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2.3. Assumptions about usage Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
2.3. Assumptions about usage

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2.3. Assumptions about usage

2.3. Assumptions about usage

The organization of the domain system derives from some assumptions about the needs and usage patterns of its user community and is designed to avoid many of the the complicated problems found in general purpose database systems.

The assumptions are:

  • The size of the total database will initially be proportional to the number of hosts using the system, but will eventually grow to be proportional to the number of users on those hosts as mailboxes and other information are added to the domain system.

  • Most of the data in the system will change very slowly (e.g., mailbox bindings, host addresses), but that the system should be able to deal with subsets that change more rapidly (on the order of seconds or minutes).

  • The administrative boundaries used to distribute responsibility for the database will usually correspond to organizations that have one or more hosts. Each organization that has responsibility for a particular set of domains will provide redundant name servers, either on the organization's own hosts or other hosts that the organization arranges to use.

  • Clients of the domain system should be able to identify trusted name servers they prefer to use before accepting referrals to name servers outside of this "trusted" set.

  • Access to information is more critical than instantaneous updates or guarantees of consistency. Hence the update process allows updates to percolate out through the users of the domain system rather than guaranteeing that all copies are simultaneously updated. When updates are unavailable due to network or host failure, the usual course is to believe old information while continuing efforts to update it. The general model is that copies are distributed with timeouts for refreshing. The distributor sets the timeout value and the recipient of the distribution is responsible for performing the refresh. In special situations, very short intervals can be specified, or the owner can prohibit copies.

  • In any system that has a distributed database, a particular name server may be presented with a query that can only be answered by some other server. The two general approaches to dealing with this problem are "recursive", in which the first server pursues the query for the client at another server, and "iterative", in which the server refers the client to another server and lets the client pursue the query. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, but the iterative approach is preferred for the datagram style of access. The domain system requires implementation of the iterative approach, but allows the recursive approach as an option.

The domain system assumes that all data originates in master files scattered through the hosts that use the domain system. These master files are updated by local system administrators. Master files are text files that are read by a local name server, and hence become available through the name servers to users of the domain system. The user programs access name servers through standard programs called resolvers.

The standard format of master files allows them to be exchanged between hosts (via FTP, mail, or some other mechanism); this facility is useful when an organization wants a domain, but doesn't want to support a name server. The organization can maintain the master files locally using a text editor, transfer them to a foreign host which runs a name server, and then arrange with the system administrator of the name server to get the files loaded.

Each host's name servers and resolvers are configured by a local system administrator [RFC-1033]. For a name server, this configuration data includes the identity of local master files and instructions on which non-local master files are to be loaded from foreign servers. The name server uses the master files or copies to load its zones. For resolvers, the configuration data identifies the name servers which should be the primary sources of information.

The domain system defines procedures for accessing the data and for referrals to other name servers. The domain system also defines procedures for caching retrieved data and for periodic refreshing of data defined by the system administrator.

The system administrators provide:

  • The definition of zone boundaries.

  • Master files of data.

  • Updates to master files.

  • Statements of the refresh policies desired.

The domain system provides:

  • Standard formats for resource data.

  • Standard methods for querying the database.

  • Standard methods for name servers to refresh local data from foreign name servers.

Next: 2.4. Elements of the DNS

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
2.3. Assumptions about usage


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