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A s s i g n m e n t s 2.0.1
R e f e r e n c e M a n u a l

Introduction
2.0.0 Installing the Assignments Client
3.0.0 About the Assignments Interface
4.0.0 Functions for Individual Records
4.1.0 Create a New Record
4.2.0 Modify or Delete Records
4.3.0 Rename Existing Records
5.0.0 Functions for Searching the Database
5.1.0 Search Database Records
5.2.0 Search IP Change History
6.0.0 Functions for Managing Contact Lists
6.1.0 Create a New Contact List
6.2.0 Modify or Delete Contact Lists
7.0.0 Advanced Functions
7.1.0 Bulk Record Operations
7.2.0 Create a Block of Identical Hosts
7.3.0 Examine Other Tables
8.0.0 Getting Additional Help


Introduction:

The following reference guide is intended to assist with the installation and use of the new Assignments client for DNS entry.

Assignments, provided by ISC Networking, is where Local Support Providers (LSPís) maintain information about PennNet connected computers, including network addresses, machine locations, and contact information. Entries in the Assignments Database assist with network troubleshooting and billing as well as tracking down any security breaches should your machine be broken into. Therefore, it is important to the security of all machines connected to PennNet that entries for domain range are kept current with the most complete and thorough information you can provide.

This reference guide assumes familiarity with DNS concepts and terminology. New users who are not yet familiar with DNS management are encouraged to refer to DNS and BIND, 3rd Edition, by Paul Albitz and Cricket Liu (ISBN 1-56592-512-2), OíReilly & Associates, which provides thorough explanations of how the Domain Name System works and how DNS records are normally managed. Information is also available from the publisherís web site at http://www.ora.com/. Information about the Berkeley Internet Name Domain software (BIND) and pointers to other on-line DNS resources are available from the Internet Software Consortiumís web site at http://www.isc.org/.

1.0.0 Obtaining an Account

If you are not yet an authorized Assignments user, you will first need to request an Assignments Account. To request access, please contact the central computing organization for your school or center (if applicable), or ISCís Provider Desk via email at prodesk@isc.upenn.edu or telephone at 215-573-4017.

2.0.0 Installing the Assignments Client

Complete installtion instructions for all platforms and related files can be found at http://www.upenn.edu/computing/assignments/installing.html.

3.0.0 About the Assignments Interface

NOTE: Use of Assignments requires a PennNet ID and password.

Assignments 2.0.1 has a main window with four sets of buttons grouped by function to the left. These four sets of buttons are grouped according to related functionalities: individual records, searching the database, contact list functions and advanced functions. Every window and subwindow has its own corresponding File and Help pull-down menus.

Main Window

The Assignments Main Window menu bar has two pull-down menus, which are File and Help.

File menu has two menu items:

  • Refresh: enabled only in main window of Assignments application and causes the application to reinitialize after discarding any cached information (including permissions, preferences, the main windowís banner message, and the contents of any database tables that have been retrieved from the server).
  • Exit or Quit command exits the Assignments application.

(MAC OS users only the Close command closes the active file window.)

Help menu has the following menu items:

  • Help for this Window command provides an explanation of how to use the current window. In most windows the same help window is also available by using the Help button.
  • Help for Menus command provides an explanation of the commands available from the Assignments applicationís menus.
  • Frequently Asked Questions command provides a list of common questions and answers about Assignments and about DNS management. This list is stored on the Assignments server and is updated more frequently than the help windows in the Assignments client application. Please refer to the FAQ first if you have any problems using the client.
  • About Assignments command identifies the version of Assignments that youíre using. Under MacOS, this command is available from the Apple menu.

SubWindows

  • All subwindows also have their own File and Help menus.

  • Most subwindows also have a message bar at the bottom of the window which guides you using helpful text while you navigate through Assignments.

 

4.0.0 Functions for Individual Records

4.1.0 Creating a New Record

Use this function to create a single record. See sections 7.1.0 Bulk Record Operations or 7.2.0 Create a Block of Identical Hosts to create multiple records.

