In my /etc/network/interfaces I have multiple servers listed on dns-nameservers, one set of ubuntu servers has 3, another 4. We had no issues until we were forced to add yet 2 more to each, but we still could not successfully resolve using the new DNS servers. After some investigation, we found that only 3 DNS servers were copied into /etc/resolv.conf. We are able to resolve our immediate issue by putting the 3 primary servers in there and omitting the backup DNS servers, but I'd like to get keep all necessary DNS servers available.

As for why so many:

  • is used because it gets updated information faster than our internal ones
  • Our internal network DNS
  • Another DNS for a DB cluster
  • hit F12 and pull up the 'console' and see if it gives any errors when you try and access Google again. Firefox is known to 'eat' errors and not give useful error messages but the console might spit some useful ones. Failing that, there's not enough information here to debug things. You might have a web proxy in line or something that's not detailed here, so we'd need to know A LOT more than you've provided here thus far about the network, etc. – Thomas Ward Jul 12 at 14:04
  • This has absolutely nothing to do with browsing or the UI, its a server. I put 5 IP addresses for dns-namesservers and restart networking or reboot. The first 3 get copied into /etc/resolv.conf, the rest are ignored. Using nslookup to resolve ips from the DB cluster fails unless I specify the correct DNS server as the nameserver for nslookup. – rtaft Jul 12 at 15:26
  • You never specified it was a server (in 16.04 you can use /etc/network/interfaces on desktops). NORMALLY you don't need more than 3 nameservers, and I believe this was an issue in 16.04 where it wouldn't process more than 3 with ifupdown and resolvconf. Is there a reason you need all five and can't reduce the number to 3? – Thomas Ward Jul 12 at 15:29
  • It does say "one set of ubuntu servers". Yes I have rearranged them so that it's using the 3 we need, the 2 backups are not necessary, but having a backup is nice. – rtaft Jul 12 at 15:47
  • @Fabby answer written now, it's not an easy answer but it works pretty darn well once configured, at least from what I can tell. – Thomas Ward Jul 13 at 17:31

You can use dnsmasq to add any number of additional DNS servers. Here's how to do it.

First install dnsmasq:

sudo apt install dnsmasq

Edit configuration file and add Your dns servers there (f.ex at the end of the file):

sudo nano /etc/dnsmasq.conf


Save the file and now edit the file (and add as a nameserver) :

sudo nano /etc/resolv.conf


Restart dnsmasq (or even better reboot PC):

sudo service dnsmasq restart

Verify if dnsmasq responds to DNS queries (look for SERVER, should be

dig google.pl


NOTE: Sometimes Network Manager can override the /etc/resolv.conf file so You can make it read-only:

sudo chmod -w /etc/resolv.conf

NOTE 2: It is possible that You will have to disable build-in dns

sudo systemctl disable systemd-resolved.service
sudo systemctl stop systemd-resolved
  • 1
    This was relatively quick to configure and worked with some minor changes. The 3rd step is editing /etc/network/interfaces, making the extra notes unnecessary. I tried manually configuring resolv.conf with the nameservers and disabling write access but it still overwrites it, even with resolved disabled. – rtaft Jul 16 at 13:27

This will sound like it's 'overkill' for what you need, but in fact this is probably the most 'stable' solution so far to handle routing of DNS requests based on what exactly you are requesting.

This can be deployed on an independent server or on the local server(s) itself.

Set up a bind9 DNS server set up as forwarders to properly route requests to the proper DNS servers based on requested domains.

This may sound like overkill, but this is actually a sane solution. But, we'll have to do some changes to make this work proper.

Step 0: As you are on 16.04, we need to bind the bind9 server to a separate localhost address on for a local listener.

ONLY DO THIS STEP if you are running this on the server itself, and not as its own independent DNS server that your server will query to. If you are running this on a separate server so the server you were making the complaints about will send queries to this server, skip to step 1. OTHERWISE, do these changes on the server you are complaining about.

First, we need to add to your system. This way, you can bind to the address properly.

Edit your /etc/network/interfaces file, and underneath the iface lo inet loopback line add this:

    up ip -4 addr add dev lo
    down ip -4 addr del dev lo

You can either reboot your system now to get this address added, or if you do NOT want to reboot, you can add this manually:

sudo ip -4 addr add dev lo

Once you verify this address is set up (ip -4 addr list will show now), we can continue.

