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The Internet

Open-Source Pioneers Make Bid for .org 182

wdb writes: "A NY Times article (free subscription required) describes the competition surrounding control of the .org domain, which Verisign coughed up in order to keep .com and .net from going to the highest bidder. Open source and Internet pioneers Paul Vixie and Carl Malamud have entered the fray; central to their bid is their announced intent to place all the software necessary to manage a TLD in the public domain. 'This shouldn't be a dot-com opportunity,' Mr. Malamud said. 'There has been a lot of smoke and mirrors, but what we need is actually a public utility that is well managed in the public interest.'"
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Open-Source Pioneers Make Bid for .org

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  • by Tim_F ( 12524 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:07PM (#3709078)
    It would be one way to make sure that it only goes to fitting organizations. It si meant for non-profits. For example, take this very website. Slashdot.org has not been non-profit for a very long time.
  • would this mean that the open source community would have dibs on .org domains that become available??
  • Just waiting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jay Maynard ( 54798 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:14PM (#3709099) Homepage
    ...for the thundering hordes of folks who still don't get the difference between names and speech to stand up and cheer for the open source types.


    I think Vixie and Malamud are good guys and have their hearts in the right place, and would do a very good job of managing .org (for whatever values of "managing" are needed), but giving it to them just because they're open source advocates is a Bad Idea. Give it to them if and only if they're best qualified to do the job.

    • The trouble is that it's not a matter of who's best for the job - it's not a job like that - but who among the people competing for it represents whose interests. Misreading conflicts between competing interests as simple screens for the best candidate is a fast-track to being completely frozen out.

      Incidentally, I'm sure that they are capable of running a .org.

    • Re:Just waiting... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by routerwhore ( 552333 )
      We need to see more of the "open source type's" plan before anyone can make a real decision, but I can say on no uncertain terms that if .org should controlled by advocates of the community then the support to ensure that they are the best qualified will be available. The alternative would be to turn it over to people with personal interests in milking the .org for what its worth and have no incentive to manage it well since profit is the primary motive
    • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:59PM (#3709221)
      Paul Vixie already runs a number of root servers. Therefore "only if they're best qualified to do the job" is a specious argument. Paul already meets that criteria in spades.
      • by shani ( 1674 ) <shane@time-travellers.org> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @07:13PM (#3709265) Homepage
        Running a root name server is nothing like running one of the gTLD servers. Believe me, my company runs one of the roots and provides support for another root. I got yelled at the last time I said the name of my company, so you'll have to trust me (not that I'm bitter or anything).

        Running a root name server basically means running BIND for a few hundred NS records in one zone file. You set up a cluster of boxes that run some random Unix variant, although to be honest a dual-CPU Athlon MP box could easily handle the load we see here. That's it.

        Any web hosting company could run a root name server.

        Running a gTLD, however, probably means running your own version of BIND (at least, I think Verisign runs a tweaked version for their domains - not that Vixie would have any trouble tweaking BIND ;)), on higher-end boxes (the COM domain hasn't fit in a 32-bit memory space for 4 or so years now, and I expect that ORG probably doesn't these days). It also means using some sort of registry-registrar protocol for the comptetive registrars, and most importantly setting up administration to deal with these registrars, various end users, ICANN, and the like - meaning ticketing systems, account management, help desks, etc, etc.

        Not rocket science, but an entirely different ball of wax.
        • Running a root name server is nothing like running one of the gTLD servers. Believe me, my company runs one of the roots and provides support for another root. I got yelled at the last time I said the name of my company, so you'll have to trust me (not that I'm bitter or anything).

          You're lying, that's what you are. All companies running the roots are known.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Running a gTLD, however, probably means running your own version of BIND (at least, I think Verisign runs a tweaked version for their domains - not that Vixie would have any trouble tweaking BIND ;)),

          VeriSign runs a very highly customized back end that has not had much relationship to the BIND code for years. The DNS servers process six billion transactions a day, thats more than the routing for all the telephone calls on the planet.

          There are a bunch of press releases on the Web site about the deals with IBM to purchase the hardware (two deals of $20 mil. each). There was also a recent public announcement of the 'Atlas' architecture that will replace the current setup sometime this year.

        • Paul previously ran f.root-servers.net (which I believe was the successor to ns.isc.org) which was also a GTLD server before the GTLD's were split onto their own servers around the end of 2000.

          So he can and has done it. Here's some background from some messages posted to NANOG-L over the years.

