2

Context

According to Cloudflare docs, the sequence of a DNS query from Chrome to the recursive resolver looks something like this:

Check browser DNS cache --miss--> Check OS DNS cache --miss--> Recursive resolver
          |                               |
          V                               V
         hit                             hit

Chrome's DNS cache chrome://net-internals/#dns and firefox's DNS cache about:networking#dns lists entries in one or another, and the Windows DNS cache can be accessed with ipconfig /displaydns.

The Windows version looks like this:

PS C:\> ipconfig /displaydns

Windows IP Configuration


    chrome.cloudflare-dns.com
    ----------------------------------------
    Record Name . . . . . : chrome.cloudflare-dns.com
    Record Type . . . . . : 1
    Time To Live  . . . . : 54
    Data Length . . . . . : 4
    Section . . . . . . . : Answer
    A (Host) Record . . . : 104.18.27.211


        vortex.data.microsoft.com
    ----------------------------------------
    Record Name . . . . . : vortex.data.microsoft.com
    Record Type . . . . . : 5
    Time To Live  . . . . : 6
    Data Length . . . . . : 8
    Section . . . . . . . : Answer
    CNAME Record  . . . . : asimov.vortex.data.trafficmanager.net

...

systemd-resolve

On my Ubuntu 20.04 VPS, this looks promising, but I can't get a way to list all entries.

rj@VPS:~$ systemd-resolve motel6.com
motel6.com: 23.35.171.243                      -- link: eth0

-- Information acquired via protocol DNS in 85.2ms.
-- Data is authenticated: no
rj@VPS:~$ systemd-resolve motel6.com
motel6.com: 23.35.171.243                      -- link: eth0

-- Information acquired via protocol DNS in 1.4ms.
-- Data is authenticated: no

I would assume on the second instance, it's pulling from the OS DNS cache, but a DNS request to VPS' DNS server could also be 1.4ms and now cached.

Question

How do you see all entries in the DNS cache for Linux?

(Bonus points for macos as well, but I'm scoping this to Linux)

2

Caching is not guaranteed to be present on every Linux system. In the traditional configuration (i.e. without systemd), apps would send DNS queries directly to the servers found in /etc/resolv.conf, so there's no "system" DNS cache to be seen in the first place.

Distributions do often enable DNS caching by default, but the exact mechanism varies.

systemd-resolved as DNS cache

If you are using systemd-resolved as the DNS cache (which these days is indeed the closest thing to a "system DNS cache"), run systemctl kill -s USR1 systemd-resolved and it will dump all cache contents to the system journal (journalctl -b -u systemd-resolved) upon receiving the SIGUSR1.

Note that the 'systemd-resolve' tool is named resolvectl query in recent versions, which additionally has the --cache=no option to bypass caching done by systemd-resolved.

Testing this out, we can ask journalctl for all DNS records in the cache after the start of the script and then grep for IN records.

time=$(date +%s)
systemctl kill -s USR1 systemd-resolved
journalctl -b -u systemd-resolved -S "@$time" -o cat | grep " IN "

We get this output:

cloudflare.com IN A 104.16.133.229
cloudflare.com IN A 104.16.132.229
motel6.com IN A 23.35.171.243
vortex.data.microsoft.com IN CNAME asimov.vortex.data.trafficmanager.net

Non-systemd DNS resolvers

Before systemd, it was also not uncommon to run the Dnsmasq or Unbound resolvers on 127.0.0.1 – those have their own caches, of course. If one of them is running on your system, it probably warrants its own topic, as the ability to dump caches needs to be manually enabled upfront in both.

  • In Unbound: unbound-control dump_cache will dump the entire cache in a textual format that can be loaded back again, but the control channel must be first set up using unbound-control-setup.

  • In dnsmasq: SIGUSR1 will generate a cache dump, just like with systemd-resolved, but it only works if the log-queries option has been enabled (or if dnsmasq is running in debug mode using -d).

Some systems may run nscd as a general-purpose caching daemon, which works at a higher level than DNS queries – it handles abstract "name lookup" requests. There doesn't seem to be a way to dump its cache contents normally (though nscd -p exists for inspecting "offline cache" in /var/db, if that is enabled).

1

By default, there is no DNS caching on Linux systems. You can confirm this on your system with the command

systemctl is-active systemd-resolved

Enable the service if you want DNS caching.

1
  • This is helpful, but it doesn't answer the question of how to see the DNS cache in Linux. It answers the question of whether DNS caching is taking place. Oct 10 '21 at 22:08

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