How Do You Program a DNS Server?


Larry Thompson

Programming a DNS server can seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it becomes much more manageable. In this tutorial, we will explore the steps to program a DNS server from scratch. Let’s get started!

Understanding DNS

DNS, or Domain Name System, is responsible for translating human-readable domain names into IP addresses that computers can understand. When you type a URL into your web browser, it sends a request to a DNS server to find the corresponding IP address for that domain name.

Choosing the Programming Language

Before diving into coding the DNS server, you need to choose the programming language you will use. There are several options available for implementing a DNS server, such as Python, C++, or even Node.js. For this tutorial, we will use Python due to its simplicity and extensive libraries.

Setting Up the Development Environment

To begin programming the DNS server in Python, you need to set up your development environment. Make sure you have Python installed on your computer and choose a code editor or integrated development environment (IDE) that suits your preferences.

Installing Required Libraries

In order to build our DNS server, we will use the dnspython library. Open your terminal or command prompt and run the following command:

pip install dnspython

This command installs the dnspython library required for our DNS server implementation.

Coding the DNS Server

Now that we have our development environment set up and all necessary libraries installed let’s start coding our DNS server.

Importing Required Libraries

Create a new Python file and start by importing the required libraries:

import dns.message
import dns.server
import dns.resolver

We import the necessary libraries to handle DNS messages, create a DNS server, and resolve domain names.

Defining DNS Request Handler

Next, we need to define a DNS request handler. This handler will process incoming DNS queries and return the appropriate response. Here’s an example implementation:

class DNSServer(dns.server.BaseRequestHandler):
    def handle(self):
        query = dns.message.from_wire(self.request[0])
        response = dns.make_response(query)
        # Process the query and generate the response
        self.request.sendto(response.to_wire(), self.client_address)

In this code snippet, we create a class called DNSServer that inherits from dns.BaseRequestHandler. The handle() method is called whenever a new DNS request is received.

Inside this method, we first extract the query from the received message using dns.from_wire(). We then create a response message using dns.make_response().

Adding DNS Resolution Logic

Now it’s time to add our custom logic for resolving domain names. Let’s assume we have a simple dictionary mapping domain names to IP addresses:

dns_records = {
    "": "",
    "": "8.8.8",
    # Add more records as needed

In our handle() method, after creating the response message, we can check if the query name exists in our dictionary and add the corresponding IP address as an answer:

if query.question[0].name.decode() in dns_records:

In this code snippet, we check if the queried domain name exists in our dictionary (dns_records). If it does, we add an answer to the response message with the corresponding IP address.

Starting the DNS Server

Finally, we need to start our DNS server. Here’s how you can do it:

if __name__ == "__main__":
    server = dns.ThreadingUDPServer(("127.0.1", 53), DNSServer)

In this code snippet, we create an instance of dns.ThreadingUDPServer and pass it the IP address (“127.1”) and port (53) where our server will listen for incoming DNS requests. We also pass our DNSServer class as the request handler. Finally, we call serve_forever() to start the server and keep it running indefinitely.

Testing the DNS Server

Now that our DNS server is up and running, we can test it by querying domain names using a DNS client or command-line tool like dig or nslookup.

Using dig

Open your terminal or command prompt and run the following command:

dig @127.1

This command sends a DNS query for the domain name to our DNS server running at 127.

Using nslookup

Open your terminal or command prompt and run the following command:

nslookup 127.1

This command sends a DNS query for the domain name example.


You have successfully programmed your own DNS server using Python! This is just a basic implementation, but you can extend it further to handle more complex scenarios and improve its performance.


In this tutorial, we learned how to program a DNS server from scratch using Python and the dnspython library. We covered setting up the development environment, coding the DNS server logic, and testing it using dig or nslookup tools.

Remember, DNS servers are critical components of the internet infrastructure, so it’s essential to ensure their security and reliability when deploying them in production environments.

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