Alternative DNS root
The Internet uses the Domain Name System (DNS) to associate the names of computers with their numeric IP addresses and with other information. The top level of the domain name hierarchy, the DNS root, contains the top-level domains that appear as the suffixes of all Internet domain names. The official DNS root is administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In addition, several organizations operate alternative DNS roots, often referred to as alt roots. These alternative domain name systems operate their own root nameservers and administer their own specific name spaces consisting of custom top-level domains.
The DNS root zone consists of pointers to the authoritative domain name servers for all TLDs (top-level domains). The root zone is hosted on a collection of root servers operated by several organizations around the world that all use a specific, approved list of domains that is managed by ICANN. By contrast, alternative roots typically include pointers to all of the TLD servers for domains delegated by ICANN, as well as name servers for other, custom top-level domains that are not sanctioned by ICANN. Some alternate roots are operated by the organizations that manage these alternative TLDs.
Alternative DNS roots may be characterized broadly as those run for idealistic or ideological reasons, run as profit-making enterprises, and those run internally by an organization for its own use.. During the dot-com boom, some alternate root providers[who?] believed that there were substantial profits to be made from providing alternative top-level domains.. Some of the Internet Community have seen alternative DNS roots as beneficial to the Internet, and have run them in protest of centralized DNS control. Zach Bastick proposes that alternative DNS roots have allowed for more democratic control of the Internet:
"The implementation of alternative gTLDs predates any significant debate on name space extension
by official actors, and this exemplifies how democratising the DNS alters the pace of developing Internet policy, the nature of decisions that justify that policy development, and political dynamicsand user autonomy in the network infrastructure." (p.103)
While technically trivial to set up, the maintenance of a reliable root server network is a serious undertaking. In order for the system to be effective, multiple servers must be run continuously without interruption in geographically diverse locations. Only a small portion of Internet service providers actually use any of the domains served by alternate root operators, generally supporting only ICANN-sanctioned root servers. This has led to the commercial failure of several alternative DNS root providers.
A top-level domain with the name biz, created by Pacific Root, was in operation before ICANN approved the official domain biz, operated by Neulevel. For some time after the creation of the official domain, several alternate roots continued to resolve the name to Pacific Root's servers rather than Neulevel's. Therefore, some domain names existed in different roots and pointed to different IP addresses. The possibility of such conflicts, and their potential for destabilizing the Internet, is the main source of controversy surrounding alternate roots. Many of the alternate roots[who?] try to coordinate with each other, but many do not, and no conflict resolution processes exist between them.
List of alternative roots
This section lists the known alternate DNS roots.
Active alternate root zones
NameCoin P2P DNS
Namecoin top-level domains are not managed by any single organization. Every Namecoin peer has a database copy. Forced work is used to prevent squatting and other kinds of abuse. Namecoin software allows domain registration under any top-level domain, but only .bit top-level domain is currently supported. Users may either use alternative DNS, DNS suffix, gateway, browser plugin or install Namecoin software and gain independent authentic view of namespace. In the latter case, Namecoin domains can't be disabled or transferred by an authority.
about.namespace.org — name.space
Name.Space was founded in 1996 and is a supplemental root that resolves the legacy root managed by ICANN as well as hundreds of other top-level domains. Name.Space used crowd sourcing to originate zones based on user demand. Some of the zones managed by Name.Space include: .ART, .BOOKS, .CHAT, .DESIGN, .FILM, .GREEN, .HELP, .INC, .LAW, .MUSIC, .NEWS, .PRESS, .RADIO, .SHOP, .TALK, .UNION, .VIDEO, .WORLD, and .ZONE.
Open Root Server Network
ORSN— a mirror of the ICANN root; terminated 31 December 2008. Restarted on June 2013
Inactive alternate root zones
AlterNIC ceased operation in 1997.
biz— General business use
corp— For use by corporations
fam— For and about family
k12— For and about children
npo— Non-profit organizations
per— Personal Domain Name services
web— Web-based sites (Web pages)
New.net was enabled via a DNS hijacker application, usually bundled with legitimate software. The top-level domains New.net provided include: .agent, .arts, .auction, .chat, .church, .club, .family, .free, .game, .golf, .inc, .law, .llc, .llp, .love, .ltd, .med, .mp3, .school, .scifi, .shop, .soc, .sport, .tech, and .video. At one point it offered .travel, .kids, and .xxx but those were removed when they conflicted with domains proposed to ICANN in the first round of creation of new domain names in the primary root since the early history of the DNS. Alternate access to domains registered under New.net's alternative TLDs is provided by third level domains under the new.net domain name space (e.g., example.shop is really example.shop.new.net). As of early 2012, New.net seems to have ceased operation, as the web site "new.net" is no longer resolving.
One of the notable challengers to ICANN's control of the DNS namespace was Open RSC, a group that grew out of private discussions and developed into a public mailing list. It grew large enough that the group decided to submit an application to the United States government to run the DNS.
ORSC publishes a root zone containing additional top level domains not found in the official root zone:
per— personal pages
web— for the Web
shop— online shops
pickle— funny name
sco— for Scottish culture
- RFC 2826 (informational), IAB Technical Comment on the Unique DNS Root, Internet Architecture Board, The Internet Society (May 2000), Quote: "There is no getting away from the unique root of the public DNS." (page 5)
- Bastick, Zach (2012). "Our Internet and Freedom of Speech ‘Hobbled by History’: Introducing Plural Control Structures Needed to Redress a Decade of Linear Policy". European Commission: European Journal of ePractice. Policy lessons from a decade of eGovernment, eHealth & eInclusion (15): 97–111.
- "Name.Space Vote for the new gTLDs". namespace.org. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
- "Generic Top-Level Domains (new gTLDs) by NAME.SPACE". namespace.org. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
- Rodger, Will (February 1997). "Schism hits Domain Name System". Inter@ctive Week 4 (5). Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- "Rogue domains revolt". CNET. 1997-03-04. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
- "ORSC proposal of 8 October 1998". Ntia.doc.gov. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
- "ORSC bylaws". Ntia.doc.gov. Archived from the original on 21 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
- "ORSC articles of incorporation". Ntia.doc.gov. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
- "NTIA Reviewing ICANN November 6 Submission". Ntia.doc.gov. Archived from the original on 8 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-06.