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PEERING testbed dynamic PowerDNS backend

Project description

Dynamic PowerDNS backend


This repository implements a PowerDNS pipe backend to provide
dynamic replies to DNS queries. Replies are taken round-robin from
a predefined list read from a text file. We use this backend to
steer RIPE Atlas traceroute measurements toward PEERING prefixes
according to experiment requirements.


This module communicates with PowerDNS using PowerDNS's [pipe
backend][1] protocol version 3. The tool receives a single
configuration file as parameter, and exchanges information with
PowerDNS through standard input and output. The configuration file
is in JSON format and is validated by the `config-schema.json` [JSON


Backend configuration

The configuration file specifies the DNS domain the backend is
responsible for, and information required to answer `SOA` and `NS`
DNS queries:

``` {.json}
"domain": "",
"soa": " 20170723 7200 3600 7200 120",
"nameservers": [
"ttl": 3600,
"...": "..."

The `domain` parameter specifies what domain the backend is
responsible for. The `soa` parameter specifies zone-specific timers
and configuration, and is used verbatim in replies for DNS `SOA`
queries. The `nameserver` parameter specifies a list of name
servers for the zone, used in replies for `NS` queries. The
time-to-live parameter (`ttl`) specifies the period for which
replies to `SOA` and `NS` queries should be cached. Normally, the
third field in the `soa` parameter (`20170723`, the [serial
number][3]) needs to be updated whenever a zone is updated.
Although updating the serial number when the dynamic addresses are
reconfigured is not essential (because replies have a time-to-live
of zero to prevent caching), the serial number needs to be updated
if the `soa` or `nameservers` parameters are updated.


Each dynamic host name within `domain` is handled by a handler that
reads the list of IP addresses from a text file. The handler
replies to queries with IP addresses in the text file in round-robin
order. Each handler has three parameters:

``` {.json}
"...": "...",
"handlers": [
"qname": "",
"qtype": "A",
"file": "data/peering-v4.txt",
"qname": "",
"qtype": "AAAA",
"file": "data/peering-v6.txt"

Parameter `qname` specifies the fully-qualified domain name that
should be answered with IP addresses within `file`. The `qtype`
field specified whether IP addresses in `file` are IPv4 addresses
(`qtype = A`) or IPv6 addresses (`qtype = AAAA`).

Setting up the parent DNS server

We also need to configure the authoritative name server for the
parent domain (`` in our case) to forward all
requests for `` to the machine running the
dynamic backend.

If using BIND and if the dynamic backend server is
``, this can be achieved by adding
the following to the zone database (equivalent entries can be added
to PowerDNS to achieve the same effect):

pdyndns-1 A NS

This should go within the zone starting with (something similar to):

@ IN SOA (


We have a test suite for ``. You can run it by installing
[nose][10] and running `nosetests`. Note that we require nose for
Python 3. We also have a [tox][11] script that checks for formatting
and performs some linting.



Precursors and early implementations for this code include [RIPE
Atlas][8]'s [atlas-dyndns][5], Emile Aben's [Scapy DNS Ninja][6] and
[Zeerover DNS][7].


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