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november 16, 2000 |
new top level domains

internet domain names

Each computer on the internet has their identifying number, the IP address. But the most easy way for people to locate computers and their resources on the Internet -as web sites or mailboxes- is assigning a name. A consistent name used for referring to resources is the "host name." The convention for host name is a name with structure indicated by dots. The last portion of a host name, the suffix, is the "domain," "domain name," or "top-level domain" to which the host belongs.

Up to last decision of ICANN, the three-letter top-level domains (TLDs) were .com, .net, .org, .edu, .int, .mil and .gov. In addition, there are two-letter top-level domains for each country (ccTLDs), based on the ISO 3166-1 two-letter country codes, and a special domain .ARPA which currently contains some Internet infrastructure databases.

the domain name system or dns

"Is a distributed Internet directory service. DNS is used mostly to translate between domain names and IP addresses, and to control Internet email delivery. Most Internet services rely on DNS to work, and if DNS fails, web sites cannot be located and email delivery stalls." From *DNS Resources Directory*

how dns works

The domain name system is an internet protocol and a global network of servers around the world, running DNS software -the most popular program is BIND-. This servers contains a distributed database of host names and their corresponding IP addresses, which computers on the Net use to communicate with each other. At the top of the DNS tree-structured database are the "root name servers" for each of the top-level domains.

If one DNS server doesn't know a particular domain name, it asks another one, and so on, until the correct IP address is returned. This queries are known as "Name Resolution."

dns origin

"Hosts in the ARPA Internet (were) registered with the Network Information Center (NIC) and listed in a global table (available as the file HOSTS.TXT on the SRI-NIC host). The size of this table, and especially the frequency of updates to the table are near the limit of manageability. What is needed is a distributed database that performs the same function, and hence avoids the problems caused by a centralized database." *Paul Mockapetris, Request for Comments 882*.

dns history

Paul Mockapetris designed DNS in 1984 to solve escalating problems with the old name-to-address mapping system. "A major shift occurred as a result of the increase in scale of the Internet and its associated management issues. To make it easy for people to use the network, hosts were assigned names, so that it was not necessary to remember the numeric addresses. Originally, there were a fairly limited number of hosts, so it was feasible to maintain a single table of all the hosts and their associated names and addresses. The shift to having a large number of independently managed networks meant that having a single table of hosts was no longer feasible, and the Domain Name System was invented by Paul Mockapetris of USC/ISI. The DNS permitted a scalable distributed mechanism for resolving hierarchical host names (e.g. www.acm.org) into an Internet address." From *A brief history of the internet*.

administration of domains

DNS is a hierarchical, administratively controlled namespace. New suffixes have been under consideration since the mid-1990, but disputes remained over how many, which ones and who gets to register new names. You can follow mostly part of this dispute in the *Domain Name Systems Information and Press Releases*.

"The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a technical coordination body for the Internet. Created in October 1998 by a broad coalition of the Internet's business, technical, academic, and user communities, ICANN is assuming responsibility for a set of technical functions previously performed under U.S. government contract by IANA and other groups. Specifically, ICANN coordinates the assignment of the following identifiers that must be globally unique for the Internet to function: Internet domain names, IP address numbers, protocol parameter and port numbers. In addition, ICANN coordinates the stable operation of the Internet's root server system." From *ICANN Home Page*.

multilingual domain names

"Until now, domain names have been restricted to a subset of the Roman character set (A to Z), the digits 0 through 9, and a few punctuation symbols. Non-Roman domain names have already crept into the Internet via smaller operators. For example, i-DNS Inc., based at the National University of Singapore, has developed technology to offer domain names -- including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, and Thai. So how do users type in such domain names? They work in the appropriate Unicode character set, which is translated into a conventional ASCII numerical address at the domain name registry level, according to i-DNS. The only requirement is that the user has an Internet service provider with an i-DNS-compatible name server, or sets up the Internet account to use i-DNS's own name server. i-DNS also offers software that converts the Unicode address to the corresponding ASCII domain name at the client end. In this way, i-DNS is backward-compatible with DNS, according to the company, whose technology is being used by other ventures to sell domain names in a variety of character sets." From *Building The Tower Of Babel: The Web Goes Truly Global By Barnaby Page, TechWeb News*.

VeriSign announced that its Network Solutions domain name registration division began registering multilingual domain names -Chinese, Japanese and Korean language domain names- for the first time in a multilingual testbed. *Network Solutions' Registrar Offers Multilingual Domain Names for the First Time, November 10, 2000*. Inmediately, China's Ministry of Information Industry vests the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) with sole authority over registration of Chinese-character domain names.

"The Internet Society strongly urges caution in the execution of activity regarding the use of non-English character sets for the registration of domain names. The Society further urges all parties to allow the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) working group on internationalized domain names to complete its work, before allowing the public to register such names." From *Domain Names Complicated by Non-English Character Sets*, November 8, 2000, ISOC's Press Release.

what comes next, after dns?

"The Internet is going through an identity crisis," said Bob Metcalfe. "DNS was never intended for today's purposes - it's a simple address intended to lighten the administrative burdens of finding things on the Internet. Higher-level locating and searching, based on content, subject or company names should have long ago mooted the DNS system." From *Internet pundit Bob Metcalfe calls for new web addressing system as part of his agenda for 2001*


A new web addressing system atop the existing DNS is being introduced by RealNames Corporation. Their keyword technology is a Web addressing and navigation system that uses common names in place of URL Web addresses. The system is designed to conform to emerging IETF standards known as Common Name Resolution Protocol (CNRP) and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI). "Internet Keywords overcome the limitations of URL Web addresses because they support local language character sets with Unicode, extend easily to new Web-enabled devices, handle diverse types of data beyond text and pages, scale globally as resources are added to the network, are more efficient in their use of bandwidth, and present an intuitive, user-friendly interface to consumers." RealNames' plan would be an entirely private name registration system, compared with the current semi-privatized domain name system. *RealNames announces move to open registry for its keyword system* .

name spaces in peer-to-peer infrastructure

"Any system that translates names into Internet numbers is a name space. Napster is a name space: When you register on Napster, you assign a name to your computer. When another Napster user wants to communicate with you, the Napster server translates this name into the Internet address of your computer. The Napster server acts as a name server and a search engine, all using proprietary protocols. (The underlying protocols are, of course, the standard Internet protocols.) Users sign up on a Napster server with whatever name they want to use. Registration is instant, free, and requires no contact or other personal information. Napster shows no interest in the trademark issues that have roiled the DNS world, and has no quasi-judicial process to settle name disputes: The first mover gets the name. Even if you don't have a permanent IP address, you can still register on Napster and play, after a fashion. Napster's search engine searches this name space and links to files, all using proprietary protocols. Napster's chat service also uses this space." From *"Napster: Popular Program Raises Devilish Issues" by Erik Nilsson*
imgnew dns
icann announces selections for new top level domains

:: references
DNS Resources Directory
RFC 882
A brief history of the internet
Domain Name Systems Information and Press Releases
ICANN Home Page
Building The Tower Of Babel:
The Web Goes Truly Global By Barnaby Page, TechWeb News
Network Solutions' Registrar Offers Multilingual Domain Names
Domain Names Complicated by Non-English Character Sets
Internet pundit Bob Metcalfe calls for new web addressing system
as part of his agenda for 2001
<http://web.realnames.com//Virtual.asp?page=Eng_Corporate_PressRelease_1 02500>
RealNames announces move to open registry for its keyword system
Napster: Popular Program Raises Devilish Issues" by Erik Nilsson

:: image
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