Review of DNS & BIND Cookbook

DNS & BIND Cookbook
Cricket Liu
O'Reilly and Associates

Reviewed by Nick Christenson,

April 21, 2003

The "Cricket Book" has been the standard reference on using the BIND name server since the publication of its first edition. Cricket Liu, one of its authors, and O'Reilly have recently published DNS & BIND Cookbook to complement their earlier title.

Already, many technical books have used the "cookbook" format to provide their information. Generally, a book of this type will be filled with "recipes", step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish specific tasks. It's often the case that technical solutions presented in this manner can be more useful than information presented in a "reference book" format. Generally, a reference book contains situation-neutral information, a "cookbook" contains expert recommendations. Usually, the focus of a cookbook is on how a given application or technology should be used in practice using specific, if imagined, examples.

Certainly, BIND operation is complex enough to warrant both a reference book and a "how to" guide. For example, while the structure of the BIND zone files is adequately explained in the Cricket Book, the authors spend little time discussing the specifics of setting up BIND in practice. Some complex situations in which many BIND administrators would benefit from having examples to copy include: running a split-horizon DNS service, faking internal root name servers, allowing dynamic DNS updates, etc.. These are the sorts of situations Liu covers in DNS & BIND Cookbook.

As it turns out, though, the structure of the book is really more of a "FAQ" than a "Cookbook". This isn't a major criticism, it's just that for most examples the step-by-step instructions provided in recipe format look a lot like:

  1. Make the appropriate change to the appropriate zone file.
  2. Reload/restart as appropriate.
These sort of short instructions really don't rise to the level of a full-fledged recipe. Nonetheless, that doesn't detract from the usefulness of the information.

There are a lot of people out there who are managing complex (not to mention simple) BIND installations without DNS & BIND Cookbook without feeling daily pain, so it's my opinion that this book isn't as necessary as some. However, if one or two of these recipes saves a couple of hours of work, the book almost certainly pays for itself. It's well written, authoritative, and contains a great deal of advice that just about any DNS admin would find valuable. Therefore, anyone who spends a significant amount of time maintaining DNS information will almost certainly find this book worth their time and money. Those who are merely interested in the topic will almost certainly find it worthwhile as well. Even though this book may not be as necessary as the Cricket Book, it's still valuable.


While DNS & BIND, 4th Edition is the standard reference on BIND software, DNS & BIND Cookbook provides a significant amount of generally useful information on using BIND in sample situations. The information presented in the book is well-considered, clearly written, and contains some very good advice. I would think that most DNS administrators would almost certainly want to obtain a copy, and other folks who use DNS less often will likely learn enough to make this book a worthwhile addition to their libraries. I recommend DNS & BIND Cookbook.

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