Commit c7e2c646 authored by Mark Andrews's avatar Mark Andrews
Browse files

new draft

parent 785e9293
INTERNET-DRAFT Donald E. Eastlake 3rd
Clarifies STD0013 Motorola Laboratories
Expires July 2003 January 2003
Domain Name System (DNS) Case Insensitivity Clarification
------ ---- ------ ----- ---- ------------- -------------
Donald E. Eastlake 3rd
Status of This Document
Distribution of this document is unlimited. Comments should be sent
to the DNSEXT working group at
This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
all provisions of Section 10 of RFC 2026. Internet-Drafts are
working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its
areas, and its working groups. Note that other groups may also
distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts.
Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
time. It is inappropriate to use Internet- Drafts as reference
material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."
The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at
The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at
Domain Name System (DNS) names are "case insensitive". This document
explains exactly what that means and provides a clear specification
of the rules. This clarification should not have any interoperability
D. Eastlake 3rd [Page 1]
INTERNET-DRAFT DNS Case Insensitivity
Table of Contents
Status of This Document....................................1
Table of Contents..........................................2
1. Introduction............................................3
2. Case Insensitivity of DNS Labels........................3
3. Additional DNS Case Insensitivity Considerations........4
3.1 CLASS Case Insensitivity Considerations................4
3.2 Label Type Case Insensitivity Considerations...........5
4. Case on Input and Output................................5
5. Security Considerations.................................6
Normative References.......................................7
Informative References.....................................7
Author's Address...........................................8
Expiration and File Name...................................8
D. Eastlake 3rd [Page 2]
INTERNET-DRAFT DNS Case Insensitivity
1. Introduction
The Domain Name System (DNS) is the global hierarchical replicated
distributed database system for Internet addressing, mail proxy, and
other information. Each node in the DNS tree has a name consisting of
zero or more labels [STD 13][RFC 1591, 2606] which have always been
specified as being treated in a case insensitive fashion. This
document clarifies the meaning of "case insensitive" for this
The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC 2119].
2. Case Insensitivity of DNS Labels
DNS was specified in the era of [ASCII]. DNS names were expected to
look like most host names or Internet email address right halves (the
part after the at-sign ("@")) or be numeric as in the
part of the DNS name space. For example,
Case varied alternatives to the above would be DNS names like
The individual bytes of which DNS names consist are not limited to
valid ASCII character codes. They are defined as 8-bit bytes and all
values are allowed. It is just that they are traditionally interpreted
as ASCII characters.
The typographic convention for bytes that do not correspond to an
ASCII printing graphic is to show them as a back-slash followed by
three hex digits for the value of the byte as an unsigned
integer. This includes all byte values outside of the inclusive range
of 0x21 ("!") to 0x7E ("~"). That is to say, all byte values in the
two inclusive ranges 0x00 to 0x20 and 0x7F to 0xFF. The same
convention can be used for the back-slash character and the special
label separator period ("."). A period can also be protected from
recognition as a separator, so that it will be treated as a normal
label character, by preceeding it with a back-slash. The first example
D. Eastlake 3rd [Page 3]
INTERNET-DRAFT DNS Case Insensitivity
below shows embedded spaces and a period (".") within a label. The
second one show a 4 byte label where the second byte has all bits zero
and the third byte has all bits one.
or a\000\377z.example.
The design decision was made that comparisons on name lookup for DNS
queries should be case insensitive [STD 13]. That is to say, a lookup
string byte with a value in the inclusive range of 0x41 to 0x5A, the
upper case ASCII letters, MUST match the identical value and also
match the corresponding value in the inclusive range 0x61 to 0x7A,
the lower case ASCII letters. And a lookup string byte with a lower
case ASCII letter value MUST similarly match the identical value and
also match the corresponding value in the upper case ASCII letter
range. One way to implement this rule would be, when comparing bytes,
to subtract 0x20 from all bytes in the inclusive range 0x61 to 0x7A
before the comparison. Such an operation is commonly known as "case
(Historic Note: the terms "upper case" and "lower case" were invented
after movable type became wide spread for printing. The terms
originally refered to the two font trays for storing, in partitioned
areas, the different physical type elements. Before movable type,
the nearest equivalent terms were "majuscule" and "minuscule".)
DNS labels in wire encoded names have a type associated with them.
The original DNS standard [RFC 1035] had only two types. ASCII
labels, with a length of from zero to 63 bytes and indirect labels
which consist of an offset pointer to a name location elsewhere in
the wire encoding. (The ASCII label of length zero is reserved for
use as the name of the root node of the name tree.) ASCII labels
follow the ASCII case conventions described above. Indirect labels
are, in effect, replaced by the name to which they point which is
then treated with the case insensitivity rules in this document.
3. Additional DNS Case Insensitivity Considerations
This section clarifies the effect of DNS CLASS and extended Label
Type on case insensitivity.
3.1 CLASS Case Insensitivity Considerations
As described in [STD 13] and [RFC 2929], DNS has an additional axis
for data location called CLASS. The only CLASS in global use at this
time is the "IN" or Internet CLASS.
D. Eastlake 3rd [Page 4]
INTERNET-DRAFT DNS Case Insensitivity
The handling of DNS label case is not CLASS dependent.
3.2 Label Type Case Insensitivity Considerations
DNS was extended by [RFC 2671] to have additional label type numbers
available. (The only such type defined so far it the BINARY type [RFC
The ASCII case insensitivity conventions, or case folding, only apply
to ASCII labels, that is to say, label type 0x0, whether appearing
directly or invoked by indirect labels.
