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Versions: (RFC 1995) 00 01 02 03 draft-ietf-dnsext-rfc1995bis-ixfr

DNSext Working Group                                           A. Hoenes
Internet-Draft                                                    TR-Sys
Obsoletes: 1995 (if approved)                                    O. Sury
Intended status: Standards Track                                  CZ.NIC
Expires: September 10, 2012                                March 9, 2012

             DNS Incremental Zone Transfer Protocol (IXFR)


   The standard means within the Domain Name System protocol for
   maintaining coherence among a zone's authoritative name servers
   consists of three mechanisms.  Incremental Zone Transfer (IXFR) is
   one of the mechanisms and originally was defined in RFC 1995.

   This document aims to provide a more detailed and up-to-date
   specification of the IXFR mechanism and to align it with the current
   specification of the primary zone transfer mechanism, AXFR, given in
   RFC 5936.  Further, based on operational experience, this document
   juxtaposes to the original IXFR query a new query type, IXFR-ONLY,
   that will likely be preferred over IXFR in specific deployments.

   This document obsoletes and replaces RFC 1995.


   This draft targets adoption by the DNSEXT working group.  Comments
   should be sent to the authors and/or the dnsext mailing list.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on September 10, 2012.

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   Copyright (c) 2012 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     1.1.  Overview of DNS Zone Synchronization . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     1.2.  Incremental Zone Transfer (IXFR) - Conclusions from
           Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     1.3.  Requirements Language  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     1.4.  Terminology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     1.5.  Scope  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   2.  Principles of IXFR Protocol Operation  . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   3.  IXFR Messages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     3.1.  IXFR Query . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
       3.1.1.  Header Values  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
       3.1.2.  Question Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
       3.1.3.  Answer Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
       3.1.4.  Authority Section  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
       3.1.5.  Additional Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
     3.2.  IXFR Response  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
       3.2.1.  Header Values  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
       3.2.2.  Question Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
       3.2.3.  Answer Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
       3.2.4.  Authority Section  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
       3.2.5.  Additional Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
     3.3.  Connection Aborts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   4.  Response Contents  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
     4.1.  Incremental Responses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   5.  Transport  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   6.  Server Behavior  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
     6.1.  General  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
     6.2.  Purging Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
     6.3.  Optional Condensation of Zone Changes  . . . . . . . . . . 21
     6.4.  Authorization  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
   7.  Client Behavior  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
     7.1.  Zone Integrity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
   8.  Backwards Compatibility  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
   9.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
   10. IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
   11. Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
   12. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
     12.1. Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
     12.2. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
   Appendix A.  Motivation for IXFR-ONLY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
   Appendix B.  Substantial Changes Since RFC 1995  . . . . . . . . . 28
   Appendix C.  Evaluation of List Discussion, Draft Changes
                since -02 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

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1.  Introduction

1.1.  Overview of DNS Zone Synchronization

   The Domain Name System (DNS) standard facilities for maintaining
   coherent servers for a zone consist of three elements.  Authoritative
   Transfer (AXFR) originally was defined in STD 13: "Domain Names -
   Concepts and Facilities" [RFC1034] (referred to in this document as
   RFC 1034) and "Domain Names - Implementation and Specification"
   [RFC1035] (henceforth RFC 1035), and is now precisely specified in
   "DNS Zone Transfer Protocol (AXFR)" [RFC5936] (henceforth RFC 5936).
   Incremental Transfer (IXFR) was originally defined in "Incremental
   Zone Transfer in DNS" [RFC1995].  A mechanism for prompt notification
   of zone changes (NOTIFY) is defined in "A Mechanism for Prompt
   Notification of Zone Changes (DNS NOTIFY)" [RFC1996].  The goal of
   these mechanisms is to enable a set of DNS name servers to remain
   coherently authoritative for a given zone.

   For large domains that incur frequent changes that need to be
   available quickly to prospective DNS clients, AXFR has proven less
   suitable because it always transfers the whole zone content.  The
   latency incurred in the propagation of changes to the DNS database
   ([RFC1034], [RFC1035]) can be substantially reduced in such scenarios
   by actively notifying secondary servers of the availability of a new
   version of the authoritative zone data at the primary server for a
   zone; this is accomplished by the DNS NOTIFY mechanism [RFC1996].
   The time and resources needed to accomplish the transfer of the new
   zone content to the secondary servers in many cases can be reduced
   substantially by only carrying forward the changes from a previous
   version of the zone data.  This is accomplished by the IXFR mechanism
   originally specified in RFC 1995 [RFC1995] and, more precisely, in
   this document.

1.2.  Incremental Zone Transfer (IXFR) - Conclusions from Experience

   The original IXFR automatically falls back to AXFR behavior whenever
   the IXFR server cannot fulfill the given delta-update request.  In
   some deployments, in particular where multiple IXFR servers are
   available to the IXFR client, this can lead to premature fallback to
   AXFR-like behavior whenever the chosen IXFR server does not have the
   wanted delta-update information available, but another possible IXFR
   server would, which incurs the additional overhead that the client
   wanted to avoid whenever possible by his initial choice to use IXFR.
   This gap is closed by a variant of the IXFR mechanism, dubbed
   "IXFR-ONLY", which originally has been proposed in "IXFR-ONLY to
   Prevent IXFR Fallback to AXFR" [I-D.kerr-ixfr-only] and which is
   fully specified below as well.

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   Thus, this document re-specifies the IXFR mechanism as it is deployed
   in the Internet at large, giving more details than in the original
   specification, and using RFC 5936 as its foundation.  Additionally,
   it newly specifies a versatile variant of IXFR, IXFR-ONLY.

   This document is organized as follows: After presenting the
   terminology used and elaborations on the scope of this protocol and
   its specification in the next subsections, Section 2 gives an
   overview on the principles of operation of the IXFR protocol.
   Section 3 normatively specifies the IXFR query and response message
   format and the basic rules governing their generation and processing.
   Subsequent sections detail mandatory and optional server behavior,
   and they supply management, security, and IANA considerations.

1.3.  Requirements Language

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14, "Key words for
   use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels" [RFC2119].

1.4.  Terminology

   This document makes freely use of basic DNS terminology as introduced
   in RFCs 1034 and 1035 ([RFC1034], [RFC1035]) and clarified and
   expanded upon in RFCs 2181 and 4033 ([RFC2181], [RFC4033]).

   The terms "AXFR server", "AXFR client", "AXFR session", "General-
   purpose DNS implementation" and "Turnkey DNS implementation" are used
   as defined in Section 1.1 of RFC 5936 [RFC5936].

   The bare term "IXFR" is intended to refer to the generic case of an
   IXFR or IXFR-ONLY query/response, unless it is clear from the context
   that the original IXFR is dealt with specifically.

   An "IXFR client" is a (secondary) name server for a given DNS zone
   that, based on a trigger event, for instance a DNS NOTIFY message,
   issues an IXFR query to a "superordinate" authoritative server (e.g.,
   the primary server of the zone) and receives the IXFR response from

   An "IXFR server" is an authoritative server that is presumed to
   become aware of changes to a zone earlier than other authoritiative
   servers, for instance the primary server for a zone as specified in
   STD 13 or a secondary server that already has synchronized with the
   primary server, and that is configured to respond to IXFR queries.

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   The interaction and protocol exchange(s) performed by an IXFR client
   and an IXFR server to issue an IXFR query and accomplish its
   processing are collectively denoted as an "IXFR session".

