Wandering Thoughts archives


Some notes on systemd-resolved, the systemd DNS resolver

My office workstation's upgrade to Fedora 27 resulted in a little incident with NetworkManager, which I complained about on Twitter; the resulting Twitter conversation brought systemd-resolved to my attention. My initial views weren't all that positive (because I'm biased here; systemd's recent inventions have often not been good things) but I didn't fully understand its state on my systems, so I wound up doing some digging. I'm still not too enthused, but I've wound up less grumpy than I was before and I'm not going to be forcefully blocking systemd-resolved from running at all just yet.

Systemd-resolved is systemd's DNS resolver. It has three interfaces:

  • A DBUS API that's exposed at /org/freedesktop/resolve1. I don't know how many things use this API (or at least try to use it).

  • A local caching DNS resolver at (IPv4 only) that clients can query to specifically talk to systemd-resolved, even if you have another local caching DNS server at

  • glibc's getaddrinfo() and friends, which would send all normal hostname lookups off to systemd-resolved. Importantly, this is sanely implemented as a NSS module. If you don't have resolve in your hosts: line in /etc/nsswitch.conf, systemd-resolved is not involved in normal hostname resolution.

All of my Fedora machines have systemd-resolved installed as part of systemd but none of them appear to have the NSS resolve module enabled, so none of them are using systemd-resolved as part of normal hostname resolution. They do appear to enable the DBus service (as far as I can sort out the chain of DBus stuff that leads to unit activation). The systemd-resolved daemon itself is not normally running, and there doesn't seem to be any systemd socket stuff that would activate it if you sent a DNS query to port 53 on, so on my Fedora machines it appears the only way it will ever start is if something makes an explicit DBus query.

However, once activated resolved has some behaviors that I don't think I'm fond of (apart from the security bugs and the regular bugs). I'm especially not enthused about its default use of LLMNR, which will normally see it broadcasting certain DNS queries out on all of my active interfaces. I consider LLMNR somewhere between useless and an active risk of various things, depending on what sort of network I'm connected to.

Resolved will make queries to DNS servers in parallel if you have more than one of them available through various paths, but here I think it's a reasonable approach to handling DNS resolution in the face of things like VPNs, which otherwise sort of requires awkward hand configuration. It's unfortunate that this behavior can harm people who know what they're doing and who want behavior like their local DNS resolver (or resolv.conf) to always override the DNS resolver settings they're getting from some random network's DHCP.

Since resolved doesn't actually shove itself in the way of anyone who didn't actively ask for it (via DBus or querying, I currently feel it's unobjectionable enough to leave unmasked and thus potentially activated via DBus. Assuming that I'm understanding and using journalctl correctly, it never seems to have been activated on either of my primary Fedora machines (and they have journalctl logs that go a long way back).

linux/SystemdResolvedNotes written at 19:47:22; Add Comment

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