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Q: Why does dnsmasq open UDP ports >1024 as well as port 53.
Is this a security problem/trojan/backdoor?
A: The high ports that dnsmasq opens are for replies from the upstream
nameserver(s). Queries from dnsmasq to upstream nameservers are sent
from these ports and replies received to them. The reason for doing this is
that most firewall setups block incoming packets _to_ port 53, in order
to stop DNS queries from the outside world. If dnsmasq sent its queries
from port 53 the replies would be _to_ port 53 and get blocked.
This is not a security hole since dnsmasq will only accept replies to that
port: queries are dropped. The replies must be to oustanding queries
which dnsmasq has forwarded, otherwise they are dropped too.
Addendum: dnsmasq now has the option "query-port" (-Q), which allows
you to specify the UDP port to be used for this purpose. If not
specified, the operating system will select an available port number
just as it did before.
Second addendum: following the discovery of a security flaw in the
DNS protocol, dnsmasq from version 2.43 has changed behavior. It
now uses a new, randomly selected, port for each query. The old
default behaviour (use one port allocated by the OS) is available by
setting --query-port=0, and setting the query port to a positive
value is still works. You should think hard and know what you are
doing before using either of these options.
Q: Why doesn't dnsmasq support DNS queries over TCP? Don't the RFC's specify
A: Update: from version 2.10, it does. There are a few limitations:
data obtained via TCP is not cached, and source-address
or query-port specifications are ignored for TCP.
Q: When I send SIGUSR1 to dump the contents of the cache, some entries have
no IP address and are for names like
What are these?
A: They are negative entries: that's what the N flag means. Dnsmasq asked
an upstream nameserver to resolve that address and it replied "doesn't
exist, and won't exist for <n> hours" so dnsmasq saved that information so
that if _it_ gets asked the same question it can answer directly without
having to go back to the upstream server again. The strange repeated domains
result from the way resolvers search short names. See "man resolv.conf" for
Q: Will dnsmasq compile/run on non-Linux systems?
A: Yes, there is explicit support for *BSD and MacOS X and Solaris.
There are start-up scripts for MacOS X Tiger and Panther
in /contrib. Dnsmasq will link with uclibc to provide small
binaries suitable for use in embedded systems such as
routers. (There's special code to support machines with flash
filesystems and no battery-backed RTC.)
If you encounter make errors with *BSD, try installing gmake from
ports and building dnsmasq with "make MAKE=gmake"
For other systems, try altering the settings in config.h.
Q: My company's nameserver knows about some names which aren't in the
public DNS. Even though I put it first in /etc/resolv.conf, it
dosen't work: dnsmasq seems not to use the nameservers in the order
given. What am I doing wrong?
A: By default, dnsmasq treats all the nameservers it knows about as
equal: it picks the one to use using an algorithm designed to avoid
nameservers which aren't responding. To make dnsmasq use the
servers in order, give it the -o flag. If you want some queries
sent to a special server, think about using the -S flag to give the
IP address of that server, and telling dnsmasq exactly which
domains to use the server for.
Q: OK, I've got queries to a private nameserver working, now how about
reverse queries for a range of IP addresses?
A: Use the standard DNS convention of <reversed address>
For instance to send reverse queries on the range to to a nameserver at do
Note that the "bogus-priv" option take priority over this option,
so the above will not work when the bogus-priv option is set.
Q: Dnsmasq fails to start with an error like this: "dnsmasq: bind
failed: Cannot assign requested address". What's the problem?
A: This has been seen when a system is bringing up a PPP interface at
boot time: by the time dnsmasq start the interface has been
created, but not brought up and assigned an address. The easiest
solution is to use --interface flags to specify which interfaces
dnsmasq should listen on. Since you are unlikely to want dnsmasq to
listen on a PPP interface and offer DNS service to the world, the
problem is solved.
Q: I'm running on BSD and dnsmasq won't accept long options on the
command line.
A: Dnsmasq when built on some BSD systems doesn't use GNU getopt by
default. You can either just use the single-letter options or
change config.h and the Makefile to use getopt-long. Note that
options in /etc/dnsmasq.conf must always be the long form,
on all platforms.
Q: Names on the internet are working fine, but looking up local names
from /etc/hosts or DHCP doesn't seem to work.
A: Resolver code sometime does strange things when given names without
any dots in. Win2k and WinXP may not use the DNS at all and just
try and look up the name using WINS. On unix look at "options ndots:"
in "man resolv.conf" for details on this topic. Testing lookups
using "nslookup" or "dig" will work, but then attempting to run
"ping" will get a lookup failure, appending a dot to the end of the
hostname will fix things. (ie "ping myhost" fails, but "ping
myhost." works. The solution is to make sure that all your hosts
have a domain set ("domain" in resolv.conf, or set a domain in
your DHCP server, see below fr Windows XP and Mac OS X).
