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TCP/IP Domain Name System (DNS)
The creation of host
tables to map computer names to addresses
greatly improved the usability of the early Internet and the TCP/IP
protocol suite that implemented it. Unfortunately, while the host table
name system worked well when the internetwork was small, it did not
scale particularly well as the Internet started to grow in size and
complexity. The name system had to stay but the use of host tables had
to be dispensed with in favor of a newer, more capable system.
Over the period of several years,
many engineers worked to create a system that would meet not just the
needs of TCP/IP internetworks of the time, but also of the future. The
new name system was based on a hierarchical division of the network
into groups and subgroups, with names reflecting this structure. It
was designed to store data in a distributed fashion to facilitate decentralized
control and efficient operation, and included flexible and extensible
mechanisms for name registration and resolution. This new name system
for TCP/IP was called the Domain Name System (DNS).
In this section I describe the concepts
behind TCP's Domain Name System, as well as its operation. The section
is divided into four subsections. The first provides and overview of
DNS, including a description of its characteristics and components.
The next three subsections describe how DNS implements each of the three
primary name system functions: the DNS
name space and architecture; the DNS name registration process, including
hierarchical authorities and administration; and the DNS name resolution
process, focusing on how name servers and resolvers work. Finally, I
have a topic that briefly highlights the changes made to DNS to support
the new version 6 of the Internet Protocol, and its much longer addresses.
Note: Now, for a quick terminology note. First, even though the abbreviation DNS usually stands for Domain Name System, you will also sometimes see the S stand for other words, especially Service or Server. Second, some documents refer to this name system as the DNS. Most people just say DNS without the definite article, and that's the convention I follow here as well.
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The TCP/IP Guide (http://www.TCPIPGuide.com)
Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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