GeoIP backend

  • Native: Yes
  • Master: No
  • Slave: No
  • Superslave: No
  • DNSSEC: Yes
  • Disabled data: No
  • Comments: No
  • Module name: geoip
  • Launch name: geoip

This backend (which is a.k.a. the YAML backend) allows visitors to be sent to a server closer to them, with no appreciable delay, as would otherwise be incurred with a protocol level redirect. Additionally, the Geo Backend can be used to provide service over several clusters, any of which can be taken out of use easily, for example for maintenance purposes. This backend can utilize EDNS Client Subnet extension for decision making, if provided in query and you have turned on edns-subnet-processing.


To compile the backend, you need libyaml-cpp 0.5 or later and libgeoip.

You must have a geoip database available. As of this writing, on debian/ubuntu systems, you can use apt-get install geoip-database to get one, and the backend is configured to use the location where these files are installed as source. On other systems you might need to alter the database-file and database-file6 attribute. If you don’t need ipv4 or ipv6 support, set the respective setting to “”. Leaving it unset leaves it pointing to a default location, preventing the software from starting up.

Since v4.2.0 libgeoip is optional. You can use also libmaxminddb, but that is optional too. If no geo backend is provided, no geoip database based expansions can be used. Other expansions will work.

Configuration Parameters

These are the configuration file parameters that are available for the GeoIP backend. geoip-zones-files is the only thing you must set, if the defaults suit you.


Changed in version 4.2.0: The syntax of the argument has been changed.

Changed in version 4.2.0: Support for MMDB has been added.

Comma, tab or space separated list of files to open. You can use geoip-cvs-to-dat. to generate your own.

For MMDB files, see MaxMind’s getting started guide.

Since v4.2.0, database type is determined by file suffix, or you can use the new syntax. New syntax is [driver:]path[;options].

Drivers and options


legacy libGeoIP database. Options:

mode:The caching mode for data, one of standard, memory, index, or mmap.

driver for libmaxminddb databases. Options:

mode:The caching mode for data, only mmap is supported
language:The language to use, en by default


Deprecated since version 4.2.0: This setting is removed

Specifies the kind of caching that is done on the database. This is one of “standard”, “memory”, “index” or “mmap”. These options map to the caching options described here


Specifies the full path of the zone configuration file to use. The file is re-opened with a pdns_control reload.


Specifies the full path of a directory that will contain DNSSEC keys. This option enables DNSSEC on the backend. Keys can be created/managed with pdnsutil, and the backend stores these keys in files with key flags and active/disabled state encoded in the key filenames.

Zonefile format

Zone configuration files use YAML syntax. Here is simple example. Note that the before certain keys is part of the syntax.

- domain:
  ttl: 30
      - soa: 2014090125 7200 3600 1209600 3600
      - ns:
           ttl: 600
      - ns:
      - mx: 10
      - a:
      - txt: hello world
      - aaaa: 2001:DB8::12:34DE:3
# this will result first record being handed out 30% of time
      - a:
           weight: 50
      - a:
# syntax 1 ''
# syntax 2 [ '', '']
# alternative syntax
      default: [ '', '' ] ''

Keys explained


Mandatory root key. All configuration is below this


Defines a domain. You need ttl, records, services under this.


TTL value for all records, if no TTL is specified in specific record.


Records for this domain. Each subkey must be a fully qualified name, under which an array of records follows. Every record is then keyed by its type (e.g. a, txt) and a type may exist more than once. The content for this record may then be configured as the value. However, a record can alternatively have one or more subkeys:

content:The content of the record.
ttl:The TTL for this record.
weight:The weight for this specific content

Defines one or more services for querying. Each service name may have one or more placeholders.


For each domain, one record of the domain name MUST exist with a soa record.


Services, domains and record content can contain any number of placeholders that are replaced based on the information in the database and the query.

Following placeholders are supported, and support subnet caching with EDNS:

%%:literal %
%co:With legacy GeoIP database only expands to three letter country name, with MMDB and others this will expand into ISO3166 country code.
%cc:ISO3166 country code.
%cn:ISO3166 continent code.
%af:v4 or v6.
%re:Region code
%na:AS organization name (spaces are converted to _)
%as:AS number
%ci:City name
%loc:LOC record style expansion of location
%lat:Decimal degree latitude
%lon:Decimal degree longitude

These placeholders disable caching for the record completely:

%mos:Month name
%wds:Weekday name
%dd:Year day
%ip:Client IP address
%ip4:Client IPv4 address
%ip6:Client IPv6 address

New in version 4.2.0: These placeholders have been added in version 4.2.0:

  • %lat, %lon, %loc to expand for geographic location, if available in backend. %loc in particular can be safely used with LOC record type.
  • %ip4 and %ip6 that will expand to the IP address when AFI matches, and empty otherwise. Can be particularly used with A and AAAA record types.

New in version 4.1.0: These placeholders have been added in version 4.1.0:

  • %cc = 2 letter country code

Using the weight attribute

You can use record attributes to define positive and non-zero weight. If this is given, only one record per type is chosen randomly based on the weight.

Probability is calculated by summing up the weights and dividing each weight with the sum.

Responses to queries

If the record which a service points to exists under “records” then it is returned as a direct answer. If it does not exist under “records” then it is returned as a CNAME.

You can mix service and static records to produce the sum of these records, including apex record. For instance, this configuration will send the correct response for both A and SOA queries:

- domain:
- ttl: 300
- records:
    - soa: 2014090125 7200 3600 1209600 3600
    - ns:
    - a:
    - a:
- services: ['']

If your services match wildcard records in your zone file then these will be returned as CNAMEs. This will only be an issue if you are trying to use a service record at the apex of your domain where you need other record types to be present (such as NS and SOA records). Per RFC 2181, CNAME records cannot appear in the same label as NS or SOA records.

Changed in version 4.2.0: Before, a record expanded to an empty value would cause a SERVFAIL response. Since 4.2.0 such expansions for non-TXT record types are not included in response.

Caching and the GeoIP Backend

The Packet Cache and Query Cache will cache the records with EDNS Client Subnet information, when provided in the response. Use of certain placeholders (described above) can disable record caching for certain resource records.

That means, if you have a record like this:
  - a:
  - txt: "your ip is %ip"

then caching will not happen for any records of

If you need to use TXT for debugging, make sure you use a dedicated name for it.