Secondary refresh tuning

Don Stokes don at
Wed Dec 4 09:38:45 UTC 2002

I have a server, running BIND 8, that operates as a secondary to about
2300 zones, at a wide variety of primary addresses and administrators. 
The server is updated automatically from a provider's database, and
inevitably a number -- about 400 -- of the primaries out there are not
reachable or defunct.  Some of them have never been able to transfer

Of course if I could positively identify which ones were genuinely dead
vs the ones that might come back one day, I wouldn't be writing this..

The problem I had been having with these is that the server always had
named-xfer processes running, trying to talk to primaries that weren't
ever going to answer.  These clogged things up enough that legitimate
zone transfers were taking hours to be performed.

I solved this by writing a wrapper to named-xfer that maintained a
database of results and timestamps; if an axfr is queried before a
"hold" period has expired, the last result is just returned and
named-xfer doesn't run.  The hold period is a sliding arrangement, so
that the first time a zone is unreachable, it is set to 15 minutes, and
gets longer the longer the zone can't transfer, up to a maximum
(currently 6 hours).  That way defunct zones only attempt AXFRs
occasionally, while functioning zones are transferred within seconds
rather than hours as before.

I'm looking at upgrading to BIND 9, which of course does not have a
separate named-xfer.  BIND 9 does have minimum and maximum refresh/retry
periods, which would help.  But I'm not really sure what the effect of
hundreds of defunct zones would be on BIND 9.

Would 400 or so defunct primaries stop an active zone being updated
immediately if a notify for it was received?

-- don

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