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A eulogy for djbdns


September 25 2002

This blog is an example of how outspoken, confrontational people have a hard time doing actual productive work.

==The rise and fall of djbdns==

djbdns is (was, really, here in 2022) a DNS server which was very popular back in 2001, when I started developing MaraDNS. It has not been updated since 2001.

One of the things I find incredibly ironic is that, here, over 20 years after DJB’s final update to djbdns, I’m the only one who is updating its code. And, I am no djbdns advocate: I started MaraDNS simply because, until 2007, djbdns didn’t have an open source license, BIND had a lot of security issues, and there plain simply wasn’t any other DNS server out there. The djbdns crowd was not happy; one of my first emails I got after starting MaraDNS was a flame from a djbdns user criticizing me for making MaraDNS because djbdns was good enough, in his point of view.

And, indeed, there was a lot of noise 10-20 years ago about how djbdns was the one true DNS server, better than all others because it had no security holes. They made a lot of noise online, flooding online discussion boards whenever the subject of a DNS server came up. A few of them are still on ycombinator, still criticizing anything that’s not djbdns—the excellent KnotDNS got a cold reception from them there.

Despite all of the noise these loudmouths made about djbdns, very few stepped up to plate to actually maintain djbdns’s code. You would think, with the number of poster loudly proclaiming the virtues of djbdns, the number of people who made entire websites shrines to djbdns (not to mention qmail), and so on, at least one of them would still be up to plate, maintaining djbdns.

No. That didn’t happen. The only one still here, still maintaining djbdns is me, and I made a competitor to djbdns (which has been flamed by multiple djbdns “advocates”). Not one person who went to so much effort to troll and flame other DNS servers had the basic competence and persistence to actually make and maintain code.

Years after the BIND-and-djbdns flame wars have died out everywhere except with the aging crowd of Ycombinator desperately trying to recreate a rose-tinted vision of the past (and even here the djbdns advocates are slowly conceding djbdns isn’t really usable here in the 2020s), MaraDNS is still being maintained. I have given up on making her a general purpose recursive DNS server (use BIND, Unbound, or Knot Resolver for that), although it will still work as a recursor with over 99% of sites, as long as min_ttl is used so is usable. However, MaraDNS is still a general-purpose authoritative nameserver, and it is (via Deadwood) a usable caching resolver (useful for pi-hole type stuff).

Point being, people who make a lot of noise and spread a lot of negative energy online seem to not be very good at actually creating and maintaining something tangible like a software project.

Edit: There may be other unpatched security holes in djbdns. Since they do not have a CVE number, I am ignoring them.

==Chess update==

I am taking a minor break from being actively involved in the online chess community. People should not be making unfounded negative accusations without evidence, and the current controversy, which I have discussed enough in the last two blog entries, has not died down in the least.

Hopefully things will get back to normal again; until then, I need some space from that kind of online negativity.

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