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nsupdate - Dynamic DNS update utility


nsupdate [-d] [-D] [-L level] [[-g] | [-o] | [-l] | [-y [hmac:]keyname:secret] |
[-k keyfile]] [-t timeout] [-u udptimeout] [-r udpretries] [-R randomdev] [-v]
[-T] [-P] [-V] [filename]


nsupdate is used to submit Dynamic DNS Update requests as defined in RFC 2136 to a name
server. This allows resource records to be added or removed from a zone without manually
editing the zone file. A single update request can contain requests to add or remove more
than one resource record.

Zones that are under dynamic control via nsupdate or a DHCP server should not be edited by
hand. Manual edits could conflict with dynamic updates and cause data to be lost.

The resource records that are dynamically added or removed with nsupdate have to be in the
same zone. Requests are sent to the zone's master server. This is identified by the MNAME
field of the zone's SOA record.

Transaction signatures can be used to authenticate the Dynamic DNS updates. These use the
TSIG resource record type described in RFC 2845 or the SIG(0) record described in RFC 2535
and RFC 2931 or GSS-TSIG as described in RFC 3645.

TSIG relies on a shared secret that should only be known to nsupdate and the name server.
For instance, suitable key and server statements would be added to /etc/named.conf so that
the name server can associate the appropriate secret key and algorithm with the IP address
of the client application that will be using TSIG authentication. You can use ddns-confgen
to generate suitable configuration fragments. nsupdate uses the -y or -k options to
provide the TSIG shared secret. These options are mutually exclusive.

SIG(0) uses public key cryptography. To use a SIG(0) key, the public key must be stored in
a KEY record in a zone served by the name server.

GSS-TSIG uses Kerberos credentials. Standard GSS-TSIG mode is switched on with the -g
flag. A non-standards-compliant variant of GSS-TSIG used by Windows 2000 can be switched
on with the -o flag.


Debug mode. This provides tracing information about the update requests that are made
and the replies received from the name server.

Extra debug mode.

-k keyfile
The file containing the TSIG authentication key. Keyfiles may be in two formats: a
single file containing a named.conf-format key statement, which may be generated
automatically by ddns-confgen, or a pair of files whose names are of the format
K{name}.+157.+{random}.key and K{name}.+157.+{random}.private, which can be generated
by dnssec-keygen. The -k may also be used to specify a SIG(0) key used to authenticate
Dynamic DNS update requests. In this case, the key specified is not an HMAC-MD5 key.

Local-host only mode. This sets the server address to localhost (disabling the server
so that the server address cannot be overridden). Connections to the local server will
use a TSIG key found in /var/run/named/session.key, which is automatically generated
by named if any local master zone has set update-policy to local. The location of this
key file can be overridden with the -k option.

-L level
Set the logging debug level. If zero, logging is disabled.

-p port
Set the port to use for connections to a name server. The default is 53.

Print the list of private BIND-specific resource record types whose format is
understood by nsupdate. See also the -T option.

-r udpretries
The number of UDP retries. The default is 3. If zero, only one update request will be

-R randomdev
Where to obtain randomness. If the operating system does not provide a /dev/random or
equivalent device, the default source of randomness is keyboard input. randomdev
specifies the name of a character device or file containing random data to be used
instead of the default. The special value keyboard indicates that keyboard input
should be used. This option may be specified multiple times.

-t timeout
The maximum time an update request can take before it is aborted. The default is 300
seconds. Zero can be used to disable the timeout.

Print the list of IANA standard resource record types whose format is understood by
nsupdate. nsupdate will exit after the lists are printed. The -T option can be
combined with the -P option.

Other types can be entered using "TYPEXXXXX" where "XXXXX" is the decimal value of the
type with no leading zeros. The rdata, if present, will be parsed using the UNKNOWN
rdata format, (<backslash> <hash> <space> <length> <space> <hexstring>).

-u udptimeout
The UDP retry interval. The default is 3 seconds. If zero, the interval will be
computed from the timeout interval and number of UDP retries.

Use TCP even for small update requests. By default, nsupdate uses UDP to send update
requests to the name server unless they are too large to fit in a UDP request in which
case TCP will be used. TCP may be preferable when a batch of update requests is made.

Print the version number and exit.

-y [hmac:]keyname:secret
Literal TSIG authentication key. keyname is the name of the key, and secret is the
base64 encoded shared secret. hmac is the name of the key algorithm; valid choices
are hmac-md5, hmac-sha1, hmac-sha224, hmac-sha256, hmac-sha384, or hmac-sha512. If
hmac is not specified, the default is hmac-md5.

