DNS Forwarding


VyOS provides DNS infrastructure for small networks. It is designed to be lightweight and have a small footprint, suitable for resource constrained routers and firewalls, for this we utilize PowerDNS recursor.

The VyOS DNS forwarder does not require an upstream DNS server. It can serve as a full recursive DNS server - but it can also forward queries to configurable upstream DNS servers. By not configuring any upstream DNS servers you also avoid to be tracked by the provider of your upstream DNS server.

set service dns forwarding system
Forward incoming DNS queries to the DNS servers configured under the system name-server nodes.
set service dns forwarding name-server <address>
Send all DNS queries to the IPv4/IPv6 DNS server specified under <address>. You can configure multiple nameservers here.
set service dns forwarding domain <domain-name> server <address>

Forward received queries for a particular domain (specified via domain-name) to a given name-server. Multiple nameservers can be specified. You can use this feature for a DNS split-horizon configuration.


This also works for reverse-lookup zones (18.172.in-addr.arpa).

set service dns forwarding allow-from <network>
Given the fact that open DNS recursors could be used on DDOS amplification attacts, you must configure the networks which are allowed to use this recursor. A network of or ::/0 would allow all IPv4 and IPv6 networks to query this server. This is on general a bad idea.
set service dns forwarding dnssec <off | process-no-validate | process | log-fail | validate>

The PowerDNS Recursor has 5 different levels of DNSSEC processing, which can be set with the dnssec setting. In order from least to most processing, these are:

  • off In this mode, no DNSSEC processing takes place. The recursor will not set the DNSSEC OK (DO) bit in the outgoing queries and will ignore the DO and AD bits in queries.
  • process-no-validate In this mode the Recursor acts as a “security aware, non-validating” nameserver, meaning it will set the DO-bit on outgoing queries and will provide DNSSEC related RRsets (NSEC, RRSIG) to clients that ask for them (by means of a DO-bit in the query), except for zones provided through the auth-zones setting. It will not do any validation in this mode, not even when requested by the client.
  • process When dnssec is set to process the behaviour is similar to process-no-validate. However, the recursor will try to validate the data if at least one of the DO or AD bits is set in the query; in that case, it will set the AD-bit in the response when the data is validated successfully, or send SERVFAIL when the validation comes up bogus.
  • log-fail In this mode, the recursor will attempt to validate all data it retrieves from authoritative servers, regardless of the client’s DNSSEC desires, and will log the validation result. This mode can be used to determine the extra load and amount of possibly bogus answers before turning on full-blown validation. Responses to client queries are the same as with process.
  • validate The highest mode of DNSSEC processing. In this mode, all queries will be validated and will be answered with a SERVFAIL in case of bogus data, regardless of the client’s request.


The famous UNIX/Linux dig tool sets the AD-bit in the query. This might lead to unexpected query results when testing. Set +noad on the dig commandline when this is the case.


The CD-bit is honored correctly for process and validate. For log-fail, failures will be logged too.

set service dns forwarding ignore-hosts-file
Do not use local /etc/hosts file in name resolution. VyOS DHCP server will use this file to add resolvers to assigned addresses.
set service dns forwarding max-cache-entries
Maximum number of DNS cache entries. 1 million per CPU core will generally suffice for most installations.
set service dns forwarding negative-ttl
A query for which there is authoritatively no answer is cached to quickly deny a record’s existence later on, without putting a heavy load on the remote server. In practice, caches can become saturated with hundreds of thousands of hosts which are tried only once. This setting, which defaults to 3600 seconds, puts a maximum on the amount of time negative entries are cached.
set service dns forwarding listen-address
The local IPv4 or IPv6 addresses to bind the DNS forwarder to. The forwarder will listen on this address for incoming connections.


A VyOS router with two interfaces - eth0 (WAN) and eth1 (LAN) - is required to implement a split-horizon DNS configuration for example.com.

In this scenario:

  • All DNS requests for example.com must be forwarded to a DNS server at and 2001:db8:cafe::1
  • All other DNS requests will be forwarded to a different set of DNS servers at,, 2001:db8::1:ffff and 2001:db8::2:ffff
  • The VyOS DNS forwarder will only listen for requests on the eth1 (LAN) interface addresses - for IPv4 and 2001:db8::ffff for IPv6
  • The VyOS DNS forwarder will only accept lookup requests from the LAN subnets - and 2001:db8::/64
set service dns forwarding domain example.com server
set service dns forwarding domain example.com server 2001:db8:cafe::1
set service dns forwarding name-server
set service dns forwarding name-server
set service dns forwarding name-server 2001:db8::1:ffff
set service dns forwarding name-server 2001:db8::2:ffff
set service dns forwarding listen-address
set service dns forwarding listen-address 2001:db8::ffff
set service dns forwarding allow-from
set service dns forwarding allow-from 2001:db8::/64


reset dns forwarding <all | domain>
Resets the local DNS forwarding cache database. You can reset the cache for all entries or only for entries to a specific domain.
restart dns forwarding
Restarts the DNS recursor process. This also invalidates the local DNS forwarding cache.