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BIND Configuration File Guide -- options Statement


options {
  [ version version_string; ]
  [ directory path_name; ]
  [ named-xfer path_name; ]
  [ dump-file path_name; ]
  [ memstatistics-file path_name; ]
  [ pid-file path_name; ]
  [ statistics-file path_name; ]
  [ auth-nxdomain yes_or_no; ]
  [ deallocate-on-exit yes_or_no; ]
  [ dialup yes_or_no; ]
  [ fake-iquery yes_or_no; ]
  [ fetch-glue yes_or_no; ]
  [ has-old-clients yes_or_no; ]
  [ host-statistics yes_or_no; ]
  [ multiple-cnames yes_or_no; ]
  [ notify yes_or_no; ]
  [ recursion yes_or_no; ]
  [ rfc2308-type1 yes_or_no; ]
  [ use-id-pool yes_or_no; ]
  [ treat-cr-as-space yes_or_no; ]
  [ also-notify { ip_addr; [ ip_addr; ... ] };
  [ forward ( only | first ); ]
  [ forwarders { [ in_addr ; [ in_addr ; ... ] ] }; ]
  [ check-names ( master | slave | response ) ( warn | fail | ignore); ]
  [ allow-query { address_match_list }; ]
  [ allow-transfer { address_match_list }; ]
  [ allow-recursion { address_match_list }; ]
  [ blackhole { address_match_list }; ]
  [ listen-on [ port ip_port ] { address_match_list }; ]
  [ query-source [ address ( ip_addr | * ) ] [ port ( ip_port | * ) ] ; ]
  [ lame-ttl number; ]
  [ max-transfer-time-in number; ]
  [ max-ncache-ttl number; ]
  [ min-roots number; ]
  [ serial-queries number; ]
  [ transfer-format ( one-answer | many-answers ); ]
  [ transfers-in  number; ]
  [ transfers-out number; ]
  [ transfers-per-ns number; ]
  [ transfer-source ip_addr; ]
  [ maintain-ixfr-base yes_or_no; ]
  [ max-ixfr-log-size number; ]
  [ coresize size_spec ; ]
  [ datasize size_spec ; ]
  [ files size_spec ; ]
  [ stacksize size_spec ; ]
  [ cleaning-interval number; ]
  [ heartbeat-interval number; ]
  [ interface-interval number; ]
  [ statistics-interval number; ]
  [ topology { address_match_list }; ]
  [ sortlist { address_match_list }; ]
  [ rrset-order { order_spec ; [ order_spec ; ... ] ] }; 

Definition and Usage

The options statement sets up global options to be used by BIND. This statement may appear at only once in a configuration file; if more than one occurrence is found, the first occurrence determines the actual options used, and a warning will be generated. If there is no options statement, an options block with each option set to its default will be used.


The version the server should report via the ndc command or via a query of name version.bind in class chaos. The default is the real version number of the server, but some server operators prefer the string "surely you must be joking".
The working directory of the server. Any non-absolute pathnames in the configuration file will be taken as relative to this directory. The default location for most server output files (e.g. "named.run") is this directory. If a directory is not specified, the working directory defaults to ".", the directory from which the server was started. The directory specified should be an absolute path.
The pathname to the named-xfer program that the server uses for inbound zone transfers. If not specified, the default is system dependent (e.g. "/usr/sbin/named-xfer").
The pathname of the file the server dumps the database to when it receives SIGINT signal (ndc dumpdb). If not specified, the default is "named_dump.db".
The pathname of the file the server writes memory usage statistics to, on exit, if deallocate-on-exit is yes. If not specified, the default is "named.memstats".
The pathname of the file the server writes its process ID in. If not specified, the default is operating system dependent, but is usually "/var/run/named.pid" or "/etc/named.pid". The pid-file is used by programs like "ndc" that want to send signals to the running nameserver.
The pathname of the file the server appends statistics to when it receives SIGILL signal (ndc stats). If not specified, the default is "named.stats".

