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Who owns all domains?

I know that sites such as GoDaddy sell domain names. Where do they obtain these domain names to sell?

What I am asking is:

The internet is just one big network right? I have to pay for the domains that I use, but what service am I actually paying for? The domain (if so, how does this site actually own this), or am I paying for the services that GoDaddy provides (as a DNS server)?

Could I host my own DNS server to give myself free domains?

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marked as duplicate by Kyle, Sathya Apr 26 '11 at 14:39

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Except I posted hat =P –  Xan Apr 26 '11 at 2:44

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The internet is a hierarchical tree system.

The root of the internet is "."

Below this are the "top level" domains - delegated to each country. These are managed by by a registrar in each country.

These registrars then sell sub-domains to resellers, who then sell them on to you.

When you do a DNS lookup it goes like this:

  1. Look up the servers for "."
  2. Use those servers to look up the top level domain (com.) DNS servers
  3. Use the servers for the TLD to look up your domain's (example.com.) DNS servers
  4. Contact your DNS servers for the IP address etc (www.example.com.)

If your domain isn't in that chain (i.e., if the country registrar don't know about it) then you won't be able to access it outside of your own network.

The service you are paying for is the ability to have the domain part of the internet's name tree.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_nameserver explains it better than I can.

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You cannot. You don't have access to the root servers. Only the registrars can do that. –  Majenko Apr 25 '11 at 18:19
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No, it's because there is only one root. You cannot have 2 roots. –  Majenko Apr 25 '11 at 18:23
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The fact that it is the root defines it as the root. The internet is physically a network, but domain names are a tree. A tree has a root. One root. You cannot have two roots, full stop. Once you have a valid domain, sub-domains within that domain are free - you just add them to your DNS servers (and yes, you can delegate subdomains to other people). www.myfriend.mydomain.com would be free under mydomain.com if you already own mydomain.com –  Majenko Apr 25 '11 at 18:27
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The ICANN is the body which approves new top-level domains like .com and .org and who also run the root nameservers. There are alternate Domain Name Systems out there but they don't have nearly a fraction of a percent the adoption of The DNS. –  Andrew Lambert Apr 25 '11 at 18:29
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@Amazed Without 100% adoption an alternative is pointless. –  Majenko Apr 25 '11 at 18:32

On the public Internet, you want to make it clear who controls a given domain name, and who controls a given IP address, to avoid confusion and monkey business. Domain registrars are licensed, and there's a hierarchy of authority up to ICANN and IANA. There are a limited number of top level domains (.com, .info, .uk, etc.) but an unlimited number of subdomains.

On a private network, however, you can do as you please. You can set up your own domain name server, and use any arbitrary domain name you like, so long as it isn't exposed to the public Internet. Setting up a network this way is fairly easy and common.

You could, for instance, use on your LAN the IP addresses set aside for private use, such as 192.168/16, set up a name server that associates each IP address in use with a domain name ending in .example, and have each host use your name server as its primary DNS.

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