Speeding up your internet connection under Linux and Windows

(Setting up DNS caching)

Last update 3-12-1999 by GoMoRRaH
GoMoRRaH is a member of Black Sun Research Facility (BSRF).
More tutorials on subjects such as hacking, cracking, phreaking, Unix, Windows and Windows NT, networking, hardware and overclocking, programming, HTML and more at http://blacksun.box.sk

www.xxxxx.com is used as a non-existent site, as an exemple

1 Good old dry theory

1.1 Introduction

The internet is going thru an evolution, faster pc's, more reliable connections etc... But the greatest evolution are the capacity of the lines. What where telephone line are now ISDN lines or cable modems. But there are still people (unfortunate people like me) who have such a sloppy telephone line, which is sloooooow. So people are beginning to search ways to speed up their connection. Their are tools like download managers, tools that download the underlying pages of a visited web site in idle times. And so there are many ways that go to adjusting the hardware of your modem.

Like you all see the software is either Windows based or lets you fuck up your hardware. This way is for Linux and is so easy a Windows user could do it :P
There is also an explanation on how to do the exact same thing under Windows

1.2 Who should be reading this document, requirements

Everyone who wants to speed up their (modem) dial-up account by some seconds. And want to do this in five minutes (if not less).

Before asking any questions, please make sure you have read at least the basic networking tutorials at blacksun.box.sk.
If you still have questions regarding this tutorial, please make sure you've already read at least some of the basic networking tutorials at blacksun.box.sk. Also, please do not Email any member of BSRF directly. There is a message board at blacksun.box.sk - use it.

Information on how to do the same thing under Windows can be found at the bottom of the tutorial.


(1) Named is a the nameserver package, this is standard and the most commone Linux distrubution and should bring no problems while installing

1.3 What does a nameserver do?

What does a nameserver do ? Well, suppose you are dialed in with you ISP and you wish to go to www.xxxxx.com. You open up you browser and type in the URL box http://www.xxxxx.com, you press enter and wait until xxxxx appears.
Simple, isn't it ? Let's look behind the scenes to find out what's really going on in here.
  1. Your computer gets the request to connect to www.xxxxx.com, but what is www.xxxxx.com ? Well it the alias of a computer (which has an ip) and has an httpd daemon running (on port 80).
  2. Your computers checks if that site isn't running on your own computer or on you local network. So it checks your /etc/hosts file (which has you local intranet information) or it checks a local nameserver (but because you're reading this I guess you don't have a nameserver installed (yet) so that won't be the case). By the way, this is a good chance to mention that DNS stands for Domain Name server.
  3. In fact your computer doesn't check if www.xxxxx.com is on your local network, it checks if it can find the ip of www.xxxxx.com on you local intranet. (You 'might' have heard once that the entire internet is tcp/ip based :P)
  4. Then your computer checks the file /etc/resolv.conf file should look like this.

  5. nameserver

  6. This is the nameserver of you ISP. And when nothing can be found on the local intranet you computer will query this nameserver. (if this nameserver is unreachable the you'll get an error).
  7. When this nameserver is reachable it will answer with an ip. If www.xxxxx.com is unknown to the nameserver it will query some other nameserver. But in the end you'll get your ip.
  8. Once this ip (lets say is known there will be tried to establish a connection to (this connection will be made by the standard routing procedure as can be viewed by typing route from a root shell.
Now the communication will be established, files will be transferd using the http protocol. So the nameserver simply translates www.xxxxx.com into an ip by quering its own databases or querying other databases.

1.4 Whooow that sounds very cool !!! So ? :p

Well suppose those seven steps take about 2 seconds (if you have a speedy connection and your ISP has a nameserver with almost no network traffic and if the ip is in the nameservers cache). So if this was an utopia it would take two seconds. So in these times it'll take a bit longer. In this tutorial we'll make something called 'a caching only nameserver'.

1.5 What is a caching only nameserver

Well, this is a special 'type' of nameserver. This is not intended to be the nameserver of your intranet. The only thing it does is to cache all names and ip's that are queried from the local network. The first time you query an ip, an other database has to be queried (isp). But any other time that query does not have to find place. It is on you own hard disk, so it doesn't consume any bandwidth, and site will come up some seconds faster on your screen which makes surfing a lot more FUN. You can say now what the hell are two seconds? Yes but how often do you go to a search engine ? How often do you go to you favorite site and further, how often doe you check your e-mail ? (once every 10 minutes is a Netscape default)

Here ends the theory, now you should be able to understand what a caching only nameserver does and how it can speed up you connection with a few seconds, now go ahead and type something.