   The behavior of an IXFR server falling back to full zone transfer
   when incremental updates are unavailable or unpractical is denoted
   (by common colloquial shorthand) as "Fallback to AXFR", although
   technically, no AXFR pseudo-RRs are involved in this protocol
   variant.  (This is sketched in Section 2 and detailed in Section 4

1.5.  Scope

   In general terms, authoritative name servers for a given zone can use
   various means to achieve coherency of the zone contents they serve.
   For example, there are DNS implementations that assemble answers from
   data stored in relational databases (as opposed to master files),
   relying on the database's non-DNS means to synchronize the database
   instances.  Some of these non-DNS solutions interoperate in some
   fashion.  However, AXFR, IXFR, and NOTIFY are the only protocol-
   defined in-band mechanisms to provide coherence of a set of name
   servers, and they are the only mechanisms specified by the IETF.

   This document does not cover incoherent DNS situations.  There are
   applications of the DNS in which servers for a zone are designed to
   be incoherent.  For these configurations, a coherency mechanism as
   described here would be unsuitable.

   IXFR is an optional protocol component for authoritiative DNS
   servers; it is not needed on DNS resolver software that does not
   support the functions of an authoritative DNS server.  Thus, all
   usage of normative BCP 14 [RFC2119] language is applicable only to
   DNS server implementations that claim support of this specification.

   Whereas the original IXFR already is widely implemented, IXFR-ONLY
   offers an operational choice for administrators of zones with a non-
   trivial propagation graph for the authoritative zone data, who are
   looking for more options to fine-tune the synchronization efficiency
   of their authoritative servers.  It could be implemented without bare
   IXFR, but for the sake of backwards compatibility and flexibility,
   and for simplicity in documentation, it is strongly RECOMMENDED that
   IXFR-ONLY be always implemented in concert with bare IXFR.

2.  Principles of IXFR Protocol Operation

   Each version of the authoritative data of a DNS zone is identified by
   the SOA serial number (cf. Section 3.3.13 of [RFC1035]); succesive
   versions are tagged with monotonically increasing serial numbers.

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   Below, serial numbers are symbolically referred to by "sn". mostly
   with some distinguishing postfix.

   When an IXFR client currently serving, say, sn_o of a particular zone
   receives a trigger that it should incrementally update the zone data,
   it sends one of the two flavors of an IXFR request to an IXFR server,
   with the expectation to obtain in the IXFR response the change
   information necessary to transform the sn_o zone data into the zone
   data of the current zone version, say, sn_n.

   The details of which triggers can and will start such IXFR session
   are implementation dependent.  Possible triggers are some time
   schedule or a management request, but most likely the IXFR query will
   be triggered by a DNS NOTIFY message received from an authoritative
   server of higher precedence in the propagation graph for the zone.

   Possible IXFR servers are usually configured (per zone) on an IXFR
   client, amended with some indication of precedence.  Similarly, IXFR
   servers are configured (per zone) with the identities of the
   secondary servers they should accept as IXFR clients.  This way, some
   authoritative servers for a given zone may act both as an IXFR client
   and an IXFR server.  Among all authoritative servers for a zone, at
   least one server (the primary server of the zone) is not acting as an
   IXFR client.  This way, the {IXFR server, IXFR client} pairs form a
   binary relation on the set of these servers that defines a directed
   graph rooted at the primary server(s); this is the IXFR propagation
   graph for the zone.

      Note that, for the purpose of IXFR, it is possible that more than
      one server can be acting as a primary server; this requires that
      zone synchronization between these servers is accomplished by
      other mechanisms, e.g., AXFR, or non-DNS means like distributed
      database technology.

   The most simple propagation graph is a star (hub and spokes)
   configuration, with the primary server as the central hub.  For
   redundancy, important zones with many authoritative servers are
   likely to be configured with a more dense propagation graph that, for
   the sake of resilience and/or load sharing, gives IXFR clients a
   choice of multiple IXFR servers to contact.  All these configuration
   details are a strictly local matter and do not affect
   interoperability; hence, these details are out of scope for this
   specification.  The only property of the propagation graph that needs
   to be ensured by the zone administration is that each secondary
   (i.e., non-primary) server must be reachable by at least one path in
   this graph that originates in a primary server.

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   In order to be able to act as a useful IXFR server, a DNS server
   needs to keep track of the zone history, to a certain extent (as
   directed by local policy, as well).  To this end, the server must
   maintain knowledge of the changes that have been applied successively
   to the zone content from one SOA serial up to the current version.
   This does not necessarily mean that each change needs to be recorded,
   however; if some parts of the zone content change frequently, it
   might be preferable to coalesce subsequent chunks of change
   information -- both for local storage and/or for transmission --, for
   instance instead of the change information from sn_1 to sn_2 and the
   change information from sn_2 to sn_3 (where sn_1 < sn_2 < sn_3), the
   change information from sn_1 to sn_3 can be provided.  This
   condensation of data has some downsides, however: if an IXFR client
   serves sn_2 and asks an IXFR server for the delta information to the
   current version of the zone, but the server has performed the above
   condensation, it has no way to tell the necessary information to the
   IXFR client, and the IXFR request necessarily is doomed to fail.
   Therefore, is becomes apparent that an IXFR server must maintain
   seemless chains of change information chunks from all past SOA serial
   number values it wants/needs to support (because potential IXFR
   clients currently serve these zone versions) to the current zone
   version.  See Section 6.3 for more details on Condensation.

   Upon receipt of any IXFR query, the IXFR server conceptionally
   constructs a chain of change information chunks from the SOA serial
   number indicated by the client (sn_o) to the current zone version

   If this is not possible, in the case of bare IXFR, the server falls
   back to AXFR, i.e. it provides the full zone content.  In the case of
   an IXFR-ONLY query, however, an error response SHOULD be returned
   immediately to the IXFR client, thus giving it a chance to try with
   an alternate IXFR server that might (still) serve the client's sn_o
   and not to immediately incur the potential overhead of a full zone
   transfer.  However, if the full zone content would fit into a single
   response packet over UDP, an IXFR server MAY refrain from signalling
   an error in response to an IXFR-ONLY query and behave as if the query
   had been IXFR.  This is allowed because, in this case, the full IXFR
   transaction can be executed in a single packet exchange and an error
   return would necessitate more messages and hence cause additional
   overhead and delay, contrary to the performance optimization goal of

   In case it turns out that the IXFR client already has the current
   zone version (sn_o = sn_n), the IXFR server does not reply with an
   empty chain of chunks, but with the (current) SOA record of the zone.

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   If the IXFR server determines that it would be inefficient to
   transfer the series of chunks, it also may fall back to full zone
   transfer.  Note that this is recommended behavior for the IXFR
   server, but the correct protocol operation does not depend on this
   (useful) optimization.

   Ordinarily, in the generic case, the IXFR server transmits the change
   information chunks in their "natural" order (by ascending sn) to the
   IXFR client.

   Each such change information chunk -- say from sn_a to sn_b -- is
   represented (conceptionally and on the wire) by a sequence of RR
   deletions and a sequence of subsequent RR additions, all of which
   need to be applied in order to transform the zone content at sn_a to
   the zone content at sn_b.  For transfer in the IXFR response, each
   sequence starts with the corresponding SOA RR as its delimiter, and
   the other RRs within it can be given in arbitrary order.

