History of What's the story?

Tony Tauber ttauber at 1-4-5.net
Sun Feb 14 23:41:12 UTC 2010

I'll add to what Johno writes.  I worked on the anycast routing side to
the server side which he describes.

The prefix was set aside by John Hawkinson in our reservation
system under the label "Numerology" since he had the wisdom to see that
the numbers in themselves could be valuable.  He really wanted

Unfortunately someone had already taken for some of our first
DSL assignments (when it still seemed suprising that anyone would need
tens of thousands of IP addresses at a shot).  The first two /16s in 4/8
were already used for infrastucture.

I don't necessarily recall the service being intended for non-customers
(hence no care about seeing multiple paths outside the AS which
originates it.)

The real gains were:

- More graceful failover

- Shorter trips to resolvers (quicker lookups)

- Ability to split load w/o re-configuring clients

That's the story.  Others did it before and since but jhawk really
deserves the credit for squatting on super-easy to type and remember
addresses.  I use it to this day for a quick thing to ping when I need
to test connectivity.



On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 09:16:13AM -0500, John Orthoefer wrote:
> Since I'm watching B5 again on DVD.... 
> I was there at the dawning of the age of :)  
> We did it, and we I mean Brett McCoy and my self.   But most of the
> credit/blame goes to Brett...  I helped him, but at the time I was
> mostly working on getting out Mail relays working right.  This was
> about 12 years ago, about 1998, I left Geunitity in 2000, and am back
> at BBN/Raytheon now.  I remember we did most of the work after we
> moved out of Cambridge and into Burlington.
> Genuity/GTEI/Planet/BBN owned 4/8.  Brett went looking for an IP that
> was simple to remember, I think was in use by neteng already.
> But it was picked to be easy to remember, I think jhawk had put a hold
> on the block, we got/grabbed 3 address,,
> and so people had 3 address to go to.    At the time people
> had issues with just using a single resolver.  We also had issues with
> both users and registers since clearly they aren't geographically
> diverse, trying to explain routing tricks to people KNOW all IPs come
> in and are routed as Class A/B/C blocks is hard.
> NIC.Near.Net which was our primary DNS server for years before I
> transferred to planet from BBN.  It wasn't even in 4/8, I think it was
> 128.89 (BBN Corp space), but I'm not sure.   BBN didn't start to use
> 4/8 till the Planet build out, and NIC.near.net predates that by at
> least 10 years.
> I still have the power cord from NIC.near.net in my basement.   That
> machine grew organically with every service known to mankind running
> on it, and special one-off things for customers on it.   It took us
> literally YEARS to get that machine turned off, when we finally got it
> off I took the power cord so no one would help us by turning it back
> on, I gave the cord to Chris Yetman, who was the director of
> operations and told him if a customer screams he has the power to turn
> it back on.  A year or so later, he gave the cord back to me.  
> Yes we set up as a public resolver.   We figured trying to
> filter it was larger headache than just making it public.
> It was always pretty robust due to the BIND code, thanks to ISC, and
> the fact it was always IPV4 AnyCast.  
> I don't know about now, but originally it was IPV4 AnyCast.  Each
> server advertised a routes for, .2, and .3 at different costs
> and the routers would listen to the routes.   Originally the start up
> code was, basically: advertise route to,, and
> run bind in foreground mode
> drop route to,, and
> then we had a Tivoli process that tried to restart bind, but rate
> limited the restarts.  But that way if the bind died the routes would
> drop.
> johno
> On Feb 14, 2010, at 4:16 AM, Sean Reifschneider wrote:
> > I've wondered about this for years, but only this evening did I start
> > searching for details.  And I really couldn't find any.
> > 
> > Can anyone point me at distant history about how came to be, in my
> > estimation, the most famous DNS server on the planet?
> > 
> > I know that it was originally at BBN, what I'm looking for is things like:
> > 
> >   How the IP was picked.  (I'd guess it was one of the early DNS servers,
> >         and the people behind it realized that if there was one IP address
> >         that really needed to be easy to remember, it was the DNS server,
> >         for obvious reasons).
> >   Was it always meant to be a public resolver?
> >   How it continued to remain an open resolver, even in the face of
> >         amplifier attacks using DNS resolvers.  Perhaps it has had
> >         rate-limiting on it for a long time.
> >   There's a lot of conjecture about it using anycast, anyone know anything
> >         about it's current configuration?
> > 
> > So, if anyone has any stories about, I'd love to hear them.
> > 
> > Thanks,
> > Sean
> > -- 
> > Microsoft treats objects like women, man...
> >                 -- Kevin Fenzi, paraphrasing the Dude, 1998
> > Sean Reifschneider, Member of Technical Staff <jafo at tummy.com>
> > tummy.com, ltd. - Linux Consulting since 1995: Ask me about High Availability
> > 
> > 

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