2 Fuck that damned theory, let me type something

2.1 named.conf

First we edit the general config file of the nameserver. The file is called /etc/named.conf and it should look like:
options {
        directory "/var/named";
        /* Some shit */
This first part of the file is the one that needs changes. For this you need to know the nameserver of your ISP (NOT the name but the IP !!!), you change the file to:
options {
        directory "/var/named";
        forwarders {
You've now simple said that an unknown query has to be forwarded to the ip's above. If the first is not reachable the second one will be tried.

2.2 Changing the nameserver

In fact you have now an up and (almost) running nameserver. There is just one little detail you have to take care of, that's the fact that your computer doesn't recognize / will use you nameserver yet. You have to edit /etc/resolv.conf . And you should edit the file so it'll look like:
# nameserver 321.321.321.321
The first line was your original nameserver, just comment this (you never know ...) and then you add the line nameserver this just says that queries no longer have to be forwarded but can be answered by you OWN local nameserver.

2.3 Up and running

Now you just have to (re)start your nameserver with killall -HUP named . Then you check you logs ( /var/log/messages ) and hope they'll look like
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[692]: starting.  named 8.2.1 Fri Sep 24 14:52:24 EDT 1999 ^Iroot@porky.devel.redhat.com:/usr/src/bs/BUILD/bind-8.2.1/src/bin/named
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[692]: hint zone "" (IN) loaded (serial 0)
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[692]: Zone "0.0.127.in-addr.arpa" (file named.local): No default TTL set using SOA minimum instead
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[692]: master zone "0.0.127.in-addr.arpa" (IN) loaded (serial 1997022700)
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[692]: listening on [].53 (lo)
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[692]: listening on [].53 (eth0)
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[692]: Forwarding source address is [].1025
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named: named startup succeeded
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[693]: Ready to answer queries.
Nov 20 13:29:34 SaTaN named[693]: sysquery: sendto([].53): Network is unreachable
If you see a last line, like mine, don't worry about it. It means you are not yet connected to the internet. When you get some erros, it means that you have not edited you config file properly so you have check it again. (hint: check if all the ; are in place and every { is closed with an } )

2.4 U don't believe me ?

Ok, for everyone who doesn't believe me ...
[root@SaTaN /] nslookup www.iwanttoquerythis.com
Server: localhost

Name: www.iwanttoquerythis.com
Address: ... other ip's ..
Aliases: If available ...
This was the first query and a request was sent to the nameserver mentioned in the config file. For this far you know you nameserver can forward addresses :p it's a start.
[root@SaTaN /] nslookup www.iwanttoquerythis.com
Server: localhost

Name: www.iwanttoquerythis.com
Aliases: ...
Cool, it says Non-authoritive answer. What does it means ? Well, it just wants to say that for that answer there was no need to forward the request, cool huh ?

2.5 And here's another way to do it

You can also manage your local DNS database by yourself! Simply add lines to the /etc/hosts file that will look like this:
IP-address hostname #comment
For example: www.some-website.com #just another stupid website
In case you're wondering, you don't HAVE to put a comment...  :p
Oh, by the way, this method is inferior because you have to enter IPs and hostnames by yourself... ouch...

2.6 Local DNS cache under Windows

Hello, poor Windows users. Want to make yourself a nice local DNS cache? Too bad, 'cause you can only use the method described in chapter 2.5, only you will be using c:\windows\hosts (not to be confused with c:\windows\hosts.sam, which is a sample file for c:\windows\hosts) instead of /etc/hosts. If you don't wanna do this manually, you could try and find a program called FastNet, which will scan your browser's bookmarks and history database and automatically add every URL you visit to this database, and will also let you add entries manually.

3 The end

3.1 Outro

You should be able to put up you own caching only nameserver. What else is there to say, if you want to know something more about it, you can mail to GoMoRRaH and this file was written for Black sun Research Facility

GoMoRRaH WiLL RiSe aGaiN