Any domain will do, but "localnet" is traditional. Now when you
resolve "myhost" the resolver will attempt to look up
"myhost.localnet" so you need to have dnsmasq reply to that name.
The way to do that is to include the domain in each name on
/etc/hosts and/or to use the --expand-hosts and --domain options.
Q: How do I set the DNS domain in Windows XP or MacOS X (ref: previous
A: for XP, Control Panel > Network Connections > { Connection to gateway /
DNS } > Properties > { Highlight TCP/IP } > Properties > Advanced >
DNS Tab > DNS suffix for this connection:
A: for OS X, System Preferences > Network > {Connection to gateway / DNS } >
Search domains:
Q: Can I get dnsmasq to save the contents of its cache to disk when
I shut my machine down and re-load when it starts again?
A: No, that facility is not provided. Very few names in the DNS have
their time-to-live set for longer than a few hours so most of the
cache entries would have expired after a shutdown. For longer-lived
names it's much cheaper to just reload them from the upstream
server. Note that dnsmasq is not shut down between PPP sessions so
go off-line and then on-line again will not lose the contents of
the cache.
Q: Who are Verisign, what do they have to do with the bogus-nxdomain
option in dnsmasq and why should I wory about it?
A: [note: this was written in September 2003, things may well change.]
Versign run the .com and .net top-level-domains. They have just
changed the configuration of their servers so that unknown .com and
.net domains, instead of returning an error code NXDOMAIN, (no such
domain) return the address of a host at Versign which runs a web
server showing a search page. Most right-thinking people regard
this new behaviour as broken :-). You can test to see if you are
suffering Versign brokeness by run a command like
If you get "" does not exist, then all is fine, if
host returns an IP address, then the DNS is broken. (Try a few
different unlikely domains, just in case you picked a wierd one
which really _is_ registered.)
Assuming that your DNS is broken, and you want to fix it, simply
note the IP address being returned and pass it to dnsmasq using the
--bogus-nxdomain flag. Dnsmasq will check for results returning
that address and substitute an NXDOMAIN instead.
As of writing, the IP address in question for the .com and .net
domains is is Various other, less prominent,
registries pull the same stunt; there is a list of them all, and
the addresses to block, at
Q: This new DHCP server is well and good, but it doesn't work for me.
What's the problem?
A: There are a couple of configuration gotchas which have been
encountered by people moving from the ISC dhcpd to the dnsmasq
integrated DHCP daemon. Both are related to differences in
in the way the two daemons bypass the IP stack to do "ground up"
IP configuration and can lead to the dnsmasq daemon failing
whilst the ISC one works.
The first thing to check is the broadcast address set for the
ethernet interface. This is normally the adddress on the connected
network with all ones in the host part. For instance if the
address of the ethernet interface is and the netmask
is then the broadcast address should be Having a broadcast address which is not on the
network to which the interface is connected kills things stone
The second potential problem relates to firewall rules: since the ISC
daemon in some configurations bypasses the kernel firewall rules
entirely, the ability to run the ISC daemon does not indicate
that the current configuration is OK for the dnsmasq daemon.
For the dnsmasq daemon to operate it's vital that UDP packets to
and from ports 67 and 68 and broadcast packets with source
address and destination address are not
dropped by iptables/ipchains.
Q: I'm running Debian, and my machines get an address fine with DHCP,
but their names are not appearing in the DNS.
A: By default, none of the DHCP clients send the host-name when asking
for a lease. For most of the clients, you can set the host-name to
send with the "hostname" keyword in /etc/network/interfaces. (See
"man interfaces" for details.) That doesn't work for dhclient, were
you have to add something like "send host-name daisy" to
/etc/dhclient.conf [Update: the lastest dhcpcd packages _do_ send
the hostname by default.
Q: I'm network booting my machines, and trying to give them static
DHCP-assigned addresses. The machine gets its correct address
whilst booting, but then the OS starts and it seems to get
allocated a different address.
A: What is happening is this: The boot process sends a DHCP
request and gets allocated the static address corresponding to its
MAC address. The boot loader does not send a client-id. Then the OS
starts and repeats the DHCP process, but it it does send a
client-id. Dnsmasq cannot assume that the two requests are from the
same machine (since the client ID's don't match) and even though
the MAC address has a static allocation, that address is still in
use by the first incarnation of the machine (the one from the boot,
without a client ID.) dnsmasq therefore has to give the machine a
dynamic address from its pool. There are three ways to solve this:
(1) persuade your DHCP client not to send a client ID, or (2) set up
the static assignment to the client ID, not the MAC address. The
default client-id will be 01:<MAC address>, so change the dhcp-host
line from "dhcp-host=11:22:33:44:55:66," to
"dhcp-host=id:01:11:22:33:44:55:66," or (3) tell dnsmasq to
ignore client IDs for a particular MAC address, like this:
Q: What network types are supported by the DHCP server?
