Zeroconf your Network

I remember the days when I was configuring DNS and DHCP for a small home network with only 2 or 3 computers.

This is not needed anymore since the invention of Zeroconf. As Wikipedia says, “is a set of techniques that automatically create a usable IP network without configuration or special servers. This allows inexpert users to connect computers, networked printers, and other items together and expect them to work automatically.”

Zeroconf got my attention when I installed Ubuntu Linux in one of my home PCs and it automatically started to show hostnames instead of IPs of my other home computers on the same DNS-less network. On my other Fedora Linux hosts, I had to manually install the avahi-tools and nss-mdns packages and I got the same functionality — as described in the Fedora Post-Installations Configurations.

Still without a local DNS server, each host can be pinged, SSHed, browsed, SMBed, etc using the hostname.local model, not the their IP anymore. So the machine with hostname floripa broadcasts itself as floripa.local. The same happens for all machines.

But I still missed this functionality when using my laptop booted on Windows. This OS was unable to understand the Zeroronf broadcasts until I installed the Apple implementation for Windows called Bonjour that can be downloaded from here.

To have a better, visual understanding of what Zeroconf can do for you, the Avahi website (Zeroconf implementation on Linux) provides a series of screenshots of regular applications discovering services in the LAN. Most notable is Konqueror — KDE’s file manager — using the zeroconf:/ URL to browse LAN services.

Now I finally know that my home doesn’t need things like Bind/DNS anymore.

3 thoughts on “Zeroconf your Network

  1. Hello Avi.
    FYI: I use zeroconf at my home! I have 4 machines in my home and I killed my local dns :-). I have 2 Linux machines and 2 Windows machines, and its working very well. Recommended.

  2. download bonjour from apple, then you can run zeroconf on win32. but link-local addressing should be supported directly by win32?

  3. I’ve been using Avahi/mss-dns on Fedora and Bonjour on XP in my home LAN for about a year or so and it has helped a lot. The thing that still bugs me the most, maybe you have a suggest for:

    Q: Since the IPs are still assigned dynamically and sometimes change, ssh complains about fingerprints all the time. Is there a good way around this?

    Also here’s a small tip for Avahi users. Some services have been modified to work better with Avahi. My ntp server is on a dynamic IP, and recent versions of ntp allow you to specify in ntp.conf:
    server myNtpServer.local dynamic

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