One of the more obscure DNS record types is DNAME (AKA the Namecoin "translate" JSON field), which is basically a DNS redirect for an entire subtree. For example, currently radio.bit. has a DNAME record pointing to, which means that any subdomain (e.g. becomes a CNAME redirect (e.g. to

DNAME is not exactly a favorite of mine in the context of Namecoin, because it’s easy to misuse it in a way that assigns trust for a Namecoin domain name to 3rd party keys whom Namecoin is intended to not trust (e.g. if you DNAME radio.bit. to a DNS domain name, you’re also assigning control of the TLSA records for to whatever DNSSEC keys have the ability to sign for that DNS domain name, which probably includes a DNS registrar, a DNS registry, and the ICANN root key). That said, DNAME is part of the DNS, and so it should work in Namecoin, even though there aren’t likely to be many good uses for it in Namecoin.

Which is why I was surprised to notice when I tested DNAME today that it wasn’t actually working as intended in ncdns or dns-prop279. Some digging revealed that madns (the authoritative DNS server library that ncdns utilizes) didn’t actually have any DNAME support; the place in the code where it should have gone was just marked “TODO”. This was a great excuse for me to get my feet wet with the madns codebase (Hugo usually handles that code), so I jumped in.

In the process of adding DNAME support to madns, I got to read RFC 6672, and noticed that it very much looks like Namecoin’s d/ (domain names JSON) spec is not quite compliant with the RFC. Specifically, the Namecoin spec says that a DNAME at radio.bit. suppresses all other records at radio.bit., whereas the RFC says that other record types can coexist at radio.bit., with the sole exception of CNAME records. I’ve filed a bug to get the Namecoin spec brought in line with the RFC.

Once I got madns supporting DNAME properly, that meant I could test dns-prop279 with DNAME. Except testing quickly showed that dns-prop279 was crashing when it encountered a DNAME. A quick check of the stack trace showed that I had made a minor screw-up in the error checking in dns-prop279 (specifically, dns-prop279 is asking for a CNAME, but doesn’t properly handle the case where it receives both a DNAME and a CNAME). A quick bugfix later, and dns-prop279 was correctly handling DNAME.

The fixes are expected to be included in the next release of ncdns and dns-prop279.

This work was funded by NLnet Foundation’s Internet Hardening Fund.

(Side note: some readers might have noticed that I was posting less frequently over the past month or so. That’s because my master’s thesis defense was on May 3, and as a result I spent most of the last month getting ready for that. I passed my defense, so things should be back to normal soon.)