Free Hosted DNS (LP09)

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Give All Who Download and Install Free Network Applications the Ability to Provide Dynamic DNS Services.

Change the Game

This should be a part of every free-as-in-freedom network service application.

I'm hoping that you geeks will get it immediately. It's a no-brainer once you see it. And it might be just what free software needs to give their goals an edge in the network services space, that is enormously compelling, politically as well as technically.

There is a very strong argument to be made for this -- I just can't articulate it very well yet, as I've just discovered this conference this morning.

If you have a name for your machine, and if you provide your friends names, then you want to put whatever specific services you want on your own machine, for people to find there -- and you want to teach your friends to use the names you've given them (first referencing the service on your machine, then teaching them how they can do the same by installing the application on their own machines)

I've long maintained that the key to getting users on board with setting up their own applications and "getting into" the idea of providing services from their own machines as servers, would be to give them the sense of ownership of their own machine, and of being able to provide a sense of identity to those they know and associate with, that providing BIND and dynamic DNS services from their own machine would give them.

This would also reassert -- very strongly -- the way the Internet is supposed to work.

In a sense, it would in some ways be very similar in effect to having "independent" ISPs again -- to a lesser degree, perhaps, but it would reassert autonomy profoundly.

Everybody should have BIND.

What I'm talking about is first registering a domain name for your machine's instance of some server-based application (, and then the application can provide users the ability to create their own domain based on that: ( The first part can be done with "traditional" DNS registration; but we should also empower everybody with the second part.

If, for instance, all the decentralized file search applications (often called "P2P filesharing") provided a switch to turn on the ability to give others a dynamic DNS hosted off of their own machine's DNS, the entire discourse would be fundamentally shifted, and you would instantly have a keyed-in constituency in all those "consumers" who presently just turn on a shared directory of files.

The first thing you want when you have a domain name is a service at that domain. So first, the top level domain feature, while normal enough, makes users value their own hosting. That's a somewhat unnoticed side effect of having a domain name as such. Without a domain, you may never get the itch -- you can just access other sites, become an anonymous node, etc.

But second, with the dynamic DNS option, all of the people who access such an autonomously run self-hosted free service would understand that this application is giving this to them -- and they can always download that same application and do the same on their own machines! The service can also work in such a way that visitors get a Dynamic DNS that points at their own machines in the first instance, as part of how the service works. Either way is cool.

And in addition, of course, owners of their own machines acting as servers would all get a taste of the freedom of running their own application, but also of the special contribution of being able to provide names to others.

Get past the concern about anonymity that's associated with the particular category of "P2P filesharing" apps -- this changes the game, and you can always provide the same "principled" features (users should be able to turn on or turn off file serving), except now for Dynamic DNS (provide the option to enter your top level domain name into a slot or not; provide an option to turn on or turn off hosting dynamic domain names).

But this dynamic DNS option should be a part of every single free-as-in-freedom server application that an individual can download and host off of their own machine, not just decentralized search engines/"P2P filesharing" apps.

I cannot stress this enough. Please start with a mission to make every free network application empower users with the ability to provide this service through their own machine, to any of their peers on the Internet.

Seth Johnson