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José Luis Lafuente
José Luis Lafuente

Posted on • Originally published at on

Running a local dns and web server

As a software developer, I run multiple web services to be accessed only from localhost. While it is possible to access them on http://localhost, I prefer to have more descriptive urls, like http://docs.local.

I'm going to describe my NixOS setup to resolve .local domains to localhost and access my local web server. I'm using CoreDNS and Caddy to accomplish it. Keep in mind that while I'm showing nix configuration snippets, you could extract the configuration files and run a similar setup in any Linux distribution.

It is interesting to notice that CoreDNS started its life as a fork of Caddy.

DNS server #

While I could use dnsmasq, I wanted to try a newer DNS server, CoreDNS. Let's start the service with some custom configuration:

services.coredns.enable = true;services.coredns.config = '' . { # Cloudflare and Google forward . cache } local { template IN A { answer "{{ .Name }} 0 IN A" } } '';

The first block will forward all the DNS requests to Cloudflare and Google DNS servers, and the results will be cached (1 hour by default)

The second block returns an A record with value for any request for a .local domain.

So far, so good, we have a local DNS server up and running. Now we need to configure our network manager to use that DNS server. If you are on NixOS, that's pretty easy:

networking.networkmanager.insertNameservers = [""];

Web server #

I could use nginx, but I decided to use Caddy instead because it comes with an HTTP API out of the box. I'm not explaining it in this post, but Caddy's API opens the door to many interesting possibilities.

Let's take a look our Caddyfile configuration:

http://docs.local { root * /path/to/dir file_server } 

Here we are saying that all requests to http://docs.local should serve static files located at /path/to/dir.

Until #86686 is merged, you need to create your own systemd unit to start Caddy:

let caddyConfig = pkgs.writeText "Caddyfile" '' http://docs.local { root * /path/to/dir file_server } '';in{ = { description = "Caddy web server"; after = [""]; wants = [""]; wantedBy = [""]; serviceConfig = { User = "caddy"; Group = "caddy"; ExecStart = '' ${pkgs.caddy2}/bin/caddy run --config ${caddyConfig} --adapter caddyfile ''; ExecReload = '' ${pkgs.caddy2}/bin/caddy reload --config ${caddyConfig} --adapter caddyfile ''; TimeoutStopSec = "5s"; LimitNOFILE = 1048576; LimitNPROC = 512; PrivateTmp = true; ProtectSystem = "full"; AmbientCapabilities = "cap_net_bind_service"; }; }; users.users.caddy = { group = "caddy"; uid = config.ids.uids.caddy; home = caddyDir; createHome = true; extraGroups = ["users"]; }; users.groups.caddy.gid = config.ids.uids.caddy;}

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