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package dns

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Package dns implements a full featured interface to the Domain Name System. Server- and client-side programming is supported. The package allows complete control over what is send out to the DNS. The package API follows the less-is-more principle, by presenting a small, clean interface.

The package dns supports (asynchronous) querying/replying, incoming/outgoing zone transfers, TSIG, EDNS0, dynamic updates, notifies and DNSSEC validation/signing. Note that domain names MUST be fully qualified, before sending them, unqualified names in a message will result in a packing failure.

Resource records are native types. They are not stored in wire format. Basic usage pattern for creating a new resource record:

     r := new(dns.MX)
     r.Hdr = dns.RR_Header{Name: "", Rrtype: dns.TypeMX,
	Class: dns.ClassINET, Ttl: 3600}
     r.Preference = 10
     r.Mx = ""

Or directly from a string:

mx, err := dns.NewRR(" 3600 IN MX 10")

Or when the default TTL (3600) and class (IN) suit you:

mx, err := dns.NewRR(" MX 10")

Or even:

mx, err := dns.NewRR("$ORIGIN nl.\nmiek 1H IN MX 10 mx.miek")

In the DNS messages are exchanged, these messages contain resource records (sets). Use pattern for creating a message:

m := new(dns.Msg)
m.SetQuestion("", dns.TypeMX)

Or when not certain if the domain name is fully qualified:

m.SetQuestion(dns.Fqdn(""), dns.TypeMX)

The message m is now a message with the question section set to ask the MX records for the zone.

The following is slightly more verbose, but more flexible:

m1 := new(dns.Msg)
m1.Id = dns.Id()
m1.RecursionDesired = true
m1.Question = make([]dns.Question, 1)
m1.Question[0] = dns.Question{"", dns.TypeMX, dns.ClassINET}

After creating a message it can be send. Basic use pattern for synchronous querying the DNS at a server configured on and port 53:

c := new(dns.Client)
in, rtt, err := c.Exchange(m1, "")

Suppressing multiple outstanding queries (with the same question, type and class) is as easy as setting:

c.SingleInflight = true

If these "advanced" features are not needed, a simple UDP query can be send, with:

in, err := dns.Exchange(m1, "")

When this functions returns you will get dns message. A dns message consists out of four sections. The question section: in.Question, the answer section: in.Answer, the authority section: in.Ns and the additional section: in.Extra.

Each of these sections (except the Question section) contain a []RR. Basic use pattern for accessing the rdata of a TXT RR as the first RR in the Answer section:

if t, ok := in.Answer[0].(*dns.TXT); ok {
	// do something with t.Txt

Domain Name and TXT Character String Representations

Both domain names and TXT character strings are converted to presentation form both when unpacked and when converted to strings.

For TXT character strings, tabs, carriage returns and line feeds will be converted to \t, \r and \n respectively. Back slashes and quotations marks will be escaped. Bytes below 32 and above 127 will be converted to \DDD form.

For domain names, in addition to the above rules brackets, periods, spaces, semicolons and the at symbol are escaped.


DNSSEC (DNS Security Extension) adds a layer of security to the DNS. It uses public key cryptography to sign resource records. The public keys are stored in DNSKEY records and the signatures in RRSIG records.

Requesting DNSSEC information for a zone is done by adding the DO (DNSSEC OK) bit to a request.

m := new(dns.Msg)
m.SetEdns0(4096, true)

Signature generation, signature verification and key generation are all supported.


Dynamic updates reuses the DNS message format, but renames three of the sections. Question is Zone, Answer is Prerequisite, Authority is Update, only the Additional is not renamed. See RFC 2136 for the gory details.

You can set a rather complex set of rules for the existence of absence of certain resource records or names in a zone to specify if resource records should be added or removed. The table from RFC 2136 supplemented with the Go DNS function shows which functions exist to specify the prerequisites.

