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DNSEXT Working Group                                        Levon Esibov
INTERNET-DRAFT                                             Bernard Aboba
Category: Standards Track                                    Dave Thaler
<draft-ietf-dnsext-mdns-00.txt>                                Microsoft
November 16, 2000

                             Multicast DNS

This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with all
provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that other groups
may also distribute working documents as Internet- Drafts.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
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or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

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Copyright Notice

Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000).  All Rights Reserved.


Today, with the rise of home networking, there are an increasing number
of small networks operating without a DNS server. In order to allow DNS
name resolution in such environments, the use of a multicast DNS is

1.  Introduction

Multicast DNS enables DNS name resolution in the scenarios when
conventional DNS name resolution is not possible. Namely, when there are
no DNS servers available on the network or available DNS servers do not
provide name resolution for the names of the hosts on the local
network. The latter case, for example, corresponds to a scenario when a
home network that doesn't have a DNS server is connected to the Internet
through an ISP and the home network hosts are configured with the ISP's
DNS server for the name resolution. The ISP's DNS server provides the
name resolution for the names registered on the Internet, but doesn't
provide name resolution for the names of the hosts on the home network.

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This document discusses multicast DNS, an extension to the DNS protocol
which consists of a single change to the method of use, and no change to
the format of DNS packets.

Discovery of the services in general as well as discovery of the DNS
servers in particular using multicast DNS is left outside of the scope
of this document.

Name resolution over non-multicast capable media is left outside of the
scope of this document.

In this document, the key words "MAY", "MUST,  "MUST  NOT", "optional",
"recommended",  "SHOULD",  and  "SHOULD  NOT",  are to be interpreted as
described in [1].

2.  Name resolution using Multicast DNS

This extension to the DNS protocol consists of a single change to the
method of use, and no change whatsoever to the current format of DNS
packets.  Namely, this extension allows multicast DNS queries to be sent
to and received on port 53 using the LINKLOCAL addresses [2] for IPv4
and IPv6 (below in this text referred as LINKLOCAL address), which are
yet to be assigned by IANA. LINKLOCAL addresses are used to prevent
propagation of the multicast DNS traffic across the routers that may
cause network flooding. Propagation of the multicast DNS packets within
the boundaries is considered sufficient to enable DNS name resolution,
since the expectation is that if a network has a router, then this
router can function as a mini-DHCP server, as described in [3], and a
DNS proxy, possibly implementing dynamic DNS. Thus there is not expected
to be a need for use of multicast DNS in networks with multiple

2.1 Behavior of the sender and responder

For the purpose of this document a device that sends a multicast query
is called a "sender", while a device that listens to (but not
necessarily responds to) a multicast query is called "responder". A
device configured to be a "responder" may also be a "sender". A device
configured to not be a "responder" cannot be a "sender".

A sender sends multicast DNS query for any legal Type of resource record
(e.g. A, PTR, etcĂ ) for a name within the ".local.arpa." domain to the
LINKLOCAL address. The RD (Recursion Desired) bit MUST NOT be set. If a
responder receives a query with the header containing RD set bit, the
responder MUST ignore the RD bit.

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If the multicast query is not positively resolved ("positively resolved"
refers in this document to the response with the RCODE set to 0) during
a limited amount of time, then a sender MAY repeat the transmission of a
query in order to assure themselves that the query has been received by
a host capable of responding to the query. Repetition MUST NOT be
attempted more than 5 times, and the repetition SHOULD NOT be repeated
more often than once per 0.1 seconds to reduce the unnecessary network
traffic. Retry intervals SHOULD be exponentially increased.

A responder listens on port 53 on the LINKLOCAL address. Responders MUST
respond to multicast queries to those and only those names for which
they are authoritative. As an example, computer
"host.example.com.local.arpa." is authoritative for the domain
"host.example.com.local.arpa.". When such host receives a multicast DNS
query for an A record for the name "host.example.com.local.arpa." it
responds with an A record(s) that contains its IP address(es) in the
RDATA of the record.
In conventional DNS terminology a DNS server authoritative for a zone is
authoritative for all the domain names under the zone root except for
the branches delegated into separate zones. Contrary to conventional DNS
terminology, a responder is authoritative only for the zone root. For
example the host "host.example.com.local.arpa." is not authoritative for
the name "child.host.example.com.local.arpa." unless the host is
configured with multiple names, including "host.example.com.local.arpa."
and "child.host.example.com.local.arpa.". The purpose of such limitation
of the name authority scope of a responder is to prevent complication
that could be caused by coexistence of two or more devices with the
names representing child and parent (or grandparents) nodes in the DNS
tree, for example, "host.example.com.local.arpa." and
"child.host.example.com.local.arpa.". In this example (unless this
limitation introduced) the multicast query for an A record for the name
"child.host.example.com.local.arpa." would cause two authoritative
responses: name error received from "host.example.com.local.arpa.", and
requested A record - from "child.host.example.com.local.arpa.". To
prevent such ambiguity, we could propose to implement multicast enabled
devices to perform a dynamic update of the parent (or grandparent) zone
with a delegation to a child zone, in this example a host
"child.host.example.com.local.arpa." would send a dynamic update for
the NS and glue A record to the "host.example.com.local.arpa.", but this
approach significantly complicates implementation of the multicast DNS
and would not be acceptable for a lightweight devices.

