named and use of resolv.conf? - how to "learn" this

Matthew Pounsett matt at
Tue Aug 2 18:47:47 UTC 2016

On 2 August 2016 at 12:25, Spumonti Spumonti <spumonti at> wrote:

> (I've done several searches for this first but the general nature of some
> of these terms returned way too many non-relevant responses)
> I was recently told that named does not use resolv.conf when resolving
> names. This was not something I was aware of but at this point I accept
> that. The system in question is an authoritative only server, no recursion
> enabled, that for some zones it hosts, lists secondary name servers in
> other organizations (in other words these name servers are in zones NOT
> hosted on this server)
> My real question is: where is this documented? I've read DNS books and
> scoured different sites but couldn't find anything stating this was how
> named behaved. Maybe I just suck at searching for things or was using
> imprecise terms.

The fact that named doesn't use resolv.conf wouldn't be documented anywhere
because they're unrelated.   Particularly for an authoritative server,
there's not reason for BIND to consult the system stub config, which is
what resolv.conf is (primarily) for.

To use a somewhat exaggerated comparison, documenting anywhere that BIND
doesn't consult resolv.conf would be like documenting that your car doesn't
need a ladder.

In the authoritative configuration, BIND has no need to do DNS lookups of
its own, so it wouldn't be any use there.   And BIND in recursive mode has
a hints list which tells it where the root servers are.  It will use those
to follow delegations to the correct authoritative server for whatever
lookup it's attempting to do.

resolv.conf configures the stub resolver (and occasionally other software
that behaves like a stub resolver) to tell it where the local recursive
servers are.
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