Backend DNS Helpers

Problem Statement

In our back ends we need to be able to find out which server we are supposed to connect to. We have various ways to define a server, such as using lists of servers, or a Service type, and then using DNS SRV records, or in some cases other ways (for example, CLDAP queries for AD Sites, Location discovery for IPA, etc.). Because our back ends use asynchronous calls, we also need to be able to resolve DNS domain names asynchronously to avoid stalling other operations (such as Kerberos authentication for a user while trying to resolve the LDAP identity server name). We need to be able to handle fallback cases and have blacklists of servers we know are not reachable. We also want to be able to share this information between the authentication, identity and other providers within the same back end/domain.

General Approach

Given that most back ends need to configure servers to reach and need to resolve their names and possibly allow for fallbacks to secondary servers, a general mechanism should be provided for back ends so that we have common basic helpers. Because some providers need the same information (example: ldap id + Kerberos auth providers want to connect to the same IPA server) it also make sense to provide this functionality as a back end function.

The idea is to init a common set of structures to hold data + methods that are passed to the providers at initialization time. More advanced providers (IPA, AD) that have special needs for DNS discovery will also be able to override the default helpers, otherwise the providers will simply use the default common facility.

The helpers will use the tevent_req interface and will be completely asynchronous.


We need a few basic methods to start:

  1. Initialization method, to which we pass a list of servers:service we need to connect to from the specified provider. The first provider that sets up the list will initialize defaults; if no other provider adds any server:service item during initialization the default ones will be used by all.
  1. A secondary implementation method that provides a DNS domain and the request to resolve SRV records instead of (or in addition to) providing a list of servers:services. The helper will decide when it is time to refresh the SRV list.
  2. A simple method to ask for the first available server of type service in the list for this provider.
  3. A method to give feedback about a returned result. If the resolved server is not reachable it should be blacklisted for some time. If all servers are blacklisted we should consider putting the whole domain offline.

State Information

In the initial implementation the black and white lists of servers will be kept in memory. This means that any status will be lost if the process is restarted. In future we may decide to cache the lists on persistent storage (the domain’s LDB file) to avoid delays on quick restarts.


The first implementation step will focus on manually configured lists and the default resolution mechanism. The list of servers can be explicitly configured in sssd.conf.

The list can:

  1. Include host names, host IP addresses in v4 format or host IP addresses in v6 format, and optionally a port number
  2. Can have just one or multiple items
  3. Can specify a domain name to be used to resolve SRV records
  4. Can be empty in which case a default domain will be used (recovered from the host name or the domain options in resolv.conf)

SRV records are not used if an explicit list is provided. This is the behaviour of the default helpers; other providers can provide their own resolution methods.