Before you create a new record you will need to gather the following information: the building and room number of the machine, the type of host, the vendor and model and contacts for the host and the DNS records.

TIP: If you already have a similar record in the database, select Copy to copy that data to this window.

  1. Enter the hostname for which you would like to create a new record. The hostname must be in one of the available domains listed on the right. As a shortcut, you may click on a domain name to add it to the hostname.

  2. Select the record type you wish to create.

    • New IPv4 Address [A&PTR] record
      • A Records specify the IPv4 address for a hostname
      • PTR Records specify the hostnamesfor an IPv4 address

      TIP: For any host that needs an IP address, you will want to select A&PTR records.

    • Mail exchanger [MX] and Service [SRV] record
      • MX Records specify mail exchangers that can receive electronic mail addressed to a domain name
      • SRV Records are relatively new and specify hosts that can provide arbitrary services on behalf of a domain name
    • Alias for another host [CNAME record]

      • CNAME Records specify the canonical names for aliases; CNAME records point to another host

      TIP: If you are creating records for more than one of the same types of machines, be sure to click the Save Defaults button which saves the data you have entered in your preferences to become your default data the next time you create a record.

  3. Click the Edit Records button to proceed to the editing window. (If the Edit Records button is not enabled, the message bar at the bottom of the window will explain what needs to be done to enable it.)

    This subwindow allows you to create, modify, or delete both A records that specify the IP address associated with a hostname and PTR records that specify the hostname associated with an IP address. You may also select any of the notebook tabs at the top of the window to edit other resource record types for this domain name. (NOTE: No other resource record types will be available if youíre creating a block of identical hosts.)

  4. Select a building and IPv4 Address Range from the drop-down list of ranges and buildings that youíre permitted to use for this domain name.

    TIP: If a particular range of IP addresses is available in more than one building, it will appear multiple times in the drop-down list (once for each building in which itís available); select the entry that has the correct building as well as the correct address range.

  5. Click "assign any address in this range" to let Assignments pick an unused address for you or "assign a specific IPv4 address" to provide a specific IP address for it to use. (Assignments will assign a specific IPv4 address by default.)

    NOTE: If a network exists, but there is no range available to you, open a trouble ticket by contacting the provider desk at prodesk@isc or 3-4017.

  6. Select a host type from the drop-down list of available host types.

    TIP: 100Mbps Workstation and 100Mbps Server options are now available from the host drop-down menu.

  7. The building is automatically determined by the IP address range selected in Step 5 above.

    Optional (but Important Steps):

    ISC recommends that you include this information whenever possible for billing, security and trouble-shooting purposes.

    • Enter the room number or room name where the host is located if applicable.
    • Select a vendor from the drop-down list of vendors or type in the vendorís name if it is not in the list.
    • Enter the model number or model name of the host.

     

  8. Select an administrative contact for this host from the drop-down list of contact lists. This contact list should include the person or persons responsible for managing this host who may be contacted in the event of any problems related to the host.

  9. Select an administrative contact for this DNS record from the drop-down list of contact lists. This contact list should include the person or persons responsible for updating this hostís DNS record. This can (but does not have to) be the same as the administrative contact for the host entered in Step 8 above.

    TIP: Click on the "i" button located to the right of either the contact drop-down menus (after you select a contact list for the host or the DNS record) for information on who is in a contact list.

    Optional:

    • Enter the name of a primary end user (if applicable).

    • Enter any remarks related to this record.

  10. If you choose to use the default Time To Live, the A and PTR records for this host may be cached by non-authoritative name servers for up to the zoneís default TTL value. If you choose to use a custom Time To Live, you may enter a custom TTL value (measured in seconds) either by typing the desired number or by using the increment and decrement arrows.

