Using Multicast DNS in small networks21 May 2015
Maintaining static DNS zones in an environment where new machines are often connected/disconnected/installed/removed is rather troublesome. Most home networks can be qualified as such environments. How to manage resolving of host names in a less annoying way? One easy solution is implementing Multicast DNS (also known as mDNS).
My network consists of a mixture of Linux, OS X, iOS and NetBSD devices.
Typical UNIX implementation of mDNS consists of two components:
- Responder - which is used to reply the requests sent by other machines and expose information about host name and services to the network.
- Resolver - which is used to answer queries made by the applications running on a local machine (akin to normal DNS resolver).
In some operating systems these two are completely separate and can work independent (i.e. one can have a responder but no resolver configured, or the other way).
Multicast DNS uses a special domain called “local”. Host names are automatically registered in this domain.
Configuring mDNS in OS X and iOS
No action is required. Multicast DNS is supported out of the box. On OS X the host name registered in mDNS is always the name set in
System Preferences -> Sharing -> Computer Name.
You can confirm it is working by pinging this name in
If the host name contains spaces (which is never a good thing), substitute them with
Configuring mDNS in Linux
The responder is implemented by Avahi service, which is already a part of all recent distributions. The resolver is implemented as additional nsswitch module
mdns, which unfortunately is not included in RHEL/CentOS. Without this module only applications that use Avahi API are able to resolve mDNS host names. However,
mdns module can be installed from EPEL repository (so be sure to enable it first). The package is called
This example is specific to RHEL/CentOS 7, but most Linux distributions use the same components.
Before starting be sure that your machine has locally configured host name:
If it returns
n/a, set the hostname to your FQDN:
Next, install the necessary packages:
Next, enable the
mdns module in
/etc/nsswitch.conf by modifying the
hosts: files mdns_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns mdns
If you’re using IPv4 only, then use
That’s it! You should be able to resolve your own name in
local domain now:
Configuring mDNS in NetBSD
Check if your host name is correctly configured:
If not, then be sure to set it:
All the necessary components are included in base system installation since NetBSD 6.0. The
mdnsd service is the same mDNSResponder implementation as used on OS X and iOS.
Additional nsswitch module also needs to be enabled, to support resolving host names using mDNS. Edit the
hosts: line in
/etc/nsswitch.conf to include mdnsd module:
hosts: files dns mdnsd
You’re done. Testing can be done with the
getent command just as on Linux:
Your firewall configuration must allow incoming traffic on UDP port 5353. Remember that if you use both IPv4 and IPv6, this port needs to be enabled for both IP protocols. For IPv4, mDNS uses multicast address
184.108.40.206, for IPv6