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   DNSOP Working Group                                     Paul Vixie, ISC
   INTERNET-DRAFT                                         Akira Kato, WIDE
   <draft-ietf-dnsop-respsize-06.txt>                          August 2006
                      DNS Referral Response Size Issues
   Status of this Memo
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   Copyright Notice
      Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).  All Rights Reserved.
      With a mandated default minimum maximum message size of 512 octets,
      the DNS protocol presents some special problems for zones wishing to
      expose a moderate or high number of authority servers (NS RRs).  This
      document explains the operational issues caused by, or related to
      this response size limit, and suggests ways to optimize the use of
      this limited space.  Guidance is offered to DNS server implementors
      and to DNS zone operators.
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   1 - Introduction and Overview
   1.1. The DNS standard (see [RFC1035 4.2.1]) limits message size to 512
   octets.  Even though this limitation was due to the required minimum IP
   reassembly limit for IPv4, it became a hard DNS protocol limit and is
   not implicitly relaxed by changes in transport, for example to IPv6.
   1.2. The EDNS0 protocol extension (see [RFC2671 2.3, 4.5]) permits
   larger responses by mutual agreement of the requester and responder.
   The 512 octet message size limit will remain in practical effect until
   there is widespread deployment of EDNS0 in DNS resolvers on the
   1.3. Since DNS responses include a copy of the request, the space
   available for response data is somewhat less than the full 512 octets.
   Negative responses are quite small, but for positive and delegation
   responses, every octet must be carefully and sparingly allocated.  This
   document specifically addresses delegation response sizes.
   2 - Delegation Details
   2.1.1. A delegation response will include the following elements:
      Header Section: fixed length (12 octets)
      Question Section: original query (name, class, type)
      Answer Section: empty, or a CNAME/DNAME chain
      Authority Section: NS RRset (nameserver names)
      Additional Section: A and AAAA RRsets (nameserver addresses)
   2.1.2. If the total response size exceeds 512 octets, and if the data
   that does not fit was "required", then the TC bit will be set
   (indicating truncation).  This will usually cause the requester to retry
   using TCP, depending on what information was desired and what
   information was omitted.  For example, truncation in the authority
   section is of no interest to a stub resolver who only plans to consume
   the answer section.  If a retry using TCP is needed, the total cost of
   the transaction is much higher.  See [RFC1123] for details on
   the requirement that UDP be attempted before falling back to TCP.
   2.1.3. RRsets are never sent partially unless TC bit set to indicate
   truncation.  When TC bit is set, the final apparent RRset in the final
   non-empty section must be considered "possibly damaged" (see [RFC1035
   6.2], [RFC2181 9]).
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   2.1.4. With or without truncation, the glue present in the additional
   data section should be considered "possibly incomplete", and requesters
   should be prepared to re-query for any damaged or missing RRsets.  Note
   that truncation of the additional data section might not be signalled
   via the TC bit since additional data is often optional (see discussion
   in [RFC4472 B]).
   2.1.5. DNS label compression allows a domain name to be instantiated
   only once per DNS message, and then referenced with a two-octet
   "pointer" from other locations in that same DNS message (see [RFC1035
   4.1.4]).  If all nameserver names in a message share a common parent
   (for example, all ending in ".ROOT-SERVERS.NET"), then more space will
   be available for incompressable data (such as nameserver addresses).
   2.1.6. The query name can be as long as 255 octets of network data.  In
   this worst case scenario, the question section will be 259 octets in
   size, which would leave only 240 octets for the authority and additional
   sections (after deducting 12 octets for the fixed length header.)
   2.2.1. Average and maximum question section sizes can be predicted by
   the zone owner, since they will know what names actually exist, and can
   measure which ones are queried for most often.  Note that if the zone
   contains any wildcards, it is possible for maximum length queries to
   require positive responses, but that it is reasonable to expect
   truncation and TCP retry in that case.  For cost and performance
   reasons, the majority of requests should be satisfied without truncation
   or TCP retry.
   2.2.2. Some queries to non-existing names can be large, but this is not
   a problem because negative responses need not contain any answer,
   authority or additional records.  See [RFC2308 2.1] for more information
   about the format of negative responses.
   2.2.3. The minimum useful number of name servers is two, for redundancy
   (see [RFC1034 4.1]).  A zone's name servers should be reachable by all
   IP transport protocols (e.g., IPv4 and IPv6) in common use.
   2.2.4. The best case is no truncation at all.  This is because many
   requesters will retry using TCP immediately, or will automatically re-
   query for RRsets that are possibly truncated, without considering
   whether the omitted data was actually necessary.