    NOTE:   TTL (Time To Live):In all of the Create a New Record subwindows, you must decide whether to use the default TTL or a custom TTL. For efficiency, DNS resolvers and non-authoritative name servers frequently cache the answers to DNS queries. If the same records are requested again, the answers can be retrieved from a local cache rather than sending the same queries repeatedly to the authoritative name servers. The Time To Live (TTL) for a set of resource records specifies how long (in seconds) those records may be cached before they should be discarded and the authoritative name servers should be queried again.

    Currently Pennís authoritative name servers use a default TTL of one (1) day. This means that if you change an existing record, it may take as long as a day before that change becomes visible to some users since their resolvers or name servers might still be answering with cached data from before the change. So any time you can anticipate that youíll be making changes to existing records, you should always lower the TTL at least one day in advance if you want to ensure that your changes will propagate quickly. (Refer to the FAQ for resources on TTL.)

  11. You may choose to publish an A record, a PTR record, or both for this host. In most cases you will want both A and PTR records to be published in the DNS, but there may be exceptions; for example, if multiple hostnames will be sharing a single IP address then you might not want to publish PTR records for all of its names.

  12. Click on the Create Host button once youíve entered valid data for all of the required fields.

    Once you have created a host, the Assignments Program should display a new window with the IP, Gateway and Mask addresses.

    TIP: Use the Save Defaults to save the current values of all the fields from the A/PTR window in your preferences on the Assignments server. This is useful if you have similar multiple records to create and/or modify.

    NOTE: If you are modifying records, the Update Host and Delete Host buttons are enabled (but not if you are creating a new record).

4.2.0 Modify or Delete Records

This window allows you to pull up the existing data on an individual record and modify or delete it. If you need to delete or modify multiple records at once, see Section 7.1.0 on Bulk Record Operations.

  1. Click the Modify or Delete Records from the Main Assignments Window.

  2. Enter an existing hostname whose records you would like to modify or delete.

    The hostname must be in one of the available domains listed on the right.

    TIP: As a shortcut, click on a domain name to add it to the hostname.

    A wildcard may be used at the end of the hostname to match any of your available domains. Asterisk characters (*) may be used as wildcards anywhere in the hostname; Assignments will find all matching hosts in your available domains and ask you to select one of them.

    TIP: Use the Save Defaults button to save the current hostname in your preferences on the Assignments server. The upper case or lower case selection for the domain name list will also be saved.

  3. Click the Edit Records button.

  4. This will bring up existing information for that host in the Edit Record subwindow described in Steps 3-12 in Section 4.1.0 above.

4.3.0 Rename Existing Records

This window is the first step in renaming existing records.

  1. Enter an existing hostname as described in Step 2 in Section 4.2.0 above.

  2. Click the Select Records button to proceed.

  3. Enter the new name for the selected records. The new name must be in one of the available domains listed on the right.

    TIP: As a shortcut, you may click on a domain name to add it to the hostname.

  4. The lower part of the window lists all of the records that have the old name. Select the records that you want to rename, or use the Select All button if you want to rename all of them.

    TIP: The Save Defaults button can be used to save the current hostname in your preferences on the Assignments server. The upper case or lower case selection for the domain name list will also be saved.

  5. Click the Rename button to proceed. A Record Renamed pop-up window will appear with the new address, netmask and gateway information.

5.0.0 Functions for Searching the Database

5.1.0 Search Database Records

  1. Choose the search criteria you would like to use. Any fields that are left empty will be ignored (i.e. those fields will not be used as search criteria).

    NOTE: Searches returning a large number of records are very time-consuming, so itís advisable to choose your search criteria carefully in order to keep the number of matches as low as possible.

    Possible Criteria to Select:

    TIP: You can use asterisk characters (*) as wildcards in the following criteria fields: hostname, room, vendor, model, end-user, remarks, mail exchanger, service target and canonical name.

    Hostname is used to match hostnames for A/PTR records and to match the owners of MX, SRV, and CNAME records (so when searching for a name, itís not necessary to know in advance what type of resource record the name has). IPv4 Address is used to match A/PTR records with a specified IP Address.

    Any Range of IPv4 Addresses is used to match A/PTR records whose addresses fall within a specified range.