Step 1: Install bind9

First, install bind9.

sudo apt install bind9

Next, once it's installed, we need to configure it. For the purposes of this answer, I am going to be using the following examples:

*.db.example.com is served by DNS server
*.internal.example.com is served by DNS server
Internet nameservers are serviced by and (Google)

Step 2: Configure bind9

Edit the /etc/bind/named.conf.options file so it looks like this:

options {
    directory "/var/cache/bind";

    // If there is a firewall between you and nameservers you want
    // to talk to, you may need to fix the firewall to allow multiple
    // ports to talk.  See http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/800113

    // If your ISP provided one or more IP addresses for stable
    // nameservers, you probably want to use them as forwarders.
    // Uncomment the following block, and insert the addresses replacing
    // the all-0's placeholder.

    forwarders {;;

    // If BIND logs error messages about the root key being expired,
    // you will need to update your keys.  See https://www.isc.org/bind-keys
    dnssec-enable yes;
    dnssec-validation yes;

    minimal-responses yes;

    auth-nxdomain no;    # conform to RFC1035

    // If this bind9 instance is acting as a standalone server for
    // multiple systems to query to, then omit here and 
    // adjust to be the server's actual IP address on network.
    // If this bind9 instance is ONLY serving the local server you were
    // trying to get 5 Nameservers onto, then only use here.
    listen-on {;; };

    // If you don't have IPv6 set up, then leave this like this:
    listen-on-v6 { none; };

    allow-query {;;
        ;; };

    allow-transfer {;;
           ;; };

    allow-recursion {;;
            ;; };


This will set up bind9 so that all otherwise unmatched requests will be forwarded to Google's nameservers on and in order.

Now, I mention "unmatched requests". We have to configure the other two internal forwarder zones for the aforementioned 'example' ranges.

Edit /etc/bind/named.conf.local. We'll need to add some things now.

At the end of the file, add this:

zone "db.example.com" {
    type forward;
    forwarders {; };

zone "internal.example.com" {
    type forward;
    forwarders {; };

Then, once this is done, we need to restart the bind9 service.

sudo systemctl restart bind9

Once this is restarted, we should see this listening on both its server's localhost and/or the system's IP address depending on the configurations above.

Step 3: Make sure the server resolves right.

Run some DNS queries against this server (you may need dnsutils installed for this). For "ADDRESS", use the IP address of the server running bind9 if it is standalone server, use the IP address of if you are running bind9 on the same server as the server you were asking about.

dig @ADDRESS +short server.db.example.com
dig @ADDRESS +short system.internal.example.com
dig @ADDRESS +short google.com

All three of these queries should resolve properly. Use proper hostnames for your environments, though.

If all of this works, then continue on.

Step 4: Set your server to properly use this nameserver

If this nameserver is now set up on a separate server from the server you were initially talking about, then in place of the 5 nameservers you were using before, only use the IP address of the server running this bind9 instance instead.

If this nameserver is set up locally on the same server as the one you were asking about, then use in place of the 5 IP addresses.

Then reboot. You should then have DNS working as you expect to, but using bind9 as the mechanism instead of trying to get resolvconf to be working properly.

This may seem a complex setup but actually works pretty darn well. I use a similar setup for 'multiple environment' setups, where I need to use internal DNS servers on VPNs for certain subnet ranges but Internet addresses for everything else while bypassing other DNS servers. It may seem like an overkill solution but works.

Good luck, and ask questions if you have them as comments on my answer!

  • Note that you can use this example as a template and expand on this to make work for your network, and specify multiple forwarder IP(s). – Thomas Ward Jul 13 at 17:55

For Ubuntu Versions after 16.04:

Just edit the file /etc/systemd/resolved.conf

Uncomment DNS and domains, enter the IPs and searchdomains (blank seperated) and restart systemd-resolv or reboot your host.

#  This file is part of systemd.
#  systemd is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
#  under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by
#  the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or
#  (at your option) any later version.
# Entries in this file show the compile time defaults.
# You can change settings by editing this file.
# Defaults can be restored by simply deleting this file.
# See resolved.conf(5) for details

Domains=<domain> <domain>

For Ubuntu versions with 16.04 or earlier

Use resolvconf :

sudo apt-get install resolvconf

edit /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/tail to include your DNS servers and domains

search mydomain.com myotherdomain.com corporatedomain.local

then restart the service

/etc/init.d/resolvconf restart

and your /etc/resolv.conf should look like this

# Dynamic resolv.conf(5) file for glibc resolver(3) generated by resolvconf(8)
# is the systemd-resolved stub resolver.
search mydomain.com myotherdomain.com corporatedomain.local
  • This seems to have no effect. The file exists and I modified it, but it still uses the first 3 DNS entries from /etc/network/interfaces after a reboot. – rtaft Jul 15 at 14:36
  • This will only work for 18.04+ - 16.04 I believe still uses dnsmasq and resolvconf, not systemd-resolved – Thomas Ward Jul 15 at 18:53
  • @ThomasWard, oh right! I'll expand my answer to include resolvconf, then. – Robert Riedl Jul 16 at 6:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.