Configure Ubuntu Server DNS: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re looking for a complete guide on how to configure Ubuntu Server DNS, you’ve come to the right place. DNS, or Domain Name System, is a critical part of any network infrastructure, and configuring it correctly can make a huge difference in your network’s performance and reliability.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get started with DNS on your Ubuntu Server. From understanding the basics of DNS to configuring DNS zones, adding DNS records, and troubleshooting common DNS issues, this guide has got you covered.

Whether you’re a seasoned network administrator or just getting started with Ubuntu Server, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to successfully configure and manage DNS on your server. So, let’s dive in and get started!

Are you ready to take your DNS skills to the next level? Keep reading to learn how to configure Ubuntu Server DNS like a pro!

Understanding DNS

Before diving into the specifics of configuring DNS on Ubuntu, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of what DNS is and how it works. DNS, or Domain Name System, is essentially the phonebook of the internet. It translates human-readable domain names, such as, into IP addresses that computers can understand and use to communicate.

The way DNS works is by using a hierarchical system of domain names, with the top-level domains being managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Below the top-level domains are second-level domains, such as .com or .org, which are managed by domain name registrars.

In addition to translating domain names into IP addresses, DNS is also responsible for managing various types of DNS records, which provide additional information about a domain, such as its mail servers, web servers, or other services. There are many different types of DNS records, including A, AAAA, CNAME, MX, TXT, and more.

Overall, having a good understanding of DNS is essential for anyone looking to configure DNS on their Ubuntu server. By understanding the basics of how DNS works, you’ll be better equipped to troubleshoot any issues that arise and ensure that your DNS configuration is set up correctly.

What is DNS?

  1. DNS stands for Domain Name System, and it is a critical component of the internet infrastructure.

  2. The primary function of DNS is to translate human-readable domain names, such as, into machine-readable IP addresses, such as

  3. Without DNS, we would need to remember and type in the IP addresses of every website we wanted to visit, which would be impractical and inconvenient.

  4. DNS works like a phonebook for the internet, mapping domain names to IP addresses.

  5. When you type a domain name into your web browser, your device sends a request to a DNS server to resolve the domain name into an IP address.

  6. The DNS server then responds with the corresponding IP address, allowing your device to establish a connection with the web server hosting the website.

DNS is essential for the smooth operation of the internet, and it is used every time you access a website or send an email. Understanding how DNS works is crucial for configuring a server and troubleshooting any issues that may arise.

Installing DNS Server on Ubuntu

If you want to use Ubuntu as a DNS server, you’ll need to install a DNS server software package. The most popular package is Bind9, which is short for “Berkeley Internet Name Domain version 9”.

You can install Bind9 from the Ubuntu repository using the following command: sudo apt-get install bind9. After installing, you’ll need to configure the server to start automatically during boot time. You can use the following command: sudo systemctl enable bind9.

Once installed, you can verify that Bind9 is running using the command sudo systemctl status bind9. You should see an output that shows the service is active.

Another popular DNS server software package is dnsmasq. You can install it using the command sudo apt-get install dnsmasq. After installation, you can check the status using the command sudo systemctl status dnsmasq.

Step 1: Update Ubuntu Server

To install the DNS server on Ubuntu, the first step is to update the server to ensure that all the necessary packages are up to date. This can be achieved by running the command sudo apt-get update. This will update the package list on the server.

Once the package list is updated, the next step is to upgrade the packages to the latest versions. This can be done by running the command sudo apt-get upgrade.

Updating and upgrading the server ensures that the latest security patches and bug fixes are installed, which is crucial for the smooth functioning of the DNS server.

Note that during the update and upgrade process, the server may prompt you to confirm the installation of some packages. You should always review these prompts and choose the appropriate options.

Step 2: Installing BIND DNS Server

Now that the Ubuntu Server has been updated, it’s time to install the BIND DNS server. BIND is the most widely used DNS server software on the internet, and it’s available in the Ubuntu software repositories. Follow the steps below to install BIND DNS server:

  1. Open the terminal on Ubuntu Server
  2. Type the command sudo apt-get update to update the package list
  3. Type the command sudo apt-get install bind9 to install BIND DNS server
  4. Press Y to confirm the installation when prompted

After the installation is complete, BIND DNS server will start running automatically. You can check the status of the BIND DNS server by typing the command systemctl status bind9 in the terminal. If the server is running properly, you will see a message indicating that it’s active and running.

