Configuring DNS on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server for Web Hosting

Snow Leopard Server takes control over bind and named and provides you Server Admin to configure DNS. Apple wants you to use Server Admin either via Server Admin Tools, Server Admin within Remote Management, or via serveradmin on terminal or via ssh to your SLS.   You may want to start fresh if you are having trouble with dns service after modifying config files by hand.  Small changes and file modifications can corrupt the entire DNS service.  If you are having trouble with DNS try to telnet to port 53 on your machine and check dig and dns reports on your domain.  If these fail consider starting fresh.

You’ll need
OS X Snow leopard server with remote access
A domain name and access to your domains management console
2 IP addresses, one for each name server you’ll use
To plan a bit– figure out which IPs you want to use for name servers, what you would like to call the name servers

To begin
Rndc is not necessary for named to work on SLS
Any db zone file edits via command line will be reverted/overwritten with Server Admin
DNS zones are stored in /var/named/zones
Basic server network config like IPs and a network resolver need to be functioning. See network connections and /etc/resolv.conf
Many times SLS relies on and uses RDNS. When you are able set RDNS for IPs you use for NS and hostnames

References Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard Resources – Guides Discussions Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard

dig on your command line
dig from
dig from
dns report from
dns report from

10.6 DNS Defaults Use these for starting over fresh with DNS after experiencing configuration or performance issues.
Package contents:

These files are all system defaults and are tested on SLS 10.6.4.

Server Admin Tools Remote administration tools, documentation and utilities that you can install on a OS X machine other than your server.

Setting up DNS
If you have not already, visit Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard Resources – Guides and download the Network Services Admin pdf.
Skip to chapter 3  Working with DNS Service and read this chapter in its entirety if you are new to DNS. If you are already familiar and have configured or setup a DNS server before, skim it and continue to follow this article.

1.  Register your domain name, register your name servers, set name servers
This article assumes you already have the domain name ready that you would like to setup and host on your Snow Leopard Server. The registrar I am using is Enom with a direct account.  If you are using Godaddy or another registrar you may have limited access.  If you are having trouble finding the register a name server function within your domain registration account contact their support team and they should be able to add your name servers for you.  Here are the steps in with Enom to give you an idea of the process:

a.   After logging in, go to Domain -> Register a name server

b.  Add your name server ( and one of the ip addresses from your server.  For this example I’m using (main server ip where the site will be hosted), for name server 1, and for name server 2.  If you have multiple IPs on your snow leopard server try and use consecutive IPs.

c.  Add your second name server and the IP you wish to use for it

d.  Check both nameservers if you can to verify they were added correctly

e.  Set the name servers that you just created on the domain you will be hosting on your Snow Leopard Server.

Keep in mind name server updates can take from 1-24 hours depending your location and the traffic on root dns servers.

Now that your domain name is properly configured to point to your Snow Leopard Server you’ll need to setup DNS service to host your domain.
2.  Enable DNS Service
a.  Launch Server Admin and connect to your server.
b.  Select your server and click [Settings]
c.  Click [Services] , Select the DNS checkbox.  Click save.

3.  Create a DNS zone and add DNS records
a.  Open Server Admin, connect to your server.  Click the triangle and expand the service drop down.
b.  Select DNS.
c.  Click [Zones]
d.  Click Add Zone -> Add Primary Zone (Master)
e.  Select the new zone, in the Primary Zone Name field enter the zone name, or the domain name you wish to host on your Snow Leopard Server
f.  Enter the email address of the zones administrator
g.  Add name servers for the zone by clicking [+] and entering the 2 name servers you created earlier.
h.  Click save.

4.  Finish configuring the zone.  Add records.
a.  Select the zone you just created
b.  Click Add Record -> Add Alias (CNAME)
c.  Add your domain as the Machine Name with a trailing . and click Fully Qualified
d.  Enter the ip address that you’ll be hosting your site on, typically your servers main ip address.
e.  Click save.

f.  Click Add Record -> Add Machine (A)
g.  Alias Name:  www
h.  Destination:  Your domain name with a trailing . and check Fully Qualified
e.  Click save.

This zone was only created for web hosting not for email or any other services for the domain Snow Leopard Server will attempt to obtain rdns entries for your domain and will add them above the zone you just created.

5.  Configure logging
If you wish to troubleshoot DNS service visit -> DNS -> Settings -> Log Level
Here you can configure the amount of information displayed in Server Admin.  Select information or debug for the most information.  To trouble shoot via terminal you can :
[code lang=”bash”]
tail -F /Library/Logs/named.log[/code]
6.  Configure firewall
Before proceeding you’ll want to make exceptions in the servers firewall for dns.  Enable all port 53 traffic.
a.  In Server Admin, Select Firewall
b.  Click [Settings]
c.  Click Services
d.  Click next to both DNS entries, Inbound queries and outbound queries.
e.  Click save.

