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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols, Services and Applications (OSI Layers 5, 6 and 7)
      9  Name Systems and TCP/IP Name Registration and Name Resolution
           9  TCP/IP Name Systems: Host Tables and Domain Name System (DNS)
                9  TCP/IP Domain Name System (DNS)
                     9  DNS Name Space, Architecture and Terminology

Previous Topic/Section
DNS Structural Elements and Terminology: Domains, Subdomains, and Nodes; Roots, Leaves and Branches; Parents, Children and Siblings
Previous Page
Pages in Current Topic/Section
1
23
Next Page
Absolute (Fully-Qualified) and Relative (Partially-Qualified) Domain Name Specifications
Next Topic/Section

DNS Labels, Names and Syntax Rules
(Page 1 of 3)

We've seen how the DNS name space hierarchy allows us to arrange domains into a virtual tree that reflects the characteristics of how the devices themselves are organized. While using a hierarchical name space is inherently more complex than a flat name space, it yields a powerful result: the ability to specify names that can be locally managed while remaining globally unique. At the same time, the complexity of the tree yields the benefit of relatively simple name construction using domain identifiers.

DNS Labels and Label Syntax Rules

Naming in DNS begins with giving each domain, or node, in the DNS name space a text label. The label identifies the domain within the structure, and must follow these syntax rules:

  • Length: Each label can theoretically be from 0 to 63 characters in length. In practice, a length of 1 to about 20 characters is most common, with a special exception for the label assigned to the root of the tree (see below).

  • Symbols: Letters, numbers are allowed, as well as the dash symbol (“-”). No other punctuation is permitted, including the underscore (“_”).

  • Case: Labels are not case-sensitive. This means that “Jabberwocky” and “jabberwocky” are both permissible domain name labels, but they are equivalent.
DNS Label Uniqueness Requirement

Every label must be unique within its parent domain. So, for example, if we have a top-level domain (TLD) called “rocks”, we can only have one subdomain within “rocks” called “crystal”. Due to the case insensitivity of labels, we cannot have both “CRYSTAL” and “crystal” within “rocks”, because they are considered the same.

It is this concept of “local uniqueness” within a parent domain that ensures the uniqueness of names as a whole, while allowing local control over naming. Whoever is in charge of the “rocks” domain can assign names to as many individual objects or subdomains as he likes as long as they are unique within the domain. Someone else, say, the maintainer of the “glass” domain, can also create a subdomain called “crystal” within “glass”; there is no conflict because the “glass” and “rocks” domains are separate. Of course, since all top-level domains have the same parent (the root), all TLDs must be unique.

Key Concept: Each node in the DNS name space is identified by a label. Each label must be unique within a parent domain, but need not be unique across domains. This enables each domain to have local control over the names of subdomains without causing any conflict in the full domain names created on a global level.



Previous Topic/Section
DNS Structural Elements and Terminology: Domains, Subdomains, and Nodes; Roots, Leaves and Branches; Parents, Children and Siblings
Previous Page
Pages in Current Topic/Section
1
23
Next Page
Absolute (Fully-Qualified) and Relative (Partially-Qualified) Domain Name Specifications
Next Topic/Section

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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005

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