Note that by default, BIND DNS server is not configured to listen to any network interfaces. In the next section, we will cover how to configure the DNS server to listen to specific network interfaces.

Step 3: Configuring Firewall for DNS Server

In order to protect your DNS server from unauthorized access, it is important to configure your firewall properly. By default, Ubuntu server comes with ufw (Uncomplicated Firewall), a user-friendly firewall configuration tool. You can enable the ufw firewall and allow incoming DNS requests by running the following commands:

  • sudo ufw enable: This command will enable the firewall on your Ubuntu server.
  • sudo ufw allow from any to any port 53 proto udp: This command will allow incoming DNS requests on UDP port 53, which is the default port for DNS.
  • sudo ufw allow from any to any port 53 proto tcp: This command will allow incoming DNS requests on TCP port 53, which is used for zone transfers.
  • sudo ufw status: This command will show the current status of your firewall and the rules that are enabled.

After running these commands, your firewall will be properly configured to allow incoming DNS requests on your Ubuntu server.

It is important to note that if you have a separate firewall device or service, you will need to configure it to allow incoming DNS traffic on UDP and TCP port 53 to your Ubuntu server’s IP address.

Next, we will move on to configuring DNS zones, which will allow you to define the domain names and IP addresses that your DNS server will be authoritative for.

Configuring DNS Zones

After installing and configuring the DNS server, the next step is to configure the DNS zones. A DNS zone is a portion of the DNS namespace that is managed by a particular organization or administrator. The zone contains information about the domain name and its associated IP addresses.

The two types of DNS zones are forward lookup zones and reverse lookup zones. A forward lookup zone maps a domain name to an IP address, while a reverse lookup zone maps an IP address to a domain name. It is important to configure both types of zones to ensure proper functionality of the DNS server.

Each DNS zone contains a zone file, which contains the DNS resource records (RRs) for that zone. The RRs define the characteristics of a DNS zone and the corresponding DNS domain names. There are several types of RRs, including A, AAAA, CNAME, MX, NS, PTR, SOA, and TXT.

To configure the DNS zones, you will need to edit the zone files using a text editor. The two most commonly used text editors for configuring DNS zones are vim and nano. It is important to ensure that the syntax of the zone file is correct before saving any changes.

Finally, it is essential to ensure that the DNS zones are properly delegated if they are subdomains of a larger domain. Delegation involves assigning responsibility for managing the subdomain to a different DNS server, which can be accomplished by creating NS records in the parent zone file.

Step 1: Understanding DNS Zones

DNS zones are a way to organize and manage DNS information for a domain. Each zone contains information about a specific domain and its associated hosts.

The primary DNS zone is where all the authoritative information for a domain is stored. The secondary DNS zone is an exact copy of the primary zone, and it provides redundancy in case the primary server goes down.

The zone file is the file that contains all the DNS information for a domain. It includes information about the domain name, the IP address of the DNS server, and the resource records for the domain’s hosts.

It’s important to update DNS zones regularly to reflect any changes made to a domain’s hosts, such as adding or deleting a subdomain or changing the IP address of a host.

Configuring DNS zones correctly is crucial to ensure that users can access a domain’s resources without any issues.

Step 2: Creating a Forward Lookup Zone

Choose a Name: Choose a name for your forward lookup zone. It can be your domain name or any other name that you prefer.

Create a Zone File: Create a zone file for your forward lookup zone. A zone file is a simple text file that contains the DNS records for your domain.

Add DNS Records: Add the DNS records that are required for your domain. The most common records are A records, MX records, CNAME records, and NS records.

Configure Zone Settings: Configure the zone settings, such as the TTL (Time-to-Live) value and the SOA (Start of Authority) record.

Step 3: Creating a Reverse Lookup Zone

Step 1: Before creating the reverse lookup zone, you need to know the subnet address of your network.

Step 2: Open the BIND configuration file for the forward lookup zone that you created earlier.

Step 3: Copy the zone configuration and replace the zone “name” with the subnet address of your network in reverse order with the “” suffix.

Step 4: Edit the “file” directive to point to the reverse lookup zone file you want to create.

Step 5: Create the reverse lookup zone file with the appropriate PTR records that map IP addresses to hostnames.

Once you have completed the above steps, you should be able to perform reverse lookups for IP addresses in your network using the DNS server. It is recommended to test the functionality of your DNS server by performing forward and reverse lookups for a few domain names and IP addresses respectively.

Adding DNS Records

DNS Records are used to map domain names to IP addresses. By adding DNS records, you can configure your DNS server to route traffic to specific IP addresses based on the domain name requested.

