ICANN, big business, and top-level domains

by Rob Flickenger

I'm really surprised nobody has written an open source tool to disrupt
this whole TLD silliness. It's very easy to set up your own TLDs in
BIND (I've already written about it at length.) With a tiny shim
program, it should be trivial to redirect requests for new, funky TLDs
to an arbitrary root server.

If such tools were widespread on Windows and OS X, that would completely disrupt the ICANN and all of this ".mobile" and ".aero" and ".name" silliness. Alternative root servers could come in vogue that provide a different way of mapping IP addresses to names. "Private" DNS servers could even be an antidote to the sue-'em-all-and-let-the-courts-sort-'em-out hysteria of preemptive intellectual property protection that currently dominates the domain name industry.

Think of the current domain resolution system as the phone comany's published phone book. While the phone book is certainly useful for looking up people and businesses, you probably don't carry it with you or consult it to look up the numbers of your friends and family. If you're like most people, you use a private phone book (or your personal mobile phone) for that.

If you could choose a new root name server for any number of arbitrary top level domains, then you could share the same view of name-to-number mappings as anyone else who also used that root server. Rather than a pyramid with the ICANN and traditional name servers at the summit, IP to name mapping would suddenly become peer to peer. It's the difference between sharing private phone lists between friends and enforcing one, true mapping of names to numbers called "the phone book".

Unfortunately, the few companies who have attempted this technique made it a proprietary service and foolishly tried to build a business on it. I guess that's why I can't remember any of their names. (Links, anyone? I know I've seen a couple of upstarts offering this service for a fee, complete with a proprietary resolver library...) IMHO, this business model is about as effective as trying to charge people money for maintaining their own personal information.

This functionality is already present in DNS, is fairly straightforward to bring about in Linux and BSD, and is just waiting for some enterprising person to enable it on the other major platforms. All we need is a simple, more flexible, open source resolver client.

Remember kids, the hierarchical appearance of the Internet is an illusion. It only seems to exist because people are afraid to change their default settings.

Are unrestricted TLDs a good idea, or does this herald the apocalypse of the Internet?


2004-03-14 20:19:20
Open Root Server Confederation