    First and Last addresses for the range can be any arbitrary IPv4 addresses. They are not required to correspond to the starting and ending addresses for a predefined range in the Assignments database.

    Host Type is used to match A/PTR records with a specified host type.

    Building is used to match A/PTR records in a specified building.

    Room is used to match A/PTR records in a specified room.

    Vendor is used to match A/PTR records with a specified vendor.

    Model is used to match A/PTR records with a specified model.

    Administrative Contacts for Host is used to match A/PTR records with a specified host contact. You may choose either individual contact lists or contact groups (which might match multiple contact lists).

    Administrative Contacts for DNS Record is used to match A/PTR records with a specified DNS contact. You may choose either individual contact lists or contact groups (which might match multiple contact lists).

    Primary End User is used to match A/PTR records with a specified end user.

Remarks is used to match A/PTR records with the specified remarks.

Mail Exchanger is used to match MX records that have a specified mail exchanger.

Service Target is used to match SRV records that have a specified target.

NOTE: It is not possible to search for other characteristics of SRV records, such as service or protocol.

Canonical Name is used to match aliases (CNAME records) that have a specified canonical name.

  • Select the sort order for the Search.

    Sort A/PTR Records fields may be used to specify the sort order for A/PTR records in the search results. If two sort keys are specified then the A/PTR records will be sorted by the first sort key, and any records that compare equal will be sorted again by the second key. If no sort keys are specified then the A/PTR records will be returned in an arbitrary order.

    Resource records of other types besides A/PTR are always returned in a fixed order:
    • CNAME records are sorted by owner, then by canonical name
    • MX records are sorted by owner, then preference, then mail exchanger
    • SRV records are sorted by owner, service, protocol, priority, weight, target, and finally by port number.

  • Select a Search Type to specify whether records must match ALL of the specified search criteria, or if records matching ANY one or more criteria will be returned.

    NOTE: Searching by ANY of the specified criteria (a logical OR) should be used with care to avoid inadvertently requesting very large and time-consuming searches.

    TIPS:
    • The Clear button can be used to reset all search criteria to empty values.

    • The Save Defaults button can be used to save all of the current search criteria (including the sort keys and search type) in your preferences on the Assignments server.

  • Click the Search button to proceed with a search.

    The Search Results subwindow displays search results after you have performed a search. If you have appropriate domain permissions, it will also allow you to modify, rename, or delete the records that appear in the search results.

    The left side of the window contains a list of records that matched your search criteria. If you select one or more records in this list, detailed information about those records will be displayed on the right side of the window.

    You may also use the Select All button to see details for all of the records in the list. If your search matched records of more than one type, the results will be listed separately for each record type; you can use the notebook tabs at the top of the window to see the search results for each type of record.

    The Modify and Rename buttons will be enabled when exactly one record is selected.

    The Delete button will be enabled when one or more records are selected.

    TIP: The Save... button will be enabled when one or more records are selected. This buttons allows you to save your search results to a file.

    NOTE: Only the records that are currently selected will be saved. If you want to save all of the matching records, you should use the Select All button first (or else select all of the records by hand). If your search matched multiple record types, the results for each resource record type must be saved separately. When you save your results you will be asked to select a filename, and then to select the output format: You may either save the descriptive text exactly as it appears in the right side of this window, or you may save the recordsí raw data as tab-separated values. Note that when A/PTR records are saved as tab-separated values, the first two columns (the hostname and IP address) will appear twice in the output so that the exported data can be reimported into Assignments using the bulk host replacement function. This makes it possible to export the raw data, load it into a spreadsheet program or other external software, make global changes, and finally reimport the modified data back into the Assignments database.

    5.2.0 Search IP Change History

    This window allows you to search the entire Assignments database (A&PTR records only) to see when a hostname or IP address was assigned, changed, or deleted.

    1. Enter either a hostname or an IP address for which you would like to search.

      TIP: If you are searching for a hostname, asterisk characters (*) may be used as wildcards anywhere in the hostname.

