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Domain names - concepts and facilities (RFC1034) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000001839D
Original Publication Date: 1987-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-15
Document File: 55 page(s) / 73K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

P.V. Mockapetris: AUTHOR

Related Documents

10.17487/RFC1034: DOI


This RFC is the revised basic definition of The Domain Name System. It obsoletes RFC-882. This memo describes the domain style names and their used for host address look up and electronic mail forwarding. It discusses the clients and servers in the domain name system and the protocol used between them.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 3% of the total text.

Network Working Group P. Mockapetris Request for Comments: 1034 ISI Obsoletes: RFCs 882, 883, 973 November 1987



This RFC is an introduction to the Domain Name System (DNS), and omits many details which can be found in a companion RFC, "Domain Names - Implementation and Specification" [RFC-1035]. That RFC assumes that the reader is familiar with the concepts discussed in this memo.

A subset of DNS functions and data types constitute an official protocol. The official protocol includes standard queries and their responses and most of the Internet class data formats (e.g., host addresses).

However, the domain system is intentionally extensible. Researchers are continuously proposing, implementing and experimenting with new data types, query types, classes, functions, etc. Thus while the components of the official protocol are expected to stay essentially unchanged and operate as a production service, experimental behavior should always be expected in extensions beyond the official protocol. Experimental or obsolete features are clearly marked in these RFCs, and such information should be used with caution.

The reader is especially cautioned not to depend on the values which appear in examples to be current or complete, since their purpose is primarily pedagogical. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


This RFC introduces domain style names, their use for Internet mail and host address support, and the protocols and servers used to implement domain name facilities.

2.1. The history of domain names

The impetus for the development of the domain system was growth in the Internet:

- Host name to address mappings were maintained by the Network Information Center (NIC) in a single file (HOSTS.TXT) which was FTPed by all hosts [RFC-952, RFC-953]. The total network

Mockapetris [Page 1]

RFC 1034 Domain Concepts and Facilities November 1987

bandwidth consumed in distributing a new version by this scheme is proportional to the square of the number of hosts in the network, and even when multiple levels of FTP are used, the outgoing FTP load on the NIC host is considerable. Explosive growth in the number of hosts didn’t bode well for the future.

- The network population was also changing in character. The timeshared hosts that made up the original ARPANET were being replaced with local networks of workstations. Local organizations were administering their own names and addresses, but had to wait for the NIC to change HOSTS.TXT to make changes visible to the Internet at large. Organizations also wanted some local structure on the name space.

- The applications on the Internet were getting more sophisticated and creating a need for general purpose name service.

The result was several ideas about name spaces and their management [IEN-116, RFC-799, RFC-819, RFC-830]. The proposals varied, but a common thread was the idea of a hierarchical name space, with the hierarchy roughly corresp...