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DNS is an integral part of DCOS. Since tasks move around frequently in DCOS, and resources must be dynamically resolved, typically by some application protocol, they are referred to by name. Rather than implementing a Zookeeper, or Mesos client in every project, we've chosen DNS as the lingua franca for discovery amongst all of our components in DCOS.

This is implemented by using Mesos DNS, which runs on each of the DCOS masters. In the client systems, we put each of the masters into the /etc/resolv.conf. If one of the masters goes down, DNS queries to that master will time out. This is problematic. dcos-dns solves this problem by dual-dispatching DNS queries to multiple masters and returning the first result.

In addition to this, in order to alleviate risk, dcos-dns routes queries to nodes that it believes are most optimal to do a query. Specifically, if a domain ends in mesos, it will only then dispatch queries to the Mesos masters. If it doesn't, it'll send it to 2 of the configured upstreams.


dcos-dns itself is very simple. dcos-dns itself has the dual-dispatch logic, and also hosts a domain spartan which has only one record -- ready.spartan. The purpose of this record is to investigate the availability of dcos-dns. Many services (ICMP) ping this address prior to starting.

dcos-dns learns its information from Exhibitor. For this reason, it is critical that Exhibitor is configured correctly on the masters. Alternatively, if the cluster is configured using static masters, it will load them from the static configuration file.


dcos-dns also enables high availability of Zookeepers. You can always use the addresses zk-1.zk, zk-2.zk, zk-3.zk, zk-4.zk, zk-5.zk. If there are fewer than 5 Zookeepers, we will point multiple records at a single Zookeeper.


Since DNS is such a specialized, sensitive subsystem we've chosen to protect it with a watchdog. There is a service installed on each node that runs every 5 minutes and checks whether or not it can query ready.spartan. To avoid harmonic effects, it sleeps for 1 minute past its initial start time to avoid racing spartan.

In addition to this watchdog, we also run genresolv, which checks whether or not dcos-dns is alive to generate the resolv.conf. If it believe dcos-dns not to be alive, it then rewrites the resolv.conf with the upstream resolvers that you've configured into your DC/OS cluster.

dcos-dns Interface

dcos-dns creates its own network interface. This interface is actually a dummy device called spartan. This device hosts 3 IPs,,,

HTTP Interface

dcos-dns implements a simple REST API for service discovery over HTTP:

  • GET /v1/version: lists the dcos-dns version
  • GET /v1/config: lists the dcos-dns configuration info (not implemented)
  • GET /v1/hosts/{host}: lists the IP address of a host
  • GET /v1/services/{service}: lists the host, IP address, and port for a service
  • GET /v1/enumerate: lists all DNS information (not implemented)
  • GET /v1/records: lists all DNS records

This HTTP API is reachable at For more information please see Mesos-DNS documentation.

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