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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 rfc6804                               
IETF Idividual Submission                                  Bill Manning
draft-manning-opcode-discover-00.txt                             ep.net
                                                             Paul Vixie
                                                            24 May 2004

                         The DISCOVER opcode

This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all provisions of
Section 10 of RFC2026 except that the right to produce derivative works
is not granted.

Comments may be submitted to the group mailing list at "mdns@zocalo.net"
or the authors.

Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that other groups
may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and
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is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite
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   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

The capitalized keywords "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL
document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119

0. Abstract:

   The QUERY opcode in the DNS is designed for unicast. With the
   development of multicast capabilities in the DNS, it is desireable
   to have a more robust opcode for server interactions since a single
   request may generate replies from multiple responders. So DISCOVER
   is defined to deal with replies from multiple responders.

   As such, this document documents experimental extends the core DNS
   specifications to allow clients to have a method for coping with
   replies from multiple responders. Use of this new opcode may
   facilitate DNS operations in modern networking topologies. A prototype
   of the DISCOVER opcode was developed during the TBDS project (1999-
   2000), funded under DARPA grant F30602-99-1-0523. This draft was
   originally submitted for consideration in 2q2000.

1. Introduction:

   This document describes an experimental extension to the DNS to receive
   multiple responses which is the likely result when using DNS that has
   enabled multicast queries.  This approach was developed as part of the
   TBDS research project, funded under DARPA grant F30602-99-1-0523.  The
   full processing rules used by TBDS are documented here for possible
   incorporation in a future revision of the DNS specification."

2. Method:

        DISCOVER works like QUERY except:

        1. it can be sent to a broadcast or multicast destination. QUERY
           isn't defined for non-unicast, and arguably shouldn't be.

        2. the Question section, if present, has <QNAME=zonename,QTYPE=SOA>
           tuples. TBDS tried to augment this structure as follows:
           <QNAME=service,QTYPE=SRV>. While this worked for our purposes in
           TBDS, it is cleaner to place the SRV question in a separate

        3. if QDCOUNT equals 0 then only servers willing to do recursion
           answer. Other servers must silently discard the DISCOVER

        4. if QDCOUNT is not equal to 0 then only servers who are
           for the zones named by some QNAME should answer.

        5. responses may echo the request's Question section or leave it
           just like QUERY.

        6. responses have standard Answer, Authority, and Additional
           e.g. the response is the same as that to a QUERY. It is
           that zero content answers not be sent to avoid badly formed or
           unfulfilled requests. Responses should be sent to the unicast
           address of the requester and the source address should reflect
           the unicast address of the responder.

   Example usage for gethostby{name,addr}-style requestors:

        Compute the zone name of the enclosing in-addr.arpa, ip6.int, or
        ip6.arpa domain.

        DISCOVER whether anyone in-scope is authoritative for this zone.

                If so, query these authoritative servers for local
                in-addr/ip6 names.

        If not, DISCOVER whether there are recursive servers available.

                If so, query these recursive servers for local
                in-addr/ip6 names.

        So, a node will issue a multicast request with the DISCOVER opcode
        some particular multicast scope.  Then determine, from the replies,
        whether there are any DNS servers which are authoritative (or
        recursion) for the zone. Replies to DISCOVER requests MUST set the
        Recursion Available (RA) flag in the DNS message header.

        It is important to recognize that a requester must be prepared to
        receive multiple replies from multiple responders. We expect that
        there will be a single response per responder.

        Once one learns a host's FQDN by the above means, repeat the
        for discovering the closest enclosing authoritative server of such
        local name.

        Cache all NS and A data learned in this process, respecting TTL's.

   TBDS usage for SRV requestors:

        Do the gethostbyaddr() and gethostbyname() on one's own link-local
        address, using the above process.

        Assume that the closest enclosing zone for which an authority
        answers an in-scope DISCOVER packet is "this host's parent domain".

        Compute the SRV name as _service._transport.*.parentdomain.