          A letter on 8/8/2000 from Network Solutions:

          On 8 August, 2000, Network Solutions took actions in compliance with the cooperative agreement with the Department of Commerce to discontinue use of the 'InterNIC' name. One specific aspect of this change involves the server named rs0.internic.net, which had been the primary name server for the root-servers.net domain name along with secondary servers ns.ripe.net,
          ns.isi.edu and ns-ext.vix.com.

          All four of these servers were removed from the root-servers.net domain name and replaced with the following servers which were already functioning as root servers:

          a.root-servers.net
          f.root-servers.net
          k.root-servers.net
          j.root-servers.net

          At 1730 EDT, the new suite of name servers began acting authoritatively for the root-servers.net domain.

          The net zone will be updated to reflect the root-servers.net nameserver entries in serial #2000080801.

          The four hosts rs0.internic.net, ns.isi.edu, ns.ripe.net, and ns-ext.vix.com will continue to serve the root-servers.net zone with the new list of name servers. These hosts will continue to remain active until the time of the new name server suite exceeds the Time To Live (TTL), as defined in the root-servers.net zone. That TTL is currently set to 3,600,000 seconds, or
          about 42 days.

          This is an operational change that transferred very smoothly. You will NOT need to make any configuration changes on your machines. You will NOT need a new root.cache file.

          From: "Verd, Brad"
          Subject: TLD operations change
          Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2000 15:56:49 -0400

          Effective zone serial number 2000080101, g.root-servers.net (192.112.36.4) will no longer be authoritatively answering for com, net, org. In its place g.gtld-servers.net (198.41.3.101) will be added as an authoritative server for com, net, org.

          The new set of servers authoritative for these TLDs will be:
          A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET. 198.41.0.4
          G.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 198.41.3.101
          E.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 207.200.81.69
          F.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 198.17.208.67
          F.ROOT-SERVERS.NET. 192.5.5.241
          J.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 198.41.0.21
          K.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 195.8.99.11
          A.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 198.41.3.38
          M.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 210.176.152.18
          C.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 205.188.185.18
          I.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 192.36.144.133
          B.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 203.181.106.5

          G.root-servers.net will continue to answer for the gov, mil, arpa, in-addr.arpa and root zones.

          From: "Verd, Brad"
          Subject: Root zone change -- d.gtld-servers.net
          Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 16:14:43 -0400

          Effective zone serial number 2000091901, f.root-servers.net (192.5.5.241) will no longer be in the list as authoritative for com, net, org. In its
          place d.gtld-servers.net (208.206.240.5) will be added as an authoritative server for com, net, org.

          The new set of servers authoritative for these TLDs will be:
          A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET. 198.41.0.4
          G.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 198.41.3.101
          E.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 207.200.81.69
          F.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 198.17.208.67
          D.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 208.206.240.5
          J.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 198.41.0.21
          K.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 195.8.99.11
          A.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 198.41.3.38
          M.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 210.176.152.18
          C.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 205.188.185.18
          I.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 192.36.144.133
          B.GTLD-SERVERS.NET. 203.181.106.5

          This will not require any change to the root.cache file and
          f.root-servers.net will provide answers for com, net, and org in parallel for enough time to accommodate the zone's TTLs.

          And finally, this message talks about Bind 8.2.2. running on f.root-servers.net (which as I recall was still serving com/net/org/mil/edu.

          Subject: BIND 8.2.2 (T3B; RC0) is available for general testing
          Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 00:01:59 -0700
          From: Paul A Vixie

          Confidence: moderate. This is running on part of F.ROOT-SERVERS.NET and on all of our local production servers. The only reasons it's not a full release candidate are that IXFR is still disabled and we're still tinkering with the NT support.

          -rusty
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:15PM (#3709102) Journal
    This re-opens the TLD can of worms in my mind.

    I stll wonder if we would be any better off if we had gone to a system that would have allowed an infinite number of TLDs.

    But this is not my primary area of expertise, and I am sure there would be some difficulties along the line.

    • Re:TLDs, etc (Score:5, Informative)

      by reemul ( 1554 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:44PM (#3709191)
      An infinite number of TLDs pretty makes TLDs meaningless. The system only has value if it fosters a useful hierarchical system for resolving hostnames. (This says nothing at all about the system and politics for creating and administering that hierarchy, just the functionality.) As the number of TLDs increases, the extension becomes less a pointer to where to look for the domain, and more an arbitrary few letters tacked on the name because it looks cool. By the time DNS finds the root for the exotic TLD, it might as well have looked directly for the domain without bothering with that root at all.

