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PowerDNS DNS Provider

This is a drop-in provider for ApisCP to enable DNS support using PowerDNS. This module may use PostgreSQL or MySQL as a backend driver.

Nameserver installation

Installation can be chosen at install time or after setup. Installation is only necessary if you intend on running a PowerDNS instance on the server. This section covers installation; skip down to ApisCP DNS provider setup for information on configuring a server to use PowerDNS as a DNS provider.

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_enabled true
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_driver mysql
# Or specify "pgsql" to use PostgreSQL
upcp -sb software/powerdns
# Optionally set all accounts to use PowerDNS
cpcmd scope:set dns.default-provider powerdns

::: tip DNS-only licenses ApisCP provides a DNS-only license class that allows ApisCP to run on a server without the capability to host sites. These licenses are free and may be requested via :::

Listening for requests

Firewall access is automatically opened inbound for 53/TCP and 53/UDP when PowerDNS is enabled. On CentOS 8+ machines, to avoid a potential service conflict with systemd-resolved, PowerDNS will bind only to the primary IP address. This can be changed by setting powerdns_dns_bind_address to a comma-separated string of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. Prior to PowerDNS 4.3, this value may only accept a list of IPv4 addresses.

# Listen on and all IPv6 interfaces on pdns v4.3
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_dns_bind_address ', ::'
upcp -sb software/powerdns

Local PowerDNS

In Local mode, PowerDNS only accepts API calls that originate locally from the server. This allows you to place PowerDNS' API behind a reverse proxy, such as Apache. Local-only is enabled by default.

PowerDNS is setup to accept requests on port 8081 (powerdns_api_port setting). Requests require an authorization key that can be found in /etc/pdns/pdns.conf

# Install jq if not already installed
yum install -y jq
# This is your API key
grep '^api-key=' /etc/pdns/pdns.conf | cut -d= -f2
curl -v -H 'X-API-Key: APIKEYABOVE' | jq .

Idempotently changing configuration

PowerDNS may be configured via files in /etc/pdns/local.d. In addition to this location, Bootstrapper supports injecting settings via powerdns_custom_config. For example,

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper 'powerdns_custom_config' '["allow-axfr-ips":,"also-notify":]'
# Then re-run Bootstrapper
upcp -sb software/powerdns

allow-axfr-ips and also-notify directives will be set whenever the role is run.

Enabling ALIAS support

ALIAS is a synthetic record that allows CNAME records to be set on the zone apex. ALIAS records require powerdns_enable_recursion to be enabled as well as an optional powerdns_recursive_ns to be set otherwise it will default to the system in /etc/resolv.conf.

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_enable_recursion true
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_recursive_ns '[,]'
# Then re-run Bootstrapper
upcp -sb software/powerdns

AXFR-based clustering

PowerDNS expects a custom database cluster by default (zone kind: NATIVE). Using AXFR-based replication will allow provisioning of zones to slaves by supermaster, but AXFR/NOTIFY lacks support for automated zone removal. PowerDNS must be installed first and a suitable backend selected in as under "Nameserver installation". In the following example, master is an unpublished nameserver.

AXFR cluster layout

On the master, assuming and are slave nameservers with the hostnames and respectively, add the following configuration:

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_enabled true
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_zone_type master
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_custom_config '["allow-axfr-ips":",","also-notify":",","master":"yes"]'
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_webserver_enable true
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_nameservers '[,]'
env BSARGS="--extra-vars=force=yes" upcp -sb software/powerdns

On the slave(s), assuming the master is with the hostname, add the following configuration:

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_enabled true
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_zone_type slave
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_custom_config '["allow-notify-from":"","slave":"yes","superslave":"yes"]'
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_webserver_enable false
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_nameservers '[,]'
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_supermaster '[ip:,,account:master]'
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_api_uri ''
env BSARGS="--extra-vars=force=yes" upcp -sb software/powerdns

Lastly, on the hosting nodes, assuming all DNS zone traffic is sent to the unpublished master (IP address with the API key from /etc/pdns/pdns.conf of abc1234, configure each to use the same API key and endpoint discussed below.

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_api_uri ''
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_nameservers '[,]'
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_api_key 'abc1234'
cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_zone_type 'master'
env BSARGS="--extra-vars=force=yes" upcp -sb software/powerdns

::: tip force=yes Bootstrapper will avoid overwriting certain configurations unless explicitly asked. force=yes is a global variable that forces an overwrite on files. :::

Be sure to skip down to the Remote API access section to configure the hidden master endpoint.

Periodic maintenance

Sometimes you may want to force a zone update - if changing public nameservers - or prune expired domains since AXFR-based clusters do not afford automated zone removals. These snippets come from

  • all zone renotify

    pdns_control list-zones --type master | sed '$d' | xargs -L1 pdns_control notify
  • zone cleanup

    pdns_control list-zones --type slave | sed '$d' | xargs -I {} sh -c "host -T -t SOA {} | tail -n1 | grep -q 'has no SOA record' | pdnsutil delete-zone {}"

::: tip TCP mode DNS uses UDP by default, which is a lossy protocol that does not guarantee delivery. Enable TCP mode with -T to guarantee the transmission was received by :::

Remote API access

In the above example, only local requests may submit DNS modifications to the server. None of the below examples affect querying; DNS queries occur over 53/UDP typically (or 53/TCP if packet size exceeds UDP limits). Depending upon infrastructure, there are a few options to securely accept record submission, all of which require an API key for submission.

