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I was able to solve the problem with dnscache. Basically, before sending each new request to a nameserver (for a particular query), dnscache would close the socket used for the last request. So any late response would not reach dnscache.
The code flow was roughly this:
+-> close socket | open socket() | bind() local end of socket to random port | connect() socket to next destination | send() request packet +-< poll with timeout for a response
The fix turned out to be fairly simple. Open a socket before sending the first request packet for a particular query, do not connect it to the destination, and use sendto() to specify each destination instead of send(). So the fixed code flow now looks like this:
open socket() bind() local end of socket to random port +-> sendto() request packet to next destination | +-< poll with timeout for a response close() socket
The improvement on performance is extreme. I'm testing on a virtual machine using the 'netem' module to artificially create network latency of 5000ms. Before patching, dnscache took 310 seconds to lookup 'A www.telstra.net' - much longer than I had calculated in the previous post, because in fact dnscache had to send more requests than expected due to missing nameserver glue, perhaps for the net domain. After patching, dnscache was able to resolve 'www.telstra.net' in only 16 seconds. It sends 6 queries then receives the response to the first, and closes the socket so subsequent responses are ignored (they're not needed anyway).
You might think this patch is not necessary because 5000ms network latency is an extreme test and most internet hosts will have much lower latency (it's usually a leaf-node problem) but I experienced it on a modern HSDPA network. Also I have seen saturated dialup and ISDN connections with very high latencies (over 3000ms for ISDN). Also dnscache's timeouts start at 1 second so performance will start to degrade as soon as average request latency exceeds 1000ms. The more nameservers a domain has, the longer it will take to lookup because dnscache sends a request to every nameserver with a 1-second timeout before changing to 3 seconds (then 11, then 45).
I've made the patch available on github.com in a new repository I made called djbdns. The url is:
This repository also contains all public releases of djbdns to date: version 1.01 through 1.05. DJB has put djbdns into the public domain so it is OK for me to do this. There are also some patches written by other people, linked from tinydns.org. Feel free to clone, fork and submit further patches to this djbdns repository on github.