Automating DNS Configurations for F5 VPN Tunnel using Systemd-resolved and NetworkManager-dispatcher

F5 VPN does not play well with split DNS configuration using systemd-resolved because it insists on trying to rewrite /etc/resolv.conf. The workaround is to make resolv.conf immutable, and configure the DNS settings for the tunnel manually. systemd-resolved does not have a mechanism for persistant per-interface configuration, and it relies on NetworkManager to configure each connection correctly. F5 VPN is not compatible with NetworkManager, and does not make it easy to configure it this way.

NetworkManager-dispatcher allows you to run scripts based on network events. In our case, we will use it to automatically add DNS configurations when the F5 VPN tunnel tun0 is up, and thus provide persistent configuration.

Here is the script:



case "$STATUS" in
        if [ "$INTERFACE" = "tun0" ]; then
            # Add your search domains here
            SEARCH_DOMAINS="~example.corp ~example.local"

            resolvectl domain "$INTERFACE" $SEARCH_DOMAINS
            resolvectl dns $INTERFACE
            resolvectl dnsovertls tun0 no

The script checks if the interface is tun0 and if the current action is up. If so, it uses resolvectl to configure search domains and local DNS servers. Lastly, DNS over TLS is disabled, as the corporate DNS servers do not support them.

To make this script work, install in the /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/ directory with the name f5-vpn. Make sure it’s executable and only writable by root. NetworkManager-dispatcher will run this script whenever a network interface goes up, automatically setting the DNS configurations for F5 VPN tunnel.

Split DNS using systemd-resolved

Many corporate environments have internal DNS servers that are required to resolve internal resources. However, you might prefer a different DNS server for external resources, for example or This allows you to use more secure DNS features like DNS over TLS (DoT). The solution is to set up systemd-resolved as your DNS resolver, and configure it for split DNS resolving.

Starting with systemd 251, Debian ships systemd-resolved as a separate package. If it isn’t installed, go ahead and install it.

$ sudo apt install systemd-resolved
$ sudo systemctl enable --now systemd-resolved.service

Create the following configuration file under /etc/systemd/resolved.conf.d/99-split.conf:



Domains=~. gives priority to the global DNS ( in our case) over the link-local DNS configurations which are pushed through DHCP (like internal DNS servers).

DNSOverTLS=opportunistic defaults to DNS over TLS but allows fallback to regular DNS. This is useful when corporate DNS doesn’t support DNS over TLS and you still want to resolve corporate internal domains.

Restart systemd-resolved to reload the configuration:

$ sudo systemctl restart systemd-resolved

The final step is to redirect programs relying on /etc/resolv.conf (possibly through the glibc API) to the systemd-resolved resolver. The recommended way according to the systemd-resolved man page is to symlink it to /run/systemd/resolv/stup-resolv.conf.

$ sudo ln -rsf /run/systemd/resolve/stub-resolv.conf /etc/resolv.conf


F5 VPN doesn’t play well with the above configuration. First, F5 VPN tries to overwrite the DNS configuration in /etc/resolv.conf, by removing the existing file and replacing it with its own (pushing corporate DNS server configuration through it). The solution is to prevent F5 VPN from deleting the /etc/resolv.conf, by setting it to immutable. However, we cannot chattr +i a symlink. We have to resort to copying the configuration statically, and then protect it.

$ sudo cp /run/systemd/resolve/stub-resolv.conf /etc/resolv.conf
$ sudo chattr +i /etc/resolv.conf

Finally, because now F5 VPN can’t update the DNS configuration, we would have to manually configure the corporate DNS servers and the search domains.

$ sudo resolvectl dns tun0
$ sudo resolvectl domain tun0 ~example.corp ~example.local

Update: See Automating DNS Configurations for F5 VPN Tunnel using Systemd-resolved and NetworkManager-dispatcher for a script that automates the configuration.