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   2.3.1. In case of multi-homed name servers, it is advantageous to
   include an address record from each of several name servers before
   including several address records for any one name server.  If address
   records for more than one transport (for example, A and AAAA) are
   available, then it is advantageous to include records of both types
   early on, before the message is full.
   2.3.2. Each added NS RR for a zone will add 12 fixed octets (name, type,
   class, ttl, and rdlen) plus 2 to 255 variable octets (for the NSDNAME).
   Each A RR will require 16 octets, and each AAAA RR will require 28
   2.3.3. While DNS distinguishes between necessary and optional resource
   records, this distinction is according to protocol elements necessary to
   signify facts, and takes no official notice of protocol content
   necessary to ensure correct operation.  For example, a nameserver name
   that is in or below the zone cut being described by a delegation is
   "necessary content," since there is no way to reach that zone unless the
   parent zone's delegation includes "glue records" describing that name
   server's addresses.
   2.3.4. It is also necessary to distinguish between "explicit truncation"
   where a message could not contain enough records to convey its intended
   meaning, and so the TC bit has been set, and "silent truncation", where
   the message was not large enough to contain some records which were "not
   required", and so the TC bit was not set.
   2.3.5. A delegation response should prioritize glue records as follows.
      All glue RRsets for one name server whose name is in or below the
      zone being delegated, or which has multiple address RRsets (currently
      A and AAAA), or preferably both;
      Alternate between adding all glue RRsets for any name servers whose
      names are in or below the zone being delegated, and all glue RRsets
      for any name servers who have multiple address RRsets (currently A
      and AAAA);
      All other glue RRsets, in any order.
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   Whenever there are multiple candidates for a position in this priority
   scheme, one should be chosen on a round-robin or fully random basis.
   The goal of this priority scheme is to offer "necessary" glue first,
   avoiding silent truncation for this glue if possible.
   2.3.6. If any "necessary content" is silently truncated, then it is
   advisable that the TC bit be set in order to force a TCP retry, rather
   than have the zone be unreachable.  Note that a parent server's proper
   response to a query for in-child glue or below-child glue is a referral
   rather than an answer, and that this referral MUST be able to contain
   the in-child or below-child glue, and that in outlying cases, only EDNS
   or TCP will be large enough to contain that data.
   3 - Analysis
   3.1. An instrumented protocol trace of a best case delegation response
   follows.  Note that 13 servers are named, and 13 addresses are given.
   This query was artificially designed to exactly reach the 512 octet
      ;; flags: qr rd; QUERY: 1, ANS: 0, AUTH: 13, ADDIT: 13
      ;;  [23456789.123456789.123456789.\
           123456789.123456789.123456789.com A IN]        ;; @80
      com.                 86400 NS  E.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @112
      com.                 86400 NS  F.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @128
      com.                 86400 NS  G.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @144
      com.                 86400 NS  H.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @160
      com.                 86400 NS  I.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @176
      com.                 86400 NS  J.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @192
      com.                 86400 NS  K.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @208
      com.                 86400 NS  L.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @224
      com.                 86400 NS  M.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @240
      com.                 86400 NS  A.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @256
      com.                 86400 NS  B.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @272
      com.                 86400 NS  C.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @288
      com.                 86400 NS  D.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  ;; @304
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      A.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A           ;; @320
      B.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A         ;; @336
      C.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A         ;; @352
      D.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A         ;; @368
      E.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A         ;; @384
      F.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A         ;; @400
      G.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A         ;; @416
      H.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A        ;; @432
      I.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A        ;; @448
      J.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A         ;; @464
      K.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A        ;; @480
      L.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A        ;; @496
      M.GTLD-SERVERS.NET.  86400 A         ;; @512
      ;; MSG SIZE  sent: 80  rcvd: 512
   3.2. For longer query names, the number of address records supplied will
   be lower.  Furthermore, it is only by using a common parent name (which
   is GTLD-SERVERS.NET in this example) that all 13 addresses are able to
   fit, due to the use of DNS compression pointers in the last 12
   occurances of the parent domain name.  The following output from a
   response simulator demonstrates these properties.
