Name, Game, Blame

No its not about the IPL. Enough is being said about that elsewhere or if you are in India then enough and more is being said about that EVERYWHERE.

This is about domain name servers or the lack of them. A few days ago I noticed that my IP Phone was no longer registered and hence would not receive any calls. I wondered what happened to it and promptly started poking around to see if some settings had changed. Nothing had changed at all. I went as far as resetting passwords only to discover that while my IP phone could not connect to its server, my cellphone which has a SIP stack and is configured with the same credentials and service was happily able to register. This got me thinking. A little later I started getting random calls from friends and clients asking if there was an issue with “name your favourite site here”. Mail was not working for some, SMTP not working for some, certain sites not opening at all but the rest seemed OK.

Very strange indeed.

Since most everything was working on my notebook, I decided to just change the DNS servers for my IP Phone and Voila! everything worked again.

Now for all the people calling me, I recommended the same change. Suddenly, everyone was a happy puppy again.

The magic – Simple. I changed from Airtel’s DNS to Google’s DNS. The Google DNS servers have easy to remember numbers. The primary one is 8.8.8.8 and the secondary is 8.8.4.4 so things were back to normal again. Of course, that would not keep me satisfied or happy for long, I did want to get to the bottom of this. I asked casually on Twitter if anyone else had issues and got a flurry of responses. One of them was really nice, a user wrote back to say Airtel customer care actually called him and told him that there is going to be a change in DNS zone-wise and he is not affected by the change as yet. The rest of us seem to be lesser mortals, for the change affects us and we are not told or informed. Not wanting to get into an endless loop, I never bothered calling customer care.

Still not totally satisfied with my solution, I decided to check out namebench. Its an interesting little open-source DNS benchmarking tool. It tells you the fastest DNS available to you and if you change to their recommendations, you would generally experience a faster Internet. Download it, install it and keep it for a rainy day. Useful little utility, available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Would be nice to see this on some phones as well since all the “smart” ones have WiFi anyway.

If you need to change your DNS and are clueless, check the Google Public DNS site instructions are fairly clear. My recommendation, leave the setting for “Obtain IP Address” to automatically but manually set the DNS entries. This way no matter where you go, what network you join, you always get the DNS of your choice.

Google Public DNS
Primary – 8.8.8.8
Secondary – 8.8.4.4

And if you are averse to all things Google, then here is an alternative.

OpenDNS
Primary – 208.67.222.222
Secondary – 208.67.220.220

In an unrelated incident, for some reason I only seem to encounter the Bloglines Plumber. Been happening since last night. Adds colour to the post. Enjoy!

Cheers…Kishore

3 thoughts on “Name, Game, Blame”

  1. Hi! Vinoo, thanks for DNS Jumper but I do need stuff that works on Linux or OS X. Of course, on both I can change it manually by editing a file ;-)

    Cheers…Kishore

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