Individual Submission                                     Bill Manning
draft-ymbk-opcode-discover-03.txt                                  ISI
                                                             Paul Vixie
                                                           Erik Guttman
                                                            25 Oct 2001

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


   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 result in replies from multiple responders. So DISCOVER
   is defined to deal with replies from multiple responders.

   As such, this document extend 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 as part of the TBDS project, funded under DARPA grant


   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 are documented here for possible incorporation in
   a future revision of the DNS specification."


        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.)
           While DISCOVER could be used for unicast, what is the point?

        2. the Question section, if present, has <QNAME=zonename,QTYPE=SOA>
           tuples. Future work could augment this structure as follows:

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

        4. if QDCOUNT!=0 then only servers who are authoritative for the
           zones named by some QNAME should answer.

        5. responses may echo the request's Question section or leave it blank.

        6. responses have "normal" Answer, Authority, and Additional sections.
           e.g. the response is the same as that to a QUERY. It is desireable
           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 or 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 at
        some particular multicast scope.  Then determine, from the replies,
        whether there are any DNS servers which are authoritative (or support
        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.

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

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

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 server
        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.*' would match
        '' and '' provided that the
        server was authoritative for ''  In this particular
        case, we suggest the follwing considerations be made:

   getservbyname() can be satisfied by issuing a request with
   this computed SRV name.  The servent 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 authority servers.

     Usage for disconnected networks with no authority 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 EXPIRE
        and the other timers.  Computed NS gives the host's FQDN.  Computed
        glue gives the host's link-local address. Or Hosts may run a
        "DNS stub server" which acts as though its FQDN is a zone name.  The
        rules governing the behavior of this stub server are given elsewhere
        [1] [2].

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

The only deviation from the DNS[3][4] model is that a host (like, say, a
printer offering LPD services) has a DNS server which answers authoritatively
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 coherency

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".

Security Considerations

        No new security considerations are known to be introduced with a new
        opcode, however using multicast for service discovery has the potential
        for denial of service, primarly from flooding attacks. It may also be
        possible to enable deliberate misconfiguration of clients simply by running
        a malicious DNS resolver that claims to be authoritative for 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. Paul Vixie, Stuart Cheshire, Bill Woodcock,
Erik Guttman and Bill Manning were active contributors.

6. Author's Address

   Bill Manning
   PO 12317
   Marina del Rey, CA. 90295

   Paul Vixie
   Internet Software Consortium
   950 Charter Street
   Redwood City, CA 94063
   +1 650 779 7001

   Erik Guttman
   Sun Microsystems
   Eichhòlzelstr. 7
   74915 Waibstadt Germany
   +49 6227 356 202

7. References

[1] draft-ietf-dnsext-mdns-00.txt
[2] draft-manning-dnsext-mdns-00.txt
[3] RFC 1034
[4] RFC 1035