   The whole chain of change information chunks is embedded in a pair of
   copies of the new SOA RR (at sn_n) that serve as "sentinels".  It is
   important to point out that the SOA RR is used only as a marker in
   this context and it can appear multiple times, as opposed to an
   RRSIG(SOA) RR, which is treated as a common record and needs to
   appear only once in the zone.  That also means that an RRSIG(SOA) RR
   for sn_o has to be deleted and an RRSIG(SOA) RR for sn_n has to be
   added.  In other words, any RRSIG(SOA) doesn't get any special
   treatment in the context of IXFR, and SOA RRs are used as

   For example, if the IXFR server wants to transmit the changes from
   sn_o to sn_n in three chunks, based on two intermediary zone versions
   at sn_1 and sn_2 (where sn_o < sn_1 < sn_2 < sn_n), i.e., the chunk
   with the change information from sn_o to sn_1, the chunk from sn_1 to
   sn_2, and the chunk from sn_2 to sn_n, it would deliver in the IXFR
   response packet(s) the following resource records (RRs), in order:

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      *  SOA for sn_n    # outer bracket
      *  SOA for sn_o    # start of first chunk
      *  {other RRs to be deleted from the zone at sn_o}
      *  SOA for sn_1
      *  {other RRs to be added for getting the zone at sn_1}
      *  SOA for sn_1    # start of second chunk
      *  {other RRs to be deleted from the zone at sn_1}
      *  SOA for sn_2
      *  {other RRs to be added for getting the zone at sn_2}
      *  SOA for sn_2    # start of third chunk
      *  {other RRs to be deleted from the zone at sn_2}
      *  SOA for sn_n
      *  {other RRs to be added for getting the zone at sn_n}
      *  SOA for sn_n    # outer bracket

   In contrast, in the case of fallback to AXFR, the IXFR response would
   convey, in order:

      *  SOA for sn_n    # first instance
      *  {DNSSEC signature RRs for the SOA, if any}
      *  {other RRsets of the zone at sn_n, in arbitrary order}
      *  SOA for sn_n    # repeated as trailing delimiter

3.  IXFR Messages

   This section specifies the format of IXFR messages and the basic
   message generation and processing rules.

   An IXFR session is started with an IXFR query message sent from an
   IXFR client to an IXFR server, which solicits one or more response
   messages in return.

   All these messages adhere to the basic DNS message format as
   specified in RFC 1035 and later amended in various ways, for which
   Section 2 of RFC 5936 gives an expanded bibliography.  Implementers
   should be aware of the considerations in "Measures for Making DNS
   More Resilient against Forged Answers" [RFC5452] and follow the
   recommendations given there.

   For convenience of the reader, the synopsis of the DNS message header
   from RFC 6195 [RFC6195] (and the IANA registry for DNS Parameters
   [DNSVALS]) is reproduced here informally:

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                 0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15
               |                      ID                       |
               |QR|   OpCode  |AA|TC|RD|RA| Z|AD|CD|   RCODE   |
               |                QDCOUNT/ZOCOUNT                |
               |                ANCOUNT/PRCOUNT                |
               |                NSCOUNT/UPCOUNT                |
               |                    ARCOUNT                    |

   This document makes use of the field names as they appear in this
   diagram.  The names of sections in the body of DNS messages are
   capitalized in this document for clarity, e.g., "Additional section".

   An IXFR session can be carried out over UDP (with tight restrictions
   -- see below) and over TCP.  Thus, the DNS message size limit from
   RFC 1035 for DNS over UDP (and its extension specified in
   RFC 2671bis, "Extension Mechanisms for DNS (EDNS0)"
   [I-D.ietf-dnsext-rfc2671bis-edns0]) apply in the former case.
   BCP 145, "Unicast UDP Usage Guidelines for Application Designers"
   [RFC5405] contains valuable considerations regarding IP level
   fragmentation of UDP messages, and RFC 6274, "Security Assessment of
   the Internet Protocol Version 4" [RFC6274] contains a detailed
   security assessment of IPv4 segmentation and reassembly; both
   documents should be considered by implementers when deciding on the
   maximum size of DNS response messages over UPD supported by an IXFR
   server implementation.  The upper limit on the permissible size of a
   DNS message over TCP is only restricted by the TCP framing defined in
   Section 4.2.2 of RFC 1035, which specifies a two-octet message length
   field, understood to be unsigned, and thus causing a limit of 65535
   octets.  This limit is not changed by EDNS0, and it applies to IXFR
   over TCP.

      Note that, independent of transport, the standard DNS message
      (name) compression facility (Section 4.1.4 of RFC 1035 [RFC1035])
      severely limits the utility of DNS message sizes above 16k octets.
      The additional header overhead resulting from limiting IXFR
      response messages to 16k is negligible in comparison to the
      overhead resulting from the loss of ability to apply message
      compression in larger records.

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3.1.  IXFR Query

   An IXFR query is sent by a client whenever it wants to obtain the
   delta information needed to update the content of a zone it is aware
   of (as identified by its SOA serial number) to the most recent
   version.  The predominant trigger for this is the receipt of a DNS
   NOTIFY message [RFC1996], but it also can be triggered by other
   mechanisms or events, for instance as a result of a command line
   request, say for debugging.  The details for these triggers are
   implemenation dependent and out of scope for this specification.

3.1.1.  Header Values

   The specification for AXFR query messages in Section 2.1.1 of RFC
   5936 applies likewise for IXFR queries, with a single exception:

      NSCOUNT     Number of entries in Authority section;  MUST be 1

3.1.2.  Question Section

   The Question section of an IXFR query MUST conform to Section 4.1.2
   of RFC 1035, and it MUST contain (matching QDCOUNT=1 in the DNS
   message header) a single resource record with the following values:

      QNAME       the name of the zone requested

      QTYPE       one of the two pseudo-RR types for incremental zone
                  transfer: IXFR (= 251) or IXFR-ONLY (= {TBD1})

      QCLASS      the class of the zone requested [DNSVALS]

   The choice of QTYPE depends on the intended IXFR server behavior in
   case the request cannot be fulfilled due to lack of stored
   information on the server, as detailed below in Section 3.2.

3.1.3.  Answer Section

   The Answer section MUST be empty, as indicated by ANCOUNT=0 in the
   DNS message header.

3.1.4.  Authority Section

   Corresponding to NSCOUNT=1 in the DNS message header, the Authority
   section MUST contain a single DNS resource record, the SOA record of
   the client's version of the zone content, identified by its serial
   number (denoted as sn_o in this document).

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3.1.5.  Additional Section

   Currently, two kinds of resource records are defined that can appear
   in the Additional section of IXFR queries and responses: EDNS and DNS
   transaction security.  Future specifications defining RRs that can be
   carried in the Additional section of normal DNS transactions need to
   explicitly describe their use with IXFR, should that be desired.

   All considerations from Section 2.1.5 of RFC 5936 apply in the same
   manner for IXFR as they do for AXFR.

   In order to support the extended RCODE assigned for CannotIXFR, EDNS0
   support (RFC 2671bis [I-D.ietf-dnsext-rfc2671bis-edns0]) is REQUIRED
   for IXFR-ONLY, and an IXFR-ONLY query MUST be sent with an EDNS OPT
   RR in the Additional section of the query.  Receipt of such query
   without an OPT RR SHOULD result in an error response with FormErr

3.2.  IXFR Response

   An IXFR server that has received an IXFR query responds to it with an
   IXFR response addressed to the transport source identifier from which
   the query has been received, in particular using the same transport

   An IXFR response consists of one or more response messages.  If the
   IXFR query has been received over a connectionless transport
   (currently: UDP), the IXFR response MUST consist of a single message.
   If it is not possible to send the complete response in a single DNS
   message, a response MUST BE sent that only contains the currrent SOA
   RR at the server; whose serial sn_n being different from sn_o is the
   signal to the IXFR client to retry over connection-oriented transport
   (currently: TCP).

