Is there some kind of app or web app which will let you simulate and play with DNS settings and fields (CNAME, ...) and test various simple configurations in a small simulated network?

I am talking about a dummy, very basic, level of simulation. Nothing that goes down to simulate actual network layers, just a high level, kind of a game/demo, thing.

I usually put my hands on DNS settings just once per-project, and this is not letting me acquire enough proficiency with it, because every time I tend to forget what I learnt and have to read it up again.

Also, applying DNS settings usually takes days, and being myself a learn-by-doing person, the fact that I can't just tweak with it as much as I need just makes it even more complicated to get these concepts fixated in my brain.

If not a web-app, the software should run on Linux, Windows. Free options (as "free beer") are preferred.

  • 1
    If not web-app, what OS would fit your needs? And what's your price limit if it comes to paid solutions? // Playing on Neil's answer: You could setup several light-weight VMs, and make one of those their DNS server (and the others using it). Play with a "fictional domain" in that "sandbox", and you can "break" it all you want without real consequences (in the worst case, simply reset the broken VM to a previous snapshot).
    – Izzy
    Jan 26, 2018 at 7:04
  • 1) Linux, Windows. 2) A free option would be better. 3) Nice, but this setup puts even more work in the learning process that I am trying to accomplish... I mean, if there was a simple application or even better an online application I would prefer going that way. But yeah, thanks for the advice. I might embark this route if nothing else pops up! ...However I still have a feeling that something simpler must exist, maybe sitting is some corner of the web :) For example, do you know if any of the solutions to this other questions would apply?softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/a/23245/21533
    – red-o-alf
    Jan 26, 2018 at 13:30
  • Depending on your level of expertise, but more importantly on the amount of time and need to learn you have, but you could just install multiple DNS servers (bind, nsd, yadifa, powerdns) on any unix box (no need to rent one, yours or a VM/container is enough) and make them listen on various ports (as the default 53 one will not be shared) and configure them as you say fit to experiment. This will lack luster but will basically match when happens in real production systems so you will learn a lot. Or deploy multiple VMs/containers, one per server case so each has its own port 53. Jan 26, 2018 at 15:00
  • 1
    @jj_ integrated those facts directly with your question to make them easier to spot. And 3) no, I've not even heard of any of those before, sorry.
    – Izzy
    Jan 26, 2018 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


I have my students build a LAN of 5 machines (router, DNS, dhcp, samba, client) in VirtualBox. Using Debian or ubuntu server edition the VMs are small. The client can be a linux Live CD image so you don't use extra disk space.

  • Just to make sure I got it right: you mean all of them on one single physical machine, correct?
    – red-o-alf
    Apr 28, 2018 at 11:58
  • @jj_ - yes, each student has a host machine (some dell, 16gb ram, win10 or linux via network boot). Create 5 vms (or more) all running happily.
    – ivanivan
    Apr 28, 2018 at 12:45

Here's what I did when I wanted to learn more about DNS.

I signed up with Digital Ocean and got two droplets at $5/month each, then set up Bind, which really helped with my learning. Then I sort of played around with this sandbox I'd set up. You can then do web, email, etc., trying various things. You can do a lot of cool stuff with these Droplets.

You could register a domain somewhere to use in your sandbox.

  • Cool. Are you aware of any similar free alternatives?
    – red-o-alf
    Jan 26, 2018 at 13:23
  • 1
    Some sort of virtualization software such Virtualbox might be a good way to build a sandbox for free on your local machine. Jan 26, 2018 at 20:50

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