      NOTE: Searches returning a large number of records are very time-consuming, so it is advisable to limit your search to the specific hosts you are interested in.

    2. You can specify a range of dates for which you would like to see changes, either by typing the desired starting and ending dates (in which case the date format must be YYYY-MM-DD) or by using the increment and decrement arrows.

      NOTE: By default the search results will include hostname and address changes from the last seven days.

    3. Click the Search button. After the search results have been displayed, you may refine your search criteria and use the Search button again to perform a new search.

    4. Click the Save... button to save your search results to a file.

    6.0.0 Functions for Managing Contact Lists

    6.1.0 Create a New Contact List

    1. Select a contact group from the drop-down list of groups thatís displayed for you to use.

    2. Enter the name of the new contact list.

    3. Click the Create button to create a new list.

    6.2.0 Modify or Delete Contact Lists

    The lower part of this subwindow displays the current list of names and e-mail addresses for this contact list. The upper part of the window may be used to add names and addresses to the list.

    NOTE: If you are creating a new contact list, only the data for your new list will be shown. If you are modifying or deleting existing contact lists, you must first select a contact list from the drop-down list at the top of the window.

    To add new contact information:

    1. Enter the name and e-mail address you would like to add.

    2. Click the Add to Contact List button to add your new contact to the current list.

    To remove contact information:

    1. Select one or more contacts from the Current Contact List.

    2. Click the Remove from Contact List button to remove the contact from the list.

      NOTE: The Update List button will be enabled when the Current Contact List contains one or more names and addresses. The Delete List button will also be enabled if you are modifying an existing contact list. If these buttons are not enabled, the message bar at the bottom of the window will explain what needs to be done to enable them.

    7.0.0 Advanced Functions

    7.1.0 Bulk Record Operations (for A& PTR Records Only)

    This subwindow allows you to import A/PTR record data from external files and use it to create new records or to replace or delete existing records.

    TIP: To see an example of an input file for the bulk replacement function, search the database records for one or more hosts (using the main windowís Search database records button) and then use the Save... button in the Search Results subwindow. If you save the raw data for one or more A/PTR records as tab-separated values, the output file can be reimported into Assignments using the bulk host replacement function. Input files for bulk host creation are similar to those for bulk replacement; the only difference is that the first two columns (which would identify an existing host to be replaced) are omitted. Input files for bulk host deletion consist only of a hostname and IPv4 address for each record that should be deleted. All three input file formats are summarized below.

    1. Select one of the three available operations (bulk creation, bulk replacement, or bulk deletion). The lower part of the window will describe the input file format for the operation youíve selected.

    2. Click the Load Data... button. You will be asked to select a filename containing the input data. Assignments will attempt to create, replace, or delete the records corresponding to each line in the file and then display a window showing the results of the bulk record operations.

      NOTE: All input must be in the form of text files with fields separated by tab characters.

    NOTE: Hostnames in input files must always be fully-qualified domain names, such as host.subdomain.upenn.edu. The host type and administrative contacts may be any of the values found in the corresponding drop-down lists from the window used to edit A & PTR records. The three-letter building code and the first address, last address, and domain of the IPv4 address range can be found in the IPv4 Address Ranges table (using the main windowís Examine other tables button). The domain of the IPv4 address range must be one of your permitted domains (or a subdomain of one of your permitted domains), and the recordís new hostname must be in this domain or one of its subdomains.

    Some of the fields for bulk creation and bulk replacement are optional. Where a value is not required, itís noted below that an empty string may be used.