NOTE: Use of the -y option is discouraged because the shared secret is supplied as a
command line argument in clear text. This may be visible in the output from ps(1) or
in a history file maintained by the user's shell.


nsupdate reads input from filename or standard input. Each command is supplied on exactly
one line of input. Some commands are for administrative purposes. The others are either
update instructions or prerequisite checks on the contents of the zone. These checks set
conditions that some name or set of resource records (RRset) either exists or is absent
from the zone. These conditions must be met if the entire update request is to succeed.
Updates will be rejected if the tests for the prerequisite conditions fail.

Every update request consists of zero or more prerequisites and zero or more updates. This
allows a suitably authenticated update request to proceed if some specified resource
records are present or missing from the zone. A blank input line (or the send command)
causes the accumulated commands to be sent as one Dynamic DNS update request to the name

The command formats and their meaning are as follows:

server {servername} [port]
Sends all dynamic update requests to the name server servername. When no server
statement is provided, nsupdate will send updates to the master server of the correct
zone. The MNAME field of that zone's SOA record will identify the master server for
that zone. port is the port number on servername where the dynamic update requests
get sent. If no port number is specified, the default DNS port number of 53 is used.

local {address} [port]
Sends all dynamic update requests using the local address. When no local statement is
provided, nsupdate will send updates using an address and port chosen by the system.
port can additionally be used to make requests come from a specific port. If no port
number is specified, the system will assign one.

zone {zonename}
Specifies that all updates are to be made to the zone zonename. If no zone statement
is provided, nsupdate will attempt determine the correct zone to update based on the
rest of the input.

class {classname}
Specify the default class. If no class is specified, the default class is IN.

ttl {seconds}
Specify the default time to live for records to be added. The value none will clear
the default ttl.

key [hmac:] {keyname} {secret}
Specifies that all updates are to be TSIG-signed using the keyname secret pair. If
hmac is specified, then it sets the signing algorithm in use; the default is hmac-md5.
The key command overrides any key specified on the command line via -y or -k.

Use GSS-TSIG to sign the updated. This is equivalent to specifying -g on the

Use the Windows 2000 version of GSS-TSIG to sign the updated. This is equivalent to
specifying -o on the commandline.

realm {[realm_name]}
When using GSS-TSIG use realm_name rather than the default realm in krb5.conf. If no
realm is specified the saved realm is cleared.

[prereq] nxdomain {domain-name}
Requires that no resource record of any type exists with name domain-name.

[prereq] yxdomain {domain-name}
Requires that domain-name exists (has as at least one resource record, of any type).

[prereq] nxrrset {domain-name} [class] {type}
Requires that no resource record exists of the specified type, class and domain-name.
If class is omitted, IN (internet) is assumed.

[prereq] yxrrset {domain-name} [class] {type}
This requires that a resource record of the specified type, class and domain-name must
exist. If class is omitted, IN (internet) is assumed.

[prereq] yxrrset {domain-name} [class] {type} {data...}
The data from each set of prerequisites of this form sharing a common type, class, and
domain-name are combined to form a set of RRs. This set of RRs must exactly match the
set of RRs existing in the zone at the given type, class, and domain-name. The data
are written in the standard text representation of the resource record's RDATA.

[update] del[ete] {domain-name} [ttl] [class] [type [data...]]
Deletes any resource records named domain-name. If type and data is provided, only
matching resource records will be removed. The internet class is assumed if class is
not supplied. The ttl is ignored, and is only allowed for compatibility.

[update] add {domain-name} {ttl} [class] {type} {data...}
Adds a new resource record with the specified ttl, class and data.

Displays the current message, containing all of the prerequisites and updates
specified since the last send.

Sends the current message. This is equivalent to entering a blank line.

Displays the answer.

Turn on debugging.

Print version number.

Print a list of commands.

Lines beginning with a semicolon are comments and are ignored.


The examples below show how nsupdate could be used to insert and delete resource records
from the example.com zone. Notice that the input in each example contains a trailing blank
line so that a group of commands are sent as one dynamic update request to the master name
server for example.com.

# nsupdate
> update delete oldhost.example.com A
> update add newhost.example.com 86400 A
> send

Any A records for oldhost.example.com are deleted. And an A record for newhost.example.com
with IP address is added. The newly-added record has a 1 day TTL (86400

# nsupdate
> prereq nxdomain nickname.example.com
> update add nickname.example.com 86400 CNAME somehost.example.com
> send

The prerequisite condition gets the name server to check that there are no resource
records of any type for nickname.example.com. If there are, the update request fails. If
this name does not exist, a CNAME for it is added. This ensures that when the CNAME is
added, it cannot conflict with the long-standing rule in RFC 1034 that a name must not
exist as any other record type if it exists as a CNAME. (The rule has been updated for
DNSSEC in RFC 2535 to allow CNAMEs to have RRSIG, DNSKEY and NSEC records.)

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