      % perl respsize.pl a.dns.br b.dns.br c.dns.br d.dns.br
      a.dns.br requires 10 bytes
      b.dns.br requires 4 bytes
      c.dns.br requires 4 bytes
      d.dns.br requires 4 bytes
      # of NS: 4
      For maximum size query (255 byte):
          only A is considered:        # of A is 4 (green)
          A and AAAA are considered:   # of A+AAAA is 3 (yellow)
          preferred-glue A is assumed: # of A is 4, # of AAAA is 3 (yellow)
      For average size query (64 byte):
          only A is considered:        # of A is 4 (green)
          A and AAAA are considered:   # of A+AAAA is 4 (green)
          preferred-glue A is assumed: # of A is 4, # of AAAA is 4 (green)
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      % perl respsize.pl ns-ext.isc.org ns.psg.com ns.ripe.net ns.eu.int
      ns-ext.isc.org requires 16 bytes
      ns.psg.com requires 12 bytes
      ns.ripe.net requires 13 bytes
      ns.eu.int requires 11 bytes
      # of NS: 4
      For maximum size query (255 byte):
          only A is considered:        # of A is 4 (green)
          A and AAAA are considered:   # of A+AAAA is 3 (yellow)
          preferred-glue A is assumed: # of A is 4, # of AAAA is 2 (yellow)
      For average size query (64 byte):
          only A is considered:        # of A is 4 (green)
          A and AAAA are considered:   # of A+AAAA is 4 (green)
          preferred-glue A is assumed: # of A is 4, # of AAAA is 4 (green)
   (Note: The response simulator program is shown in Section 5.)
   Here we use the term "green" if all address records could fit, or
   "yellow" if two or more could fit, or "orange" if only one could fit, or
   "red" if no address record could fit.  It's clear that without a common
   parent for nameserver names, much space would be lost.  For these
   examples we use an average/common name size of 15 octets, befitting our
   assumption of GTLD-SERVERS.NET as our common parent name.
   We're assuming a medium query name size of 64 since that is the typical
   size seen in trace data at the time of this writing.  If
   Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) or any other technology which
   results in larger query names be deployed significantly in advance of
   EDNS, then new measurements and new estimates will have to be made.
   4 - Conclusions
   4.1. The current practice of giving all nameserver names a common parent
   (such as GTLD-SERVERS.NET or ROOT-SERVERS.NET) saves space in DNS
   responses and allows for more nameservers to be enumerated than would
   otherwise be possible, since the common parent domain name only appears
   once in a DNS message and is referred to via "compression pointers"
   4.2. If all nameserver names for a zone share a common parent, then it
   is operationally advisable to make all servers for the zone thus served
   also be authoritative for the zone of that common parent.  For example,
   the root name servers (?.ROOT-SERVERS.NET) can answer authoritatively
   for the ROOT-SERVERS.NET.  This is to ensure that the zone's servers
   always have the zone's nameservers' glue available when delegating, and
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   will be able to respond with answers rather than referrals if a
   requester who wants that glue comes back asking for it.  In this case
   the name server will likely be a "stealth server" -- authoritative but
   unadvertised in the glue zone's NS RRset.  See [RFC1996 2] for more
   information about stealth servers.
   4.3. Thirteen (13) is the effective maximum number of nameserver names
   usable traditional (non-extended) DNS, assuming a common parent domain
   name, and given that implicit referral response truncation is
   undesirable in the average case.
   4.4. Multi-homing of name servers within a protocol family is
   inadvisable since the necessary glue RRsets (A or AAAA) are atomically
   indivisible, and will be larger than a single resource record.  Larger
   RRsets are more likely to lead to or encounter truncation.
   4.5. Multi-homing of name servers across protocol families is less
   likely to lead to or encounter truncation, partly because multiprotocol
   clients are more likely to speak EDNS which can use a larger response
   size limit, and partly because the resource records (A and AAAA) are in
   different RRsets and are therefore divisible from each other.
   4.6. Name server names which are at or below the zone they serve are
   more sensitive to referral response truncation, and glue records for
   them should be considered "less optional" than other glue records, in
   the assembly of referral responses.
   4.7. If a zone is served by thirteen (13) name servers having a common
   parent name (such as ?.ROOT-SERVERS.NET) and each such name server has a
   single address record in some protocol family (e.g., an A RR), then all
   thirteen name servers or any subset thereof could multi-home in a second
   protocol family by adding a second address record (e.g., an AAAA RR)
   without reducing the reachability of the zone thus served.
