Category: How to: Author Custom Nameservers

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Prerequesites

If you are reading this document we are assuming three things:

  1. You have a server with the InterWorx Control Panel installed on it.
  2. You own a domain which you would like to use for a nameserver (you only need one, even if you host many sites).
  3. You want to use your own (ns1.mydomain.com and ns2.mydomain.com) DNS servers instead of those provided by your data center/server provider, registrar, or a third party.

You MUST own the domain in question. If you do not currently own the domain you will need to register (rent) it from a registrar such as:

These are only a few examples of the many ICANN accredited registrars and resellers on the Internet.

Purpose

This document will take the reader through the steps of creating their own DNS nameserver.

The following will find it helpful:

  1. System Administrators who want to host their own DNS
  2. System Administrators can perform these steps to create DNS servers for their resellers
  3. Resellers who want to host their own DNS nameservers or were not provided with generic nameservers by their provider
Please follow the systematic steps outlined in this document in the order that they are written. Do not jump around and do things out of order, as you could miss something and it will take longer than necessary to get this working correctly.

Procedure – Author Custom Nameservers

This is a four step process.

You will need to complete these steps before you begin creating SiteWorx accounts unless you want to manually edit all of your DNS zones after-the-fact.

STEP 1: Registering a domain (if you have not already done so)

The first thing you need to do if you want to run your own DNS server is to register it with your registrar. This service is normally free if you have the domain with them.

Sometimes you need more than a “basic” registration to have this option, and a few registrars do not offer it at all. Check the FAQ section of your registrar’s site for more info.

STEP 2: Creating a Name Server

  1. Pick a domain that you own to use for a DNS server.
  2. Go to your registrar and log in.
  3. Go to a screen called ‘manage my domain’ or ‘domain management’. (You are looking for the screen that lets you make changes to an already registered domain.)
  4. Go to the option Register DNS ServerCreate DNS ServerDomain Host Summary, or something similar — NOT Edit DNS Servers or Modify DNS Servers, you will use that later — and fill out the form.
  5. The next screen or two will ask for both your IP address provided by your server provider when you signed up. and the name of your name server (for example “ns1”). Just follow their prompts.
  6. The DNS system requires you to register at least two nameservers, so you need to repeat the steps at least once. InterWorx allows you to specify up to three if you so choose.
Nameserver names such as ns1.iworx.mydomain.com and dns1.mydomain.com are also allowed.
A DNS A record must exist somewhere for the system to allow registration of particular nameservers, particularly if “mydomain.com” is directed to a different box than the IP you are specifying for the new nameserver.

EXAMPLES:

Primary DNS Server: ns1.mydomain.net on IP address 65.110.52.170
Secondary DNS Server: ns2.mydomain.net on IP address 65.110.52.171
Tertiary DNS Server ns3.mydomain.net on IP address 65.110.52.172

ABOUT IP CHOICES:

Conventional wisdom says that you should use different IPs for different nameservers, and in the past it was generally required. However with modern technology/software this is not necessarily the case anymore. You can generally put two or three name servers on the same IP if you want, just as you can (and generally are required under ICANN rules) to use shared hosting and put multiple domains on the same IP. Some registrars may have a problem with this so you may want to avoid doing so if at all possible.

Using an IP for a nameserver does not prevent you from using the IP for shared or dedicated hosting.

The purpose of having two or three nameservers is for redundancy, but being that all of your nameservers are on the same physical machine and network card anyway, odds are all of them will be down if any of them are down. Syncing two or more physical DNS servers for redundancy will be handled in a future document.

The exception here is if your data center null routes the IP (blocking all incoming and outgoing traffic) which your nameserver is on because of a spam/abuse complaint. In that case your whole DNS would be nonfunctional, and your websites would stop resolving, even if they are hosted on different IPs.

Because of the null route issue mentioned above, it is not recommended to put your nameservers on an IP address used by websites, particularly if you are only using one IP for all nameservers. The same is true of the IP you bind your InterWorx license to (normally the prime or first IP of your box), because InterWorx needs to contact license.interworx.com four times a day for it to keep working.

