Say I have two DNS servers providing records for a private domain.

DNS1: - PowerDNS on Linux, primary authoritative
DNS2: - Windows DNS for a custom application, acting as authoritative
Domain: mydomain.com

DNS1 is a "static" server and hosts a handful of A records that rarely or never change:


DNS2 is a server accepting dynamic updates which connects with a custom application that requires Windows DNS, and hosts A records which can change in realtime:


As is, both servers are "authoritative" for mydomain.com. However, they're each hosting different records. Both servers also host a reverse lookup domain with appropriate PTR records for the A records they know about.

I do not want to have to configure multiple DNS servers on clients.

Can I configure the PowerDNS server to automatically query the other server if it itself doesn't have a record that can fulfill the request?

Example: if I query DNS1 to lookup dyn-100.mydomain.com, it doesn't have a record for that host - so normally a NXDOMAIN reply would be delivered. Instead, I'd like DNS1, upon finding it can't fulfill the request, to query DNS2; if DNS2 replies with a valid record, DNS1 should forward that record on to the client. If DNS2 does not have a record either, then DNS1 should send the NXDOMAIN.

I understand that in this case DNS1 would likely be caching for DNS2 - that's fine as long as DNS1 obeys the TTL. That way I can setup dynamic records with low TTLs.

The same should work for PTR records in the reverse zone - if dyn-100.mydomain.com is at, then querying DNS1 for should return dyn-100.mydomain.com. from DNS2.

The SOA record is configured to match on both hosts, so this isn't a problem, but in the (not a good idea) instance that the SOA's differ, the server being queried should return its SOA since it has one. In other words, DNS1 should only call over to DNS2 if it can't fulfill the request itself for the domain.

Is this possible?

EDIT: I would be OK with the idea of some form of replication, but I do not know if this is possible between Windows and PowerDNS. As in, I'd be happy with a scenario wherein once per hour, the PowerDNS server one-way syncs data from the Windows server, adding, updating and deleting records as necessary, and then having all queries come off the PowerDNS server. The caveat here is that records which exist locally in the PowerDNS server must never be removed, but records that the Windows server has had removed must be removed from the PowerDNS server. Putting the static records into the Windows DNS server won't work as it will interfere with the custom application.

  • I assume there must be some other requirement that has led to this setup, considering that the scenario in the question is just made more complicated by how you have zones by the same name on different servers and want to "merge" these from the perspective of clients? Otherwise it seems the clean thing would be to actually merge them. – Håkan Lindqvist Mar 24 '16 at 18:22
  • You are correct - I forgot to add in the details of the scenario. The dynamic DNS server is a Windows DNS which we cannot change because it is tied to a custom application, but we want to use PowerDNS for the primary DNS. – fdmillion Mar 24 '16 at 20:24

Yes you can do, but what is the point of having multiple DNS servers if clients are just going to get one!

you can use forward ( only | first ); with
forwarders { ip_addr [port ip_port] ; [ ip_addr [port ip_port] ; ... ] };
in your zone section. more info here

  • This seems to reference configuration for BIND rather than PowerDNS? – Håkan Lindqvist Mar 24 '16 at 17:50
  • oh sorry, didn't mention it is PowerDNS – Arash Mar 24 '16 at 17:52
  • Title and tags say PowerDNS? – Håkan Lindqvist Mar 24 '16 at 17:54
  • How about editing the /etc/resolv.conf file to point to both servers. – Arash Mar 24 '16 at 17:56
  • 1
    That wouldn't do anything. A negative response is not considered an error that triggers retrying the query with different servers. – Håkan Lindqvist Mar 24 '16 at 18:12

If you put each of your static As (of which you do not appear to have many) into a zone of their own (so one zone per name!), you can just AXFR mydomain.com from Windows on every update. PowerDNS will allow the more specific zones to override the content in mydomain.com.

Alternatively, configure explicit forwarding in whatever recursor you are using - putting the list of static records in it pointing to DNS1 and the rest of the zone to DNS2.

If you don't want to do that in your recursor, you could put dnsdist on DNS1 to do the same splitting, but this again will require you to list the static names explicitly.

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