Quick Start

Quick Start Guide.

First get CoreDNS, either

  • Download the latest release from github, unpack it. You should now have a “coredns” executable.

  • Compile from git by getting the source code from github. Change directory to coredns and:

    • go get - to get a few dependencies, the other ones are vendored
    • go build

    You should now have a “coredns” executable.

  • Get the Docker image from docker hub.

If you want to use CoreDNS in Kubernetes, please check this post about SD with the kuberneters plugin.

The remainder of this quick start will focus and two different use cases

  1. Using CoreDNS to serve zone files. Optionally signing the zones as well.
  2. Using CoreDNS as a forwarding proxy.

CoreDNS is configured via a configuration file that it typically called Corefile.

Serving from Files

When serving from zone files you use the file plugin. Let’s start with the zone example.org. and zonefile we want to serve from:

Create a file example.org with the following content:

$ORIGIN example.org.
@	3600 IN	SOA sns.dns.icann.org. noc.dns.icann.org. (
				2017042745 ; serial
				7200       ; refresh (2 hours)
				3600       ; retry (1 hour)
				1209600    ; expire (2 weeks)
				3600       ; minimum (1 hour)

	3600 IN NS a.iana-servers.net.
	3600 IN NS b.iana-servers.net.

www     IN A
        IN AAAA  ::1

Create a Corefile, Corefile, with:

example.org {
    file example.org
    prometheus     # enable metrics
    errors         # show errors
    log            # enable query logs

Start CoreDNS on a non-standard port to check if everything is correct: coredns -conf Corefile -dns.port 1053 and send it a query with dig:

% dig -p 1053 @localhost AAAA www.example.org +noall +answer

www.example.org.	3600	IN	AAAA	::1

As we’ve enabled query loggin with the log plugin the query should be show up on standard output as well:

::1 - [24/Jul/2017:10:10:44 +0000] "AAAA IN www.example.org. udp 45 false 4096" NOERROR 121 133.449µs

From here you can enable CoreDNS to run on port 53 and have it start from systemd (when on Linux), see the deployment repo for example scripts. Read more about the file, metrics and errors plugin.

CoreDNS as proxy

Another plugin is the proxy plugin. We can for instance send DNS request to Google over HTTPS. Create a Corefile with:

. {
    proxy . {
        protocol https_google

Start CoreDNS, just like above and send it a few queries. CoreDNS should logs those, in this case:

::1 - [24/Jul/2017:10:44:15 +0000] "AAAA IN www.example.org. udp 45 false 4096" NOERROR 76 83.396955ms
::1 - [24/Jul/2017:10:44:17 +0000] "AAAA IN www.example.org. udp 45 false 4096" NOERROR 76 14.030914ms
::1 - [24/Jul/2017:10:44:19 +0000] "AAAA IN www.example.org. udp 45 false 4096" NOERROR 76 13.286384ms

If you look at the time each query took (in “ms”) it’s quite slow, ~83ms, 13ms. So let’s add some caching and enable the caching plugin. Just add the word “cache” to the Corefile and graceful reload CoreDNS: kill -SIGUSR1 <pid_of_coredns>. And query again:

::1 - [24/Jul/2017:11:33:54 +0000] "AAAA IN www.example.org. udp 45 false 4096" NOERROR 76 43.469743ms
::1 - [24/Jul/2017:11:33:55 +0000] "AAAA IN www.example.org. udp 45 false 4096" NOERROR 73 133.073µs

First one is still “slow”, but the subsequent query only takes 133 µs.

Possible Errors

The health’s documentation states “This plugin only needs to be enabled once”, which might lead you to think that this would be a valid Corefile:


. {

But this doesn’t work and leads to the somewhat cryptic error:

"Corefile:3 - Error during parsing: Unknown directive '.'".

What happens here? health is seen as zone and now the parser expect to see directives (cache, etcd, etc.), but instead the next token is ., which isn’t a directive. The Corefile should be constructed as follows:

. {

That line in the health’s documentation means that once health is specified, it is global for the entire CoreDNS process, even though you’ve only specified it for one server.

Also See

There are numerous other plugins that can be used with CoreDNS. And you can write your own plugin.

How queries are processed is a deep dive into how CoreDNS handles DNS queries.

Miek Gieben
Published: and tagged Documentation, Quick and Start using 675 words.