The response to the multicast query is composed in exactly the same
manner as in case of a response to the unicast DNS query as specified
in [4]. Responders MUST never respond using cached data, and the AA
(Authoritative Answer) bit MUST be set. The response is sent to the
sender via unicast. If a TC (truncation) bit is set in the response,
then the sender MAY use the response if it contains all necessary
information, or the sender MAY discard the response and resend the query
over TCP or using EDNS0 with larger window using unicast address of the

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responder. The RA (Recursion Available) bit in the header of the
response MUST NOT be set. Even if the RA bit is set in the response
header, the sender MUST ignore it. The responder MUST set the Hop Limit
field in IPv6 header and TTL field in IPv4 header of all responses to
the multicast DNS query to 255. The sender MUST verify that the Hop
Limit field in IPv6 header and TTL field in IPv4 header of each response
to the multicast DNS query is set to 255. If it is not, then sender MUST
ignore such response.

The responder should use a pre-configured TTL [5] value in the records
returned in the multicast DNS query response. Due to the TTL
minimalization necessary when caching an RRset, all TTLs in an RRset
MUST be set to the same value.

The responder includes in the additional and authority section of the
response the same records, as a DNS server would insert in the response
to the unicast DNS query.

Sender MUST anticipate receiving no replies to some multicasted queries,
in the event that no responders are available within the multicast
scope, or in the event that no positive non-null responses exist to the
transmitted query.

If no positive response is received, a resolver treats it as a response
that no records of the specified type and class for the specified name
exist (NXRRSET), which SHOULD be cached for a period that SHOULD NOT
exceed 5 seconds.

Sender MUST anticipate receiving multiple replies to the same
multicasted query, in the event that several multicast DNS enabled
computers receive the query and respond with valid answers.  When this
occurs, the responses MAY first be concatenated, and then treated in the
same manner that multiple RRs received from the same DNS server would,

3.  Usage model

A device configured to be a "responder" may also be a "sender". A device
configured to not be a "responder" cannot be a "sender".

Multicast DNS usage is determined by the domain search configuration as
well as by special treatment of the ".local.arpa." namespace.  Any
device whose domain search configuration contains ".local.arpa." domain
is configured to behave as "responder". A device configured to be a
"responder" may also be a "sender". A device cannot be configured to
behave as one (i.e. sender or responder), but not another. The sender
treats queries for ".local.arpa." as a special case. The domain search
list can be configured manually or automatically via a DHCP option.

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A sender MUST NOT send a unicast query for names ending with the
".local.arpa." suffix except in the case when a sender repeats a query
over TCP after it received a response to the previous multicast query
with TC bit set or unless sender's cache contains NS resource record
that enables sender to send a query directly to the devices
authoritative for the name in query.

It is not expected that a device "host.example.com." will be manually
configured to have additional name "host.example.com.local.arpa." when
it is configured to use multicast DNS. Instead, a responder with a name
"host.example.com." configured with ".local.arpa." suffix in its domain
search configuration is authoritative for the name
"host.example.com.local.arpa.". I.e. when responder with the name
"host.example.com." receives an A type query for the name
"host.example.com.local.arpa." it authoritatively responds to the query.

If ".local.arpa" is not in the domain search list, then multicast DNS
MUST NOT be used by a device. This implies that the device will neither
listen on the DNS LINKLOCAL multicast address, nor will it send queries
to that address. An auto-configured host will typically have
".local.arpa" first in its search list so that it will be enabled to
use mDNS. Typically an enterprise host will not have ".local.arpa" in
its search list at all so that it will not use mDNS.

The same device may use multicast DNS queries for the name resolution of
the names ending with ".local.arpa.", and unicast DNS queries for name
resolution of all other names. When a DNS client is requested by a user
or application to perform a name resolution of a dot-terminated name
that contains a ".local.arpa" suffix, a query for such name MUST be
multicasted and such name should not be concatenated with any suffix.

If a DNS server is running on a device, the device MUST NOT listen for
the multicast DNS queries, to prevent a device from listening on port 53
and intercepting DNS queries directed to a DNS server. A DNS server may
listen and respond to the multicast queries. A DNS server by default
doesn't listen to the multicast DNS queries. Presence of the
".local.arpa." in the domain search list doesn't affect the
configuration on the DNS server.

4. Sequence of events

The sequence of events for usage of multicast DNS is as follows:

 1. If a sender needs to resolve a query for a name
  "host.example.com.local.arpa", then it sends a multicast query to the
  LINKLOCAL multicast address.