Common DNS Records include A, AAAA, CNAME, MX, and TXT records. Each record type serves a specific purpose, such as mapping a domain name to an IPv4 or IPv6 address, specifying the mail exchange server for a domain, or providing arbitrary text information.

To add DNS records, you will need to access the configuration file for your DNS server and add the appropriate record types and values. This can be done through a command line interface or a graphical user interface, depending on your preferences and the software you are using.

Step 1: Understanding DNS Records

DNS Records are used to map domain names to IP addresses. There are different types of DNS records that serve different purposes, including:

  • A Record: maps a domain name to an IPv4 address.
  • AAAA Record: maps a domain name to an IPv6 address.
  • CNAME Record: maps a domain name to another domain name.
  • MX Record: specifies the mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a domain.
  • TXT Record: allows you to add text information to a DNS record.
  • NS Record: specifies the name servers for a domain.

Understanding these different types of DNS records will be helpful when adding DNS records to your DNS zone.

In the next step, we will learn how to add A Records to your DNS zone.

Step 2: Adding A Record

An A record maps a domain name to an IPv4 address. To add an A record, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your DNS server as an administrator.
  2. Open the DNS management console.
  3. Select the DNS zone where you want to add the A record.
  4. Right-click on the zone and select “New Host (A or AAAA)”.
  5. In the “Name” field, enter the domain name you want to map to the IP address.
  6. In the “IP address” field, enter the IPv4 address you want to map the domain name to.
  7. Click “Add Host” to create the A record.

It may take some time for the A record to propagate across the Internet, so don’t be concerned if you don’t see the changes immediately.

You can use A records to map multiple domain names to the same IP address. This is useful if you have multiple domain names that point to the same website or server.

Step 3: Adding MX Record

An MX (Mail Exchange) record is a DNS record that specifies how email should be routed to a mail server. If you have an email server, you will need to add an MX record to your DNS zone to enable mail delivery.

To add an MX record, you will need to specify a priority value and a mail server hostname. The priority value indicates the order in which mail servers should be used, with lower numbers indicating higher priority. The mail server hostname should be the hostname of your email server.

For example, if you want to use the mail server “” as your primary mail server, you would add the following MX record to your DNS zone:

Priority: 10

Mail Server Hostname:

You can add multiple MX records to your DNS zone to specify backup mail servers. The mail servers with the lowest priority value will be tried first, and if they are not available, the mail servers with the next highest priority will be tried, and so on.

Testing DNS Configuration

Validation: Before testing your DNS configuration, it’s important to validate your DNS settings to ensure that they are configured correctly. You can use various online tools or command-line tools to check the configuration of your DNS server.

Testing DNS Resolution: The most common way to test DNS resolution is to use the “nslookup” command or “dig” command. By using these commands, you can verify that your DNS server is correctly resolving domain names to IP addresses.

Testing Reverse DNS: To test reverse DNS, you can use the “nslookup” or “dig” command with the IP address instead of the domain name. This will verify that your DNS server is correctly resolving IP addresses to domain names.

Step 1: Using nslookup command to test DNS

DNS testing can be done through various tools, one of which is the nslookup command. This command is used to query DNS servers to obtain domain name or IP address mapping information.

Using the nslookup command, you can check the DNS resolution of a domain name, verify if a domain name is resolving to the correct IP address, and troubleshoot DNS-related issues.

To use the nslookup command, simply open a command prompt or terminal and type “nslookup” followed by the domain name or IP address you want to query. The command will then display the results of the query, including the IP address and any other relevant information.

It is important to note that DNS records can take some time to propagate, so if you have recently made changes to your DNS configuration, you may need to wait for the changes to take effect before testing.

Step 2: Checking DNS resolution with dig command

Dig is another useful command-line tool for testing and troubleshooting DNS configuration. It provides detailed information about DNS queries and responses.

To use dig, open a command prompt and type dig domain_name, where domain_name is the domain name you want to check. The output will show you the authoritative DNS server for the domain and the IP addresses associated with it.

You can also use additional options with dig to get more information, such as -t to specify the record type you want to query, or @ to specify the DNS server to use for the query. For example, you can type dig -t mx domain_name to check the MX record for the domain.

By using dig, you can quickly and easily verify that your DNS configuration is working correctly and troubleshoot any issues that may arise. It’s a powerful tool that every system administrator should have in their toolkit.

