Chapter 21. Configuring the order of DNS servers

Most applications use the getaddrinfo() function of the glibc library to resolve DNS requests. By default, glibc sends all DNS requests to the first DNS server specified in the /etc/resolv.conf file. If this server does not reply, Red Hat Enterprise Linux uses the next server in this file.

This section describes how to customize the order of DNS servers.

21.1. How NetworkManager orders DNS servers in /etc/resolv.conf

NetworkManager orders DNS servers in the /etc/resolv.conf file based on the following rules:

  • If only one connection profile exists, NetworkManager uses the order of IPv4 and IPv6 DNS server specified in that connection.
  • If multiple connection profiles are activated, NetworkManager orders DNS servers based on a DNS priority value. If you set DNS priorities, the behavior of NetworkManager depends on the value set in the dns parameter. You can set this parameter in the [main] section in the /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf file:

    • dns=default or if the dns parameter is not set:

      NetworkManager orders the DNS servers from different connections based on the ipv4.dns-priority and ipv6.dns-priority parameter in each connection.

      If you set no value or you set ipv4.dns-priority and ipv6.dns-priority to 0, NetworkManager uses the global default value. See the section called “Default values of DNS priority parameters”.

    • dns=dnsmasq or dns=systemd-resolved:

      When you use one of these settings, NetworkManager sets either for dnsmasq or as nameserver entry in the /etc/resolv.conf file.

      Both the dnsmasq and systemd-resolved services forward queries for the search domain set in a NetworkManager connection to the DNS server specified in that connection, and forwardes queries to other domains to the connection with the default route. When multiple connections have the same search domain set, dnsmasq and systemd-resolved forward queries for this domain to the DNS server set in the connection with the lowest priority value.

Default values of DNS priority parameters

NetworkManager uses the following default values for connections:

  • 50 for VPN connections
  • 100 for other connections

Valid DNS priority values:

You can set both the global default and connection-specific ipv4.dns-priority and ipv6.dns-priority parameters to a value between -2147483647 and 2147483647.

  • A lower value has a higher priority.
  • Negative values have the special effect of excluding other configurations with a greater value. For example, if at least one connection with a negative priority value exists, NetworkManager uses only the DNS servers specified in the connection profile with the lowest priority.
  • If multiple connections have the same DNS priority, NetworkManager prioritizes the DNS in the following order:

    1. VPN connections
    2. Connection with an active default route. The active default route is the default route the lowest metric.

Additional resources

  • For further details about how NetworkManager orders DNS server entries in the /etc/resolv.conf file, see the dns-priority parameter description in the ipv4 and ipv6 sections in the nm-settings(5) man page.
  • For details about using systemd-resolved to use different DNS servers for different domains, see Chapter 28, Using different DNS servers for different domains.

21.2. Setting a NetworkManager-wide default DNS server priority value

NetworkManager uses the following DNS priority default values for connections:

  • 50 for VPN connections
  • 100 for other connections

This section describes how to override these system-wide defaults with a custom default value for IPv4 and IPv6 connections.


  1. Edit the /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf file:

    1. Add the [connection] section, if it does not exist:

    2. Add the custom default values to the [connection] section. For example, to set the new default for both IPv4 and IPv6 to 200, add:


      You can set the parameters to a value between -2147483647 and 2147483647. Note that setting the parameters to 0 enables the built-in defaults (50 for VPN connections and 100 for other connections).

  2. Reload the NetworkManager service:

    # systemctl reload NetworkManager

Additional resources

  • For additional details about setting default values for all NetworkManager connections, see Connection Section in the NetworkManager.conf(5) man page.

21.3. Setting the DNS priority of a NetworkManager connection

This section describes how to define the order of DNS servers when NetworkManager creates or updates the /etc/resolv.conf file.

Note that setting DNS priorities makes only sense if you have multiple connections with different DNS servers configured. If you have only one connection with multiple DNS servers configured, manually set the DNS servers in the preferred order in the connection profile.


  • The system has multiple NetworkManager connections configured.
  • The system either has no dns parameter set in the /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf file or the parameter is set to default.


  1. Optionally, display the available connections:

    # nmcli connection show
    NAME           UUID                                  TYPE      DEVICE
    Example_con_1  d17ee488-4665-4de2-b28a-48befab0cd43  ethernet  enp1s0
    Example_con_2  916e4f67-7145-3ffa-9f7b-e7cada8f6bf7  ethernet  enp7s0
  2. Set the ipv4.dns-priority and ipv6.dns-priority parameters. For example, to set both parameters to 10 for the Example_con_1 connection:

    # nmcli connection modify Example_con_1 ipv4.dns-priority 10 ipv6.dns-priority 10
  3. Optionally, repeat the previous step for other connections.
  4. Re-activate the connection you updated:

    # nmcli connection up Example_con_1

Verification steps

  • Display the contents of the /etc/resolv.conf file to verify that the DNS server order is correct:

    # cat /etc/resolv.conf