Network Working Group R. Bush
Request for Comments: 2870 Verio
Obsoletes: 2010 D. Karrenberg
BCP: 40 RIPE NCC
Category: Best Current Practice M. Kosters
Root Name Server Operational Requirements
Status of this Memo
This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
improvements. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000). All Rights Reserved.
As the internet becomes increasingly critical to the world's social
and economic infrastructure, attention has rightly focused on the
correct, safe, reliable, and secure operation of the internet
infrastructure itself. The root domain name servers are seen as a
crucial part of that technical infrastructure. The primary focus of
this document is to provide guidelines for operation of the root name
servers. Other major zone server operators (gTLDs, ccTLDs, major
zones) may also find it useful. These guidelines are intended to
meet the perceived societal needs without overly prescribing
The resolution of domain names on the internet is critically
dependent on the proper, safe, and secure operation of the root
domain name servers. Currently, these dozen or so servers are
provided and operated by a very competent and trusted group of
volunteers. This document does not propose to change that, but
merely to provide formal guidelines so that the community understands
how and why this is done.
Bush, et al. Best Current Practice [Page 1]RFC 2870 Root Name Server Operational Requirements June 2000
1.1 The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
has become responsible for the operation of the root servers.
The ICANN has appointed a Root Server System Advisory Committee
(RSSAC) to give technical and operational advice to the ICANN
board. The ICANN and the RSSAC look to the IETF to provide
1.2 The root servers serve the root, aka ".", zone. Although today
some of the root servers also serve some TLDs (top level domains)
such as gTLDs (COM, NET, ORG, etc.), infrastructural TLDs such as
INT and IN-ADDR.ARPA, and some ccTLDs (country code TLDs, e.g. SE
for Sweden), this is likely to change (see 2.5).
1.3 The root servers are neither involved with nor dependent upon the
1.4 The domain name system has proven to be sufficiently robust that
we are confident that the, presumably temporary, loss of most of
the root servers should not significantly affect operation of the
1.5 Experience has shown that the internet is quite vulnerable to
incorrect data in the root zone or TLDs. Hence authentication,
validation, and security of these data are of great concern.
2. The Servers Themselves
The following are requirements for the technical details of the root
2.1 It would be short-sighted of this document to specify particular
hardware, operating systems, or name serving software.
Variations in these areas would actually add overall robustness.
2.2 Each server MUST run software which correctly implements the IETF
standards for the DNS, currently [RFC1035] [RFC2181]. While
there are no formal test suites for standards compliance, the
maintainers of software used on root servers are expected to take
all reasonable actions to conform to the IETF's then current
2.3 At any time, each server MUST be able to handle a load of
requests for root data which is three times the measured peak of
such requests on the most loaded server in then current normal
conditions. This is usually expressed in requests per second.
This is intended to ensure continued operation of root services
should two thirds of the servers be taken out of operation,
whether by intent, accident, or malice.
Bush, et al. Best Current Practice [Page 2]