Skip to main content

ZeroNSD Quickstart

A DNS server for ZeroTier users

It's not DNS.

There's no way it's DNS.

It was DNS.


  • This feature is still in beta.
  • This will soon be integrated into ZeroTier 2.0, but for now, it is segregated to allow us to iterate quickly.
  • Here be Dragons (still).

Conceptual Prerequisites#

  • When ZeroTier joins a network, it creates a virtual network interface.
  • When ZeroTier joins mutiple networks, there will be multiple network interfaces.
  • When ZeroNSD starts, it binds to a ZeroTier network interface.
  • When ZeroTier is joined to multiple networks, it needs multiple ZeroNSDs, one for each interface.

This means:

  • ZeroNSD will be accessible from the node it is running on.
  • ZeroNSD will be accessible from other nodes on the ZeroTier network.
  • ZeroNSD will be isolated from other networks the node might be on.

Technical Prerequisites#

This Quickstart was written using two machines - one Ubuntu virtual machine on Digital Ocean, and one OSX laptop on a residential ISP. To follow along step by step, you'll need to provision equivalent infrastructure. If you use different platforms, you should be able to figure out what to do with minimal effort.

Create a ZeroTier Network#

You may do this manually through the ZeroTier Central WebUI,

Create a Network

Install ZeroTier#

ZeroTier must be installed and joined to the network you intend to provide DNS service to. The following should work from the CLI on most platforms. Windows users may download the MSI from the ZeroTier Downloads page. For the remainder of this document, please replace the example network af78bf94364e2035 with a network ID your own.

notroot@ubuntu:~$ curl -s | sudo bash
notroot@ubuntu:~$ sudo zerotier-cli join af78bf94364e2035
notroot@ubuntu:~$ sudo zerotier-cli set af78bf94364e2035 allowDNS=1

Authorize the Nodes#

Authorize the node to the network by clicking the "Auth" button in the Members section in the ZeroTier Central WebUI.

Authorize the Member

Provision an API Token from ZeroTier Central#

Before we begin, we will need to log into and create an API token under the Account section. ZeroNSD will use this token to read Network members so it can generate records, as well as update DNS settings.

You will need to stash this in a file for ZeroNSD to read.

sudo bash -c "echo ZEROTIER_CENTRAL_TOKEN > /var/lib/zerotier-one/token"
sudo chown zerotier-one:zerotier-one /var/lib/zerotier-one/token
sudo chmod 600 /var/lib/zerotier-one/token

ZeroTier Systemd Manager#

zerotier-systemd-manager publishes rpm and deb packages available at

sudo dpkg -i zerotier-systemd-manager_0.1.9_linux_amd64.deb

Finally, restart all the ZeroTier services.

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl restart zerotier-one
sudo systemctl enable zerotier-systemd-manager.timer
sudo systemctl start zerotier-systemd-manager.timer

Install ZeroNSD#

ZeroNSD should only run on one node per network. Latency for DNS really matters, so try to place it as close to the clients as possible.


ZeroNSD publishes rpm, deb, and msi packages, available here.

The latest release is not reflected below. Go to the link above to get a link!

sudo dpkg -i zeronsd_0.1.7_amd64.deb


If we don't have packages for your platform, you can still install it with cargo.

sudo /usr/bin/apt-get -y install net-tools librust-openssl-dev pkg-config cargo
sudo /usr/bin/cargo install zeronsd --root /usr/local

Serve DNS#

For each network you want to serve DNS to, do the following (replace af78bf94364e2035 with your network ID)

sudo zeronsd supervise -t /var/lib/zerotier-one/token -w -d beyond.corp af78bf94364e2035
sudo systemctl start zeronsd-af78bf94364e2035
sudo systemctl enable zeronsd-af78bf94364e2035

Verify functionality#

You should be able to ping the laptop via it's DNS name (or any preceding subdomain, since we've set the wildcard flag)

notroot@ubuntu:~$ ping laptop.beyond.corp
PING laptop.beyond.corp ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=50.1 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=49.5 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=48.6 ms


notroot@ubuntu:~$ ping laptop.beyond.corp
PING travel.laptop.beyond.corp ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=50.1 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=49.5 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=48.6 ms

Update flag settings#

In order to change the settings (such as the TLD), do the following (replace af78bf94364e2035 with your network ID)

sudo zeronsd supervise -t /var/lib/zerotier-one/token -w -d beyond.corp af78bf94364e2035
sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable zeronsd-af78bf94364e2035

Most Linux distributions, by default, do not have per-interface DNS resolution out of the box. To test DNS queries against ZeroNSD without zerotier-systemd-manager, find the IP address that ZeroNSD has bound itself to, and run queries against it explicitly.

sudo lsof -i -n | grep ^zeronsd | grep UDP | awk '{ print $9 }' | cut -f1 -d:

Query the DNS server directly with the dig command

The Ubuntu machine can be queried with:

dig +short @ zt-3513e8b98d.beyond.corp
dig +short @ server.beyond.corp

The OSX laptop can be queried with:

dig +short @ zt-eff05def90.beyond.corp
dig +short @ laptop.beyond.corp

Add a line to /etc/hosts and query again.

bash -c 'echo " test" >> /etc/hosts'
dig +short @ test.beyond.corp

Query a domain on the public DNS to verify fall through

dig +short @


OSX uses dns-sd for DNS resolution. Unfortunately, nslookup,host, and dig are broken on OSX.
ping works.

user@osx:~$ ping server.beyond.corp
PING server.beyond.corp ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=37.361 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=38.129 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=37.569 ms

To check out the system resolver settings, use: scutil --dns.

The Ubuntu machine can be queried with

dns-sd -G v4 server.beyond.corp
dns-sd -G v4 zt-3513e8b98d.beyond.corp

The OSX machine be queried with

dns-sd -G v4 laptop.beyond.corp
dns-sd -G v4 zt-eff05def90.beyond.corp


Are you a Windows user?
Does this work out of the box?
Does nslookup behave properly?
Let us know... feedback and pull requests welcome =)

Serving non-ZeroTier records#

NOTE this portion of the document is largely intended for advanced users who want to get more out of zeronsd's service.

zeronsd will also serve non-zerotier records in two situations: It will forward /etc/resolv.conf's nameservers on a TLD mismatch. This behavior is similar to dnsmasq, a popular DNS server on Linux.

Additionally, to serve custom records you can supply the -f flag with a file in hosts format it will service records from that file under the provided TLD, merged in with the zerotier nodes. Example below.

NOTE: if you followed the steps above, you will want to systemctl stop zeronsd-<network id>, and zeronsd unsupervise <network id> your network, before continuing.

Make a file called hosts and put this in it: cloudflare-dns

Then, let's start a temporary server for now. We'll just use the start subcommand of zeronsd. This will run in the foreground, so start a new terminal or & it.

$ zeronsd start -t /var/lib/zerotier-one/token -f ./hosts -d beyond.corp <network id>
Welcome to ZeroNS!
Your IP is

Finally, we can lookup cloudflare-dns.beyond.corp to find CloudFlare's DNS server really really fast!

$ host cloudflare-dns.beyond.corp
cloudflare-dns.beyond.corp has address