      An analogy: File folders are useful to organize large amounts of paper. One can look for the folder first, then in that folder for a specific document. Why bother using file folders if every piece of paper gets a separate folder? Such a large number of folders no longer helps organize the data; they just take up space in the drawer.

      A few more well thought out and well discussed TLDs won't hurt, but an unmonitored flood of them from everyone and everywhere defeats the entire purpose of the system.
      • A few more well thought out and well discussed TLDs won't hurt, but an unmonitored flood of them from everyone and everywhere defeats the entire purpose of the system.

        Given the way that things have not be enforced, it is rapidly loosing the funtionality that you rightfully espouse.

        I sort of think it would be useful to get rid of the trade name speculation in domain names if...... what a second, it would only push the domain name fight over to the fight to be the registrar for the TLDs.

        I have images of addresses like

        • Linus@web.linux
        • http://hardluv.xxx
        • Billg@research.microsoft
        could get unweildy
      • Perhaps /. being found at slashdot.osdn.org would be a step in the right direction?
      • Isn't this what OpenNIC [unrated.net] is/was doing? I always thought that a generic .DOM TLD would be great, but I don't have the time or resources to do what OpenNIC requires to get the idea out in the open.
  • Am I the only one who first thought TLD = Thermoluminescient Dosimiter?

    I know it doesn't fit the context, but, well...
  • Naming Conventions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkey Angst ( 577685 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:23PM (#3709131) Homepage
    I had always been under the impression that .org was actually reserved for non-profits. It was disheartening to find out that this is not the case, the registrars will sell one to anyone (and indeed, apparently a lot of people buy both the .com and .org names for their sites). I would like to see the administration of .org go to someone willing to enforce a policy of "no businesses allowed," but I'm not naive enough to think this will happen.

    ----------
    We all live under Monkey Law [monkeylaw.org].

    • by zsmooth ( 12005 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:32PM (#3709157)
      I could never get used to typing slashdot.com.
    • It was, once. Just like .net was restricted to organizations that provided network access. But once the land grab started, it became painfully obvious that money was much more important than tradition.

      --
      Mando
    • I had always been under the impression that .org was actually reserved for non-profits

      RFC 1591 [faqs.org] states:
      This domain is intended as the miscellaneous TLD for organizations that didn't fit anywhere else. Some non-government organizations may fit here.
      It was disheartening to find out that this is not the case, the registrars will sell one to anyone

      I have a .org. I am not a commercial entity or a ISP (although I wanted mydomain.net - it was acquired about a month before i registered mydomain.org). I'm not really an organization either, but I guess I am fairly organized. Perhaps I should have a regional domain, but a TLD is easier to work with.
      • Perhaps I should have a regional domain, but a TLD is easier to work with. I considered it for my site, but that idea was killed by all the post-911 advertising that says stuff like "Show your patriotism! Get a .US domain!" Even though .us is probably the most appropriate since I'm definitely not a .com and not really an organization, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

        I wonder, does anyone mistake .uk or .nz people for being overly patriotic?

        --------
        We all live under Monkey Law [monkeylaw.org].

        • "I wonder, does anyone mistake .uk or .nz people for being overly patriotic?"

          No, they mistake us for people who don't want to fight domain-name disputes in foreign courts, or for people who don't want to lose their website if some american monolith decides they want to screw us.

          Also, it works well for shops. I'm generally a lot happier buying from a .co.uk website than from a .com, because it makes it so easy to see that they're in the same country as me. When I visit a .com, I generally have to trawl through the site, visit the shopping cart, and look at "delivery opttions" before I find out they're in the US and will charge me $30 for postage on a T-shirt.

          If you want to be 'patriotic', people in the UK wear flags on their T-shirts (you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in town not wearing a george flag during the world cup), or they go to London and line the streets of the Queen's jubilee procession.

          *.uk makes stuff easier to find, makes it more reliable, and means that we don't have to deal with dirty foreigners when we register our domains!

          ojw
    • Non-profit != no business

      The problem would be if I had a .org site, let's say some artists want to showcase their site and we formed and organization to do so and made a site.

      Later to cover costs of the site (considering you can host a site cheaper than it costs to register one sometimes... sheesh) we start selling works. Would we get booted from our TLD or what?