   The conceptional "answer" carried in a multi-message response is the
   concatenation of the content of the Answer sections in these response
   messages, in the order they are sent; this is unambiguous from the
   point of view of the IXFR client as well, since the applicable
   connection-oriented transport preserves the order of messages sent.

   If the server detects an error condition that makes it impossible to
   fulfill the request, it immediately sends an error response, that is
   a response message with non-zero RCODE.  In case of connectionless
   transport (UDP), this is the single response message sent.  In case
   of connection-oriented transport (TCP), the error condition might
   occur after one of more response messages already have been sent; in
   this case, the error message is sent as soon as need arises, and it
   will abort the ongoing IXFR session; i.e., the error message is the

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   last response message sent by the server.  The special case of a
   server closing the TCP connection without sending an IXFR response
   message is covered in Section 3.3.

   If an IXFR server is not able or willing to send the incremental zone
   change information to transform the client's version (sn_o) to its
   newer version (sn_n), the behavior is specified as follows: In the
   case of QTYPE=IXFR, the server SHOULD fall back to AXFR (see below).
   In the case of QTYPE=IXFR-ONLY, it SHOULD respond with an appropriate
   error, e.g., CannotIXFR (see below); however, in the (rather
   unlikely) corner case where a full zone transfer can be sent in a
   single response packet over connectionless transport (UDP), the IXFR
   server MAY instead proceed to send this even in response to an
   IXFR-ONLY query; doing so helps to achieve the overall performance
   optimization goals of IXFR-ONLY.

   Any non-error IXFR response starts with the server's version of the
   SOA resource record, sn_n.
   If the server detects that the client's version is current (sn_n =
   sn_o), or if the server detects that the entire response to an IXFR
   query received over connectionless transport (UDP) cannot be placed
   into a single response message, this SOA record is the only answer RR
   sent to the client.  Otherwise, the subsequent answer RRs sent form a
   sequence of one or more change information chunks as described below
   in Section 4, and the final "sentinel" RR sent is another copy of the
   current SOA RR.
   In case of fallback to AXFR, the answer contains the same RRs (and is
   subject to the same ordering rules) as specified in Sections 2.2
   through 3 of RFC 5936, with the single difference being the echoed
   QCODE (i.e., IXFR) in the Question section.

3.2.1.  Header Values

   The specification for AXFR in Section 2.2.1 of RFC 5936 applies
   likewise for IXFR queries, where in the case of IXFR the "new"
   behavior from RFC 5936 is always followed, i.e. the query ID from the
   IXFR query MUST be echoed in all IXFR response messages.

      Note that unlike with all common DNS responses, but like AXFR, the
      IXFR protocol makes no use of the TC (truncation) bit.  To signal
      that an IXFR session needs to be retried over TCP, an IXFR server
      sends a response that in the Answer section solely contains its
      current version of the SOA RR for the zone.

   The only additonal rule to be followed applies to the deliberations
   on the RCODE field in Note e) of Section 2.2.1 in RFC 5936: If the
   IXFR server is not able to fulfill an IXFR-ONLY request, is SHOULD --
   see above for the exceptional corner case -- respond with the

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   extended RCODE CannotIXFR assigned on behalf of this document (see
   Section 10).

      Note that only the lower 4 bits of the conceptual RCODE can be
      carried in the RCODE message header field; the upper bits need to
      be placed into the EXTENDED-RCODE subfield of the "TTL" field in
      the OPT RR that, in this case, is REQUIRED in the Additional
      section of the response -- see Section 6.1.3 of RFC 2671bis

3.2.2.  Question Section

   In the first response message, the IXFR server MUST copy this section
   literally from the corresponding IXFR query message.  For subsequent
   response messages, it MAY do the same or leave the Question section
   empty.  However, if the last response message sent is an error
   message (RCODE unequal to 0), the query MUST also be copied.
   Accordingly, QDCOUNT in the DNS message header is set to either 1
   (query copied) or 0 (otherwise).

   When it is present, the content of this section MAY be used to
   determine the context of the message, that is, the name of the zone
   being transferred.  The recipent (IXFR client) SHOULD apply the
   response verification rules from RFC 5452 [RFC5452].

3.2.3.  Answer Section

   The Answer section MUST be populated with the zone change information
   or, in the case of fallback to AXFR, the full zone contents.

   For multi-message IXFR responses, the conceptional answer is split
   into segments that are sent in order.  Each segment is comprised of
   an integer number of full RRs, and for transport efficiency, the
   response messages should be filled up with answer RRs as much as
   possible for the response message size chosen by the IXFR server,
   taking into account the space needed for the other sections in the

   See Section 4 below for the normative details of the resource record
   ordering requirements.

3.2.4.  Authority Section

   Corresponding to NSCOUNT=0 in the DNS message header, the Authority
   section in IXFR response messages MUST be empty.

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3.2.5.  Additional Section

   All considerations from Section 2.2.5 (and hence, by reference, also
   Section 2.1.5) of RFC 5936 apply in the same manner for IXFR as they
   do for AXFR.  See also Section 3.1.5 of this document.

3.3.  Connection Aborts

   In case of an IXFR session carried over connection-oriented transport
   (TCP), the considerations in Section 2.3 of RFC 5936 [RFC5936] apply

   In a nutshell: Servers SHOULD avoid dropping active connections
   whenever possible, and clients nevertheless must be prepared to
   gracefully deal with such aborts.

4.  Response Contents

   This section describes the structure of the sequence of resource
   records (RRs) sent in IXFR reponses and how the IXFR client can
   distinguish the various cases covered.

   If the IXFR server discovers an error condition before it sends the
   first (or only) response message, the response content in the Answer
   section is empty, and consequentially, ANCOUNT is set to 0 in that

   Otherwise, the response content starts with a copy of the current SOA
   RR at the IXFR server (sn_n).  There are several cases:

   a.  The server serial (sn_n) is the same as the client serial (sn_o)
       sent in the Authority section of the IXFR query.  In this case,
       this SOA RR is the only RR in the response message, indicating to
       the IXFR client that it already has the current zone content.

   b.  The server serial (sn_n) differs from the client serial (sn_o)
       sent in the Authority section of the IXFR query, and this SOA RR
       is the only RR in the response message.  This indicates to the
       IXFR client that its zone content is outdated and the IXFR server
       is willing to send the incremental zone change information, but
       is unable to do so in a single response message due to message
       size limitations.

       An IXFR server MUST NOT send this type of IXFR response over
       connection-oriented transport (TCP), but it MAY use this type of
       response over connectionless transport (UDP).

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       An IXFR client that receives over connection-oriented transport
       an IXFR response message (as the first response message related
       to its IXFR query) that contains only a single SOA RR with sn_n
       unequal to sn_o MUST discard the response message (see below).

       Note again that the "truncated response message" mechanism
       specified in RFC 1035, which is signalled by setting the TC bit
       in a response message, MUST NOT be used in an IXFR response.  An
       IXFR client that receives an IXFR response message with the TC
       bit set MUST discard the message (see below for details).

   c.  The server serial (sn_n) differs from the client serial (sn_o)
       sent in the Authority section of the IXFR query, and this SOA RR
       is followed by another SOA RR in the same response message.  In
       this case, the IXFR response is an incremental response.

       If this second SOA RR also carries sn_n, the IXFR client SHOULD
       assume that the server exposes behavior arguably not explicitly
       forbidden in RFC 1995 to signal case a) above; an IXFR client
       SHOULD accept for resiliency an IXFR response with exactly these
       two copies of the same SOA RR sent in a single response message
       as an "empty incremental response" indicating that the client's
       version of the zone is current.  Otherwise, the client MUST
       discard a response starting with two copies of the sn_n SOA RR.

