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Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2018 14:44:44 -0500
From: William Pitcock <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH] resolver: only exit the search path loop there are
 a positive number of results given


On Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 2:35 PM, Rich Felker <> wrote:
> On Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 02:19:48PM -0500, William Pitcock wrote:
>> Hello,
>> On Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 2:14 PM, Rich Felker <> wrote:
>> > On Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 06:52:25PM +0000, William Pitcock wrote:
>> >> In the event of no results being given by any of the lookup modules, EAI_NONAME will still
>> >> be thrown.
>> >>
>> >> This is intended to mitigate problems that occur when zones are hosted by weird DNS servers,
>> >> such as the one Cloudflare have implemented, and appear in the search path.
>> >> ---
>> >>  src/network/lookup_name.c | 2 +-
>> >>  1 file changed, 1 insertion(+), 1 deletion(-)
>> >>
>> >> diff --git a/src/network/lookup_name.c b/src/network/lookup_name.c
>> >> index 209c20f0..b068bb92 100644
>> >> --- a/src/network/lookup_name.c
>> >> +++ b/src/network/lookup_name.c
>> >> @@ -202,7 +202,7 @@ static int name_from_dns_search(struct address buf[static MAXADDRS], char canon[
>> >>                       memcpy(canon+l+1, p, z-p);
>> >>                       canon[z-p+1+l] = 0;
>> >>                       int cnt = name_from_dns(buf, canon, canon, family, &conf);
>> >> -                     if (cnt) return cnt;
>> >> +                     if (cnt > 0) return cnt;
>> >>               }
>> >>       }
>> >
>> > This patch is incorrect, and the reason should be an FAQ item if it's
>> > not already. Only a return value of 0 means that the requested name
>> > does not exist and that it's permissible to continue search. Other
>> > nonpositive return values indicate either that the name does exist but
>> > does not have a record of the quested type, or that a transient error
>> > occurred, making it impossible to determine whether the search can be
>> > continued and thus requiring the error to be reported to the caller.
>> > Anything else results in one or both of the following bugs:
>> >
>> > - Nondeterministically returning different results for the same query
>> >   depending on transient unavailability of the nameservers to answer
>> >   on time.
>> >
>> > - Returning inconsistent results (for different search components)
>> >   depending on whether AF_INET, AF_INET6, or AF_UNSPEC was requested.
>> >
>> > I'm aware that at least rancher-dns and Cloudflare's nameservers have
>> > had bugs related to this issue. I'm not sure what the status on
>> > getting them fixed is, and for Cloudflare I don't know exactly what it
>> > is they're doing wrong or why. But I do know the problem is that
>> > they're returning semantically incorrect dns replies.
>> Kubernetes imposes a default search path with the cluster domain last, so:
>>   -
>>   - prod.svc.whatever
>>   - svc.whatever
>>   -
>> The cloudflare issue is that they send SUCCESS code with 0 replies,
>> which causes musl to error when it hits the
> Yes, that makes sense. Do you know why they're doing it? If they
> refuse to fix it, the only clean fix I know is a local proxy
> configured to fix the records for the specific broken domains you care
> about. But of course that's not convenient.

My contacts at cloudflare indicate that their environment depends on
this behaviour, so they have no interest in fixing it.

A local proxy isn't going to be workable, because most people are
going to just say "but Debian or Fedora doesn't require this," and
then just go use a glibc distribution.

There is a talk in a few weeks at Kubecon (the Kubernetes conference),
explicitly titled "Don't Use Alpine If You Care About DNS."  The talk
largely centers around how musl's overly strict behaviour makes Alpine
a bad choice for "the real world."  I would like to turn this into a
story where we can announce that Alpine 3.8 mitigates this problem
instead, doing such will be good for both Alpine and the musl
ecosystem as a whole, as it is defanging a point of possible FUD.

>> Do you have any suggestions on a mitigation which would be more
>> palatable?  We need to ship a mitigation for this in Alpine 3.8
>> regardless.  I would much rather carry a patch that is upstreamable,
>> but I am quite willing to carry one that isn't, in order to solve this
>> problem.
> A theoretically-non-horrible (but somewhat costly) solution is to
> always query both A and AAAA, rather than only doing it for AF_UNSPEC.
> Then if you see a reply with 0 (total, between both) records, you can
> opt to interpret that the same way as NxDomain without breaking
> consistency properties. If Cloudflare refuses to fix the bug, maybe we
> should consider adding an _option_ (in the resolv.conf options line)
> to do this. I don't think it should be the default behavior because it
> mildly slows down lookups, especially if you have nontrivial packet
> loss since probability of failure is now 1-(1-p)²=2p-p² rather than p
> (where p is the packet loss rate).

It seems to me we could just send ANY and filter out the records we
don't care about.  This is what I did with charybdis's asynchronous
DNS resolver when it had a similar problem.  What are your thoughts on


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