      Strict usage of a rule like "no business" won't work. But it is a good idea.
    • Do you have any idea how many entities receiving profits have .org domain names? To try to take these domains would result in a HUGE amount of ICANN disputes and an EVEN BIGGER number of investigations. There is no way the regulatory group could possibly ensure they were all non-profit without using a gigantic budget, would would drive up the administration costs significantly, driving up registration costs. We could be talking $50 or $100 per year for the .org domain names, minimum. Which would lead to many of the non profit groups leaving for a cheaper area.

      Plus, it never was written in the charter that it needed to be non-profit, just that it was a domain for organizations that anyone could register. It is common practice to have non profit sites on .org names but there are many with profits, and restricting it to non profit sites would be wholly unfair to entities that have established website domains, decreasing their site traffic and decreasing business greatly.

      While some people might like a non profit domain name, and I won't argue for the merits of that, the fact is that .org is well established as a TLD for anyone, and the costs to implement and enforce a non profit rule would drive administration costs through the roof.
    • The namespace needs something _like_ the current .org, where there aren't NameMongers telling you what's allowed to be there, even if some people would also like something else like .ngo or whatever that's more restrictive.
      There was a suggestion at one time that .org should be reserved for Organizations Registered With The US Government As Non-Profit Tax-Exempt or Tax-Deductable Bodies, but it was a really bad suggestion, and it wasn't the case for the first ~decade of DNS, and there were a number of .org names back when the namespace was run by Jon Postel before the commercial landrush or the Greedy Registrars racket. (This doesn't, of course, mean that the various commercial registrars weren't greedy, or that profit-seeking companies didn't also try to reserve .org namespace, especially after the sale of "altavista.com" gave everybody the idea that namespace was a commercially valuable asset.)

      There are lots of domains that don't need to be in .com space - they're not something that's trying to be a business, and they're not providing infrastructure to the net, and they're not educational institutions (either the early flexible definition or the later Four-Year Officially-Accredited Universities), and they're not geographically limited (so they're not .us or .other-country-code.) It wasn't a big issue in the early days, when you had to be somehow tied to the US government to get on the ARPAnet, and most other people lived in UUCP or FIDO space, and computers tended to either be big and expensive (and not personal) or small and not sufficiently Internet-connected to run their own domain name, as opposed to using their ISP's namespace), but sometime in the early 90s, lots of my friends started getting domain names before the rest of the world knew that was cool :-)

      So where would you hang a domain name for your family? Not under .com, and not under something geographically limited like gallo-family.modesto.ca.us unless you're all living down on the same family farm (and it'll be a while before stolzfus.northeast.birdinhand.lancaster-county.pa. us is on the net....) There's now a .name or whatever for that, but .org is ok.

      And the "Offically Recognized Non-Profits Only" proposal would mean that a bunch of people who want to develop a piece of open-source software wouldn't be able to be mozilla.org or foo-widget.org because they weren't an sufficiently formal group to be exempt from US takes, though they could perfectly well be foo-widget.fsf.org if RMS likes them, which might be just fine. But what if the foo-widget.org project is not only a free software thing, but also gets sponsored by Big Hardware Incorporated, who happen to want a foo-widget around to make buying their hardware more attractive? Should they lose their .org namespace? (Hint - there's more of this than you'd expect; it's becoming an interesting business model for running and funding development of projects like free telephony clients.)

  • by peterdaly ( 123554 ) <petedaly&ix,netcom,com> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:36PM (#3709166)
    DNS may have to follow something similar to what I believe has happened to the internet over the past few years. In the "beginning" of the popular Internet, everyone visits a small set of gopher sites, soon followed by first generation web sites. Then came search engines. The number of site people spend visition skyrocketed. You might never see the same site twice in a month, even though you were ssurfing all day. This doesn't include yahoo. This is phase two. Soon people realized there were just too many bad useless sites on the internet. Phase three is the portal. A portal is any site that collects information from other sources, giving a single site to visit for information. Slashdot is a good example, although what you normally think of as partals are good too. Now adays, you probably only visit a few sites on a regular basis. Phase three complete.

    Here is how I see DNS going.
    Phase 1. Domain names just made it so you didn't have to remember IP addresses. Think sunsite.unc.edu. That was a "site". It didn't need to be sunsite.com. My email address is a perfect example. "ix.netcom.com". Nobody thought better of it.

