Unbound DNS

Unbound is a validating, recursive, caching DNS resolver. It is designed to be fast and lean and incorporates modern features based on open standards.

Since OPNsense 17.7 it has been our standard DNS service, which on a new install is enabled by default.

General settings

Below you will find the most relevant settings from the General menu section.

Enable Enable our DNS resolver
Listen Port Port to listen on, when blank, the default (53) is used.
Network Interfaces Interface IP addresses used for responding to queries from clients. If an interface has both IPv4 and IPv6 IPs, both are used. Queries to other interface IPs not selected are discarded. The default behavior is to respond to queries on every available IPv4 and IPv6 address.
DNSSEC Enable DNSSEC to use digital signatures to validate results from upstream servers and mitigate against cache poisoning.
DHCP Registration

IPv4 only If this option is set, then machines that specify their hostname when requesting a DHCP lease will be registered in Unbound, so that their name can be resolved.

The source of this data is client-hostname in the dhcpd.leases file

DHCP Domain Override When the above registrations shouldn’t use the same domain name as configured on this firewall, you can specify a different one here.
DHCP Static Mappings Register static dhcpd entries so clients can resolve them. Supported on IPv4 and IPv6.
IPv6 Link-local Register link local addresses for IPv6.
TXT Comment Support Register descriptions as comments for dhcp static host entries.
DNS Query Forwarding Forward queries to configured nameservers in System ‣ Settings ‣ General : DNS Server
Local Zone Type The local zone type used for the system domain. Type descriptions are available under “local-zone:” in the unbound.conf(5) manual page. The default is ‘transparent’.


Be careful enabling “DNS Query Forwarding” in combination with DNSSEC, when the upstream server doesn’t support DNSSEC, its answers will be considered insecure since no DNSSEC validation could be performed.


In order for the client to query unbound, there need to be an ACL assigned in Services ‣ Unbound DNS ‣ Access Lists. The configured interfaces should gain an ACL automatically. If the client address is not in any of the predefined networks, please add one manually.


Within the overrides section you can create separate host definition entries and specify if queries for a specific domain should be forwarded to a predefined server.

Host override settings

Host Name of the host, without domain part. Use “*” to create a wildcard entry.
Domain Domain of the host (such as example.com)
Type Record type, A or AAA (IPv4 or IPv6 address), MX to define a mail exchange
IP Address of the host
Description User readable description, only for informational purposes
Aliases Copies of the above data for different hosts

Domain override settings

Domain Domain to override
IP address IP address of the authoritative DNS server for this domain
Description User readable description, only for informational purposes


Although the default settings should be reasonable for most setups, some need more tuning or require specific options set.

Hide Identity If enabled, id.server and hostname.bind queries are refused.
Hide Version If enabled version.server and version.bind queries are refused.
Prefetch Support Message cache elements are prefetched before they expire to help keep the cache up to date. When enabled, this option can cause an increase of around 10% more DNS traffic and load on the server, but frequently requested items will not expire from the cache.
Prefetch DNS Key Support DNSKEY’s are fetched earlier in the validation process when a Delegation signer is encountered. This helps lower the latency of requests but does utilize a little more CPU.
Harden DNSSEC data DNSSEC data is required for trust-anchored zones. If such data is absent, the zone becomes bogus. If this is disabled and no DNSSEC data is received, then the zone is made insecure.
Serve expired responses Serve expired responses from the cache with a TTL of 0 without waiting for the actual resolution to finish.
Message Cache Size Size of the message cache. The message cache stores DNS rcodes and validation statuses. The RRSet cache will automatically be set to twice this amount. The RRSet cache contains the actual RR data. The default is 4 megabytes.
Outgoing TCP Buffers The number of outgoing TCP buffers to allocate per thread. The default value is 10. If 0 is selected then no TCP queries, to authoritative servers, are done.
Incoming TCP Buffers The number of incoming TCP buffers to allocate per thread. The default value is 10. If 0 is selected then no TCP queries, from clients, are accepted.
Number of queries per thread The number of queries that every thread will service simultaneously. If more queries arrive that need to be serviced, and no queries can be jostled, then these queries are dropped.
Jostle Timeout This timeout is used for when the server is very busy. This protects against denial of service by slow queries or high query rates. The default value is 200 milliseconds.
Maximum TTL for RRsets and messages Configure a maximum Time to live for RRsets and messages in the cache. The default is 86400 seconds (1 day). When the internal TTL expires the cache item is expired. This can be configured to force the resolver to query for data more often and not trust (very large) TTL values.
Minimum TTL for RRsets and messages Configure a minimum Time to live for RRsets and messages in the cache. The default is 0 seconds. If the minimum value kicks in, the data is cached for longer than the domain owner intended, and thus less queries are made to look up the data. The 0 value ensures the data in the cache is as the domain owner intended. High values can lead to trouble as the data in the cache might not match up with the actual data anymore.
TTL for Host cache entries Time to live for entries in the host cache. The host cache contains roundtrip timing and EDNS support information. The default is 15 minutes.
Number of Hosts to cache Number of hosts for which information is cached. The default is 10000.
Unwanted Reply Threshold If enabled, a total number of unwanted replies is kept track of in every thread. When it reaches the threshold, a defensive action is taken and a warning is printed to the log file. This defensive action is to clear the RRSet and message caches, hopefully flushing away any poison. The default is disabled, but if enabled a value of 10 million is suggested.
Log level verbosity Select the log verbosity. Level 0 means no verbosity, only errors. Level 1 gives operational information. Level 2 gives detailed operational information. Level 3 gives query level information, output per query. Level 4 gives algorithm level information. Level 5 logs client identification for cache misses. Default is level 1.

Access Lists

Access lists define which clients may query our dns resolver. Records for the assigned interfaces will be automatically created and are shown in the overview. You can also define custom policies, which apply an action to predefined networks.


The action can be as defined in the list below. The most specific netblock match is used, if none match deny is used. The order of the access-control statements therefore does not matter.


Deny This action stops queries from hosts within the defined networks.
Refuse This action also stops queries from hosts within the defined networks, but sends a DNS rcode REFUSED error message back to the client.
Allow This action allows queries from hosts within the defined networks.
Allow Snoop This action allows recursive and nonrecursive access from hosts within the defined networks. Used for cache snooping and ideally should only be configured for your administrative host.
Deny Non-local Allow only authoritative local-data queries from hosts within the defined networks. Messages that are disallowed are dropped.
Refuse Non-local Allow only authoritative local-data queries from hosts within the defined networks. Sends a DNS rcode REFUSED error message back to the client for messages that are disallowed.


The statistics page provides some insights into the running server, such as the number of queries executed, cache usage and uptime.