       Otherwise, if the second SOA RR carries sn_o, this indicates the
       start of an ordinary incremental response as detailed below.

       Otherwise (if the second SOA RR carries sn_x that differs from
       both sn_o (as sent by the client) and sn_n (in the first SOA RR),
       the client MUST discard the response message as bogus.

   d.  The server serial (sn_n) is not the same as the client serial
       (sn_o) sent in the Authority section of the IXFR query, and this
       SOA RR is followed by another, non-SOA RR in the same response

       This indicates a non-incremental response, "fallback to AXFR".
       In this case, the response content is structured like an AXFR
       response, as described in RFC 5936 ("new" behavior, no backward
       compatibility kludges admitted); it contains the entire zone
       content -- preferably with whole RRsets grouped together -- and
       ends with a second copy of the sn_n SOA RR as an end-of-response

       A non-incremental IXFR response MUST NOT be sent in response to
       an IXFR-ONLY query unless the entire intended IXFR response -- up
       to and including the trailing sentinel sn_n SOA RR -- fits into a

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       single response message with a size that allows it to be sent
       over connectionless transport (UDP), or would have allowed that
       if it actually is carried over connection-oriented transport
       (TCP).  An IXFR client that receives an incomplete initial IXFR
       response message that indicates such non-incremental response to
       an IXFR-ONLY query MUST discard the message as bogus.

   Whenever in the above cases the text says that the IXFR client "MUST
   discard the message", the following behavior is implied: The IXFR
   client MUST regard the IXFR session as terminated; this results in
   subsequent silent discarding of further response messages that still
   pretend to belong to the same IXFR session by means of the query ID
   and the echoed Question (if present), because the IXFR client does
   not maintain corresponding IXFR query/session state any more.  The
   IXFR client MAY log the event and SHOULD regard the IXFR server as
   broken; hence, it SHOULD refrain from using the same IXFR server
   again -- at least for considerable time, or until the usage has been
   reinstated by an implementation-dependent management interaction.

   From the above decision tree for the client it also follows that, to
   allow unambiguous client behavior, if an IXFR server has to send a
   response comprised of two or more RRs, it MUST send at least the
   first two RRs in the first response message.

   If the IXFR server discovers an error condition lately, after having
   sent one or more response messages (all with RCODE set to 0), it can
   abort the IXFR session by sending another response message with empty
   Answer section and a non-zero RCODE.  This MUST be the last message
   sent in response to the IXFR query, that is, this error message
   aborts the ongoing IXFR session.

4.1.  Incremental Responses

   In an incremental response, the leading sn_n SOA RR is followed by
   one or more change information chunks and concluded by a second copy
   of the sn_n SOA RR.

   Each change information chunk describes the changes to be performed
   on a given "origin" version of the zone to obtain a "target" version
   of the zone (i.e., one SOA serial change of the zone).  It consists
   of (1) a set of old RRs to be deleted from the "origin" zone version
   and (2) a set of new RRs to be added after these deletions to obtain
   the "target" version of the zone.  (In this model, a change in a
   single RR is represented by an RR deletion followed by an RR
   addition.)  These two sets are sent in this order, with each set
   serialized as a sequence of the related SOA RR followed by other,
   non-SOA RRs in a arbitrary order.  This way, each SOA RR indicates
   the end of the sequence of (zero or more) non-SOA RRs that precedes

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   it, and at the same time it either starts the next set of RRs or is
   the trailing sn_n SOA of the response.

   The "origin" sn of each change information chunk MUST precede its
   "target" sn in the sense of sequence number arithmentics.

   The change information chunks in an incremental response MUST be
   ordered oldest first, newest last; in more detail: The first change
   information chunk in an incremental response must have the client's
   version (sn_o) as its origin sn; the origin sn of each subsequent
   change information chunk MUST be the same as the target sn of the
   preceding chunk, and the last change information chunk in an
   incremental response MUST have the server's version (sn_n) as its
   target sn.  This "chaining" of chunks ensures that the client can
   correctly construct the sn_n version from the sn_o version it holds
   by conceptionally applying single-RR deletions and additions in the
   order the RRs appear in the IXFR response.

   Note that, as a consequence of the aforementioned rules, a valid
   incremental IXFR response MUST contain exactly one copy of the sn_o
   SOA RR (sent as the second RR in the response) and exactly three
   copies of the sn_n SOA RR -- one as the first RR in the response, one
   as the leading RR of the second sequence (set of RRs to be added) in
   the last change information chunk, and one as the final "sentinel" RR
   that indicates the end of the response contents.  Likewise, each
   "intermediate" SOA RR (with sn_o < sn < sn_n) will appear exactly
   twice, once in the second part (new RRs) of a particular change
   information chunk, and once in the first part of the immediately
   following change information chunk.

   Any IXFR response classified as a (non-empty) incremental response by
   the decision tree presented above in Section 4 that violates any of
   the above rules MUST cause the IXFR client to regard the response as
   bogus; it MUST discard a response message in case its content allows
   the client to detect such violation, with the caveats for "discard"
   given in Section 4.

   In support of avoiding clients to draw wrong conclusions on the end
   of an incremental response, it is RECOMMENDED that an IXFR server not
   send the aforementioned second instance of the sn_n SOA RR as the
   last RR in a (non-final) response message.

5.  Transport

   IXFR servers and IXFR clients MUST support transport over UDP and TCP
   (see RFC 5966 [RFC5966]).  As with all DNS transactions, IXFR
   responses MUST be sent on the same transport association over which
   the query arrives at the server.

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   If an IXFR server cannot send a full IXFR response for an IXFR query
   received over UDP within a single response message over UDP due to
   message size limitations, it MUST return the special form of response
   that indicates to the client to retry over TCP (single-RR response
   with the server SOA only, as described in Sections 3.2 and 4).

   Given the limitation of the basic DNS message size over UDP to 512
   octets, it is strongly RECOMMENDED that implementations of IXFR
   servers and IXFR clients support RFC 2671bis, "Extension Mechanisms
   for DNS (EDNS0)" [I-D.ietf-dnsext-rfc2671bis-edns0] and choose
   extended DNS message size limits appropriate for their environment.
   The default behavior of IXFR clients regarding the EDNS message size,
   and the maximum accepted by servers, SHOULD both be configurable.

   The considerations for AXFR transport over TCP in Section 4 of RFC
   5936 [RFC5936] apply similarly for IXFR.  However, IXFR is commonly
   being used much more frequently than AXFR between a given pair of
   authoritiative servers, and often not authorized for use by servers
   outside the set of authorities for a zone, which are all under the
   control of a single administrative domain or a small number of
   cooperating administrative domains.  In this environment, it might
   make sense for the sake of efficiency to maintain (and reuse)
   persistent TCP connections between the configured IXFR peers.
   Therefore, implementations of IXFR should allow to configure
   relatively high TCP User Timeout values and support the TCP UTO
   mechanism ([RFC5482]) that allows the peers to exchange their view of
   the TCP User Timeout and adapt the behavior of their TCP accordingly.

6.  Server Behavior

6.1.  General

   General considerations on IXFR server behavior, in particular
   response message generation and packet processing, are spread all
   over this document; in particular, see Sections 3.2 and 4.

   In addition to the current zone content, IXFR servers need to
   maintain history information on the zone content that enables them to
   respond with incremental responses for a sufficient range of
   versions.  What is considered "sufficient" and how this history
   information is maintained, is a local matter.  It may be appropriate
   to maintain the history information on stable storage as well to make
   it available spanning restarts of an IXFR server, as it is already
   required for the current zone content.