    Phase 2. Today the "ix." throws all non-technical people off. They just don't understand or see the reason for sub domains. A domain IS the site. All site are thesite.com. Hell, most people don't even use the www anymore. You ever tried to explain the difference between ftp.server.com and www.server.com to anyone who has not been on the internet for many years? No, ftp.myserver.com doesn't mean that is the ftp site for myserver.com (although it may.) ftp is the name of the server. Server they say? Isn't there only one? How can myserver.com have more than one server? Try explaining it sometime, is was harder than I thought last time I tried.

    Phase 3. The commercial dns. There are not enough words for every website to have a name unique to it ".com". Regardless of who runs it. The commercialization of DNS registars only makes matters worse. I predict in a few year, if it even takes that long, subdomain will be back in vague. There will not be any choice in the matter. Try finding a unique domain recent less than 8 characters? Tough, huh? Soon the public will learn "search google for keyword slashdot" to find slashdot. Dare I say "AOL Keyword whatever" in ads. Bookmark it if you like it once there, or go through the same process next time.

    Where the internet went few-many-few in terms of sites you interact with. I predict DNS will go many-few-many for DNS subnames you see, and all this DNS stuff will do is make it so mere mortals don't have to look at IP's, just like the good old days.

    wow, I just wrote a book, sorry. Anyway, I see DNS going through the equivilant of the web portals movement, but backwards. Then Verisign stock will plumit once investors realize DNS is dead.

    DNS is dead...long live DNS.

    -Pete
    • by abreauj ( 49848 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:51PM (#3709209) Homepage
      You ever tried to explain the difference between ftp.server.com and www.server.com to anyone who has not been on the internet for many years? No, ftp.myserver.com doesn't mean that is the ftp site for myserver.com (although it may.) ftp is the name of the server. Server they say? Isn't there only one? How can myserver.com have more than one server? Try explaining it sometime, is was harder than I thought last time I tried.

      Try answering it with an analogy. "How can Main Street have more than one house on it?"

      • "Try answering it with an analogy. "How can Main Street have more than one house on it?""

        To that they might respond, "But all of Microsoft is listed at One Microsoft Way. Isn't it just one big building? I don't understand this more than one building thing."

        I'm such a whore.

    • Actually, most people I talk to don't seem to understand what domain.com means when typing a URL into a browser. People seems to want to always type in www. in front.


      Trying to explain that you don't necessarily need the www, or that your web address is http://abcd.anything.xyz/ rather than http://www.anything.xyz/ can be rather difficult too, sometimes.

    • Phase 3. The commercial dns. There are not enough words for every website to have a name unique to it ".com". Regardless of who runs it. The commercialization of DNS registars only makes matters worse. I predict in a few year, if it even takes that long, subdomain will be back in vague. There will not be any choice in the matter. Try finding a unique domain recent less than 8 characters? Tough, huh? Soon the public will learn "search google for keyword slashdot" to find slashdot. Dare I say "AOL Keyword whatever" in ads. Bookmark it if you like it once there, or go through the same process next time.

      I imagine that with this will come the sucess of gimicky domain names. The huge success of .tv is a testament to this. Companies don't want to remind their customers that they are a company with the .com. The theme from the book "No Logo" applies here, "Brands Not Products". It's important for companies to separate their brands from their products and their products from the company. Once people link the nike feeling to just a shoe and then link the nike shoe to just a shareprice suddenly the 'feeling' the ad was selling seems quite lame.

      As such I think there will be a proliferation of .category domains. Hollywood currently often uses the clunky -movie.com and I think this will be replaced by .movie or something similar. I agree that remembering domain names will become less and less important while making sure your product is the number one hit for keywords will be more and more important but I think people will want a nice sounding domain name once they get there that they have a hope of remembering.

      MechCow
    • Didn't RealNames try the keyword idea and fail miserably? How is it any better than DNS? If you have a mapping between words and IP addresses through any mechanism, then you could just as well add ".com" on the end and implement it to get what we have now.

      But you're really talking about a mapping between search terms and pages rather than search terms and sites. Otherwise, how would you direct someone to a page other than your front page? Are you seriously suggesting that Google whacks are more convenient than URLs? "For more information, do a Google search for 'stingray marshmallow'"? Or maybe a search for "a87tigi78y"? That doesn't seem very user-friendly. And it certainly won't be acceptable to businesses unless Google starts accepting bribes for search placement the way other search engines do.

