Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

DNS is an integral service to most modern networks. The Domain Name System, or DNS is comprised of hierarchical and decentralized Domain Name Servers, or DNS Servers. This is how we connect to computers and the websites that reside on computers by their names, rather than having to memorize the IP addresses of every single computer out there. So you get to type and come to my website instead of typing the IP address. Or more likely,, but just because my website is older, I’m not mad about that. No really…

So you have a macOS Server and you need to take your DNS records out of it and move them to another solution. Luckily, DNS on any operating system is one of the easiest to manage. So let’s start by dumping all of our DNS records:

/Applications/ list

    directory: /Library/Server/named
    allow-transfer: none 
                    allow-transfer: none 
                    allow-update: none 
                Resource Recs:
                Resource Recs:
                    no resource recs
                    allow-update: none 
                Resource Recs:
                    allow-transfer: none 
                    allow-update: none 
                Resource Recs:

Now that we have our records, let’s think of how to use them in the new server. In the above example, we list as a zone. And in that zone we have an A record for and a CNAME for that points to – but we don’t know where resolves to. Each of those domains has a corresponding file that starts with db. followed by the name of the domain in the /Library/Server/named directory. So we can cat the file as follows:

cat /Library/Server/named/       10800 IN SOA (
     10800 IN NS
     10800 IN MX 0       10800 IN A       10800 IN CNAME

Now we know the IP address that each record points to and can start building them out in other systems. If you only have 5-20 records, this is pretty quick and easy. If you have hundreds, then you’re in luck, as those db files per domain are portable between hosts. Some of the settings to look out for from macOS Server include:
  • Primary Zone: The DNS “Domain”. For example, would likely have a primary zone of
  • Machine Record: An A record for a computer, or a record that tells DNS to resolve whatever name is indicated in the “machine” record to an IP address, whether the IP address is reachable or not.
  • Name Server: NS record, indicates the authoritative DNS server for each zone. If you only have one DNS server then this should be the server itself.
  • Reverse Zone: Zone that maps each name that IP addresses within the zone answer with. Reverse Zones are comprised of Reverse Mappings and each octal change in an IP scheme that has records mapped represents a new Reverse Zone.
  • Reverse Mapping: PTR record, or a record that indicates the name that should respond for a given IP address. These are automatically created for the first IP address listed in a Machine Record.
  • Alias Record: A CNAME, or a name that points to another name.
  • Service Record: Records that can hold special types of data that describe where to look for services for a given zone. For example, iCal can leverage service records so that users can just type the username and password during the setup process.
  • Mail Exchanger Record (aka MX record): Mail Exchanger, points to the IP address of the mail server for a given domain (aka Primary or Secondary Zone).
  • Secondary Zone: A read only copy of a zone that is copied from the server where it’s a Primary Zone when created and routinely through what is known as a Zone Transfer.
The settings for the domains are as follows:
  • allow-transfer Takes one or more address match list entry. Address match list entries consist of any of these forms: IP addresses, Subnets or Keywords.
  • allow-recursion Takes one or more address match list entry.
  • allow-update Takes one or more address match list entry.
  • allow-query Takes one or more address match list entry.
  • allow-query-cache Takes one or more address match list entry.
  • forwarders Takes one or more IP addresses, e.g.
  • directory Takes a directory path
  • tkey-gssapi-credential Takes a kerberos service principal
  • tkey-domain Takes a kerberos realm
  • update-policy Takes one complete update-policy entry where you can grant or deny various matched objects and specify the dentity of the user/machine that is allowed/disallowed to update.. You can also identify match-type (Type of match to be used in evaulating the entry) and match-name (Name used to match) as well as rr-types (Resource record types that can be updated)
Now, let’s get to setting up the new server. We’ll open the Synology and then click on Package Center. Then we’ll click All in the sidebar and search for DNS, as you can see below.