Boolean Options

If yes, the AA bit is always set on NXDOMAIN responses, even if the server is not actually authoritative. The default is yes. Do not turn off auth-nxdomain unless you are sure you know what you are doing, as some older software won't like it.
If yes, the server will painstakingly deallocate every object it it allocated, when it exits, and then write a memory usage report to the memstatistics-file. The default is no, because it is faster to let the operating system clean up. deallocate-on-exit is handy for detecting memory leaks.
If yes, the server treats all zones as if they are doing zone transfers across a dial on demand dialup link, which can be brought up by traffic originating from this server. This has different effects according to zone type and concentrates the zone maintenance so that it all happens in a short interval, once every heartbeat-interval and hopefully during the one call. It also suppresses some of the normal zone maintainance traffic. The default is no. The dialup option may also be specified in the zone statement, in which case it overrides the options dialup statement.

If the zone is a master zone, the server will send out NOTIFY request to all the slaves. This will trigger the "zone up to date checking" in the slave (providing it supports NOTIFY), allowing the slave to verify the zone while the call us up.

If the zone is a slave or stub zone, the server will suppress the regular "zone up to date" queries and only perform them when the heartbeat-interval expires.

If yes, the server will simulate the obsolete DNS query type IQUERY. The default is no.
If yes (the default), the server will fetch "glue" resource records it doesn't have when constructing the additional data section of a response. fetch-glue no can be used in conjunction with recursion no to prevent the server's cache from growing or becoming corrupted (at the cost of requiring more work from the client).
Setting the option to yes is equivalent to setting the follow three options auth-nxdomain yes;, maintain-ixfr-base yes; and rfc2308-type1 no;. The use of has-old-clients with auth-nxdomain, maintain-ixfr-base and rfc2308-type1 is order dependant.
If yes, statistics are kept for every host that the the nameserver interacts with. The default is no. Note: turning on host-statistics can consume huge amounts of memory.
If yes, a transaction log is kept for Incremental Zone Transfer. The default is no.
If yes, multiple CNAME resource records will be allowed for a domain name. The default is no. Allowing multiple CNAME records is against standards and is not recommended. Multiple CNAME support is available because previous versions of BIND allowed multiple CNAME records, and these records have been used for load balancing by a number of sites.
If yes (the default), DNS NOTIFY messages are sent when a zone the server is authoritative for changes. The use of NOTIFY speeds convergence between the master and its slaves. Slave servers that receive a NOTIFY message, and understand it, will contact the master server for the zone to see if they need to do a zone transfer. If they do, they will initiate it immediately. The notify option may also be specified in the zone statement, in which case it overrides the options notify statement.
If yes, and a DNS query requests recursion, the server will attempt to do all the work required to answer the query. If recursion is not on, the server will return a referral to the client if it doesn't know the answer. The default is yes. See also fetch-glue above.
If yes, the server will send NS records along with the SOA record for negative answers. You need to set this to no if you have an old BIND server using you as a forwarder that does not understand negative answers which contain both SOA and NS records or you have an old version of sendmail. The correct fix is to upgrade the broken server or sendmail. The default is no.
If yes, the server will keep track of its own outstanding query ID's to avoid duplication and increase randomness. This will result in 128KB more memory being consumed by the server. The default is no.
If yes, the server will treat '\r' characters the same way it treats a ' ' or '\t'. This may be necessary when loading zone files on a UNIX system that were generated on an NT or DOS machine. The default is no.



Defines a global list of IP addresses that also get sent NOTIFY messages whenever a fresh copy of the zone is loaded. This helps to ensure that copies of the zones will quickly converge on ``stealth'' servers. If an also-notify list is given in a zone statement, it will override the options also-notify statement. When a zone notify statement is set to no, the IP addresses in the global also-notify list will not get sent NOTIFY messages for that zone. The default is the empty list (no global notification list).


The forwarding facility can be used to create a large site-wide cache on a few servers, reducing traffic over links to external nameservers. It can also be used to allow queries by servers that do not have direct access to the Internet, but wish to look up exterior names anyway. Forwarding occurs only on those queries for which the server is not authoritative and does not have the answer in its cache.

This option is only meaningful if the forwarders list is not empty. A value of first, the default, causes the server to query the forwarders first, and if that doesn't answer the question the server will then look for the answer itself. If only is specified, the server will only query the forwarders.
Specifies the IP addresses to be used for forwarding. The default is the empty list (no forwarding).