      Besides, DNS is for more than just Web sites. How you you plan to send e-mail by Google search?
  • vixie scares me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by technoid_ ( 136914 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:36PM (#3709171) Homepage Journal
    I would really want to check out Paul Vixie's intentions on this. I remember MAPS and how it went to a pay system after Orbs went bye-bye. I also remember Vixie being one of people who started the members-only bind group (http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/02/03/16562 43&mode=nested&tid=95).

    He has a history of taking a community thing and then kicking the community out of it.

    • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @08:59PM (#3709536) Homepage
      Paul got the crap sued out of him by spammers, from what I've heard, and had no choice but to turn MAPS into a subscriber service. AFAIK he never promised to do anything other than that, and it operated for free for quite a while.

      He has been extremely scrupulous with the Internet Software Consortium. I know of few people whose integrity I trust more. I would trust him with the title to my house.

      Regarding the members-only thing, somebody got to pay de bills. When was the last time you sent a donation to the ISC? Paul's very good at leveraging value in such a way that everybody benefits, but sometimes leverage means that you have to wait a few weeks to get the benefit that the people who are paying to generate the benefit get immediately. This is an unusually good deal in the real world - usually if you don't pay, you don't get the goods at all.

      (I should say that I used to work for him, although I haven't for a couple of years, so it's not like I'm a disinterested bystander here.)
  • spelling... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by vsync64 ( 155958 )
    Just curious why the NYT insists on spelling it "Icann". It's a set of initials and therefore should be spelled "ICANN". Odd that a publication as prestigious as the New York Times would make a 3rd-grade spelling error.
    • Re:spelling... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      NYT style is to treat pronounceable acronyms of five letters or longer as words, rather than initials.
  • Too Late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grokBoy ( 582119 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:42PM (#3709185)
    I think we'd all agree that the current domain name system is pretty messed up, and mostly due to the widespread commericalism of the internet in recent times. The likes of Vixie et al are more than qualified in my eyes, having contributed a great deal to the internet and its inner workings. But to be honest, I think giving them control of .org, or any other existing TLD is too little, too late, because these domains have already been corrupted.

    Just as we have recognised that our current TCP/IP protocol has become outgrown by the online populace, and started to move toward IPV6, perhaps it is time for a full review of the entire TLD set we have on offer. IMHO the current system does not provide a wide enough taxonomy of the sites hosted under them. A .com is not necessarily commercial, .org no longer means non-profit - so why continue with this nomenclature?

    How far we choose to take this is an entirely different debate - perhaps a .gnu is in order for open source projects, for instance. And even if we all agree that the system needs bringing up to code, the commercialism will still stand in the way of any changes.

    • perhaps a .gnu is in order for open source projects, for instance.

      Don't you mean for GPL'd projects?

      At any rate, I don't see why one organization (such as ICANN) should be able to control all top level domains. Why can't there be many organizations that provide top level domains, and the ISP and users decide which ones they use. For example, your .gnu could be handled by RMS.

      There already are providers of alternate top level domains--OpenNIC [unrated.net] for one. They even have a .oss domain for Open source projects.

      I say let the open market decide--sure, you'll have conflicting names. Say someone registers booger.biz under ICANN, and someone else already owns booger.biz in the OpenNIC system. Who cares. ICANN cares because they think they are the supreme dictators of DNS, but if I don't want to recognize ICANN's .biz that they deliberately collided with OpenNIC, then it is my business!

      • Alternate roots are fine until you consider the problems caused to services like email with colliding MX records. Which is why we need to subvert ICANN rather than compete with it :-)
        • I do see your point--I agree that differing MX records would be a problem. No one wants misdirected mail, just ask the post office! ;-)

    • What is the purpose of domains?

      More specifically, what is the purpose of the ".com", ".net", or ".org"? These are 4 nearly useless characters in every URL...

      Are they meant to describe the type of group involved? They don't. Corporations own .org's and organizations grab .com's to keep from getting sued (suid ;) in the future.

      Are they meant to make web indexing easier? They don't. They are horribly inefficient and contrived. Indexing would be easier based on the first letter of the url than on this contrived system.

      Assuming latin alphanumerics, this gives 36 hashtable slots per character (46,656 for the first 3 characters); this compares quite favorably to the handful of slots in the current system. Instead of having a few central servers for each huge ".com", a normally indexed system could easily load balance and integrate new servers...

      _____
      The ideas in this post are hereby public domain.
    • Re:Too Late? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by demaria ( 122790 )
      "perhaps a .gnu is in order for open source projects, for instance."