Click Install and the service will be installed on your NAS. Once installed, use the menu item in the upper left corner of the screen to bring up DNS Manager. Here, you can create your first zone. We’ll recreate To get started, click on Create and then Master Zone.

At the Master Zone screen, select Forward Zone if you’re creating a zone with a name or Reverse Zone if you’re creating a zone for IP addresses to resolve back to names (or PTR records). Since is a name, we’ll select Forward Zone and then enter in the “Domain name” field. Enter the IP address of the NAS in the “Master DNS server” field and leave the serial format as-is unless you have a good reason not to.

There are some options to secure connectivity to the service as well: 
  • Limit zone transfer: Restrict this option only to slave servers for each zone.
  • Limit source IP service: Restrict this option only to hosts that should be able to lookup records for the zone (which is usually everyone so this isn’t often used).
  • Enable slave zone notification: Identify all the slave servers so they get a notification about changes to zone files and can update their files based on those on the server.
  • Limit zone update: Only specify other servers that are allowed to update the zone files on your server.
Click OK when you’ve configured the zone as you’d like.

Double-click the zone to load a list of records and create new ones. 

Click Create to see a list of record types:

Record types include the following:
  • A Type: Resolve a name to an IPv4 address
  • AAAA Type: Resolve a name to an IPv6 address
  • CNAME: Resolve a name to a name
  • MX: Define the mail server for a domain
  • NS: Define DNS servers for a domain
  • SPF: Define what mail servers are allowed to send mail from a domain
  • SRV: Service records (e.g. the Active Directory or Exchange server for a domain)
  • TXT: Text records
  • CAA: Define the Certificate Authorities (CAs) for a domain
Click A Type to create that record.

At the record screen, provide the hostname, along with the IP address that the name should resolve to. Notice that the TTL is a number of seconds. This is how many seconds before another DNS server expires their record. So when they cache them, they aren’t looking the records up against your server every time a client needs to resolve the address. I like the number provided, but when I’m about to move a service I’ll usually come back and reduce that a few days before the move. The nice thing about a high number of seconds before the next refresh though, is it can save on your bandwidth and on the bandwidth of the servers looking to yours to refresh their records. Once you’ve configured the record, click OK.

Click on Create and then CNAME. Enter the name that you’re pointing to another record (in this case CNAMEtest) in the Name: field and then the name that it’s pointing to (in this case in the Cononical Name: field. Click OK.

Now let’s get that MX record created. Click Create and select MX. Enter the name of the server you want to get mail (in this case will be our mail server. Then provide a TTL (I usually use lower numbers for mail servers), the priority (if this is the only server I usually use 0 but if there’s a backup then I’ll use a number like 20), and finally the name of the domain. Click OK.

You’ll you can see all of your records. I know that Apple was always tinkering with the Server app to make DNS records display differently, trying to hide the complexity. But to be honest, I always considered this type of view (which is standard amongst most network appliances) to be much more logical. That might be because I’m just used to looking at db files back in the pre-GUI days. But it makes sense to me. 

Notice in the sidebar, you have an option for Resolution. This is if the server is going to be used to resolve addresses upstream. What are those upstream servers. This is where you configure them. Don’t enable this option if the DNS server is only used by external clients to resolve names hosted on the server. Do use this if there will be clients on your network attempting to resolve against your server.

Use the Views option to configure bind views. We’ll cover this at some point, but since this article is getting a bit long, let’s just say that this is where you configure different zone files for different subnets based on the source of the subnet. Useful if you want to use the same DNS server to host external and internal addressing, and you want the internals to point to LAN addresses and the externals to point to WAN addresses.

Finally, if this DNS server will be providing services to external hosts, then point port 53 to the new server and set the name server record to the IP address on the WAN with the registrar.