Step 3: Verifying DNS resolution in a web browser

After testing DNS resolution using command-line tools, you can also verify DNS resolution in a web browser. This method will help you ensure that your DNS configuration is correct and that your website is accessible from the internet.

To do this, open your web browser and type in the URL of your website. If your website loads without any errors, then DNS resolution is working correctly. If your website doesn’t load, you may need to check your DNS records to ensure they are set up correctly.

If you have recently updated your DNS records, it may take some time for the changes to propagate across the internet. This process is known as DNS propagation and can take up to 24-48 hours to complete. During this time, some users may see your old DNS records, while others see the updated records.

If you want to check if your DNS records have propagated, you can use a DNS propagation checker tool. This tool will check your DNS records from multiple locations around the world and let you know if the changes have propagated globally.

It is important to regularly test your DNS configuration to ensure that your website remains accessible to users. DNS issues can cause downtime and result in lost traffic and revenue, so it’s important to stay vigilant and proactive in managing your DNS records.

Troubleshooting DNS Issues

If you’re experiencing DNS issues, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot and resolve the problem. One common issue is a DNS server outage, which can be caused by a variety of factors such as power outages, network issues, or hardware failure. In this case, you’ll need to contact your DNS provider to resolve the outage.

Another issue you might encounter is incorrect DNS records. This can happen if you recently made changes to your DNS configuration but they haven’t propagated yet. Double-check your configuration to make sure everything is correct, and wait for propagation to complete if necessary. You can use online tools to check the status of your DNS records and propagation.

Finally, if you’re still having DNS issues, it could be related to firewall or network settings. Make sure your firewall is configured to allow DNS traffic, and check your network settings to ensure they’re correct. You can also try flushing your DNS cache, which can help resolve issues related to outdated DNS records.

Step 1: Checking DNS Service Status

When you experience DNS issues, the first thing you should check is the status of the DNS service. Here are some ways to check the DNS service status:

Check the DNS server logs: DNS servers keep logs of their activities, including errors and warnings. Review the server logs to determine if there are any issues that could be causing the DNS problem.

Use the command-line interface: Use the command-line interface to run diagnostic commands to check the DNS service status. For example, use the service named status command to check the status of the named service.

Check the DNS server configuration: Incorrect configuration of the DNS server can cause DNS issues. Ensure that the DNS server is properly configured by checking the server settings, zones, and records.

Check the DNS provider status: If you are using a DNS provider, check their status page to determine if there are any known issues that could be causing the DNS problem.

By checking the DNS service status, you can identify any underlying issues that could be causing the DNS problem and take the necessary steps to fix them.

Step 2: Checking DNS Server Logs

Date and TimeIP AddressDomain Name

Now that you have analyzed the server logs, you should be able to identify any suspicious activity related to your DNS server. Here are a few steps to help you identify the root cause of the issue:

  • Look for any unusual activity that occurred at a specific time.
  • Check if any unknown IP addresses have been accessing your server.
  • Identify any domains that were accessed more than usual.
  • Check if any domains that you don’t own were accessed.
  • Identify any patterns in the activity, such as multiple failed login attempts.
  • Look for any changes in your DNS configurations.

By analyzing the server logs, you can gain insight into the behavior of your DNS server and quickly identify any potential security threats. If you do find any suspicious activity, take immediate action to address the issue and prevent any further damage.

Next, we’ll move on to Step 3: Updating Your DNS Server Software.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is DNS configuration important for Ubuntu servers?

DNS configuration is important for Ubuntu servers because it helps to resolve domain names into IP addresses, making it easier for users to access websites or other network resources.

What are the prerequisites for configuring DNS on an Ubuntu server?

Before configuring DNS on an Ubuntu server, you need to ensure that the server has a static IP address, and that the DNS package is installed. You also need to have administrative access to the server.

What are the different ways to configure DNS on an Ubuntu server?

There are several ways to configure DNS on an Ubuntu server, including using the Network Manager GUI, configuring the /etc/network/interfaces file, or editing the /etc/resolv.conf file directly.

What are some common DNS configuration errors to avoid?

Some common DNS configuration errors to avoid include incorrect IP address or domain name entries, failure to configure reverse DNS lookup, and incorrect configuration of DNS caching.

How can I test my DNS configuration on an Ubuntu server?

You can test your DNS configuration on an Ubuntu server by using tools like nslookup or dig to check for correct name resolution, and by using ping or traceroute to verify connectivity to remote hosts. You can also monitor DNS server logs for any errors or issues.

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