A: Ethernet (and 802.11 wireless) are supported on all platforms. On
Linux all network types (including FireWire) are supported.
Q: What is this strange "bind-interface" option?
A: The DNS spec says that the reply to a DNS query must come from the
same address it was sent to. The traditional way to write an UDP
server to do this is to find all of the addresses belonging to the
machine (ie all the interfaces on the machine) and then create a
socket for each interface which is bound to the address of the
interface. Then when a packet is sent to address A, it is received
on the socket bound to address A and when the reply is also sent
via that socket, the source address is set to A by the kernel and
everything works. This is the how dnsmasq works when
"bind-interfaces" is set, with the obvious extension that is misses
out creating sockets for some interfaces depending on the
--interface, --address and --except-interface flags. The
disadvantage of this approach is that it breaks if interfaces don't
exist or are not configured when the daemon starts and does the
socket creation step. In a hotplug-aware world this is a real
The alternative approach is to have only one socket, which is bound
to the correct port and the wildcard IP address ( That
socket will receive _all_ packets sent to port 53, no matter what
destination address they have. This solves the problem of
interfaces which are created or reconfigured after daemon
start-up. To make this work is more complicated because of the
"reply source address" problem. When a UDP packet is sent by a
socket bound to its source address will be set to the
address of one of the machine's interfaces, but which one is not
determined and can vary depending on the OS being run. To get round
this it is neccessary to use a scary advanced API to determine the
address to which a query was sent, and force that to be the source
address in the reply. For IPv4 this stuff in non-portable and quite
often not even available (It's different between FreeBSD 5.x and
Linux, for instance, and FreeBSD 4.x, Linux 2.0.x and OpenBSD don't
have it at all.) Hence "bind-interfaces" has to always be available
as a fall back. For IPv6 the API is standard and universally
It could be argued that if the --interface or --address flags are
used then binding interfaces is more appropriate, but using
wildcard binding means that dnsmasq will quite happily start up
after being told to use interfaces which don't exist, but which are
created later. Wildcard binding breaks the scenario when dnsmasq is
listening on one interface and another server (most probably BIND)
is listening on another. It's not possible for BIND to bind to an
(address,port) pair when dnsmasq has bound (wildcard,port), hence
the ability to explicitly turn off wildcard binding.
Q: Why doesn't Kerberos work/why can't I get sensible answers to
queries for SRV records.
A: Probably because you have the "filterwin2k" option set. Note that
it was on by default in example configuration files included in
versions before 2.12, so you might have it set on without
Q: Can I get email notification when a new version of dnsmasq is
A: Yes, new releases of dnsmasq are always announced through, and they allow you to subcribe to email alerts when
new versions of particular projects are released. New releases are
also announced in the dnsmasq-discuss mailing list, subscribe at
Q: What does the dhcp-authoritative option do?
A: See - that's
for the ISC daemon, but the same applies to dnsmasq.
Q: Why does my Gentoo box pause for a minute before getting a new
A: Because when a Gentoo box shuts down, it releases its lease with
the server but remembers it on the client; this seems to be a
Gentoo-specific patch to dhcpcd. On restart it tries to renew
a lease which is long gone, as far as dnsmasq is concerned, and
dnsmasq ignores it until is times out and restarts the process.
To fix this, set the dhcp-authoritative flag in dnsmasq.
Q: My laptop has two network interfaces, a wired one and a wireless
one. I never use both interfaces at the same time, and I'd like the
same IP and configuration to be used irrespective of which
interface is in use. How can I do that?
A: By default, the identity of a machine is determined by using the
MAC address, which is associated with interface hardware. Once an
IP is bound to the MAC address of one interface, it cannot be
associated with another MAC address until after the DHCP lease
expires. The solution to this is to use a client-id as the machine
identity rather than the MAC address. If you arrange for the same
client-id to sent when either interface is in use, the DHCP server
will recognise the same machine, and use the same address. The
method for setting the client-id varies with DHCP client software,
dhcpcd uses the "-I" flag. Windows uses a registry setting,
From version 2.46, dnsmasq has a solution to this which doesn't
involve setting client-IDs. It's possible to put more than one MAC
address in a --dhcp-host configuration. This tells dnsmasq that it
should use the specified IP for any of the specified MAC addresses,
and furthermore it gives dnsmasq permission to sumarily abandon a
lease to one of the MAC addresses if another one comes along. Note
that this will work fine only as longer as only one interface is
up at any time. There is no way for dnsmasq to enforce this
constraint: if you configure multiple MAC addresses and violate
this rule, bad things will happen.