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6.2.  Purging Strategy

   An IXFR server cannot be required to hold all previous versions
   forever and may delete them anytime.  In general, there is a trade-
   off between the size of storage space and the possibility and need of
   using IXFR.

   Information about older versions should be purged as soon as the
   total length of an IXFR response would otherwise become larger than
   that of an AXFR response.  Given that the purpose of IXFR is to
   reduce AXFR overhead, this strategy is quite reasonable.  The
   strategy assures that the amount of storage required is at most twice
   that of the current zone information.

   Information older than the SOA expire period may also be purged.

   The Condensation techniques explored below in Section 6.3 might pose
   an opportunity to get rid of more recent, yet less relevant history
   information and as such might allow to cover a larger span of SOA
   versions than otherwise possible within the same amount of storage.

6.3.  Optional Condensation of Zone Changes

   An IXFR server MAY optionally condense a number of immediately
   succeeding change information chunks into a single chunk, thus
   dropping information on intermediate zone versions.

   This may be beneficial if a lot of versions, not all of which are
   useful, are generated.  For example, if multiple ftp servers share a
   single DNS name and the IP address associated with the name is
   changed once a minute to balance load between the ftp servers, it is
   not so important to keep track of all the history of changes.

   Another example is where statefully managed client systems get IP
   addresses assigned dynamically by DHCP servers, and where the DHCP
   server(s) and/or the clients register their current contact
   information via DNS UPDATE whenever leases are given out or renewed.
   These transactions could be comprised of several independent update
   steps, for forward and reverse address resolution, for service
   discovery, etc., where multiple parts of the related information are
   maintained in the same zone.  Intelligent condensation strategies
   might be able to identify subsequent incremental changes related to a
   single end-user system and collapse this information in a single
   change information chunk.

   But this feature may not be so useful if an IXFR client has access to
   two IXFR servers, A and B, with inconsistent condensation results.
   The current version of the IXFR client, received from server A, may

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   be unknown to server B. In such a case, server B cannot provide
   incremental data from the unknown version and a full zone transfer is
   necessary.  Therefore, it is highly desirable that alternative IXFR
   servers for a given set of IXFR clients expose similar (or at best,
   the same) condensation behavior.

   Condensation can be performed in two stages, perhaps in a
   complementary manner: Firstly, the history information stored on an
   IXFR server can be condensed to reduce storage requirements *and*
   IXFR response sizes to some degree.  Additionally, IXFR servers can
   perform condensation "on the fly" in preparing IXFR responses; this
   might provide additional savings in IXFR response size while reducing
   the likelihood that IXFR queries cannot be responded with incremental
   responses due to the requested sn being "condensed out" of the stored
   history information.

   Condensation is completely optional.  Clients cannot detect from the
   response whether or not the server has condensed the reply.

   For interoperability, IXFR servers, including those without the
   condensation feature, SHOULD NOT send an error response in case they
   receive a client's IXFR request with an unknown version number and
   SHOULD, instead, attempt to perform a full zone transfer.  Of course,
   this in general does not apply if the client indicates its desire to
   try its luck in such case at another candidate IXFR server, by
   initiating the request with IXFR-ONLY (the exception to the general
   case is the corner case discussed in Section 3.2).

6.4.  Authorization

   The considerations for AXFR presented in Section 5 of RFC 5936
   [RFC5936] apply in a similar fashion for IXFR.

   Given the basic desire for frequent use and the resulting processing
   load, operational considerations will, even more likely than for
   AXFR, dictate the need to closely restrict the usage of IXFR to the
   set of authoritiative servers for a given zone, and to precisely
   configure the IXFR distribution graph within the set of servers, by
   means of access lists on the server side and by configuring a
   prioritized IXFR server search list on the client side.

   Since IP addresses can be spoofed rather trivially in large parts of
   the open Internet, better authentication methods are needed as a base
   for authorization decisions unless the IXFR distribution graph can be
   restricted to protected networks under control of the same
   administration as the participating DNS servers.

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   In particular, as detailed in the Section of RFC 5936 quoted above,
   implementations of IXFR SHOULD also support at least one flavor of
   DNS transaction security.  Virtual private networks, virtual LANs,
   IPsec ([RFC4301]), and TCP-AO ([RFC5925] might also be applicable
   solutions to ensure proper authentication to base authorization
   decisions on.  See Section 9 for more information.

7.  Client Behavior

   It is RECOMMENDED that IXFR client implementations supporting
   IXFR-ONLY allow to configure its usage per IXFR server, as part of
   the IXFR distribution graph configuration.

   An IXFR client SHOULD set an appropriate guard timeout whenever the
   content of a response message indicates that this is not the final
   message of an IXFR response.  In case this timeout period elapses
   without another response message arriving, it SHOULD regard the IXFR
   session as failed and apply the caveats for the "discard" case
   presented in Section 4.

7.1.  Zone Integrity

   The elaborations on Zone Integrity for AXFR in Section 6 of RFC 5936
   [RFC5936] apply in a similar fashion for IXFR.

   However, during the receipt of an incremental IXFR response, and upon
   successful processing of an SOA RR that serves as a sentinel for the
   end of any change information chunk, an IXFR client MAY immediately
   apply and commit to stable storage the SOA serial number change
   described by that chunk (and previous chunks, if not already done).
   This operation MUST externally appear as an atomar operation.

   Before this operation can be attempted, the IXFR client SHOULD apply
   all feasable sanity checks for the change information chunk under
   consideration.  In particular, it SHOULD verify that the RRs
   contained in the first part of the chunk (those to be deleted) are
   indeed literally contained in the data set for the most recent zone
   version the client has constructed so far.  If a DNSSEC-aware IXFR
   client receives an IXFR response for a zone secured with DNSSEC
   [RFC4033], it MAY try to verify any RRSIG RR for the new zone SOA
   (received in the second part of the change information chunk), as
   another means to detect forged responses, and in case of failure
   forcibly abort the IXFR session.  However, in order to avoid DoS
   attacks targeted at processing resources and amplification attacks,
   this SHOULD NOT be done if the IXFR session is secured by other means
   (in-band by TKEY/TSIG, in lower layers, e.g. by IPsec or other VPN
   technology) or if the necessary keys are unavailable (not already
   cached) and/or not already verified.  Similarly, like in the case of

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   AXFR, it is generally NOT RECOMMENDED to perform a full cryptographic
   verification of the new zone version -- which would consume very
   substantial computing resources, hence clearing the way for another
   type of DoS attack.

8.  Backwards Compatibility

   Despite a few potentially misleading statements in the previous
   specification, only a single detail has been identified so far that
   could give rise to backward compatibility concerns.  This is
   addressed by the compatibility rules in Section 4 that allow an IXFR
   client to process an "empty incremental response" consisting of only
   a pair of instances of the server's SOA RR.

   The introduction of IXFR-ONLY creates further interoperability
   considerations.  An IXFR server utilizing IXFR-ONLY may receive an
   error response different from CannotIXFR persistently.  (The actual
   RCODE reveived may depend on whether or not the server is aware of
   the allocation of the range of RR types set aside for Q-Types in
   [RFC6195] (and its predecessors), from which the IXFR-ONLY code point
   has been assigned.)  This event likely indicates that the IXFR server
   chosen does not support IXFR-ONLY.  In such case, the client will
   mark the server as "unusable of IXFR-ONLY" in his server list and try
   another potential IXFR server, or, if all candidates fail, retry the
   scan with bare IXFR, or alternatively try to immediately start an
   AXFR session.  The latter should always be the method of last resort
   in case of persistent IXFR failures.