    For bulk host creation, each line of the input file must consist of the following fields separated by tab characters:

    Hostname
    IPv4 address (or an empty string to use any address)
    First address in IPv4 address range
    Last address in IPv4 address range
    Domain of IPv4 address range
    Host type
    Three-letter building code
    Room (or an empty string)
    Vendor
    Model (or an empty string)
    Administrative contacts for host
    Administrative contacts for DNS record
    Primary end user (or an empty string)
    Remarks (or an empty string)
    TTL (or -1 to use default)
    1 (or 0) indicating that an A record should (or shouldnít) be published
    1 (or 0) indicating that a PTR record should (or shouldnít) be published

    For bulk host replacement, each line of the input file must consist of the following fields separated by tab characters:

    Current hostname
    Current IPv4 Address
    New hostname
    New IPv4 address (or an empty string to use any address)
    First address in IPv4 address range
    Last address in IPv4 address range
    Domain of IPv4 address range
    Host type
    Three-letter building code
    Room (or an empty string)
    Vendor
    Model (or an empty string)
    Administrative contacts for host
    Administrative contacts for DNS record
    Primary end user (or an empty string)
    Remarks (or an empty string)
    TTL (or -1 to use default)
    1 (or 0) indicating that an A record should (or shouldnít) be published
    1 (or 0) indicating that a PTR record should (or shouldnít) be published

    For bulk host deletion, each line of the input file must consist of the following fields separated by tab characters:

    Hostname
    IPv4 address

    7.2.0 Create a Block of Identical Hosts

    This window is the first step in creating a block of A & PTR records differing only in their hostnames and IP addresses.

    The hostnames for these records will contain a series of numbers to differentiate them; for example, their hostnames could be example041.subdomain.upenn.edu, example042.subdomain.upenn.edu, etc.

    The hostname must contain a single octothorpe character (#), which will be replaced by a series of numbers; for example, to create a block of hosts called example041.subdomain.upenn.edu, example042.subdomain.upenn.edu, etc., you would enter the hostname example#.subdomain.upenn.edu.

    1. Enter the hostname for which you would like to create a block of new A/PTR records.

      NOTE:

      TIP: The hostname must be in one of the available domains listed on the right. As a shortcut, you may click on a domain name to add it to the hostname.

    2. Select parameters defining the series of hostnames, either by typing the desired numbers or by using the increment and decrement arrows. For example, to create hostnames beginning with:

      example041.subdomain.upenn.edu

      and ending with:

      example088.subdomain.upenn.edu

      you would select 3 for the number of digits replacing the octothorpe character, 48 for the number of hosts to create, and 041 for the first number in the series. The last number in the series will be computed and displayed based on the parameters youíve selected.

    3. Click the Edit Records button once youíve entered a valid hostname in one of your available domains that contains an octothorpe character. Use this button to proceed. If the Edit Records button is not enabled, the message bar at the bottom of the window will explain what needs to be done to enable it.

      TIP: The Save Defaultsbutton can be used to save the current hostname and numerical parameters in your preferences on the Assignments server. The upper case or lower case selection for the domain name list will also be saved.

    7.3.0 Examine Other Tables

    This window allows you to examine the contents of various tables in the Assignments database that are not directly associated with DNS records. There are four types of tables you may need to examine while using the Assignments database. The available tables are: Buildings, Contacts, Domains, and IPv4 Address Ranges.

    1. Select the notebook tab for a table you would like to examine, then use the Get Table button to see the tableís contents. The table will be retrieved from the Assignments server unless it has been retrieved previously during your current session, in which case you will see a locally-cached copy of the tableís contents.

      NOTE: Your local cache can be cleared by using the Refresh command from the File menu in the main window of the Assignments application.

    2. Use the Save... button to save the tableís contents to a file as tab-separated values. Searches are case-insensitive.

    3. Select the Find button to search for a text string in the tableís records.

    4. Use the Filter button to see only the records that contain a specified text string and hide any records that donít contain that string. Filters are also case-insensitive.

    TIP: After a table has been filtered, use the No Filter button to display all of its records again.

    8.0.0 Getting Additional Help

    We hope that this reference manual, along with the on-line help menus and the comprehensive FAQ, will solve most of your Assignments questions or problems. If you still have questions about using the Assignments Program or the Database and they were not answered by any of these resources, please contact ISC's provider desk at prodesk@isc.upenn.edu or call 3-4017. Send any comments/suggestions about this reference manual to jmacdoug@isc.upenn.edu.

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