Clients get DNS timeouts because ipv6 means more queries for each lookup

Jonathan Kamens jik at
Mon Jul 11 18:11:57 UTC 2011

The number of DNS queries required for each address lookup requested by 
a client has gone up considerably because of IPV6. The problem is being 
exacerbated by the fact that many DNS servers on the net don't yet 
support IPV6 queries. The result is that address lookups are frequently 
taking so long that the client gives up before getting the result.

The example I am seeing this with most frequently is my RSS feed reader, 
rss2email, trying to read a feed from in a cron job 
that runs every 15 minutes. I am regularly seeing this in the output of 
the cron job:

    W: Name or service not known [8][elided]/&feed=atom&action=history

The domain has three DNS servers. Let's assume that the 
root and org. nameservers are cached already when rss2email does its 
query. If so, then it has to do the following queries: DNS AAAA A

This is fine when the nameservers are working, but let's 
postulate for the moment that two of them are down, unreachable, or 
responding slowly, which apparently happens pretty often. Then we end up 
doing: DNS AAAA /times out
    / AAAA /times out
    / AAAA A /times out/ A /times out
    / A

By now the end of that sequence, the typical 30-second DNS request 
timeout has been exceeded, and the client gives up.

I said above that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that many DNS 
servers don't yet support IPV6 queries. This is because the AAAA queries 
don't get NXDOMAIN responses, which would be cached, but rather FORMERR 
responses, which are not cached. As a result, the scenario describes 
above happens much more frequently because the DNS server has to redo 
the AAAA queries often.

One suggestion that I've seen on the net for how to mitigate this 
problem is to treat FORMERR responses as negative and cache them just 
like NXDOMAIN responses are cached. I took a look at the bind code in 
resolver.c briefly to see how easy it would be to do this, and I 
although it doesn't look like it would be particularly difficult, I 
don't feel like I know the ins and outs of the DNS protocol and BIND 
implementation enough to be confident that I'd get it right.

I'm interested to hear if other people are encountering this problem and 
if the developers who work on BIND have any thoughts about how to 
migitate it, short of getting everyone on the internet to upgrade to 
nameservers that support IPV6.


Jonathan Kamens

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