SSL + Apache

Apache's ProxyPass directive send requests to the backend. Brute-force attempts are protected by mod_evasive bundled with ApisCP. Requests over this medium are protected by SSL, without HTTP/2 to ameliorate handshake overhead. In all but the very high volume API request environments, this will be acceptable.

In this situation, the endpoint is Changes are made to /etc/httpd/conf/httpd-custom.conf within the <VirtualHost ... :443> bracket (with SSLEngine On!). After adding the below changes, systemctl restart httpd.

<Location /dns>

Downsides: minor SSL overhead. Dependent upon Apache.
Upsides: easy to setup. Protected by threat deterrence. PowerDNS accessible remotely via an easily controlled URI.

In the above example, API requests can be made via, e.g.

curl -q -H 'X-API-Key: SOMEKEY'

Disabling brute-force throttling

As hinted above, placing PowerDNS behind Apache confers brute-force protection by mod_evasive. By default, 10 of the same requests in 2 seconds can trigger a brute-force block. Two solutions exist, either raise the same-page request threshold or disable mod_evasive.

Working off the example above <Location /dns> ...

<Location /dns>
	# Raise threshold to 30 same-page requests in 2 seconds
	DOSPageCount 60
	DOSPageInterval 2

	# Or disable entirely
	DOSEnabled off

429 errors

429 Rate limit exceeded occurs whenever the page count exceeds the threshold. Raising DOSPageCount/DOSPageInterval will raise the threshold to trigger a 429 response. See also

Standalone server

PowerDNS can also run by itself on a different port. In this situation, the network is configured to block all external requests to port 8081 except those whitelisted. For example, if the entire network can be trusted and under your control, then whitelist the IP range:

cpcmd rampart:whitelist

Additionally, PowerDNS' whitelist must be updated as well. This can be quickly accomplished using the cp.bootstrapper Scope:

cpcmd scope:set cp.bootstrapper powerdns_localonly false
# Then re-run Bootstrapper
upcp -sb software/powerdns

Downsides: requires whitelisting IP addresses for access to API server. Must run on port different than Apache.
Upsides: operates independently from Apache.

The server may be accessed once the source IP has been whitelisted,

curl -q -H 'X-API-Key: SOMEKEY'

DNS provider

Every server that runs ApisCP may delegate DNS authority to PowerDNS. This is ideal in distributed infrastructures in which coordination allows for seamless server-to-server migrations.

Taking the API key from above and using the SSL + Apache approach above, let's configure /usr/local/apnscp/config/auth.yaml. Configuration within this file is secret and is not exposed via ApisCP's API. Once set restart ApisCP to compile configuration, systemctl restart apiscp.

  # This url may be different if using running PowerDNS in standalone
  key: your_api_key_here
  type: native
  # Optional SOA formatting, accepts "domain" format argument for current domain
  soa: "hostmaster@%(domain)s"
  recursion: false
    ## Optional additional nameservers
  • uri value is the hostname of your master PowerDNS server running the HTTP API webserver (without a trailing slash)
  • key value is the API Key in pdns.conf on the master nameserver.
  • type value defines domain type for replication. It's usually set to native when using DB replication, and to master when using master-slave pdns replication (in such cluster the slaves should set this value to slave, while superslaves will do it automatically when creating ingested zones).
  • soa value overrides default SOA contact format (hostmaster@DOMAIN). An optional format specifier domain replaces the format string with the current domain.
  • ns value is a list of nameservers as in the example above. Put nameservers on their own lines prefixed with a hyphen and indented accordingly. There is not currently a limit for the number of nameservers you may use, 2-5 is typical and should be geographically distributed per RFC 2182.
  • recursion controls ALIAS records, which are CNAMEs on apex (RFC 1034). Enabling requires configuration of resolver and expand-alias in pdns.conf.

Setting as default

PowerDNS may be configured as the default provider for all sites using the dns.default-provider Scope. When adding a site in Nexus or AddDomain the key will be replaced with "DEFAULT". This is substituted automatically on account creation.

cpcmd scope:set dns.default-provider powerdns

Do not set dns.default-provider-key. API key is configured via config/auth.yaml.


  • Module- overrides Dns_Module behavior
  • Validator- service validator, checks input with AddDomain/EditDomain helpers

Minimal module methods

All module methods can be overwritten. The following are the bare minimum that are overwritten for this DNS provider to work:

  • atomicUpdate() attempts a record modification, which must retain the original record if it fails
  • zoneAxfr() returns all DNS records
  • add_record() add a DNS record
  • remove_record() removes a DNS record
  • get_hosting_nameservers() returns nameservers for the DNS provider
  • add_zone_backend() creates DNS zone
  • remove_zone_backend() removes a DNS zone

See also: Creating a provider (


Submit a PR and have fun!


PowerDNS support for the apnscp control panel





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