7.  Stop and start DNS service and test your domain

You  should now proceed to setup Web service and setup a Site. This web files should be placed in /Library/WebServer/Documents/ or the location you set in Server Admin. This process is pretty straight forward, I will create a guide for it next.

If you setup DNS and the site correctly you should now be ready to host web sites on your Snow Leopard Server.

Starting fresh
Is DNS service not responding or acting strange?  Did you modify some of the config files above outside of Server Admin? Try starting over if you arent getting results from telnet to your ip port 53 and you arent seeing responses when you dig or do a dns report on your domain.

1. Stop DNS Service in Server Admin
2. Close Server Admin

3. Grab the 10.6 DNS Defaults package mentioned above
4. Place the on your server, maybe on the desktop. Extract it.
5. Overwrite the following files:


(ex: In extracted dns defaults directory: sudo mv named.conf /var/named.conf)
Also rm any of the db files in /var/named and in /var/named/zones or move them elsewhere to reference later if you need to restore these zones.

6. Launch Disk Utility
Spotlight (Command+space) -> Disk Utility
Finder -> Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility
7. Click on your main disk (Macintosh HD)
8. Click the (Repair Disk Permissions) Button
9. Allow the repair to complete and restart your server

After your server comes back up from reboot check Server Admin and you’ll have a clean slate. Move back up to Setting up DNS, create a primary zone and use some of the tools above to test.

Contact me if you have any questions or need a hand setting up your Snow Leopard Server for web hosting

  • deedubya

    I did this and it did work for me. However, now I’m getting this error:

    Unable to set node credentials for /LDAPv3/ with the record name

    Any help would be appreciated.

  • Check this thread, looks like many others have had the same issue.

  • Isava_ru

    I setting zone nameservers: nameserver hostname: and –

    when I save config it show Nameserver hostname: Why is it ?

  • Try and edit them manually via servermanager on the command line or you can also edit the zone file in /var/named/ and it should update in Server Manager app

  • Thanks for a great write-up.

    I have hosed the DNS on a server, and need to edit or reset the files; your zip of the default files will be very helpful.

    Since Open Directory requires functioning DNS to be operational, would you expect any impact to OD operation by stopping DNS, replacing the files with different information, and starting it up again? Ie, is OD dependent on host-specific DNS records, or just a functional DNS environment?


  • Gary

    Correction, I believe:

    in the list of files to be replaced,
    5. Overwrite the following files:


    the fifth line should read:


  • @Gary
    Glad the post was useful. Thanks for finding that file location error. I’ve corrected it. Regarding Open Directory its hard to say, and I would be pleasantly surprised if there was documentation out in the wild that will answer this question! With the way SLS services interact with each other I would say that wiping files and ‘resetting’ dns settings does have the possibility of impacting other active running services. I do think after you reset dns, configure it, restart services everything should be fine. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  • Gary

    Another minor change:
    In the DNS setup discussion, swap instructions 4(b) and 4(f).

    Here is my recipe to move the existing DNS files and replace them with the content of the file. I’ve walked through it on my test server, and it worked. By then adding the appropriate SRV record and enabling SMB to act as a PDC, and rebooting, I have successful login to the OD from a Windows XP box … so I think it all worked! The real test will be doing in the customer environment, of course!

    Here are the detailed steps I used to execute the plan you described in the article, in case it will help someone else:

    1. Change DNS target on server, using Network Preferences, so it looks to the router or the DNS addresses provided by the ISP.

    2. Stop DNS service.

    If you can’t use Server Admin to do that, here’s the command line:
    sudo serveradmin stop dns

    3. Zip up, copy, or otherwise set aside the current files in

    Procedure to do that:

    from /etc:
    cd /etc
    sudo cp named.conf named.conf-setaside
    sudo mkdir dns-setaside
    sudo cp -Rv dns/ dns-setaside/
    from /var:
    cd /var
    sudo mkdir named-setaside
    sudo cp -Rv named/ named-setaside/

    4. Remove any .db files in /var/named or /var/named/zones as follows:

    cd /var/named
    pwd (and) ls-l ensure location and content
    sudo rm db.*
    ls -l monitor results
    cd /var/named/zones
    pwd (and) ls-l ensure location and content
    sudo rm db.*
    ls -l monitor results

    4. Unpack the file,
    put it on Desktop,
    cd into that directory

    Prompt should now look like this:

    (servername):DNS_defaults Username$

    5. Overwrite the following:


    Procedure to do that:

    sudo cp -Rv dns/ /etc/dns/
    sudo cp named.conf /etc
    sudo cp -Rv named/ /var/named/

    6. Launch Disk Utility, select your main disk (Macintosh HD), click on Repair Disk Permissions, and restart the server when it completes.

    7. Run Server Admin and set up DNS, as described in this post.