[avahi] Multicast DNS and the Unicast .local Domain

Carsten Strotmann carsten at strotmann.de
Fri Jun 19 10:19:59 PDT 2009


I stumbled over the topic I describe below when I updated an Ubuntu 
System from Version 8.04 tro 9.04. Avahi refused to start because I have 
a unicast ".local" domain in my network(s).

This behavior is documented as recommended for distributions in the 
Avahi Wiki at

I think this is a not well thought out decision. It would be a good 
decision if it would detect a "used" unicast ".local" domain, but in my 
case, the ".local" domain is one of many "pseudo" domains that are 
configured as "empty" DNS zones on all resolving DNS Servers on the 
network edge (border to the Internet), to prevent any "pseudo TLD" like 
".local" to be leaked into the Internet and hitting the Root DNS Server 

If you look at the DNS root server statistics (for example 
l.root-servers.net -> 
), you will see that ".local" is the most prominent pseudo Top Level 
Domain that is hitting the root server system. There are other reasons 
for this than just MDNS (like many Windows AD networks use ".local" 
internally), however from my experience of doing DNS Audits in large 
enterprise environments I know that some ".local" request are triggered 
by the existence of ".local" MDNS in the network (URLs in Documents, 
registry keys, configuration files etc etc).

To prevent unnecessary traffic to go to the root dns server system and 
to prevent internal data to leak into the Internet, it would be actually 
a good practice to have a ".local" unicast DNS domain on every resolving 
DNS Server on the edge of an network with MDNS enabled internally. This 
".local" Unicast domain would be an empty DNS zone.

To my knowledge there is no bulletproof way to detect whether the 
".local" Unicast DNS zone is an empty one to prevent leakage, or a DNS 
Zone "in use". One possible way could be to query for the SOA record and 
disable MDNS (Avahi) only if the serial number is above a certain value 
(as an empty ".local" zone will never change and might have an serial of 
"0" or "1". Maybe we can spark a discussion on this topic here on the ML 
and collect some ideas from the MDNS community.

Thanks for listening.

Carsten Strotmann

More information about the avahi mailing list