Top 20 Best Open Source DNS Servers for (Linux / Windows)

Top 20 Best Open Source DNS Servers for (Linux / Windows). In this post, we will have a look at the top 20 best open source DNS servers for Linux and Windows. The fact that they are open source makes it easy to customize them depending on any network configuration. 

What is DNS Server

Connecting with DNS Server is another way to connect online safely. Using one of these free and public servers quickens your internet speed and you’ll experience a much smaller chance of technical issues as well as much more responsive browsing.

 

A DNS server or name server manages a massive database that maps domain names to IP addresses. DNS servers or Domain Name System is a protocol or system that will take the domain names that you enter into a browser and translate or forward them into the IP addresses needed to access those particular websites. In geek terms, that’s called Resolution.

Below is the list of Top 20 Best Open Source DNS Servers.

Top 20 Best Open Source DNS Servers for (Linux / Windows)

1. Knot DNS

Knot DNS is a high performance authoritative DNS server. It supports all key features of modern domain name systems.

It provides essential DNS features like incremental zone transfers (IXFR), dynamic updates (DDNS), and response rate limiting (RRL). It also has more advanced features that include automatic Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) signing, dynamic A/AAAA/PTR records synthesis, and rapid on-the-fly reconfiguration.

This is a tool for users looking for performance, security, and stability on their networks.

Download Knot DNS here.

2. PowerDNS

The PowerDNS nameserver consists of an authoritative server and a recursor which are offered separately.

The authoritative server answers questions about domains known to it. It doesn’t go out beyond its network to resolve queries about other domains. It stores discovery data in its database.

Meanwhile, the recursor, by default, does not know domains itself, but will always consult other authoritative servers to answer questions given to it.

PowerDNS was designed to serve both small and large domains. It is easy to set up and serves large query volumes on larger domains.

Download PowerDNS here.

3. MaraDNS

With MaraDNS we have a small and lightweight cross platform open source DNS server. It is easy to configure as it only requires editing text configuration files.

It offers DNSSEC simple, comes with a long list of plug ins, and has tools that help improve the DNS server, as well as import data. It can store both IP records and corresponding reverse DNS lookup and PTR query records. It can be used as a master DNS server, and, with some caveats, as a slave DNS server.

This DNS server is secure and runs on both Windows and UNIX clones.

Download MaraDNS here.

4. dnsmasq

dnsmasq is also a lightweight, easy to configure DNS forwarder with a small digital footprint. It is designed to provide DNS – as well as DHCP and TFTP – services to smaller networks or resource constrained routers and firewalls.

It can be configured to cache DNS queries to improve DNS lookup, Internet browsing and domain record resolution speeds to previously visited sites.

Download dnsmasq here.

5. BIND 9

BIND is an abbreviation for “Berkeley Internet Name Domain.” This is because it was created in the early 1980s at the University of California at Berkeley.

BIND 9 is highly scalable, easy to configure and adheres to industry standards. It offers stealth, primary or secondary accesses. It can perform as both an authoritative name server as well as a recursive resolver for the DNS system.

This DNS server is used often in Linux servers and can effectively manage DNS cookies while also securing the server from DoS attacks.

Download BIND 9 here.

6. NSD

Another choice of Top 20 Best Open Source DNS Servers for (Linux / Windows) is the NLnet Labs Name Server Daemon (NSD). It is an authoritative DNS name server. It was developed for networks where speed, reliability, stability, and security are of high importance.

It is ideal for Top Level Domain (TLD) implementations, DNS Root server, and networks that need a fast and optimized authoritative name server.

NSD consists of two programs: the zone compiler and the name server. The name server works with an intermediate database prepared by the zone compiler from standard zone files.

Download NSD here.

7. YADIFA

YADIFA was designed with the efficient management of large Internet zones in mind. It uses dynamic updates to automatically change domain name records and is capable of optimally handling multiple Internet zones.

It is small and light as well as RFC-compliant. It supports DNSSEC protocol and related operations which are carried out in real time.

YADIFA is a cross-platform solution that runs on Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Solaris.

Download YADIFA here.

8. pdnsd

pdnsd is a server designed for local caching of DNS information. It can significantly increase browsing speeds on broadband connections.

It was designed to be highly adaptable to situations where connectivity is slow, unreliable, unavailable or highly dynamic. This makes it ideal for use with Wi-Fi hotspots or dial-up internet.

pdnsd maintains a disk cache of queries that systems perform to ensure subsequent queries are served faster from the cache. It is can be used on personal Unix/Linux systems or at home with desktops or laptops.

Download pdnsd here.

9. Posadis

Posadis is a DNS server for Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac, and Unix. It uses a zone file format that is compatible with BIND zone files.

This powerful authoritative and caching DNS server supports IPv6 and is part of a suite of programs that supports graphical configuration and zone file management.

Download Posadis here.

10. Pi-hole

Pi-hole is a Linux network level advertisement and Internet tracker blocking application. It acts as a DNS sinkhole and can be optionally configured as a DHCP server. It was intended for use on private networks.

As the name suggests, Pi-hole was designed for low-power embedded devices with network capability, like a Raspberry Pi, but can also be installed on Linux machines.

It can also block advertisements and trackers anywhere – on websites as well as on other devices like smart TVs and mobile devices. It uses lists of offending domains to compare DNS queries against and, when a match is found, refuses to resolve the requested domain.