March 31st, 2018

Posted In: Mac OS X Server, Synology

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Open Directory has never been this easy to setup for a basic environment as it is in macOS Server 5.2 (for macOS 10.12 on Sierra). It’s also never been so annoyingly simple to use that to do anything cool requires a bunch of command line foo. And never has removing replicas been so difficult. No offense to the developers, but this whole idea that the screens and concepts that were being continually refined for a decade just need to be thrown out seems to have led to a few babies thrown out along with that OD bathwater. Features mean buttons. Buttons make things a tad bit more complicated to use than an ON/OFF switch… Anyway, rant over. Moving on. As with almost any previous version of macOS Server and Open Directory, once you’ve installed the Server app, run the changeip command along with the -checkhostname option to verify that the IP, DNS and hostname match. If (and only if as it will fail if you try anyway) you get an indication of “Success.” I know, I know, you’ve been told that you didn’t have to do this kind of stuff any more. But really, you should – and if you don’t believe me, check out the contents of the attributes in the OD database… bash-3.2# changeip -checkhostname dirserv:success = "success" To set up the Open Directory Master, open the Server app and click on the Open Directory service (might need to Show under Advanced in the Server app sidebar). From here, click on the ON button. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-9-58-14-pm For the purposes of this example, we’re setting up an entirely new Open Directory environment. At the “Configure Network Users and Groups” screen, click on “Create a new Open Directory Domain” and click on the Next button. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-9-58-59-pm Note: If you are restoring an archive of an existing Open Directory domain, you would select the bottom option from this list. At the Directory Administrator screen, enter a username and password for the directory administrator account. The default account is sufficient, although it’s never a bad idea to use something a bit less generic. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-9-59-34-pm Once you’ve entered the username and password, click on the Next button. Then we’re going to configure the SSL information. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-00-17-pm At the Organization Information screen, enter a name for the organization in the Organization Name field and an Email Address to be used in the SSL certificate in the Admin Email Address field. Click on Next. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-00-40-pm At the Confirm Settings screen, make sure these very few settings are OK with you and then click on the Set Up button to let slapconfig (the command that runs the OD setup in the background, kinda’ like a cooler dcpromo) do its thing. When the Open Directory master has been configured, there’s no need to reboot or anything, the indicator light for the Open Directory service should appear. If the promotion fails then look to the preflight options I wrote up awhile back. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-01-20-pm Clicking on the minus (“-”) button while a server is highlighted runs a slapconfig -destroyldapserver on the server and destroys the Open Directory domain if it is the only server. All domain information is lost when this happens. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-01-55-pm Next, let’s bind a client. Binding clients can be done in a few different ways. You can use a script, a Profile, the Users & Groups System Preference pane or build binding into the imaging process. For the purpose of this example, we’ll use the System Preference pane. To get started, open up the System Preference pane and then click on Users & Groups. From here, click on Login Options and then unlock the lock in the lower left corner of the screen, providing a username and password when prompted. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-02-44-pm Click on the Edit… button and then the plus sign (“+”). screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-03-15-pm Then, enter the name of the Open Directory Master (the field will expand with options when you enter the host name. screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-10-03-43-pm It’s probably best not to use the IP address at this point as the master will have an SSL certificate tied to the name. Click OK to accept the certificate (if it’s self-signed) and then the system should finish binding. Once bound, I like to use either id or dscl to verify that directory accounts are properly resolving before I try logging in as an Open Directory user. Provided everything works that’s it. The devil is of course in the details. There is very little data worth having if it isn’t backed up. Notice that you can archive by clicking on the cog wheel icon in the Open Directory service pane, much like you could in Server Admin. Or, because this helps when it comes to automating backups (with a little expect), to run a backup from the command line, run the slapconfig command along with the -backupdb option followed by a path to a folder to back the data up to: sudo slapconfig -backupdb /odbackups The result will be a request for a password then a bunch of information about the backup: bash-3.2# sudo slapconfig -backupdb /odbackups 2016-09-08 04:31:13 +0000 slapconfig -backupdb Enter archive password: 2016-09-08 04:31:17 +0000 1 Backing up LDAP database 2016-09-08 04:31:17 +0000 popen: /usr/sbin/slapcat -l /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/backup.ldif, "r" 55ee6495 bdb_monitor_db_open: monitoring disabled; configure monitor database to enable 2016-09-08 04:31:17 +0000 popen: /usr/sbin/slapcat -b cn=authdata -l /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/authdata.ldif, "r" 55ee6495 bdb_monitor_db_open: monitoring disabled; configure monitor database to enable 2016-09-08 04:31:17 +0000 popen: /bin/cp /var/db/openldap/openldap-data/DB_CONFIG /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/DB_CONFIG, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:17 +0000 popen: /bin/cp /var/db/openldap/authdata//DB_CONFIG /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/authdata_DB_CONFIG, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:17 +0000 popen: /bin/cp -r /etc/openldap /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:17 +0000 popen: /bin/hostname > /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/hostname, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:17 +0000 popen: /usr/sbin/sso_util info -pr /LDAPv3/ > /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/local_odkrb5realm, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 popen: /usr/bin/tar czpf /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/krb5backup.tar.gz /var/db/krb5kdc/kdc.conf /var/db/krb5kdc/acl_file.* /var/db/krb5kdc/m_key.* /etc/krb5.keytab , "r" tar: Removing leading '/' from member names 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 2 Backing up Kerberos database 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 popen: /bin/cp /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/config/KerberosKDC.plist /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/KerberosKDC.plist, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 popen: /bin/cp /Library/Preferences/ /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 3 Backing up configuration files 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 popen: /usr/bin/sw_vers > /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/version.txt, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 popen: /bin/cp -r /var/db/dslocal /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7/, "r" 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 Backed Up Keychain 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 4 Backing up CA certificates 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 5 Creating archive 2016-09-08 04:31:18 +0000 command: /usr/bin/hdiutil create -ov -plist -puppetstrings -layout UNIVERSAL CD -fs HFS+ -volname ldap_bk -srcfolder /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7 -format SPARSE -encryption AES-256 -stdinpass /odbackups 2016-09-08 04:31:25 +0000 Removed directory at path /tmp/slapconfig_backup_stage1769HtaFE7. 2016-09-08 04:31:25 +0000 Removed file at path /var/run/slapconfig.lock. To restore a database (such as from a previous version of the operating system where such an important option was actually present) use the following command (which just swaps backupdb with -restoredb) sudo slapconfig -restoredb /odbackups Both commands ask you for a password to encrypt and decrypt the disk image created by them.

