non-Internet net name domains

Mon 6 Jan 86 01:18:45-PST

An article in a recent CSNET-FORUM Digest concerns some practical
issues for extending name domains to cover CSNET. CSNET
consists of a small part which runs TCP/IP protocols and a much
larger part which provides mail-only service using the switched
telephone network and modems to reach a central relay machine.
I'm concerned because of the references to permission
from NIC to establish a domain which is apparently being denied.
I can see a possibility for the establishment of a CSNET domain
being the right thing to do, just as I can for another CSNET-like
entity with which I am associated, but which is just in the formation
stage. For that reason I hope passing this article along
might encourage some input to this decision and these


Date: 10 Dec 85 11:18:03 EST (Tue)
From: Craig Partridge <craig@loki.ARPA>
To: Chris Johnson <JOHNSON%northeastern.csnet@CSNET-SH.ARPA>
Subject: domains, subdomains ... etc ...


    Dick Edmiston forwarded your note on this subject to me.

> ... I recently sent mail
> to > to HOSTMASTER@SRI-NIC regarding domain names and was told that you and
> they were currently working out a plan for domain names on CSNet. True?

    Yes this is correct. We are to meet with them in January to
try to iron things out. They have told us they do not want to support
a CSNET specific domain, such as .csnet or By implication
this means that they'd like CSNET sites registered just like Internet
sites (so your domain would be something like NU.EDU).

    This is perfectly feasible, even though your host is not on
the Internet. The domain system stores mail routing information as
well as network addresses, and we can set things up so that all
mail to hosts in NU.EDU get forwarded (transparently) to the
CSNET relay. In some ways, this would be rather nice. For example,
your mail address would become JOHNSON@NU.EDU (or something close)
everywhere... No more CSNET vs. ARPANET addresses. Oh yes,
final authority on names rests with the NIC.

    Now for the kicker. For this to work, someone has to run a
domain server on the Internet for NU.EDU. It is not clear that
this is practical. Imagine the problems of trying to list all
the hosts at all the PhoneNet sites and keeping those databases
up to date. To make things worse, the NIC currently requires TWO
independent servers so that if one goes down, your domain doesn't
suddenly go off into the great black void. There are some compromise
positions available, but it isn't clear that people like them. For
example, we can set up your domain such that any mail addressed to
anyhost in NU.EDU gets sent to you to sort out. This means you
get to handle mail with invalid hostnames (like BAD.NU.EDU) at your
end. It is not clear that this is desirable.

    We are currently working on the assumptions that (1) naming
will be the way I describe above (you'll be NU.EDU, or whatever the
NIC approves), and that (2) CSNET will try to provide domain server
facilities for PhoneNet sites. Neither of these decisions is carved
in stone. We'll know much more after the January meeting.

    I'm sorry if this all sounds a bit fuzzy. The conversion to
domains throughout the Internet is going slower than anticipated.
We have only recently gotten reliable domain server software and
it still has misfeatures. None of the major mailers knows about
domains yet, though there are beta releases of both MMDFII and
Sendmail that are currently being tested. This all makes it very
hard to talk with absolute certainty about the future state of
mail software in the domain world.

    Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Craig Partridge
CSNET Technical Staff


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