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DNS and Bind, 5th Edition

Paul Albitz and Cricket Liu
Published by O'Reilly Media
640 pages
£ 35.50
Published: 2 Jun 2006
reviewed by Mike Smith
   in the September 2006 issue (pdf), (html)

I already have a copy of DNS and Bind (DaB) from the early days. My intention with this review was to compare this new 5th edition with the old one. However when I came to look for the old copy, probably a first or second edition, I wasn't able to locate it :-( I have many excuses lined up, but I suppose it demonstrates that I haven't had to refer to it for a while. I'm sure many of you will also have copies of this text as it is a classic and I wanted to let you know whether its worth updating. So please accept my apologies in advance if I am not able to do this authoritatively (pun intended) but I'll do my best to let you know what's in it.

This edition specifically covers Bind version 9.3 (it says so on the cover). O'Reilly's own synopsis can be found here:

In fact there's a whole suite of pages -- one for each edition; just change the number in the URL. The third edition was significant as this introduced Bind 8 as well as covering Bind 4. The forth edition is also significant as it covered version 9 (as well as 8 and 4); also IPv6 and security.

I'm not yet convinced it's worth refreshing if you have the 4th edition already as it just appears to be a point release (though it is a major one, and at the time of writing the current version). There are a few other new areas covered too: internationalised domain names, ENUM (electronic numbering), and SPF (the Sender Policy Framework). Each of these only warrants a couple of pages - it's worth understanding them, but that's not a lot of material.

As DNS and Bind has evolved, there have been several changes but the basic structure of the book is exactly as it was in 1992. One thing that has changed from the first to the fifth editions is that originally some specific configuration options were given for various flavours of UNIX; including SunOs, HP-UX, AIX, Irix and SCO (hiss). Now we only have a section on the Windows XP resolver! Grrrr.

Other interesting observations when comparing versions are the introduction of programming examples in Perl and the Advanced Features chapter (both earlier in the life of the book). In this edition we get another new chapter on Architecture. This covers different architectural designs, as one would expect, and in particular looks at external and internal views, Forwarding and the like.

In summary then, returning to my objective of the review, if you have either the first or second edition of the book, and you are actively implementing or managing DNS configurations then I think it's worth investing in the new edition. If you already have a later edition then probably not (just Google the specific new areas). I wonder if O'Reilly do a trade-up scheme? That would make upgrades much more palatable. Someone ask Josette if you bump into her.

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