9.  Security Considerations

   This document presents a more detailed specification for the
   mechanism previously specified in RFC 1995, which has similar
   protocol behavior and security properties as the AXFR mechanism
   described in RFC 5936.  Hence, beyond the general security
   considerations for the DNS laid down in RFC 3833 [RFC3833], similar
   considerations apply.

   Thus, the sections on Transport, Authorization and Zone Integrity
   that all include by reference the respective sections of RFC 5936
   [RFC5936] largely address the relevant concerns.  Deployments of IXFR
   might be interested in using large values for the EDNS message size
   and thereby become more exposed to the various security threats
   against IP fragmentation; these and suitable mitigations are
   discussed in [RFC6274].

   Since IXFR is likely to be used in a more frequent and continuous
   manner and hence a possible candidate for making use of long-lived,
   persistent TCP connections for its transport, besides IPsec (RFC 4301

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   [RFC4301]), the more lightweight TCP Authentication mechanism
   described in RFC 5925 (TCP-AO, [RFC5925]) might, once deployed, be a
   suitable candidate for peer authentication and integrity protection
   of IXFR sessions.

10.  IANA Considerations

   The IANA Registry "Domain Name System (DNS) Parameters" [DNSVALS]
   contains a sub-registry "Resource Record (RR) TYPEs", in which
   [RFC6195] has reserved the range 128 through 255 for pseudo-RRs only
   being used in DNS queries, for short "Q-Types".  This partial
   namespace is managed under the "DNS RRTYPE Allocation Policy"
   specified in RFC 6195 [RFC6195].

   [[ This paragraph to be deleted on publication as an RFC ]]
   IANA and IESG: based on the provisions of RFC 6195, we ask for RFC
   4020 early allocation of the two code points needed for this memo, as
   described below.

   Since RFC 1995, the Q-Type 251 has been assigned to IXFR.  Upon
   publication of this memo as an RFC, IANA will update / has updated
   the description for that entry to say "incremental zone transfer" and
   the Reference for that entry to point to this RFC.

   Upon publication of this memo as an RFC, IANA also will assign / has
   assigned the Q-Type {TBD1} to the TYPE mnemonic IXFR-ONLY, with
   description "incremental zone transfer w/o fallback", and pointing to
   this memo.

   The IANA Registry "Domain Name System (DNS) Parameters" [DNSVALS]
   contains a sub-registry "DNS RCODEs", which is managed under "IETF
   Review" assignment policy, as specified in RFC 6195 [RFC6195].  IANA
   is requested to allocate / has allocated from that sub-registry a new
   Extended RCODE value (above 16, only usable with EDNS) for

   RCODE      Name        Description                         Reference
   ---------  ----------  ----------------------------------  ---------
   {TBD2}     CannotIXFR  IXFR not possible, would fall back  [RFCthis]

11.  Acknowledgements

   Masataka Ohta is acknowledged for his original work as the author of
   RFC 1995 [RFC1995], and this extends to the contributors listed in
   the Acknowledgements section of that RFC.

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   The specification of IXFR-ONLY in this document is based on the
   original proposal [I-D.kerr-ixfr-only], whose authors are
   acknowledged for identifying the operational need for this behavior
   and carrying it to the IETF.

   The DNSEXT working group and its predecessor (DNSIND) are
   acknowledged for their discussion on the above documents.
   Substantial text has been borrowed from there and from [RFC5936].

   Discussions of the draft on the dnsext list have directed the
   evolution of this document; in particular, we acknowledge (in
   alphabetical order) Mark Andrews, Brian Dickson, Shane Kerr, Edward
   Lewis, Josh Littlefield, Masataka Ohta, Paul Vixie, and Wouter
   Wijngaards for their comments and reviews.

12.  References

12.1.  Normative References

              Damas, J., Graff, M., and P. Vixie, "Extension Mechanisms
              for DNS (EDNS0)", draft-ietf-dnsext-rfc2671bis-edns0-08
              (work in progress), February 2012.

   [RFC1034]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - concepts and facilities",
              STD 13, RFC 1034, November 1987.

   [RFC1035]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - implementation and
              specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, November 1987.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC5405]  Eggert, L. and G. Fairhurst, "Unicast UDP Usage Guidelines
              for Application Designers", BCP 145, RFC 5405,
              November 2008.

   [RFC5452]  Hubert, A. and R. van Mook, "Measures for Making DNS More
              Resilient against Forged Answers", RFC 5452, January 2009.

   [RFC5936]  Lewis, E. and A. Hoenes, "DNS Zone Transfer Protocol
              (AXFR)", RFC 5936, June 2010.

   [RFC6195]  Eastlake, D., "Domain Name System (DNS) IANA
              Considerations", BCP 42, RFC 6195, March 2011.

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12.2.  Informative References

   [DNSVALS]  IANA Registry, "Domain Name System (DNS) Parameters",
              protocol parameter registry available at:, January 2012,

              Sury, O. and S. Kerr, "IXFR-ONLY to Prevent IXFR Fallback
              to AXFR", draft-kerr-ixfr-only-01 (work in progress),
              February 2010.

   [RFC1995]  Ohta, M., "Incremental Zone Transfer in DNS", RFC 1995,
              August 1996.

   [RFC1996]  Vixie, P., "A Mechanism for Prompt Notification of Zone
              Changes (DNS NOTIFY)", RFC 1996, August 1996.

   [RFC2181]  Elz, R. and R. Bush, "Clarifications to the DNS
              Specification", RFC 2181, July 1997.

   [RFC3833]  Atkins, D. and R. Austein, "Threat Analysis of the Domain
              Name System (DNS)", RFC 3833, August 2004.

   [RFC4033]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "DNS Security Introduction and Requirements",
              RFC 4033, March 2005.

   [RFC4301]  Kent, S. and K. Seo, "Security Architecture for the
              Internet Protocol", RFC 4301, December 2005.

   [RFC5482]  Eggert, L. and F. Gont, "TCP User Timeout Option",
              RFC 5482, March 2009.

   [RFC5925]  Touch, J., Mankin, A., and R. Bonica, "The TCP
              Authentication Option", RFC 5925, June 2010.

   [RFC5966]  Bellis, R., "DNS Transport over TCP - Implementation
              Requirements", RFC 5966, August 2010.

   [RFC6274]  Gont, F., "Security Assessment of the Internet Protocol
              Version 4", RFC 6274, July 2011.

Appendix A.  Motivation for IXFR-ONLY

   IXFR is an efficient means to transfer changes in zones from IXFR
   servers to IXFR clients.  However, when an IXFR client has multiple
   IXFR servers for a single zone, it is possible that not all IXFR
   servers hold the zone content with the same serial number(s).  In

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   this case, if an IXFR client attempts an IXFR from an IXFR server
   that does not have the zone content with the serial number used by
   the IXFR client, the IXFR server will fall back to a full zone
   transfer (like in AXFR) when it has a version of the zone with serial
   number greater than the serial requested by the IXFR client.

   For example, IXFR server NS1 may have serial numbers 1, 2, and 3 for
   a zone, and IXFR server NS2 may have serial numbers 1 and 3 for the
   same zone.  An IXFR client that has the zone content with serial
   number 2 and sends an IXFR request to IXFR server NS2 will get a full
   zone transfer (AXFR style) of the zone at serial number 3.  This is
   because NS2 does not know the zone with serial number 2, and
   therefore is not able to report the differences between the zone with
   serial number 2 and 3.