        This is a change to the definition as defined in RFC 1034.
        A wildcard label ("*") in the QNAME used in a DNS message with
        opcode DISCOVER SHOULD be evaluated with special rules.  The
        wildcard matches any label for which the DNS server data is
        authoritative.  For example 'x.*.example.com.' would match
        'x.y.example.com.' and 'x.yy.example.com.' provided that the
        server was authoritative for 'example.com.'  In this particular
        case, we suggest the follwing considerations be made:

   getservbyname() can be satisfied by issuing a request with
   this computed SRV name.  This structure can be
   populated by values returned from a request as follows:

        s_name    The name of the service, "_service" without the
                  preceding underscore.
        s_aliases The names returned in the SRV RRs in replies
                  to the query.
        s_port    The port number in the SRV RRs replies to the
                  query.  If these port numbers disagree - one
                  of the port numbers is chosen, and only those
                  names which correspond are returned.
        s_proto   The transport protocol from named by the
                  "_transport" label, without the preceding

        Send SRV query for this name to discovered local authoritative

     Usage for disconnected networks with no authoritative servers:

        Hosts should run a "stub server" which acts as though its FQDN is a
        zone name.  Computed SOA gives the host's FQDN as MNAME, "." as the
        ANAME, seconds-since-1Jan2000 as the SERIAL, low constants for
        and the other timers.  Compute NS as the host's FQDN.  Compute the
        glue as the host's link-local address. Or Hosts may run a
        "DNS stub server" which acts as though its FQDN is a zone name.
        rules governing the behavior of this stub server are given
        [1] [2].

        Such stub servers should answer DISCOVER packets for its zone, and
        will be found by the iterative "discover closest enclosing
        server" by DISCOVER clients, either in the gethostbyname() or SRV
        cases described above.  Note that stub servers only answer with
        zone names which exactly match QNAME's, not with zone names which
        are owned by QNAME's.

   The main deviation from the DNS[3][4] model is that a host (like, say, a
   printer offering LPD services) has a DNS server which answers
   for something which hasn't been delegated to it.  However, the only
way that
   such DNS servers can be discovered is with a new opcode, DISCOVER, which
   is explicitly defined to discover undelegated zones for tightly scoped
   purposes.  Therefore this isn't officially a violation of DNS's
   principles. In some cases a responder to DISCOVER may not be traditional
   DNS software, it could be special purpose software.

3. IANA Considerations

        As a new opcode, the IANA will need to assign a numeric value
        for the memnonic. The last OPCODE assigned was "5", for UPDATE.
        Test implementations have used OPCODE "6".

4. Security Considerations

        No new security considerations are known to be introduced with
any new
        opcode, however using multicast for service discovery has the
        for denial of service, primarly from flooding attacks. It may also
        possible to enable deliberate misconfiguration of clients simply by
        running a malicious DNS resolver that claims to be authoritative
        things that it is not. One possible way to mitigate this effect
is by
        use of credentials, such as CERT resource records within an RR set.
        The TBDS project took this approach.

5. Attribution:

        This material was generated in discussions on the mdns mailing list
hosted by Zocalo in March 2000. Updated by discussion in September/October
2003.  David Lawrence, Scott Rose, Stuart Cheshire, Bill Woodcock,
Erik Guttman, Bill Manning and Paul Vixie were active contributors.

6. Author's Address

   Bill Manning
   PO 12317
   Marina del Rey, CA. 90295

   Paul Vixie
   950 Charter Street
   Redwood City, CA 94063

7. References

Informational References:

[1]  Esibov, L., Aboba, B., Thaler, D., "Multicast DNS",
        draft-ietf-dnsext-mdns-00.txt, November 2000. Expired

[2] Woodcock, B., Manning, B., "Multicast Domain Name Service",
        draft-manning-dnsext-mdns-00.txt,  August 2000.  Expired.

Normative References:
        RFC 1034, November 1987.
        RFC 1035, November 1987