October 4th, 2016

Posted In: Mac OS X Server

Tags: , , , , ,

It’s summer! And at many schools that means that the kids are gone and it’s time to start imaging again. And imaging means a lot of rebooting holding down the N key. But wait, you have ARD access into all those computers. And you have automated imaging tools. This means you can image the whole school from the comfort of your cabin out by the lake. Just use ARD and a little automation and you’ll be fishing in no time! If you haven’t used the bless command to restart a client to NetBoot server then you’re missing out. The bless command is used to set the boot drive that a system will use. It comes with a nifty –netboot option. Define the –server and (assuming you have one nbi) you can reset the boot drive by sending a “Unix command” through ARD: bless --netboot --server bsdp://; restart I added the restart for posterity. This is something everyone with an automated imaging environment really needs to put into their ARD command templates! Now, that all works fantastic in a vanilla environment. But in more complex environments you will need potentially more complex incantations of these commands. Well, Mike Bombich wrote all this up awhile back and so I’ll defer to his article on nvram and bless here to guide you through any custom settings you’ll need. It’s a quick read and really helpful. What else are you gonna’ do while you’re fishing anyway… BTW, if you have more than three beers, please put the MacBook down. And if you don’t, at least close both terminal and ARD. And email. And iChat. Actually, just close the machine now…

June 17th, 2011

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mass Deployment, Network Infrastructure

Tags: , , ,