Setting Up Local DNS Server for Multi-Devices

As always, the first thing you have to ask yourself is that why do you want to set up a DNS server? Here are a few of mine:

  • Access web services via custom domains instead of IP addresses
  • Update multiple devices (including mobile devices) is time consuming and inconvenient
  • Router does not provide a DNS server

I run many web services in the local network, for example, GitLab for code repository and Ghost for blogging. Instead of typing IP address for each service, it will be much easier to use custom domain names, for example, accessing my blog via http://ghost/, not dot com nor localhost.

This can be easily done if there is just one machine. You can update the host configuration file in the local machine such as /etc/hosts in Linux or C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts in Windows. But I have multiple devices: a laptop, a tablet, and of course a smartphone. Updating multiple devices is a pain. And for many mobile devices running systems such as iOS or Android, it is not easy to edit the host configuration file without rooting the devices. Therefore, we will opt to update a single DNS configuration file.

DNS configuration can be inherited from the DHCP server from the local network router. Unfortunately, the router I have does not provide a built-in DNS server. I have to setup my own DNS server. Once the DNS server has been setup, the router will use the server as the primary DNS server, and falls back to default gateway IP as the secondary DNS server, or we can use either Google’s public DNS server with IP address or any other alternatives.

  • Primary DNS server:
  • Secondary DNS server:, or others

I am going to setup a DNS server in a Debian Jessie machine. Here is a summary of steps:

  1. Install BIND
  2. Add custom zone

Use CNAME for Resovling Private and Public IP Address in Amazon EC2

“A security group acts as a virtual firewall that controlls the traffic for one or more instances.” 1 The Amazon EC2 Security Groups are not just capable controlling traffic from an IP address, but also from all EC2 instances belong to a specific security group. I want to allow an instance belonging to one security group to access an instance belongs to another security group via a custom domain name (subdomain.example.com).

But when I configured the subdomain via Amazon Route 53, I have misconfigured it by assigning a A record, an IP address or the Elastic IP address of the instance. I should have used CNAME, and assigned the public DNS (the public hostname of the EC2 instance).

Update GitHub Pages Deprecated IP Addresses with Zone Apex Domain

Recently, I have received a warning email from GitHub:

GitHub Pages recently underwent some improvements (https://github.com/blog/1715-faster-more-awesome-github-pages) to make your site faster and more awesome, but we’ve noticed that realguess.net isn’t properly configured to take advantage of these new features. While your site will continue to work just fine, updating your domain’s configuration offers some additional speed and performance benefits. Instructions on updating your site’s IP address can be found at https://help.github.com/articles/setting-up-a-custom-domain-with-github-pages#step-2-configure-dns-records, and of course, you can always get in touch with a human at [email protected]. For the more technical minded folks who want to skip the help docs: your site’s DNS records are pointed to a deprecated IP address.

What are the improvements on GitHub Pages? Here are the two major improvements [1]:

  • Pages are served via CDN (Content Delivery Network)
  • DoS (Denial of Service) protection

But my site wasn’t properly configured to take advantage of speed and performance due to that the “DNS records are pointed to a deprecated IP address”.

What are the IP addresses that GitHub Pages uses before but have been deprecated now?

The domain realguess.net is an custom zone apex domain (also called bare, naked, or root domain). The domain blog.realguess.net is not a zone apex domain, but a subdomain. “A custom subdomain will not be affected by changes in the underlying IP addresses of GitHub’s servers.” [2] But, I am not using a subdomain. I have configured the zone apex domain to point to currently deprecated IP addresses. “If you are using an A record that points to or, you will need to update your DNS settings, as we no longer serve Pages directly from those servers.” [3] So, these IP addresses are deprecated, and need to update the current DNS from:

$ dig realguess.net +nostats +nocomments +nocmd
;realguess.net. IN A
realguess.net. 86400 IN A

to the new ones pointed by username.github.io:

$ dig realguess.github.io +nostats +nocomments +nocmd
;realguess.github.io. IN A
realguess.github.io. 3600 IN CNAME github.map.fastly.net.
github.map.fastly.net. 28 IN A

And the new IP address are:

Using a subdomain is a better solution, so I don’t need to care about the changing GitHub Pages IP addresses in the future. But I don’t think the frequency of IP address updating is going to be very often. So, I will stick with my zone apex domain.

  1. Faster, More Awesome GitHub Pages
  2. Setting up a custom domain with GitHub Pages
  3. My custom domain isn’t working