3.2.4 - Table Of Metavalues Used In Prerequisite Section

 CLASS    TYPE     RDATA    Meaning                    Function
 ANY      ANY      empty    Name is in use             dns.NameUsed
 ANY      rrset    empty    RRset exists (value indep) dns.RRsetUsed
 NONE     ANY      empty    Name is not in use         dns.NameNotUsed
 NONE     rrset    empty    RRset does not exist       dns.RRsetNotUsed
 zone     rrset    rr       RRset exists (value dep)   dns.Used

The prerequisite section can also be left empty. If you have decided on the prerequisites you can tell what RRs should be added or deleted. The next table shows the options you have and what functions to call. - Table Of Metavalues Used In Update Section

 CLASS    TYPE     RDATA    Meaning                     Function
 ANY      ANY      empty    Delete all RRsets from name dns.RemoveName
 ANY      rrset    empty    Delete an RRset             dns.RemoveRRset
 NONE     rrset    rr       Delete an RR from RRset     dns.Remove
 zone     rrset    rr       Add to an RRset             dns.Insert


An TSIG or transaction signature adds a HMAC TSIG record to each message sent. The supported algorithms include: HmacMD5, HmacSHA1, HmacSHA256 and HmacSHA512.

Basic use pattern when querying with a TSIG name "axfr." (note that these key names must be fully qualified - as they are domain names) and the base64 secret "so6ZGir4GPAqINNh9U5c3A==":

c := new(dns.Client)
c.TsigSecret = map[string]string{"axfr.": "so6ZGir4GPAqINNh9U5c3A=="}
m := new(dns.Msg)
m.SetQuestion("", dns.TypeMX)
m.SetTsig("axfr.", dns.HmacMD5, 300, time.Now().Unix())
// When sending the TSIG RR is calculated and filled in before sending

When requesting an zone transfer (almost all TSIG usage is when requesting zone transfers), with TSIG, this is the basic use pattern. In this example we request an AXFR for with TSIG key named "axfr." and secret "so6ZGir4GPAqINNh9U5c3A==" and using the server

t := new(dns.Transfer)
m := new(dns.Msg)
t.TsigSecret = map[string]string{"axfr.": "so6ZGir4GPAqINNh9U5c3A=="}
m.SetTsig("axfr.", dns.HmacMD5, 300, time.Now().Unix())
c, err := t.In(m, "")
for r := range c { ... }

You can now read the records from the transfer as they come in. Each envelope is checked with TSIG. If something is not correct an error is returned.

Basic use pattern validating and replying to a message that has TSIG set.

server := &dns.Server{Addr: ":53", Net: "udp"}
server.TsigSecret = map[string]string{"axfr.": "so6ZGir4GPAqINNh9U5c3A=="}
go server.ListenAndServe()
dns.HandleFunc(".", handleRequest)

func handleRequest(w dns.ResponseWriter, r *dns.Msg) {
	m := new(dns.Msg)
	if r.IsTsig() != nil {
		if w.TsigStatus() == nil {
			// *Msg r has an TSIG record and it was validated
			m.SetTsig("axfr.", dns.HmacMD5, 300, time.Now().Unix())
		} else {
			// *Msg r has an TSIG records and it was not valided


RFC 6895 sets aside a range of type codes for private use. This range is 65,280 - 65,534 (0xFF00 - 0xFFFE). When experimenting with new Resource Records these can be used, before requesting an official type code from IANA.

see for more information.


EDNS0 is an extension mechanism for the DNS defined in RFC 2671 and updated by RFC 6891. It defines an new RR type, the OPT RR, which is then completely abused. Basic use pattern for creating an (empty) OPT RR:

o := new(dns.OPT)
o.Hdr.Name = "." // MUST be the root zone, per definition.
o.Hdr.Rrtype = dns.TypeOPT

The rdata of an OPT RR consists out of a slice of EDNS0 (RFC 6891) interfaces. Currently only a few have been standardized: EDNS0_NSID (RFC 5001) and EDNS0_SUBNET (draft-vandergaast-edns-client-subnet-02). Note that these options may be combined in an OPT RR. Basic use pattern for a server to check if (and which) options are set:

// o is a dns.OPT
for _, s := range o.Option {
	switch e := s.(type) {
	case *dns.EDNS0_NSID:
		// do stuff with e.Nsid
	case *dns.EDNS0_SUBNET:
		// access e.Family, e.Address, etc.


From RFC 2931:

SIG(0) provides protection for DNS transactions and requests ....
... protection for glue records, DNS requests, protection for message headers
on requests and responses, and protection of the overall integrity of a response.

It works like TSIG, except that SIG(0) uses public key cryptography, instead of the shared secret approach in TSIG. Supported algorithms: DSA, ECDSAP256SHA256, ECDSAP384SHA384, RSASHA1, RSASHA256 and RSASHA512.

Signing subsequent messages in multi-message sessions is not implemented.