Forwarding can also be configured on a per-zone basis, allowing for the global forwarding options to be overridden in a variety of ways. You can set particular zones to use different forwarders, or have different forward only/first behavior, or to not forward at all. See the zone statement for more information.

Future versions of BIND 8 will provide a more powerful forwarding system. The syntax described above will continue to be supported.

Name Checking

The server can check domain names based upon their expected client contexts. For example, a domain name used as a hostname can be checked for compliance with the RFCs defining valid hostnames.

Three checking methods are available:

No checking is done.
Names are checked against their expected client contexts. Invalid names are logged, but processing continues normally.
Names are checked against their expected client contexts. Invalid names are logged, and the offending data is rejected.

The server can check names three areas: master zone files, slave zone files, and in responses to queries the server has initiated. If check-names response fail has been specified, and answering the client's question would require sending an invalid name to the client, the server will send a REFUSED response code to the client.

The defaults are:

    check-names master fail;
    check-names slave warn;
    check-names response ignore;

check-names may also be specified in the zone statement, in which case it overrides the options check-names statement. When used in a zone statement, the area is not specified (because it can be deduced from the zone type).

Access Control

Access to the server can be restricted based on the IP address of the requesting system. See address_match_list for details on how to specify IP address lists.

Specifies which hosts are allowed to ask ordinary questions. allow-query may also be specified in the zone statement, in which case it overrides the options allow-query statement. If not specified, the default is to allow queries from all hosts.
Specifies which hosts are allowed to receive zone transfers from the server. allow-transfer may also be specified in the zone statement, in which case it overrides the options allow-transfer statement. If not specified, the default is to allow transfers from all hosts.
Specifies which hosts are allowed to make recursive queries through this server. If not specified, the default is to allow recursive queries from all hosts.
Specifies a list of addresses that the server will not accept queries from or use to resolve a query. Queries from these addresses will not be responded to.


The interfaces and ports that the server will answer queries from may be specified using the listen-on option. listen-on takes an optional port, and an address_match_list. The server will listen on all interfaces allowed by the address match list. If a port is not specified, port 53 will be used.

Multiple listen-on statements are allowed. For example,

    listen-on {; };
    listen-on port 1234 { !; 1.2/16; };
will enable the nameserver on port 53 for the IP address, and on port 1234 of an address on the machine in net 1.2 that is not

If no listen-on is specified, the server will listen on port 53 on all interfaces.

Query Address

If the server doesn't know the answer to a question, it will query other nameservers. query-source specifies the address and port used for such queries. If address is * or is omitted, a wildcard IP address (INADDR_ANY) will be used. If port is * or is omitted, a random unprivileged port will be used. The default is

    query-source address * port *;

Note: query-source currently applies only to UDP queries; TCP queries always use a wildcard IP address and a random unprivileged port.

Zone Transfers

Inbound zone transfers (named-xfer processes) running longer than this many minutes will be terminated. The default is 120 minutes (2 hours).
The server supports two zone transfer methods. one-answer uses one DNS message per resource record transferred. many-answers packs as many resource records as possible into a message. many-answers is more efficient, but is only known to be understood by BIND 8.1+ and patched versions of BIND 4.9.5. The default is one-answer. transfer-format may be overridden on a per-server basis by using the server statement.
The maximum number of inbound zone transfers that can be running concurrently. The default value is 10. Increasing transfers-in may speed up the convergence of slave zones, but it also may increase the load on the local system.
This option will be used in the future to limit the number of concurrent outbound zone transfers. It is checked for syntax, but is otherwise ignored.
The maximum number of inbound zone transfers (named-xfer processes) that can be concurrently transferring from a given remote nameserver. The default value is 2. Increasing transfers-per-ns may speed up the convergence of slave zones, but it also may increase the load on the remote nameserver. transfers-per-ns may be overridden on a per-server basis by using the transfers phrase of the server statement.
transfer-source determines which local address will be bound to the TCP connection used to fetch all zones transferred inbound by the server. If not set, it defaults to a system controlled value which will usually be the address of the interface ``closest to'' the remote end. This address must appear in the remote end's allow-transfer option for the zone being transferred, if one is specified. This statement sets the transfer-source for all zones, but can be overridden on a per-zone basis by including a transfer-source statement within the zone block in the configuration file.
Slave servers will periodically query master servers to find out if zone serial numbers have changed. Each such query uses a minute amount of the slave server's network bandwidth, but more importantly each query uses a small amount of memory in the slave server while waiting for the master server to respond. The serial-queries option sets the maximum number of concurrent serial-number queries allowed to be outstanding at any given time. The default is four (4). Note: If a server loads a large (tens or hundreds of thousands) number of slave zones, this limit should be raised to the high hundreds or low thousands -- otherwise the slave server may never actually become aware of zone changes in the master servers. Beware, though, that setting this limit arbitrarily high can spend a considerable amount of your slave server's network, CPU, and memory resources. As with all tunable limits, this one should be changed gently and monitored for its effects.