Many server providers only hand out one or two IPs with a server and make you justify a need for any additional IPs (using ICANN rules) with the potential that you may have to pay for the additional IPs; the individual server administrator will have to weigh the pros and cons here and decide if the extra cost of the IPs (generally $1/month) outweighs the possible headache.

If you are planning to host country specific domains (for example “.ru” “.fr” or “.nl”) you will need to use IPs in two different class C ranges. This is not absolutely required for all countries (“.fr” for example it is recommended but not required), but it is a good idea to plan ahead unless you want to have to create additional nameservers or change their IPs at a later date.

STEP 3: Setting the default settings in NodeWorx

When you log into NodeWorx for the first time you are prompted to enter nameserver info. If you are installing InterWorx on your own server, go ahead and enter the data when it is promoted and click the Save changes button. The same is true if you are a reseller the first time you log in as the reseller.

If you have bought your copy of InterWorx preinstalled with your server, it is possible that your provider has already entered their own default nameservers for you. In this event, please follow the instructions in this How-To document to change them to the ones you just created.

Resellers can change this if needed on the following screen: System Services ⇒ DNS Server ⇒ Overview

Nameservers specified here MUST be registered nameservers (e.g. ns1.mycompany.com and ns2.mycompany.com) NOT just an IP Address.
cPanel users: You DO NOT need to specify the IP address of the nameserver here. InterWorx does not need that information.

STEP 4: Pointing Your Domains to the new nameservers

In years past you used to have to wait several days for the new nameservers to propagate across the Internet but in most cases you only need to wait a few hours in order to be able to start pointing domain names to them.

Just because you are able to point your domains to the new nameservers DOES NOT mean that they have propagated all over the world, merely that your ISP’s resolvers have recognized it. Normally 24-48 hrs is sufficient, however, if you are modifying an existing record it takes longer.

The default Time To Live (length of time other servers check for updates) for most DNS records is 21,600 seconds, which is about a week, causing delays in some updates. This is normal. If you make changes more often you should set a lower Time To Live setting for your A records.

To Point Your Domains:

  1. Go to the registrar’s site and log in.
  2. Go to the page where you edit the settings for the domains.
  3. Go to the “edit nameservers” page.
  4. Replace the registrar’s or your provider’s with your own. ns1. and ns2.yourdomain.com servers.
By default the registrar will normally have their own name servers (e.g. ns1.domainsite.com and ns2.domainsite.com) assigned. It is necessary to remove both of theirs and put yours in. It is safe to ignore the warnings that they give about not being able to use their “free” dns services. They are just telling you that if you change the servers the other add-on services they provide will not work. Since you are creating your own nameservers on your server, you do not need their services. If you do not remove their servers, your name servers will not work correctly.

When you click ‘add’ or ‘ok’ you should get a message that the server was added successfully. If you get the message that you have specified an invalid name server then you haven’t waited long enough for it to propagate. Try it again in a few hours or contact your registrar for assistance if necessary.

In some cases there will be a problem pointing a domain to a new set of nameservers which is due to the fact that the desired name servers have extensions (e.g. ns1.yournameserver.COM and ns2.yournameserver.COM) different than those of the domain name you are seeking to point to them (e.g. yourdomainname.ORG). .COM domain names, for instance, do not “naturally” recognize .ORG name servers; likewise, .ORG names do not “naturally” recognize .COM (or .NET, .INFO, etc.) servers.In some cases it is necessary to ask the registrar to “introduce” a specific server set to the registry software in charge of name registration.

You will need to do this for every domain which you wish to point to the new nameservers. Some registrars such as Domainsite will allow mass account editing (letting you change the nameserver or other settings for all of your domains or a specified set of them at the same time).

Helpful Links

ICANN

Registrars (selected list)

DNS Help

DNS
Nov 12, 2012, 11:12 pmBy: InterWorx
How to: Author Custom Nameservers
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