domains and "nets"


POSTEL@USC-ISIB.ARPA
10 Jan 1986 23:23:19 PST


Domain names are supposed to be administrative and not related to
physical location, type of equipment, topology, or routing.

That the initial step in establishing domain name was to say that all
the existing hosts in the ARPA-Internet were in the .ARPA domain was
probably a mistake. It is too easy for people to think that the
".ARPA" stands for the ARPANET rather than the ARPA administration.
We probably should have called it ".TEMP" or ".OLD".

It is very tempting for each communication world (such as, UUCP,
CSNET, MAILNET, BITNET) to think of itself as a top level domain. And
most such entities probably meet the general requirements, and would
probably provide responsible management for the domain (maintaing the
databases, etc.).

But these entities really represent the managements of communication
systems. It does not really seem appropriate to me to have my name
depend on which communication system i am on, and it especially seems
wrong that i would have as many different names as communication
systems i subscribed to. For example, Berkeley participates in at
least the ARPA world, the UUCP world, the BITNET world, and the CSNET
world.

It seems much more reasonable to pick names that are independent of
the type of communication system, or protocols, or what ever technical
details are involved. The general domain names of EDU (for
Education), COM (for Commercial), etc, were chosen to be neutral. The
idea is that a place like Berkeley can choose a name like BERKELEY.EDU
and use that name in all the communication worlds it participates in.

The details of the domain name database structure make this possible,
and make possible the use of domain style names by hosts not directly
on the ARPA-Internet. There is indeed some work involved, but not
significantly more than is involved without the domain name system.

--jon.
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