   5 - Source Code
   #    repsize.pl [ -z zone ] fqdn_ns1 fqdn_ns2 ...
   #        if all queries are assumed to have a same zone suffix,
   #     such as "jp" in JP TLD servers, specify it in -z option
   use strict;
   use Getopt::Std;
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   my ($sz_msg) = (512);
   my ($sz_header, $sz_ptr, $sz_rr_a, $sz_rr_aaaa) = (12, 2, 16, 28);
   my ($sz_type, $sz_class, $sz_ttl, $sz_rdlen) = (2, 2, 4, 2);
   my (%namedb, $name, $nssect, %opts, $optz);
   my $n_ns = 0;
   getopt('z', %opts);
   if (defined($opts{'z'})) {
       server_name_len($opts{'z'}); # just register it
   foreach $name (@ARGV) {
       my $len;
       $len = server_name_len($name);
       print "$name requires $len bytes\n";
       $nssect += $sz_ptr + $sz_type + $sz_class + $sz_ttl
               +  $sz_rdlen + $len;
   print "# of NS: $n_ns\n";
   arsect(255, $nssect, $n_ns, "maximum");
   arsect(64, $nssect, $n_ns, "average");
   sub server_name_len {
       my ($name) = @_;
       my (@labels, $len, $n, $suffix);
       $name =~ tr/A-Z/a-z/;
       @labels = split(/\./, $name);
       $len = length(join('.', @labels)) + 2;
       for ($n = 0; $#labels >= 0; $n++, shift @labels) {
           $suffix = join('.', @labels);
           return length($name) - length($suffix) + $sz_ptr
               if (defined($namedb{$suffix}));
           $namedb{$suffix} = 1;
       return $len;
   sub arsect {
       my ($sz_query, $nssect, $n_ns, $cond) = @_;
       my ($space, $n_a, $n_a_aaaa, $n_p_aaaa, $ansect);
       $ansect = $sz_query + 1 + $sz_type + $sz_class;
       $space = $sz_msg - $sz_header - $ansect - $nssect;
       $n_a = atmost(int($space / $sz_rr_a), $n_ns);
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       $n_a_aaaa = atmost(int($space
                              / ($sz_rr_a + $sz_rr_aaaa)), $n_ns);
       $n_p_aaaa = atmost(int(($space - $sz_rr_a * $n_ns)
                              / $sz_rr_aaaa), $n_ns);
       printf "For %s size query (%d byte):\n", $cond, $sz_query;
       printf "    only A is considered:        ";
       printf "# of A is %d (%s)\n", $n_a, &judge($n_a, $n_ns);
       printf "    A and AAAA are considered:   ";
       printf "# of A+AAAA is %d (%s)\n",
              $n_a_aaaa, &judge($n_a_aaaa, $n_ns);
       printf "    preferred-glue A is assumed: ";
       printf "# of A is %d, # of AAAA is %d (%s)\n",
           $n_a, $n_p_aaaa, &judge($n_p_aaaa, $n_ns);
   sub judge {
       my ($n, $n_ns) = @_;
       return "green" if ($n >= $n_ns);
       return "yellow" if ($n >= 2);
       return "orange" if ($n == 1);
       return "red";
   sub atmost {
       my ($a, $b) = @_;
       return 0 if ($a < 0);
       return $b if ($a > $b);
       return $a;
   6 - Security Considerations
   The recommendations contained in this document have no known security
   7 - IANA Considerations
   This document does not call for changes or additions to any IANA
   8 - Acknowledgement
   The authors thank Peter Koch, Rob Austein, Joe Abley, and Mark Andrews
   for their valuable comments and suggestions.
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   This work was supported by the US National Science Foundation (research
   grant SCI-0427144) and DNS-OARC.
   9 - References
   [RFC1034] Mockapetris, P.V., "Domain names - Concepts and Facilities",
      RFC1034, November 1987.
   [RFC1035] Mockapetris, P.V., "Domain names - Implementation and
      Specification", RFC1035, November 1987.
   [RFC1123] Braden, R., Ed., "Requirements for Internet Hosts -
      Application and Support", RFC1123, October 1989.
   [RFC1996] Vixie, P., "A Mechanism for Prompt Notification of Zone
      Changes (DNS NOTIFY)", RFC1996, August 1996.
   [RFC2181] Elz, R., Bush, R., "Clarifications to the DNS Specification",
      RFC2181, July 1997.
   [RFC2308] Andrews, M., "Negative Caching of DNS Queries (DNS NCACHE)",
      RFC2308, March 1998.
   [RFC2671] Vixie, P., "Extension Mechanisms for DNS (EDNS0)", RFC2671,
      August 1999.
   [RFC4472] Durand, A., Ihren, J., Savola, P., "Operational Consideration
      and Issues with IPV6 DNS", April 2006.
   10 - Authors' Addresses
   Paul Vixie
      Internet Systems Consortium, Inc.
      950 Charter Street
      Redwood City, CA 94063
      +1 650 423 1301
   Akira Kato
      University of Tokyo, Information Technology Center
      2-11-16 Yayoi Bunkyo
      Tokyo 113-8658, JAPAN
      +81 3 5841 2750
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   Full Copyright Statement
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