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The local DNS servers, where I work, stink. They're absurdly slow and often completely fail to resolve web domains during certain periods of heavy sunspot activity.

In response, I've just added Google's DNS server to my Network configuration. This totally solves the speed problem, but also generates a problem with the intranet. Whenever Google's sever is ordered above the local DNS, I can't resolve anything on the intranet.

I always assumed OS X would just go down the list if it couldn't find a DNS on the first server, but apparently it isn't. I have to go in and manually re-order the local server to the top (ahead of Google's) in order to resolve the intranet.

Is there any way around this? Have I set something up incorrectly?

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You might want to try using namebench to test both internal DNS as well as various external servers. Perhaps your local DNS is misconfigured and changing its upstream would improve your local performance.. –  da4 May 9 '12 at 17:25
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1 Answer

Stub resolvers only try a different DNS server in the list of available servers if they fail to get a response after trying one server. If they do get a response, then they don't go down the list querying other servers just to make sure the other servers agree with this response. (And if they found conflicting responses, which one should they trust?) So it's normal that when Google's DNS server claims your intranet host doesn't exist, it doesn't check any other servers to make sure.

What you would need to do if your local resolvers are garbage is provide one or more alternative servers that do the same job and use those. Basically: reimplement the slow servers except... not slow.

You will need a list of all domains that belong to your intranet, and the corresponding authoritative nameserver set that serves each one. The problem is that your IT department may not furnish you with this list and it may receive additions and changes over time, so you will need to constantly maintain it up to date. Your IT department maintains this list in the resolvers that it provides, but they may not support a third party maintaining another copy in their own resolver.

You will need a caching DNS server such as bin or unbound. I would normally recommend unbound for this, but if you want to run the software on your local machine you will find bind easier because it comes preinstalled on MacOS. If you run it on your local machine then you can configure 127.0.0.1 as your resolver.

Set up each of the intranet domains as a "forward" zone, and set the forwarders to the authoritative nameservers for that domain. For both BIND and Unbound, you can use mostly the default config, with additions of one forward zone for each intranet domain. For BIND:

zone "yourdomain" {
    type forward;
    forwarders ip.add.ress ip.add.ress;
}

For unbound:

forward-zone:
    name: "yourdomain"
    forward-addr: ip.add.ress
    forward-addr: ip.add.ress
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