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Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2019 08:15:28 -0400
From: Rich Felker <>
Cc: Andrey Arapov <>
Subject: Re: DNS FQDN query issue in musl starting 1.1.13

On Fri, Sep 13, 2019 at 07:43:28AM +0000, Andrey Arapov wrote:
> Hash: SHA256
> Hello,
> I've noticed that musl C lib starting 1.1.13 isn't trying to resolve the FQDN in the first place,
> it rather tries <FQDN>.<search_domain_found_in_/etc/resolv.conf_file> first which is different to how GNU
> C library is working.

This is only the case if fqdn contains fewer than ndots dots and does
not end in a dot. This behavior should match all other resolvers.

> Also, since musl C library is "never falling back to search, which glibc would do" according to
> this poses an issue when DNS server is misconfigured.
> For example, when DNS server is returning SERVFAIL (no SOA), the musl C is simply stopping from
> attempting the FQDN.

If one lookup ends in ServFail, it's indeterminate and must be
reported as an error to the caller. Otherwise the successful result of
a lookup yields different values depending on transient failure of a
nameserver. This is dangerously wrong regardless of whether other
implementations do it.

This was all discussed (with people involved in the Docker-related
projects using these kind of search tricks, as I remember it) at the
time search was added. Addition of search was explicitly conditional
on *not* reproducing buggy/dangerous behavior other implementations

> So having a wrong record in the /etc/resolv.conf will cause musl C
> resolver to break way too fast.
> I was wondering whether this is an expected behavior or not? And can
> this be changed in a way so musl C lib is trying the FQDN first?

Don't set ndots>1. ndots>1 has all sorts of problems.

> This behavior is making some people resort to using short hostnames instead of FQDNs, such as
> ad-hoc patching ucp-metrics (Alpine based container) --
> To expand the issue with the ucp-metrics:
> So when resolv.conf is set to the following configuration:
> nameserver
> search kube-system.svc.cluster.local svc.cluster.local cluster.local
> options ndots:5
> An attempt to resolve the
> ucp-controller.kube-system.svc.cluster.local will be rendered into
> attempt to resolve the
> in the first place.
> Workaround people use in the wild is: ucp-controller.kube-system.svc.cluster.local => ucp-controller
> I've already informed the Docker Support about this issue, they are
> working on the knowledge base article regarding this issue, so
> people are aware of this and can decide to rather fix their domain
> search server (should they have an access/rights to) or resolv.conf
> record.

Ideally they just would not use ndots>1, since it necessarily yields
this and lots of other problems (like extra round trips and timeout
delay for each lookup, even if the lookup works). I'm not sure what to
recommend as an alternative since I don't entirely understand the
usage constraints here, but I know these issues were all known on the
Docker and Kubernetes side back when search was first implemented in
musl, and that folks understood that these uses of search domains with
multiple components were a problem and planned to phase them out. I
don't know what happened with that.

> I think that this should be fixed since even having the good domain
> search server is making the system prone to an error should the
> domain search server fail (or partially fail, returning SERVFAIL/[no
> SOA]) at any point of time.

This is entirely intentional. If one of the servers fails, the
application needs to know that it can't get a meaningful result for
its query. Not silently get the wrong result.


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