One hazard of deploying Macs in a business environment is it's often a Windows administrator that's doing the deploying. Windows administrators, of course, are typically fairly knowledgeable finding their way around Windows Server's DNS settings. But many don't have a clue how to create zones or records using Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server. Here's a quick tutorial.
Start with Server Admin
Begin by opening the Mac OS X Server Admin. Navigate to the proper server within the left-hand pane and ensure the DNS service is running. A green icon adjacent to the DNS service indicates DNS is active.
Click the Zone icon. Note that existing zones, such as Reverse Zones and Primary Zones, are displayed within the main display.
Add a new zone
To add a new zone, click the Add Zone button and select Add Primary Zone (Master) or Add Secondary Zone (Slave). When adding a Primary Zone, you will need to supply the new zone's name within the Primary Zone Name field using the format zonename.com, for example. Provide an administrative email contact by entering the administrator's email address within the Admin Email field. To enable zone transfers, check the supplied box.
If you need to make the server a name server, click the + icon and confirm the server displays within the Nameservers window. If the server will process mail, add it to the Mail Exchangers field by clicking the supplied + icon, supplying the server's name and setting the priority remembering that lower numbers (10 and 20 for example) take higher precedence over higher numbers (such as 70 and 80).
Then, click the Save button to apply the changes. The changes take place immediately.
Note that, when creating DNS entries, there are two types. The .local address, for example, obviously isn't routed on the public Internet. If there are other servers present on the network, and if those other servers possess DNS authority, it is important that the appropriate DNS A and PTR records are created on those servers to accommodate the new system.
If the server is connected directly to, and routes traffic directly on, the Internet, it will likely prove necessary to create the corresponding DNS records using the administrative console supplied by the domain registrar. The use and configuration of those tools varies depending upon the registrar.
Add a new record
To add records, which is necessary to properly route traffic such as email, highlight the proper zone and click the Add Record button. Records created here help route traffic to the proper server.
Once the Add Record button is selected, three choices become available: Add Alias (CNAME), Add Machine (A) and Add Service (SRV). Choose the appropriate selection, supply the required information, such as the machine's IP address, and click Save. Common CNAME aliases, of course, are www and mail. So, if A records are created for server.company.com at 10.0.0.1, a CNAME alias can be created by clicking Add Record | Add Alias (CNAME), entering mail as the Alias Name and supplying the Destination as server.company.com, which will then direct traffic sent to mail.server.company.com to 10.0.0.1.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.