4. Case on Input and Output
While ASCII label comparisons are case insensitive, case MUST be
preserved on output, except when output is optimized by the use of
indirect labels, and preserved when possible on input.
[STD 13] views the DNS namespace as a node tree. ASCII output is as
if a name was marshalled by taking the label on the node whose name
is to be output, converting it to a typographicly encoded ASCII
string, walking up the tree outputting each label encountered, and
preceeding all labels but the first with a period ("."). Wire output
follows the same sequence but each label is wire encoded and no
periods inserted. No "case conversion" or "case folding" is done
during such output operations. However, to optimize output, indirect
labels may be used to point to names elsewhere in the DNS answer. In
determining whether the name to be pointed to is the "same" as the
remainder of the name being optimized, the case insensitive
comparison specified above is done. Thus such optimization MAY
destroy the output preservation of case. This type of optimization is
commonly called "name compression".
Originally, DNS input came from an ASCII Master File as defined in
[STD 13]. DNS Dynamic update has been added as a source of DNS data
[RFC 2136, 3007]. When a node in the DNS name tree is created by such
input, no case conversion is done and the case of ASCII labels is
preserved if they are for nodes being creted. However, no change is
made in the name label on nodes that already exist is the DNS data
being augmented or updated. It is quite common for higher level nodes
to already exist. For example, if data with owner name
"" is input and then later data with owner name
"xyz.BAR.example" is input, the name of the label on the
"bar.example" node, i.e. "bar", is not changed to "BAR". Thus later
retrieval of data stored under "" in this case can
easily result is obtaining data with "xyz.BAR.example".
D. Eastlake 3rd [Page 5]
INTERNET-DRAFT DNS Case Insensitivity
Note that the order of insertion into a server database of the DNS
name tree nodes that appear in a Master File is not defined so that
the results of inconsistent capitalization in a Master File are
unpredicatable output capitalization.
There is one additional instance of note, which relfects the general
rules that output case reflects input case unless there is
conflicting capitalization in the DNS database or the output case is
hidden by name compression. This is when a query matches a wild card
in the DNS database at a server. In that case, the answer SHOULD
reflect the input case of the label or labels that matched the
wildcard unless they are replaced by an indirect label which MAY
point to a name with different captialization.
5. Security Considerations
The equivalence of certain DNS label types with case differences, as
clarified in this document, can lead to security problems. For
example, a user could be confused by believing two domain names
differing only in case were actually different names.
Furthermore, a domain name may be used in contexts other than the
DNS. It could be used as an index into some case sensitive data base
system. Or it could be interpreted as binary data by some integrity
or authentication code system. These problems can usually be handled
by using a standardized or "canonical" form of the DNS ASCII type
labels, that is, always map the ASCII letter value octets in ASCII
labels to some specific pre-chosen case, either upper case or lower
case. An example of a canonical form for domain names (and also a
canonical ordering for them) appears in Section 8 of [RFC 2535]. See
also [UNKRR].
D. Eastlake 3rd [Page 6]
INTERNET-DRAFT DNS Case Insensitivity
Normative References
[ASCII] - ANSI, "USA Standard Code for Information Interchange",
X3.4, American National Standards Institute: New York, 1968.
[RFC 1034, 1035] - See [STD 13].
[RFC 2119] - "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
Levels", S. Bradner, March 1997.
[RFC 2136] - P. Vixie, Ed., S. Thomson, Y. Rekhter, J. Bound,
"Dynamic Updates in the Domain Name System (DNS UPDATE)", April 1997.
[RFC 2535] - D. Eastlake, "Domain Name System Security Extensions",
March 1999.
[RFC 3007] - B. Wellington, "Secure Domain Name System (DNS) Dynamic
Update", November 2000.
[STD 13]
- P. Mockapetris, "Domain names - concepts and facilities", RFC
1034, November 1987.
- P. Mockapetris, "Domain names - implementation and
specification", RFC 1035, November 1987.
[UNKRR] - Andreas Gustafsson, "Handling of Unknown DNS RR Types",
draft-ietf-dnsext-unknown-rrs-04.txt, September 2002.
Informative References
[RFC 1591] - J. Postel, "Domain Name System Structure and
Delegation", March 1994.
[RFC 2606] - D. Eastlake, A. Panitz, "Reserved Top Level DNS Names",
June 1999.
[RFC 2929] - D. Eastlake, E. Brunner-Williams, B. Manning, "Domain
Name System (DNS) IANA Considerations", September 2000.
[RFC 2671] - P. Vixie, "Extension mechanisms for DNS (EDNS0)", August
[RFC 2673] - M. Crawford, "Binary Labels in the Domain Name System",
August 1999.
D. Eastlake 3rd [Page 7]
INTERNET-DRAFT DNS Case Insensitivity
Author's Address
Donald E. Eastlake 3rd
Motorola Laboratories
155 Beaver Street
Milford, MA 01757 USA
Telephone: +1 508-851-8280 (w)
+1 508-634-2066 (h)
Expiration and File Name
This draft expires July 2003.
Its file name is draft-ietf-dnsext-insensitive-00.txt.
D. Eastlake 3rd [Page 8]
Markdown is supported
0% or .
You are about to add 0 people to the discussion. Proceed with caution.
Finish editing this message first!
Please register or to comment