oh no, top level domain name doesn't resolve


Bear with me because I am quite new to server administration!

I have just set up a freeBSD dedicated server with apache, mysql, php etc. It will host files if I type in the IP address to the browser, but if I use the domain name it won't resolve and I get
"The browser could not find the host server for the provided address."
(exact wording varies depending on browser).

I suspect this is a problem with the name server, which is out of my hands, but I am worried it could be something I havn't set up properly in apache.

in httpd.conf I have set:
ServerName www.mydomain.com
(where mydomain.com equals my actual domain name)
DocumentRoot "usr/local/www/data"

and after reading around I also added the following to try and fix it:
<VirtualHost *>
ServerName www.mydomain.com
ServerAlias www.mydomain.com
DocumentRoot /usr/local/www/data/

The domain name has recently been changed to point to the new dedicated server, and I've got a feeling it might not have been set up correctly yet. The changing of this is out of my hands, but setting up the apache server is my responsibility.

Could I get this error if apache was not set up correctly, or would I get a more descriptive message?

Any help would be massively appreciated!

This is a DNS/resolver issue, not an Apache issue. You will probably not be able to ping or traceroute that address either.

Thanks for the reply!

That's good news then (kind of!). I suppose all we can do now is wait for the name to propogate through, as the company in charge of the DNS claims that they've done their bit.
dig results

Thanks for the tip! Here are the results I get when I do this:
; <<>> DiG 9.4.2 <<>> @ A [url]www.mydomain.co.uk[/url]
; (1 server found)
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 21
;; flags: qr rd; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 4, ADDITIONAL: 0
;; WARNING: recursion requested but not available

;[url]www.mydomain.co.uk[/url].      IN      A

mydomain.co.uk.   172800  IN      NS      ns4.enta.net.
mydomain.co.uk.   172800  IN      NS      ns3.enta.net.
mydomain.co.uk.   172800  IN      NS      ns2.enta.net.
mydomain.co.uk.   172800  IN      NS      ns.enta.net.

;; Query time: 5 msec
;; WHEN: Fri Jan  9 20:38:19 2009
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 121

I can't pretend to understand this fully, but it seems to be saying "for this domain, look at the following four servers".

Thus it seems like the enta.net name servers are not pointing to our dedicated server yet, would that be right? :\

I'm assuming the enta.net DNS servers are the authoritative nameservers for that domain? You can also perform a 'whois yourdomain.com' to get the glue records (usually two nameservers which are deemded authoritative for your domain) and query those directly. If the enta.net nameservers are authoritative for your domain, try:

dig @ns.enta.net A http://www.yourdomain.com
dig @ns2.enta.net A http://www.yourdomain.com
dig @ns3.enta.net A http://www.yourdomain.com
dig @ns4.enta.net A http://www.yourdomain.com

Each should give you the A record (IP address) in the 'Answer Section' and show flags 'aa' (authoritative). If you get no A records back from some or all of them, your domain hoster hasn't done their work yet. If you don't get 'aa' flags back, the domain isn't even hosted yet.

Apologies for double posting, edit is disabled.

We've just been on the phone and the company in charge of the servers say that we need to allow access to our server from the name servers. Unfortunately they won't offer any more support than that.

Damn this is tricky. I'm looking at http://www.freebsddiary.org/zones.php, am I right in looking at these files?
What do they mean by 'your server'? Do you have a local nameserver that hosts the original zonefile which they then transfer from your server to their servers? In that case they will need to be able to transfer that zonefile from your nameserver. In BIND's named.conf there's the 'allow-transfer' directive for that, and a firewall needs to allow inbound tcp/53 from the same IP address.

BIND example:

zone "yourdomain.com" {
        type master;
        file "master/db.yourdomain.com";
        also-notify {;; };
        [B]allow-transfer[/B] {;; };
        allow-query { any; };
Authority Section

Thanks so much for you help and advice.

I'm not sure how much to trust what the guy at the domain hosting company has told me, he didn't sound at all interested and just wanted to end the call. When I do this I get:

 dig @ns4.enta.net A www.mydomain.co.uk

; <<>> DiG 9.4.2 <<>> @ns4.enta.net A www.mydomain.co.uk
; (2 servers found)
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: SERVFAIL, id: 12325
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;www.mydomain.co.uk.      IN      A

;; Query time: 17 msec
;; WHEN: Fri Jan  9 21:35:57 2009
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 42

But when I try the same with a domain that works properly, I get an "Authority section" that has this in it:
myworkingdomain.co.uk.     172800  IN      NS      ns60.1and1.co.uk.

It's conusing because I don't know if the domain hosting company is full of sh*t, or we have set it up wrong. Maybe even both! :r
zone file

Hah it seems we are both replying at the same time!

By "our" server they mean the dedicated server we are renting off them. From what you said I think we might need to set up a name server on it so they can transfer the zone file.

Wow, the further we go into this the more confusing it becomes, but it's all good experience I guess! :stud
Well, I don't know enta.net and/or their domain hosting. Most domain hosters have some kind of website or online tool where you can create and maintain DNS zone files, others rely on the customer to come up with their own zone files through a DNS transfer arrangement. If you have no working knowledge of hosting and maintaining your own zone files, you may have to look into 'easier' DNS providers that offer you an online tool to add/delete/change DNS records. There are thousands of those, and I'm sure there are plenty for co.uk too.

Thanks DD, we'll carry on trying to get it working. The hosting comany are being more useful now we have explained the situation to them properly.

I will post back here with details if we get the problem resolved, for the benefit of others who might come here with a similar issue.