Download Pi-hole here.

11. djbdns

The djbdns DNS server is in fact software package consisting of 7 applications. It is a DNS implementation.

The server component includes solutions like a DNS resolver and cache, a black listing server and zone transfers.

The client component, meanwhile, includes the solutions for simple address from name lookup, simple text record from name lookup, and a mail exchanger lookup.

It was intentionally split during the design phase to reduce code size, eliminate complex daemon programs and easier debugging.

Download djbdns here.

12. Eddie

Eddie Enhanced DNS server is an ideal tool for sites with distributed web servers. It is dynamic enough to cater to sites with complex and mixed architectures – including different operating systems.

It dynamically balances client domain name resolution requests across all sites, regardless of geographical locations.

Download Eddie here.

13. AdGuard

AdGuard is a tool that was meant to make it easy to set up. It is used for content filtering, blocking ads, and preventing analytics systems from harvesting user data as they surf the Internet. It is powered by over 50 DNS servers that are spread across 15 locations on the globe.

It can even be implemented in a home to restrict access to children and underage users from accessing harmful websites or those with adult content.

AdGuard has reports on online activities – grouped by device or user – that are easy to understand.

Download AdGuard here.

14. Acrylic DNS Proxy

Another recommendation of Top 20 Best Open Source DNS Servers for (Linux / Windows) is Acrylic DNS Proxy. It is is an open source local DNS proxy that is designed for Windows operating systems. It helps improve computers’ performance by caching responses from DNS servers. It also helps fight unwanted ads with the help of custom HOSTS files that support wildcards as well as regular expressions.

Additional features that come with this tool include DNS caching, custom HOSTS files, support for DNS-over-HTTPS, as well as support for SOCKS 5 proxies.

Download Acrylic DNS Proxy here.

15. CoreDNS

CoreDNS is a DNS server written in Go and is flexible enough to be used in a multitude of environments. It has a selection of plugins to perform various DNS functions like Kubernetes service discovery, Prometheus metrics, rewriting queries, and serving from zone files.

It also has plugins for all major cloud providers including Microsoft Azure DNS, GCP Cloud DNS, and AWS Route53.

Download CoreDNS here.

16. Technitium DNS Server

Technitium DNS Server is an open source authoritative as well as recursive DNS server. It is used for self hosting a DNS server for privacy and security. It works out-of-the-box with no or minimal configuration and provides a user-friendly web UI that is accessible using any modern web browser.

It can be used to configure Block List URLs that get daily updates automatically to block ads. It also supports DNS-over-TLS and DNS-over-HTTPS protocols for forwarders which allows for the use of popular public DNS resolvers like Cloudflare, Google, and Quad9 for privacy by encrypting DNS traffic and protection from man-in-the-middle attacks.

Download Technitium DNS Server here.

17. Dual DHCP DNS Server

Dual DHCP DNS Server is a self-integrated service that automatically adds DHCP shared hosts to a DNS server.

The DHCP server is useful when maintaining IP addresses manually is not feasible – in larger networks, for example. The DNS server, meanwhile, takes care of resolving hostnames to their corresponding IP addresses.

It runs on both Windows and Linux.

Download Dual DHCP DNS Server here.

18. Erl-DNS

The name Erl-DNS comes from the fact that it was written in Erlang. It is a complete open source name server solution.

This DNS solution is known for its fast query response times – gauged at 30-65 µs/response – and can be used as an authoritative name server. It comes with several storage methods for its zone data. Users can extend it easily using the Erlang module system.

Download Erl-DNS here.

19. Unbound

Unbound is a lean and fast recursive DNS resolver that can be used for validation and caching. It also incorporates modern features based on open standards.

Unbound supports DNS-over-TLS and DNS-over-HTTPS for communication encryption. It supports various modern standards that limit the amount of data exchanged with authoritative servers to make it more robust.

It runs on FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, macOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.

Download Unbound here.

20. Trust-DNS

Trust-DNS is a DNS client, server, and resolver. It is written in Rust and was built to be safe and secure from the ground up.

This resolver supports many common query patterns which can be configured when creating the resolver. It is capable of using system configuration on Unix and Windows operating systems.

Download Trust-DNS here.

Top 20 Best Open Source DNS Servers for (Linux / Windows)

There is few reasons why we prepared the list of 20 open source DNS servers. One reason could be that you might want to change the DNS servers assigned by your ISP is if you suspect there’s a problem with the ones you’re using now. Another reason to change DNS servers is if you’re looking for better performing service. Other common reason to use DNS servers is to prevent logging of your web activity so that you can have a more private browsing experience. Lastly maybe you wan to consider Domain Forwarding, then consider GoDaddy.

Although almost all of the top 20 best open source DNS servers we have seen come with detailed instructions  I would welcome you do to individual and professional research with regards to installation, configuration and monitoring of your chosen solution.

After all, we wouldn’t want to lower the security  of the network or make it worse than the original one.

Avatar for Liku Zelleke
Liku Zelleke

Liku Zelleke is a technology blogger who has over two decades experience in the IT industry. He hasn’t looked back since the day, years ago, when he discovered he could combine that experience with his other passion: writing. Today, he writes on topics related to network configuration, optimization, and security for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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