voila!!!! Your own Caching-Only DNS server, and it will probably be much faster than your ISP. Enjoy


Last edited by jcjrsmith on Tue Dec 11, 2007 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:10 pm 
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BTW - it appears as if the other Windows Server 2003 services can be installed as well. I may try DHCP and WINS later.

Hmmmm....I wonder if it can become a Domain Conroller..... :D


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 Post subject: Very Interesting
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:24 pm 
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I'm a total NOOB with regard to DNS but have enough computer "smarts" to be dangerous.

What I am missing with regard to this setup is where the box aquires the DNS information? In other words as new web sites come online I know that this information "propogates" across the WWW but what part of your instructions tell the server to "go get" updated addresses?

Is it as simple as just adding the DNS service and this service knows what to do and takes it from there?

I think from what you have posted that it IS this simple but now I am curious so....more info please!

This seems like a no brainer and it certainly sounds COOL.. 8)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:27 pm 
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Cool, good tutorial!

Back in oh, '98 I built my first Linux box, it was a RedHat 7 system with Bind running as a caching-only DNS server and router/gateway for our home DSL network in the college house where I lived.

Your caching only name server still has to resolve the names from a record holder, though, so this would only help for frequently-accessed sites and not new sites, if your ISP's DNS servers go down. This would also require modifying the network settings of your client computers. But, could be useful!

Thanks for contributing!
Alex


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 Post subject: Caching DNS??
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:37 pm 
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So what is meant by caching DNS?

Alex...College in 98 huh..boy do I feel OLD :oops:

What do you mean by "resolve names from a record holder? Is this similar to my question in the post above?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:14 pm 
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Yup, the same point. Caching-only means that the MSS would be the system from which each client PC would request the DNS information when resolving a web site. This DNS lookup (URL -> IP address) would get cached by the MSS, so future requests for that URL don't have to go out to the internet, they get served up by the MSS.

There's still an outside DNS server that needs to be configured to be the lookup server for the MSS in this scenario, that would be your ISPs DNS servers, most likely.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 5:21 am 
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yakuza wrote:
Yup, the same point. Caching-only means that the MSS would be the system from which each client PC would request the DNS information when resolving a web site. This DNS lookup (URL -> IP address) would get cached by the MSS, so future requests for that URL don't have to go out to the internet, they get served up by the MSS.

There's still an outside DNS server that needs to be configured to be the lookup server for the MSS in this scenario, that would be your ISPs DNS servers, most likely.


No, actually it doesn't. In fact, my MSS is now set to use its OWN IP address as its DNS address. In a caching only setup, the MSS does ALL the lookup for you. Your PC requests a lookup, and because the MSS with DNS installed has a file called Root Hints on it, it does all the lookup for you without having to connect to the DNS server at your ISP.

As Yakuza said, the caching only means that results returned from the internet are cached on the server, typically for an hour. When the cache time-out value is reached, that entry is automatically purged from the cache


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:06 am 
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Well, we know you can run a print server from it. And it looks like it has a full IIS so you can run tons of web apps. I'm sure it can run many other apps as well. I bet with the right tweaks, you could get it to run as an AD DC. But that would be a bit much for this thing.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:19 am 
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jcjrsmith wrote:
No, actually it doesn't. In fact, my MSS is now set to use its OWN IP address as its DNS address. In a caching only setup, the MSS does ALL the lookup for you. Your PC requests a lookup, and because the MSS with DNS installed has a file called Root Hints on it, it does all the lookup for you without having to connect to the DNS server at your ISP.


I don't believe I'm incorrect in the statement that the caching only name server is required to have configured the IP addresses of the Primary and Slave name servers. The MSS has to lookup the name/address resolution from an authoritative name server from somewhere, and unless you have another name server to query most will use their ISPs DNS servers.
http://www.faqs.org/docs/securing/chap21sec164.html
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/167234

Please let me know if I'm misunderstanding your point! :)

Alex


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:41 pm 
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Maybe this will explain it a little better:

1. If you are using your ISP's DNS server, when you query for, say, http://www.mediasmartserver.net, that name is passed from your PC to the ISP DNS server.
2. The ISP, not being authoritative for (i.e. in charge of) the mediasmartserver.net DNS domain, will look in its configuration files for the address of one of the thirteen servers in charge of the Internet's ROOT DNS domain.
3. One of those 13 servers will tell your ISP DNS the address of a DNS server responsible for the .net DNS domain.
4. Your ISP DNS server will query the .net DNS server, which will give your ISP DNS server the address of the DNS server responsible for the mediaserver.net DNS domain.
5. Your ISP DNS will query the mediasmartserver.net DNS server for the address of www.mediasmartserver.net. Since the mediasmartserver.net DNS server is authoritative for that information it will return the IP address of the web server to your ISP's DNS server, where the info will be cached (typically in cache for one hour).
6. Your ISP DNS server returns the IP address to your PC, which caches the info for the same amount of time.
7. Your PC connects to the IP address and gets the web page for this forum.

Now, on the MSS device, when you install DNS, a file gets put into the C:\Winows\System32\DNS folder on the MSS called CACHE.DNS. This text file shows up in the DNS Console as "Root Hints" - it contains the IP addresses of the 13 servers at the root of the Internet DNS infrastructure. The MSS now has all the info it needs to look up addresses just like the ISP DNS server does. All you need is an internet connection.

Hope this clears it up. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:39 pm 
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Ok, I think we were getting at the same point, though from slightly different perspectives. Thanks for the additional detail.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:04 pm 
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i use opendns ...solve the issue with bellsouth dsl takes a sh&(*%

I also know enought to be dangerous. maybe slightly more than dangerous.


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