   If the IXFR client in this example had known to send the query to
   IXFR server NS1, then it could have gotten an incremental transfer.
   But an IXFR clients can only know what the *latest* version of the
   zone is at an IXFR server -- this information is available via an SOA

   The IXFR-ONLY query type provides a way for the IXFR client to ask
   each IXFR server to return an error instead of sending the current
   version of the zone via full zone transfer.  By using this, an IXFR
   client can check each IXFR server until it finds one able to actually
   provide an incremental transfer.  If it doesn't succeed, it can fall
   back and try with bare IXFR instead of IXFR-ONLY, or it can
   immediately start an AXFR session with an AXFR server of its choice
   (the preferred AXFR server might be distinct from the most prefered
   IXFR server).

   By providing IXFR-ONLY support, the policy control over the zone
   synchronization operation switches to the client side, which is
   preferable under various operational settings.

Appendix B.  Substantial Changes Since RFC 1995

   This is a summary of the substantial changes since RFC 1995

   o  Corrected a few technical flaws: incorrect comparison with AXFR;
      improper impled requirement of performing SOA query over UDP;
      improper reference to transfer of partial RRs in a response
      message corrected (to be read as transfer of partial RRsets in a
      response message -- as it has always been understood by
      implementers, since STD 13 requires only entire RRs to be present
      in DNS messages).

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   o  New specification based on the revised AXFR specification,
      RFC 5936 [RFC5936].

   o  Many clarifications and details supplied, text vastly reorganized
      and expanded, but no (intentional) technical deviation from the
      previous specification, as understood by implementers.

   o  Addition of new IXFR-ONLY protocol variant, based on operational
      experience and perceived need.

   o  Major additions to Security Considerations.

   o  Historical example dropped (incompatible with IESG policy on
      examples).  Instead, abstract examples have been added to
      Section 2.

Appendix C.  Evaluation of List Discussion, Draft Changes since -02

   [[ Temporary Section, to be deleted in next draft version. ]]

   The previous (-02) version of this draft has been extensively
   discussed on the dnsext mailing list during the June through August
   2011 timeframe.  Due to temporary unavailability of the primary
   author, the concensus-building based on that discussion is summed up
   below, instead of flooding the mailing list with a bunch of (very
   belated) response messages.  Messages are quoted below as
   "{msgNNNNN}", based on the message numbers (NNNNN -- a 5-digit
   number) assigned in the list archive using URIs following the pattern

   {msg11353}, item 1: It is claimed frequently that IETF documents are
   too "microscopic" in their perspective and do not give the "glue"
   context information allowing even a non-specialized reader to see how
   the specified functionality relates to other parts of protocols,
   deployment, and common usage.  Therefore, like in the kindred AXFR
   document, RFC 5936, context information for the invocation of IXFR is
   given in the draft -- btw, in a style that resembles descriptions
   given in the basic DNS Standards, RFCs 1034 and 1035.
   If zones don't change, and no NOTIFYs are sent, IXFR isn't needed.
   As RFC 1996 (NOTIFY) indicates, NOTIFY was intended as the primary
   trigger for IXFR requests, and that's what this draft re-states from
   the perspective of IXFR.
   Minor editorial changes have been performed.

   {msg11353}, item 2, {msg11359} and more messages down the thread:
   As has been pointed out by Brian D. (et al.) in {msg11354},
   {msg11363} (and follow-up discussion), the term "Fallback to AXFR"
   describes IXFR server behavior specified in RFC 1995 and present in

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   all major DNS server implementations.
   Overall, substantial discussion apparently has been caused by
   confusion about the (admittedly a bit colloquial) term "Fallback to
   AXFR".  Another thread on this behavior was started by Mark A.
   ({msg11373} ff.).
   To clarify and resolve this issue, a definition for this term has
   been added to Section 1.4.
   The justification for clarifications to the present IXFR
   specification and the need for interoperably specified IXFR-ONLY has
   been reinforced by several contributors, e.g.  Brian D., Mark A., and
   Masataka O. ({msg11354}, {msg11355}, {msg11356}, {msg11365}, ff.).
   We have not found any indications in the draft text where the
   detailed specification of (classical) IXFR would contradict RFC 1995,
   and it has been indicated on the list that the draft also correctly
   reflects the on-the-wire IXFR behavior of all major implementations
   represented by active participants on the list.

   {msg11353}, final item: IMO, RFC 1995 would have deserved at least 3
   Technical Errata and roughly a dozen Editorial Errata, and it lacks a
   lot of precidion, so we agree that a refresh of this original
   specification should be welcome.
   The suggested additional test by DNSSEC-aware IXFR clients of the
   RRSIG(SOA) RRset now is mentioned in a newly added paragraph of
   Section 7.1 (that section is referred to in the Security

   {msg11373}, {msg11374} and follow-ups: The draft already represents
   in detail the different possible responses on an IXFR query that have
   been inherent in RFC 1995.
   If (and only if) the IXFR server can respond with a single DNS
   response packet, the IXFR transaction can be carried out successfully
   over UDP, and hence is a "single response mechanism".  Otherwise, the
   IXFR client has to be redirected to TCP, as described in (RFC 1995
   and) the draft.  This is independent of whether the IXFR server then
   has to fall back to full-zone transfer.
   There might be a (very unlikely) corner case, where the IXFR server
   wants to fall back to full-zone transfer *and* this transfer can be
   performed in a single response packet.  Admittedly, that's rather
   unlikely, and in this case, IXFR-ONLY behavior would be causing
   additional overhead and message exchanges.  Therefore, clauses has
   been added to Section 2 and Section 3.2 that in this corner case, the
   response to IXFR-ONLY MAY be a full-zone transfer over UDP, for the
   sake of overall performance.
   Otherwise, no significant changes to the text have been performed in
   this respect.

   {msg11376} ff.: Aborting an IXFR session over TCP likely does not
   waste so much resources on the IXFR client side (which initiates the

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   premature closing of the TCP connection), but it takes much more time
   for the IXFR server to be notified of this closure, and up to then,
   it will have wasted resources to generate and buffer response packets
   that will either never be received or not even sent.  Further, if a
   persistent TCP connection is desired, e.g. for an IXFR client that
   regularly has to update numerous zones from the same (candidate) IXFR
   server, re-establishment and subsequent TCP slow-start of a new TCP
   connection will be actually detrimental to the overall zone update
   This is another reason why IXFR-ONLY promises substantial performance
   improvements that cannot be achieved without protocol enhancements.

   Since only modern DNS implementations are expected to implement
   IXFR-ONLY (which are expected to support EDNS anyway), because
   extended message sizes are very useful for IXFR in general (which
   also requires EDNS), and to reduce the pressure on the narrow basic
   RCODE namespace (only 5 codepoints still available for assignment),
   the draft now assumes that an extended RCODE value for CannotIXFR
   will suffice.  The running text and IANA Considerations have been
   adjusted accordingly.  Consequentially, the draft now specifies that
   an IXFR-ONLY query without an OPT RR will be rejected by the IXFR
   server with FormErr.

   Paul V. ({msg13379}) pointed out the detriments of message sizes
   above 16k (loss of ability to perform message compression).
   Added Note to Section 3 explaining this hint.

   A few adjustments regarding use of RFC 2119 language have been

   Appendix B, which sums up the important changes since RFC 1995, has
   been added, as needed per IESG policy.

   References have been updated.

   Numerous editorial changes and enhancements have been applied.
   Vertical spacing tweeked to avoid dangling orphan lines at page

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Authors' Addresses

   Alfred Hoenes
   Gerlinger Str. 12
   Ditzingen  D-71254

   EMail: ah@TR-Sys.de

   Ondrej Sury
   Americka 23
   120 00 Praha 2

   Phone: +420 222 745 110
   EMail: ondrej.sury@nic.cz

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