Resource Limits

The server's usage of many system resources can be limited. Some operating systems don't support some of the limits. On such systems, a warning will be issued if the unsupported limit is used. Some operating systems don't support limiting resources, and on these systems a cannot set resource limits on this system message will be logged.

Scaled values are allowed when specifying resource limits. For example, 1G can be used instead of 1073741824 to specify a limit of one gigabyte. unlimited requests unlimited use, or the maximum available amount. default uses the limit that was in force when the server was started. See size_spec for more details.

The maximum size of a core dump. The default is default.
The maximum amount of data memory the server may use. The default is default.
The maximum number of files the server may have open concurrently. The default is unlimited. Note: on some operating systems the server cannot set an unlimited value and cannot determine the maximum number of open files the kernel can support. On such systems, choosing unlimited will cause the server to use the larger of the rlim_max for RLIMIT_NOFILE and the value returned by sysconf(_SC_OPEN_MAX). If the actual kernel limit is larger than this value, use limit files to specify the limit explicitly.
The max-ixfr-log-size will be used in a future release of the server to limit the size of the transaction log kept for Incremental Zone Transfer.
The maximum amount of stack memory the server may use. The default is default.

Periodic Task Intervals

The server will remove expired resource records from the cache every cleaning-interval minutes. The default is 60 minutes. If set to 0, no periodic cleaning will occur.
The server will perform zone maintenance tasks for all zones marked dialup yes whenever this interval expires. The default is 60 minutes. Reasonable values are up to 1 day (1440 minutes). If set to 0, no zone maintenance for these zones will occur.
The server will scan the network interface list every interface-interval minutes. The default is 60 minutes. If set to 0, interface scanning will only occur when the configuration file is loaded. After the scan, listeners will be started on any new interfaces (provided they are allowed by the listen-on configuration). Listeners on interfaces that have gone away will be cleaned up.
Nameserver statistics will be logged every statistics-interval minutes. The default is 60. If set to 0, no statistics will be logged.


All other things being equal, when the server chooses a nameserver to query from a list of nameservers, it prefers the one that is topologically closest to itself. The topology statement takes an address_match_list and interprets it in a special way. Each top-level list element is assigned a distance. Non-negated elements get a distance based on their position in the list, where the closer the match is to the start of the list, the shorter the distance is between it and the server. A negated match will be assigned the maximum distance from the server. If there is no match, the address will get a distance which is further than any non-negated list element, and closer than any negated element. For example,

    topology {
        { 1.2/16; 3/8; };

will prefer servers on network 10 the most, followed by hosts on network (netmask and network 3, with the exception of hosts on network 1.2.3 (netmask, which is preferred least of all.

The default topology is

    topology { localhost; localnets; };

Resource Record sorting

When returning multiple RRs, the nameserver will normally return them in Round Robin, i.e. after each request, the first RR is put to the end of the list. As the order of RRs is not defined, this should not cause any problems.

The client resolver code should re-arrange the RRs as appropriate, i.e. using any addresses on the local net in preference to other addresses. However, not all resolvers can do this, or are not correctly configured.

When a client is using a local server, the sorting can be performed in the server, based on the client's address. This only requires configuring the nameservers, not all the clients.

The sortlist statement takes an address match list and interprets it even more specially than the topology statement does.