      Every open source project gets a subdomain *.projects.gnu.org. Or *.opensource.org. Problem solved.
  • OpenNIC (Score:2, Interesting)

    You guys should take a look at OpenNIC [unrated.net], right now it's not under the influence of the corporate world and the open source community could build real and useful domain names (i.e. wine.oss for wine, slashdot.weblog, etc...)
    • Can someone explain this OpenNIC thing to me? I don't get it. And I can't read their FAQ, because it's in the ".glue" TLD!

      Sounds like a group who have set up alternative "top level" domain servers, in competition with the ones we all know and love. :-)

      And, no technical reason why not. But WHY?

      I would have thought that a universal namespace was an obviously desirable thing. If I understand it right, they hope that enough individuals and ISPs will switch over to their superset name space, and thereby create a defacto standard. Fat chance!

      I can't immagine anybody bothering to register with them. Would you rather your server be accessible within the (like-it-or-not) universal namespace, or only by specially configured clients or clients connecting from via selected ISPs?

      What am I missing here?
  • Domain names WANT to be free!
  • by Lardmonster ( 302990 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @07:12PM (#3709260)
    I don't care who runs .org, as long as I can keep using my .org just like I always did.

    I don't mind paying a few pounds (dollars!) per year to retain the right to 'tthew.org', but I do get worried when I hear stories about .org being taken off individuals and being issued exclusively to non-profit organisations.

    I'm not '.net'. I'm certainly not '.com'. And '.name' is just pants.

    • I try to refrain from "me too" posts but I can't help myself. If any changes are on the horizon how does it effect those of us who already have a .org domain? I have some years invested in this by now and though my use of .org may not have been what the founders intended it has become part of my online identity. (I know that doesn't mean much to anyone but me and the people I am in direct contact with.)

      I have to wonder how this would effect those of use who already paid our dimes.
  • NYT (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why doesn't /. start routing links to the New York Times through the random login generator?
  • The footer from my own site [eruvia.org], shamelessly nicked from someone else's site [bedazzled.org]:

    For it is said in the Book of Tao that it is better to .org than .com.

    Aaah, Grasshopper...

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • they should just bust out with free from tlds that anyone can setup.
  • dot org issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zangdesign ( 462534 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @09:17PM (#3709579) Journal
    OK, so these guys are qualified to run the registry - I won't dispute that.

    However, how does one determine who a dot org is? Non-profit status is determined by the government according to registration forms filed with the IRS. So, would one be required to show proof of non-profit status by filing a form with the registrar?

    Another question comes up: a protest group can be considered a de-facto non-profit organization, but it does not necessarily have to file with the IRS since it is not a formal organization. Do you allow protest groups to have their own namespace within the dot-org TLD?

    Which raises the interesting question of: what about individuals? I have my own website in the dot-com space, but I don't make any money off of it. So, I am a de-facto non-profit. Would I be eligible to purchase space in the dot-org domain?

    What about non-profits from other countries?
    How do you recompense the companies who are protecting their trademarks by keeping dot-orgs?

    This whole issue raises some really nasty questions that can only end in massive lawsuits.
  • I think the Internet domain name system should be regulated in such a way that everything is separated into well-defined hierarchies.

    First, domain names owned by any government agency, business or individual worldwide would be organized under a two letter country code corresponding to the country where the server is physically located. If someone or something has servers physically located in multiple countries, then and only then can they get a domain name that isn't organized under a country code (but the name itself would have to be identical).

    Domain names would further be organized by the type of services offered. So .com would apply to for-profit companies; .org to non-profit organizations ONLY; .edu to educational institutions, and I suppose something like .pri for private individual(s). I don't know if there's use for a .net, unless someone can define exactly what it's for. So a university in the U.S. would be something.edu.us. A university with servers in multiple countries would get something.edu, something.edu.us, something.edu.mx, etc. for all the countries involved. Or something like that. Then, the domain name holder subdivides their domain into various parts. And names are first-come, first served once again. Let people buy and sell domain names all they want, and I don't care what problems it brings up.

    Oh yeah, and get people used to the fact that websites aren't www.something.com. It's gonna be a pretty darn technological world soon (if it isn't already)... it's time for people to be a bit more educated and a lot less stupid. Ooooooooh well. Time for another Negra Modelo.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @09:29PM (#3709602) Journal
    Yes, it's nice that they'll be using open source tools to maintain the database, and while it's much more important that they keep the data in open data formats, what are most critical are who owns the data and who controls access to the data?. The kind of data we're dealing with here is fundamentally simple - lists of domain names, IP addresses, some kind of names and contact information about the owners, passwords or public keys for validating change requests, and maybe billing information.

