How to query Spamhaus DNS blacklist from a droplet?

I want to set up a small mail server. I have got Postfix on Ubuntu working, but now I want to add some level of spam filtering using the DNS blacklist, and this is not working. The Spamhaus instructions suggest trying this command:

dig +short

and if I run it on my droplet I get no answer. At home, using my ISP’s DNS server, I do get a reply, so Spamhaus is working fine, it’s the droplet’s resolver that’s not returning anything. The /etc/resolv.conf file includes Google’s public name servers:

# Dynamic resolv.conf(5) file for glibc resolver(3) generated by resolvconf(8)
nameserver 2001:4860:4860::8844
nameserver 2001:4860:4860::8888

The Spamhaus instructions mention:

Check what DNS resolvers you are using: If you are using a free “open DNS resolver” service such as the Google Public DNS […] in most cases you will receive a “not listed” (NXDOMAIN) reply […] We recommend using your own DNS servers when doing DNSBL queries to Spamhaus.

Can I configure my droplet to use some DNS server that does return replies from

Show comments

Submit an answer

This textbox defaults to using Markdown to format your answer.

You can type !ref in this text area to quickly search our full set of tutorials, documentation & marketplace offerings and insert the link!

Sign In or Sign Up to Answer

These answers are provided by our Community. If you find them useful, show some love by clicking the heart. If you run into issues leave a comment, or add your own answer to help others.

Want to learn more? Join the DigitalOcean Community!

Join our DigitalOcean community of over a million developers for free! Get help and share knowledge in Q&A, subscribe to topics of interest, and get courses and tools that will help you grow as a developer and scale your project or business.

It turns out it isn’t rate limiting by Google, they just don’t respond properly to the spamhaus queries. I ended up switching my DNS servers to use opendns and the RBL queries are working properly now. They are and

Yes, this very much looks like a matter of Google’s resolvers being rate limited

andreas@leto:~$ dig +short @


andreas@leto:~$ dig +short @

If you want to be querying blacklists, I recommend that you too run your own resolver.

I’m running into the same problem. Is there any chance that DigitalOcean runs (or will run) internal DNS servers for droplets or will they continue to farm out DNS to Google’s servers?