Each top level statement in the sortlist must itself be an explicit address match list with one or two elements. The first element (which may be an IP address, an IP prefix, an ACL name or nested address match list) of each top level list is checked against the source address of the query until a match is found.

Once the source address of the query has been matched, if the top level statement contains only one element, the actual primitive element that matched the source address is used to select the address in the response to move to the beginning of the response. If the statement is a list of two elements, the second element is treated like the address match list in a topology statement. Each top level element is assigned a distance and the address in the response with the minimum distance is moved to the beginning of the response.

In the following example, any queries received from any of the addresses of the host itself will get responses preferring addresses on any of the locally connected networks. Next most preferred are addresses on the 192.168.1/24 network, and after that either the 192.168.2/24 or 192.168.3/24 network with no preference shown between these two networks. Queries received from a host on the 192.168.1/24 network will prefer other addresses on that network to the 192.168.2/24 and 192.168.3/24 networks. Queries received from a host on the 192.168.4/24 or the 192.168.5/24 network will only prefer other addresses on their directly connected networks.

sortlist {
           { localhost;         // IF   the local host
             { localnets;       // THEN first fit on the
               192.168.1/24;    //      following nets
               { 192,168.2/24; 192.168.3/24; }; }; };
           { 192.168.1/24;      // IF   on class C 192.168.1
             { 192.168.1/24;    // THEN use .1, or .2 or .3
               { 192.168.2/24; 192.168.3/24; }; }; };
           { 192.168.2/24;      // IF   on class C 192.168.2
             { 192.168.2/24;    // THEN use .2, or .1 or .3
               { 192.168.1/24; 192.168.3/24; }; }; };
           { 192.168.3/24;      // IF   on class C 192.168.3
             { 192.168.3/24;    // THEN use .3, or .1 or .2
               { 192.168.1/24; 192.168.2/24; }; }; };
           { { 192.168.4/24; 192.168.5/24; }; // if .4 or .5, prefer that net
The following example will give reasonable behaviour for the local host and hosts on directly connected networks. It is similar to the behavior of the address sort in BIND 4.9.x. Responses sent to queries from the local host will favor any of the directly connected networks. Responses sent to queries from any other hosts on a directly connected network will prefer addresses on that same network. Responses to other queries will not be sorted.
sortlist {
            { localhost; localnets; };
            { localnets; };

RRset Ordering

When multiple records are returned in an answer it may be useful to configure the order the records are placed into the response. For example the records for a zone might be configured to always be returned in the order they are defined in the zone file. Or perhaps a random shuffle of the records as they are returned is wanted. The rrset-order statement permits configuration of the ordering made of the records in a multiple record response. The default, if no ordering is defined, is a cyclic ordering (round robin).

An order_spec is defined as follows:

  [ class class_name ][ type type_name ][ name "FQDN" ] order ordering

If no class is specified, the default is ANY. If no type is specified, the default is ANY. If no name is specified, the default is "*".

The legal values for ordering are:

Records are returned in the order they are defined in the zone file.
Records are returned in some random order.
Records are returned in a round-robin order.

For example:

    rrset-order {
	class IN type A name "rc.vix.com" order random;
        order cyclic;

will cause any responses for type A records in class IN that have "rc.vix.com" as a suffix, to always be returned in random order. All other records are returned in cyclic order.

If multiple rrset-order statements appear, they are not combined--the last one applies.

If no rrset-order statement is specified, a default one of:

    rrset-order { class ANY type ANY name "*" order cyclic ; };

is used.


Sets the number of seconds to cache a lame server indication. 0 disables caching. Default is 600 (10 minutes). Maximum value is 1800 (30 minutes).
To reduce network traffic and increase performance the server stores negative answers. max-ncache-ttl is used to set a maximum retention time for these answers in the server is seconds. The default max-ncache-ttl is 10800 seconds (3 hours). max-ncache-ttl cannot exceed the maximum retention time for ordinary (positive) answers (7 days) and will be silently truncated to 7 days if set to a value which is greater that 7 days.
The minimum number of root servers that is required for a request for the root servers to be accepted. Default 2.

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Last Updated: $Id: options.html,v 1.36 1999/10/13 20:57:05 cyarnell Exp $