Edumacate me on DNS stuff

EchoEcho ski-bapba-dapModerator mod
So I'm trying to set up Google Apps stuff for my domain. I have the Apps part set up, but now I need to engage in DNS voodoo to get mail delivered to the right place.

And I'm pretty clueless about this black DNS magic.

My domain is registered at Gandi, and I'm hosted on a SmartMachine account with Joyent - it's an old migrated TextDrive account.

At Gandi, I've set my DNS for the domain to ns1.textdrive.com and ns2.textdrive.com, and that looks like the limit to what I can actually do with DNS settings there.

I've been looking at separate DNS hosts so I can keep it all managed in one place, and so far PointHQ seems good, and even has an automatic configuration tool for Google Apps, adding the appropriate MX records for Gmail.

But I still need to get the A records in there for the web site, and a CNAME for mail.example.com for the Gmail interface (though that's optional).

Is it as simple as just adding an A record for "example.net." with a TTL and point it to the IP in its current zone file?

Echo on


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    MrDelishMrDelish Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I'm not sure about free DNS hosts but you typically have a default A record that you edit to point where you want it to go. If the host you choose to go with doesn't show any records for "example.net." then yeah you just add the A record. Otherwise, edit the existing one. Also, make sure it has a CNAME for "www.example.net." to "example.net."

    and congratulations on getting example.net as a domain. I'm sure it was a hard one to nab :P

    MrDelish on
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    ASimPersonASimPerson Cold... and hard.Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I currently use http://www.zoneedit.com. I've been using it for years (like, probably 10 years now) but I dislike their new interface, so I'm thinking about switching.

    But regardless of provider, it sounds like you have the following things in play:
    1) Your actual website (example.net)
    2) Google apps (which need to be a subdomain, like apps.example.net)
    3) Your e-mail

    example.net is likely an A record, as is www.example.net. The Google apps documentation will likely tell you the CNAME record you need for mail/apps. On my domain mail is a CNAME for ghs.google.com.

    Your MX records should remain the same.

    ASimPerson on
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    IceBurnerIceBurner It's cold and there are penguins.Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I just happened to notice this thread and be familiar with DNS.

    An explanation from the VERY beginning:
    Every registered domain name is using some Domain Name System servers, or "nameservers". Nameservers are tasked with pointing visitors to your domain where they need to go.

    You can change which nameservers are being used on your domain through your control panel at wherever you got the name from. When in doubt, do a whois lookup at the Domain Registry and contact the Registrar of Record listed. You may not have gotten your domain name directly from the Registrar, but they should be able to point you in the right direction.

    If you don't know what the Registry for your domain name is, enter the TLD (.com, .net, .org, .uk, etc.) into Wikipedia and they always have a link to the Registry's website as part of their info sidebar.

    When setting new nameservers, you actually want to check what the Registry for your domain type has to say. What the Registry says, goes. About 5-10 minutes after any DNS change, their whois tool should report your new nameservers as the ones in user by your domain name. If they don't match your settings, there's a problem.

    What the heck is DNS?
    The job of DNS is to convert human-friendly host names into machine-friendly addresses. This is done with a simple 3-column table of host names, address types, and addresses. The collective set of host name and addresses for a single domain is sometimes called the "Zone File", although that term is really, really old. Usually these are now called your "host records".

    Every host is defined as, at minimum and most commonly, a Host Name + Address Type + Address.
    So, let's say www.example.com directs people to a web server with the IP No matter whose interface you're looking at, the host record will have the below data in it:
    Host name: www
    Address Type: A (Address/IPv4 Address)

    Standard host names:
    / blank / none - This is your "naked" domain name, the name with no sub-domain (prefix). This would be google.com, penny-arcade.com, example.com, etc. Represented by a blank hostname or sometimes symbolized with the at symbol "@ or the word none". This is the one and only host name on a domain name which is NOT a sub-domain.

    www - This is actually a sub-domain and not even necessary, but it's so ubiquitous it's considered standard today.

    * / all others / catch-all - A very special host name. Its function is "I direct traffic for every single hostname that is NOT currently in your list." So if you have not defined a hostname of "banana.example.com" and someone enters banana.example.com in their browser, it's handled by the catch-all record.

    Note: If you plan to send email with a domain name, it is HIGHLY recommended that your main domain and catch-all have an IP address to enable reverse DNS lookups and compatibility with certain cranky email providers like AOL. Otherwise you may find you are not getting some email, and your sent email may tossed by servers without being delivered. Steam, for example, will not send a Steam Account Validation email to any address where it cannot complete a reverse DNS lookup.

    Common Address Types / Record Types
    Wikipedia pretty much has it covered, but I'll elaborate.
    A / Address - This is the appropriate type when the address is an IPv4 address, an IP in the format to All the numerals are decimal numbers.

    AAAA / Address - This is the appropriate type when the address is an IPv6 address, an IP in the format xxxx.xxxx.xxxx.xxxx.xxxx.xxxx.xxxx.xxxx. The "numerals" in an IPv6 are Hexadecimal, so 0-9 and a-f can appear. It's a bitch, but we're all going to have to be using these, and relatively soon because there is literally so much stuff connected to the Internet today, that we have already allocated the last unoccupied block of IPv4 addresses.

    CNAME - This makes your host an alias for another name; in other words "another name for the same thing". The address you enter is expressed with a trailing period. An example would be the host names "mail" or "calendar" being a CNAME for "ghs.google.com.", which is the name Google uses for all Google-Apps related services.

    MX / Mail eXchange - MX records are almost identical to CNAMEs except they are exclusively for directing email, and they have an extra value: Priority/Preference. When you have multiple mail servers working together to provide redundancy, Priority allows you to designate the order in which a computer attempting to send you email tries each of the servers. Priority is followed in order from the lowest number to the highest.

    TXT / Text - Was originally created to allow human-readable comments in the DNS, however these days it's used to list specialized machine-readable codes for various types of authentication. You'll pretty much only use this when explicitly told to do so, such as when Google Apps asks you to verify your domain ownership.

    SPF - "Sender Policy Framework". This is a specialized record with the purpose of defining what hosts/IP's/servers are explicitly authorized to send email for a domain. It is recommended to have one if you will be using email with this domain, and this handy wizard will help you create it. If your DNS provider doesn't support the SPF type, you can actually use a TXT record. The SPF record type grew out of using TXT for this same purpose, and they still have exactly the same format.

    Hope that was helpful. If you have any specific questions left, ask away.

    IceBurner on
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