    There are lots of kinds of tools that can manipulate it, and the only functions that have any excuse for needing special tools are the validation of change requests, and pretty much anybody who wants to run a name service can find cost-effective tools to run it on, whether they're open-source or not. There are closed-source tools that keep their data in non-open formats (ok, and open-source tools that keep their data in badly-documented formats :-), which may make it much more difficult for competing providers of registration service to use it, or for the Powers That Be to take back control of the registration space if whoever's running it does so unacceptably (regardless of whether the Bad Guys are the registration-mongers or the Powers) and for the real or claimed owners of the information to access the information in dispute resolutions, but that's mainly a problem if the registration-mongers aren't cooperating or if they're so incompetent that their database scribbles itself.

    But the real issues here are who controls reading, writing, and storing the data, and who owns it in case of disputes. Obviously there's a master copy (plus backups and transaction journaling) that's the Authoritative information, and the registration-mongers need to validate changes to it somehow. But is the whole database going to be totally open for wholesale reading (so spammers can download the whole whois database, and competing registration-monger-wannabees can also do so), or for record-at-a-time reading (so you can find contact information for the people who are spamming you), and will you be required to provide your True Name, True ICBM-and-Lojack Address, and Blood Type to the whois database, or will you only be required to provide some kind of working contact information? What are the privacy policies, and will you be able to use competiting registries with different privacy policies or only the One ICANN-Approved Registration-Monger-Imposed Central Policy?

    And who owns the intellectual property of the individual records and the collection of records? That's one thing that Network Solutions (or was it Verisign) did that really irked me, which was declaring that some parts of the DNS system were public information (the domain name and IP addresses), but that most of the rest was their private list of customers and billing information and didn't belong to ICANN or the Feds or the Internet-As-A-Whole-Community or whoever it was that the domain name system really belongs to.

  • Holy shit, I have a reflexive hatred for this guy. Am I knee-jerking here, or does anyone share that feeling?
  • by Karora ( 214807 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @04:27AM (#3710315) Homepage
    I am the lead architect for a new domain name registration system currently in development.

    Our client has publicly stated that when it is completed this software will be released under the GPL. That includes server software supporting geographically separate database replicas, and a full client implementation including management functionality.

    It would be interesting to see it used for the .org TLD - currently it is being developed for the .nz ccTLD, but the design is intended to allow for use in any other TLD.

  • Markoff's article is about Malamud & Vixie wanting to operate the registry for .org. Their bid is differentiated by their reputations and their promise to "public domain" the software needed to operate the registry.

    Many posts above are confusing the different entities of a domain REGISTRAR and a REGISTRY. There are now, what, hundreds of companies allowing you to register a domain. All these must pay a fee to and submit data to the top level domain registry. Presently for .net, .com, and .org VeriSign. The ICANN deal with VeriSign is to let them keep being the registry if they hand .org off to another company for administration (and pay out US$5M to cover costs). There is nothing about changing policies for who can register a .org. That all went out the window under NetworkSolutions' watch. If VeriSign had control of all three TLDs way back then the taxonomic enforcement that still exists in .edu might still exist as they specialized in reviewing cooporate profiles and documentation, i.e. SSL cert registries. But I digress...

    This is a lucrative deal for the bidder that can impress the ICANN board with their proposal. ICANN's RFP starts here...
    http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/
    and goes on and on and on. One interesting sub-page in there is the "model .org Registry Agreement"
    http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/model-registry-agmt. htm
    The organizational and technical requirements are strenuous. An adequate reply to this RFP sounds like a significant undertaking in and of itself!

    I used to work for Vixie and know Malamud by reputation. It is my opinion that the two of them could build excellent tools for for operating a registry. I could see other, new, registry operators adopting their tools in the and their paving the way for ICANN allotting more TLDs in the future.

    Note: the Markoff article mentions other bidders that have merit. One of which is a partnership with the Internet Society (http://www.isoc.org) and Afilias Global Registry Services (the .info folks). If they were to propose giving away their backend too I would surely use my ICANN At-Large membership to vote in their favor. Oh wait, ICANN At-Large memberships were never worth a shit and were dissolved...

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