Alun Davies

DNS Measurements Hackathon 2017

Alun Davies
Contributors: Vesna Manojlovic

7 min read

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The RIPE NCC's fifth hackathon event will happen in Amsterdam, in April 2017. We would like to invite operators, designers, researchers and developers to take on the challenge and join us in developing new tools and visualisations for DNS measurements.

The results of this hackathon has been described in the follow-up RIPE Labs article 

The RIPE NCC's fifth hackathon event offers an opportunity for collaboration on the development of new tools for DNS operators using data provided by the RIPE NCC (via RIPE Atlas, DNSMON, etc.). The event will bring together people with a variety of skills so as to encourage the combination of different types of expertise and inspire creativity.

Participants in the hackathon will discover new ways of tapping into the rich source of DNS measurement data to devise and implement helpful tools and create informative visualisations. This is your chance to get involved, get in touch with other people working in your field, get access to the RIPE NCC’s DNS measurements data and get to work on making something that could be of benefit to the entire internet community.

The RIPE NCC DNS Monitoring Service (DNSMON) provides a comprehensive, objective and up-to-date overview of the quality of the service offered by high-level Domain Name System (DNS) servers.


Date: 20-21 April 2017 
Time: Thursday 9:00-19:00, Friday: 9:00-21:00 (including social event) 
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands 


During the event, participants will be grouped into small teams, with each team focusing on a given project. Food and drink will be provided throughout the event. All source code developed during the hackathon will be publicly licensed and available on GitHub, and available for the entire community to use. As well as receiving a variety of goodies for participating, including credits for RIPE Atlas, most interesting results will be promoted during the DNS working group session at RIPE 74. Since we want to focus on collaboration and not on competition, there will be no winner and no single prize. We will celebrate the achievements during the closing party on Friday evening. 

Prior to the event, selected applicants will use the discussion mailing list, EtherPad and IRC in order to coordinate the collaboration beforehand. RIPE NCC also gives a webinar to the participants, where we teach the basic introduction to the available data sets, tools and proposed projects, week or two before the event. 


Jaap Akkerhuis
DNS-WG co-chair

Jim Reid

Desiree Miloshevic


Updated March 2017: We thank Salam Yamout (RIPE NCC Executive Board) and Suzanne Wolf (representative of the DNS community) for their work on the initial jury. They have excused themselves from attending, due to other professional demands. 


We are specifically looking for:

  • Colleagues from: ccTLD & gTLD registries, organisations operating DNS root nameservers and/or writing DNS-server software
  • UX and UI experts
  • Graphic designers 
  • Developers familiar with Python, PHP, etc.
  • People with knowledge of DNS, traceroute, TCP/IP
  • Network engineers and network operators who can give feedback about what tools would be useful to them
  • Researchers in the field of Internet measurements in general, with specific focus on DNS data 

You'll have the chance to work alongside RIPE NCC developers, meet others in your field, and exchange knowledge and experience.


Travel funding will be available in the amount of €500 per person for several participants (between two and six), based on the total amount of funding. Applicants will be told whether they qualify for funding when they are informed about their application status on 6 March 2017. The jury will make all final decisions about who receives funding; however, preference will be given to applicants from "least developed countries", those working for not-for-profits, and those contributing to free and open-source software and projects. 


Interested in participating? Apply today! It only takes a few minutes. And please help us spread the word to other developers and and network operators who might be interested.


Here is a list of important dates leading up to and including that of the hackathon:

  • 23 January 2017: Open applications 
  • 28 February 2017: Applications deadline  
  • 6 March 2017: Confirmation sent to participants selected by the jury
  • 20-21 April 2017: Hackathon

RIPE Atlas DNS Root Server Result Stream Visualisation (click to enlarge)

Potential DNS Measurements Projects

The RIPE NCC operates a number of DNS related services. For example: we provide up-to-date service overviews of all DNS root name servers through DNSMON; we manage DNSSEC, a suite of DNS security extensions; we provide the DNSCheck tool, which can be used to monitor the health of domains; and we also maintain DNS operations for ENUM. As well as all this, the RIPE NCC operates K-root, one of the 13 Internet root name servers. In addition to this, all RIPE Atlas probes perform DNS measurements, which makes it possible to determine which instance of a name server any given probe uses. All of these resources and more will be available to all participants in the hackathon. 

Here is a short list of ideas for possible projects. Of course, these are just suggestions, and there are no limitations on the kinds of projects teams can choose to work on:

  • Further developing existing tools and visualisations, such as the RIPE Atlas DNS Root Server Result Stream Visualisation (shown above)
  • Extend the official RIPE Atlas CLI Toolset using external tools (e.g. Stéphane Bortzmeyer's excellent RIPE Atlas DNS tools)
  • Create a DNS root server observatory to produce alerts for BGP and/or RIPE Atlas path data changes, detect leaks, etc.
  • Perform checks  to see if root system server still works fine under an attack, and visualise results 
  • Look into IPv6 fragmentation / MTU issues for the root servers
  • DNS consistency checks: find cases of this in our vast data set; make recommendations to the RIPE NCC on what measurements we should do to find more of these cases (see Stephane's work on .BD)


About the Organisers

The RIPE NCC is one of five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) that support the global operation of the Internet. The RIPE NCC is an independent, not-for-profit organisation responsible for distributing and administering Internet number resources for over 15,000 members in Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Central Asia. We support the global Internet community by providing data, expertise and a neutral platform for the exchange of ideas.


DENIC is the registry for Germany's .de ccTLD and a provider of DNS name services. Ranking among the world's three largest domain registries, DENIC runs a global name server network at 18 locations. In addition, DENIC operates all domain database and registration system resources for .de. Founded in 1996 as a private, not-for-profit cooperative, DENIC's mission is to fulfil a public function by providing a stable and performant service. The Atlas project is a key component for operations and also for reporting to the public with DNSMON. DENIC has been supporting the Atlas project with probes and a Frankfurt based anchor for a long time and is looking forward to being part of this community effort to further improve the open and secure Internet.



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About the author

Alun Davies Based in Amsterdam

Hailing from a research background in philosophy, linguistics and computer science, I came to the RIPE NCC back in 2016 and took on the role of RIPE Labs Editor in 2020.

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