Q: Can dnsmasq do DHCP on IP-alias interfaces?
A: Yes, from version-2.21. The support is only available running under
Linux, on a kernel which provides the RT-netlink facility. All 2.4
and 2.6 kernels provide RT-netlink and it's an option in 2.2
If a physical interface has more than one IP address or aliases
with extra IP addresses, then any dhcp-ranges corresponding to
these addresses can be used for address allocation. So if an
interface has addresses and and there
are DHCP ranges and then both ranges would be used for host
connected to the physical interface. A more typical use might be to
have one of the address-ranges as static-only, and have known
hosts allocated addresses on that subnet using dhcp-host options,
while anonymous hosts go on the other.
Q: Dnsmasq sometimes logs "nameserver refused
to do a recursive query" and DNS stops working. What's going on?
A: Probably the nameserver is an authoritative nameserver for a
particular domain, but is not configured to answer general DNS
queries for an arbitrary domain. It is not suitable for use by
dnsmasq as an upstream server and should be removed from the
configuration. Note that if you have more than one upstream
nameserver configured dnsmasq will load-balance across them and
it may be some time before dnsmasq gets around to using a
particular nameserver. This means that a particular configuration
may work for sometime with a broken upstream nameserver
Q: Does the dnsmasq DHCP server probe addresses before allocating
them, as recommended in RFC2131?
A: Yes, dynmaically allocated IP addresses are checked by sending an
ICMP echo request (ping). If a reply is received, then dnsmasq
assumes that the address is in use, and attempts to allocate an
different address. The wait for a reply is between two and three
seconds. Because the DHCP server is not re-entrant, it cannot serve
other DHCP requests during this time. To avoid dropping requests,
the address probe may be skipped when dnsmasq is under heavy load.
Q: I'm using dnsmasq on a machine with the Firestarter firewall, and
DHCP doesn't work. What's the problem?
A: This a variant on the iptables problem. Explicit details on how to
proceed can be found at
Q: I'm using dnsmasq on a machine with the shorewall firewall, and
DHCP doesn't work. What's the problem?
A: This a variant on the iptables problem. Explicit details on how to
proceed can be found at
Q: Dnsmasq fails to start up with a message about capabilities.
Why did that happen and what can do to fix it?
A: Change your kernel configuration: either deselect CONFIG_SECURITY
_or_ select CONFIG_SECURITY_CAPABILITIES. Alternatively, you can
remove the need to set capabilities by running dnsmasq as root.
Q: Where can I get .rpms Suitable for Suse?
A: Dnsmasq is in Suse itself, and the latest releases are also
available at
Q: Can I run dnsmasq in a Linux vserver?
A: Yes, as a DNS server, dnsmasq will just work in a vserver.
To use dnsmasq's DHCP function you need to give the vserver
extra system capabilities. Please note that doing so will lesser
the overall security of your system. The capabilities
required are NET_ADMIN and NET_RAW. NET_ADMIN is essential, NET_RAW
is required to do an ICMP "ping" check on newly allocated
addresses. If you don't need this check, you can disable it with
--no-ping and omit the NET_RAW capability.
Adding the capabilities is done by adding them, one per line, to
either /etc/vservers/<vservername>/ccapabilities for a 2.4 kernel or
/etc/vservers/<vservername>/bcapabilities for a 2.6 kernel (please
refer to the vserver documentation for more information).
Q: What's the problem with syslog and dnsmasq?
A: In almost all cases: none. If you have the normal arrangement with
local daemons logging to a local syslog, which then writes to disk,
then there's never a problem. If you use network logging, then
there's a potential problem with deadlock: the syslog daemon will
do DNS lookups so that it can log the source of log messages,
these lookups will (depending on exact configuration) go through
dnsmasq, which also sends log messages. With bad timing, you can
arrive at a situation where syslog is waiting for dnsmasq, and
dnsmasq is waiting for syslog; they will both wait forever. This
problem is fixed from dnsmasq-2.39, which introduces asynchronous
logging: dnsmasq no longer waits for syslog and the deadlock is
broken. There is a remaining problem in 2.39, where "log-queries"
is in use. In this case most DNS queries generate two log lines, if
these go to a syslog which is doing a DNS lookup for each log line,
then those queries will in turn generate two more log lines, and a
chain reaction runaway will occur. To avoid this, use syslog-ng
and turn on syslog-ng's dns-cache function.