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I've got a domain on dns.he.net that only has an SOA record, NS records, and one MX (pointing to a totally different host). Does my domain need an A record? Currently nslookup fails since there is no IP associated with it. But mail seems to get to the MX host just fine.

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No, it does not need an A record. And if there is no IP address associated with it, it shouldn't have one.

0

Just to add... for the purposes of SMTP, you strictly don't need an A record at the apex unless you do not have an MX record. Most mail transport agents (MTAs) will, by default, look for an MX record first and if one is not found look for an A record and attempt to deliver to wherever that A record points. I'm not advocating you do this, so by all means use an MX record for mail, but just know that this fallback behavior exists.

  • every compliant mail server should do that. – Alnitak Feb 14 '14 at 11:29
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nslookup is failing because by default it asks for an A record.

~/bin/vmware@precious% nslookup -query=mx umich.edu
Server:     192.168.1.1
Address:    192.168.1.1#53

Non-authoritative answer:
umich.edu   mail exchanger = 0 mx2.umich.edu.
umich.edu   mail exchanger = 0 mx3.umich.edu.
[ ... ]

try using dig instead, its default response is more verbose.

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