 2. A responder responds to this query only if it is authoritative
  for the domain name "host.example.com.local.arpa". The responder sends
  a response to the sender via unicast over UDP.

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 3. Upon the reception of the response the sender verifies that the Hop
  Limit field in IPv6 header or TTL field in IPv4 header (depending on
  used protocol) of the response is set to 255. If it is, then sender
  uses and caches the returned response. If not, then the sender ignores
  the response and continues waiting for the response.

5.  Name conflicts

It is required to verify the uniqueness of the host DNS name when a host
boots, when its name is changed, or when it is configured to use
multicast DNS (such as when the domain search option is changed to
include ".local.arpa.").

A gratuitous name resolution query SHOULD be done to check for a name
conflict. This is done by having the resolver send a multicast query for
a SOA type query for its own name (i.e. for the name it is authoritative
for). If the query is not positively resolved then host assumes
authority for the name. If the query is positively resolved, then the
host should verify that the computer name specified in the RDATA of the
SOA record in the answer section of the response is its own computer
name.  If the host verifies it, then it assumes authority for its name.
If the host cannot match the returned computer name to its computer
name, then a conflict has been detected. In order to resolve name
conflict, the host will change the name.

A host that has detected a name conflict MUST NOT use the name. This
means that the host MUST NOT respond to multicast queries for that name
and MUST NOT respond to other multicast queries with the records that
contain in RDATA name in conflict (for example, PTR record).

Note that this name conflict detection mechanism doesn't prevent name
conflicts when previously separate networks are connected by a bridge.
Name conflict in such situation is detected when a sender receives more
than one response to its multicasted DNS query. Such sender sends using
unicast the first response that it received to all responders, except
the first one, that responded to this query. A host that receives a
response for a query for it's own name, even if it didn't send such
query, sends a multicast query for the SOA record for the name that it
is authoritative for. Based on the response the host detects the name
conflict and acts according to the description above.

6.  IANA Considerations

Authors will contact IANA to reserve LINKLOCAL IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

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7.  Security Considerations

This draft does not prescribe a means of securing the multicast DNS
mechanism. It is possible that hosts will allocate conflicting names for
a period of time, or that non-conforming hosts will attempt to deny
service to other hosts by allocating the same name. Such attacks also
allow nodes to receive packets destined for other nodes. The protocol
reduces the exposure to such threats in the absence of authentication
by ignoring multicast DNS query response packets received from off-link
senders. The Hop Limit field in IPv6 and TTL field in IPv4 of all
received packets is verified to contain 255, the maximum legal value.
Because routers decrement the Hop Limit on all packets they forward,
received packets containing a Hop Limit of 255 must have originated
from a neighbor.

These threats are most serious in wireless networks such as 802.11,
since attackers on a wired network will require physical access to the
home network, while wireless attackers may reside outside the home. In
order to provide for privacy equivalent to a wired network, the 802.11
specification provides for RC4-based encryption. This is known as the
"Wired Equivalency Privacy" (WEP) specification. Where WEP is
implemented, an attacker will need to obtain the WEP key prior to
gaining access to the home network.

The  mechanism specified in this draft does not require use of the
DNSSEC, which means that the responses to the multicast DNS queries may
not be authenticated. If a network contains a "signed key distribution
center" for all (or at least some) of the DNS zones that the responders
are authoritative for, then those devices on such a network are
configured with the key for the top zone, "local.arpa." (hosted by
"signed keys distribution center") may use DNSSEC for the authentication
of the responders using DNSSEC.

8.  Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Stuart Cheshire, Michael Patton, Erik
Guttman, Olafur Gudmundsson, Thomas Narten, Mark Andrews, Erik Nordmark,
Myrong Hattig, Bill Manning and James Gilroy for comments on this draft.

9.  Authors' Addresses

Levon Esibov
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

EMail: levone@microsoft.com

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Bernard Aboba
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

Phone: +1 (425) 936-6605
EMail: bernarda@microsoft.com

Dave Thaler
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

Phone: +1 (425) 703-8835
EMail: dthaler@microsoft.com

10.  References

[1]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
     Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

[2]  Meyer, D., "Administratively Scoped IP Multicast", BCP 23, RFC
     2365, July 1998.

[3]  Aboba, B., "The Mini-DHCP Server", Internet draft (work in
     progress), draft-aboba-dhc-mini-01.txt, April 2000.

[4]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain Names - Implementation and Specification",
     RFC 1035, November 1987.

     RFC 1034, November 1987.

11.  Intellectual Property Statement

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implementors or users of this specification can be obtained from the
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The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any
copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary rights
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12.  Full Copyright Statement

Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000).  All Rights Reserved.
This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
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assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published and
distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any kind,
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13.  Expiration Date

This memo is filed as <draft-ietf-dnsext-mdns-00.txt>,  and  expires
May 16, 2001.

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