Sunday, December 13, 2009

Telling My DNS Story

One night, several weeks ago, I noticed that my browser was taking a long time to connect to web sites. That problem started happening, it turns out, after we dropped our DSL service and succumbed to the borg that is Uverse. What a coincidence, eh? The old router gone. New wires have been run. And now my browser takes a long time to lookup Internet domain names.

Being averse to all-things-borg and knowing a little about domain name servers and resolvers, I decided that I didn't want to rely on the Domain Name Servers resident at AT&T. Years ago on a Mac almost forgotten (but actually sitting silently in the corner behind me) I had installed a DNS server of my own, so as I sat there at my computer that evening, I proceeded to do the DNS-server-thing again on this (relatively) new Mac. Of course, even though I had done it years ago, I needed to learn it all again.

But we live in the age of google, you see: presto the steps are in front of me.

And so I spent some hours reacquainting myself with the software and reading suggestions on installing it on a Mac and deciding I didn't like the suggestions and coming up with an approach which I began to implement very slowly in small, deliberate steps, since I had to be root and didn't want to make any (nonrecoverable) mistakes. And in the meantime, my googling also confirmed that indeed, the Uverse approach to DNS is indeed lame and many people have chosen to lookup elsewhere.

So I was on the right track, except for these pesky features in the new Mac OS that made it difficult to do what I was trying to do. And that led, you might not be surprised, to some more hours of googling and reading suggestions and trying to figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff so that I wouldn't end up messing up my machine irretrievably.

And in the end, the pieces came together, and I satisfied myself that I had fixed the problem.

The next morning, as Trudy and I were sitting in the living room, I looked over at her and began to explain my adventure from the night before. I talked with great energy about DNS servers and about DNS caches and about djbdns and about creating new users on my Mac to run the various background processes and about making sure those users don't appear on the login screen of the Mac itself and about installing software as root and about overriding the DNS server on Network System Preferences panel when your IP address is served up by a DHCP server that wants to tell you to use its own DNS server.

The story when on for a while, because I had learned and relearned so many things that were important to explain, yet Trudy sat there politely listening and nodding at the right moments, sensing, I suppose, that this was a cathartic monologue I had launched into and that it was best to let me proceed unimpeded.

So I proceeded and finally came to the end where I shuffled into the bedroom at some obscene hour and collapsed onto my side of the bed. My story finished, I looked up at her, and she looked back at me, and we sat in the living room for a brief moment in silence.

Then Trudy said, "So let's eat some eggs!"

10:27:16 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: