Domain names plan and schedule
RFC 881

Document Type RFC - Unknown (November 1983; No errata)
Updated by RFC 897
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                          J. Postel
Request for Comments: 881                                            ISI
                                                           November 1983

                   The Domain Names Plan and Schedule

This RFC outlines a plan and schedule for the implementation of domain
style names throughout the DDN/ARPA Internet community.  The
introduction of domain style names will impact all hosts on the DDN/ARPA

The Plan


      Domain style names are being introduced in the Internet to allow a
      controlled delegation of the authority and responsibility for
      adding hosts to the system.  This also allows a subdivision of the
      task of maintaining information about hosts.

      The subdivision will be based on administrative authority or
      organization boundaries (not necessarily network boundaries).
      Certain requirements will be placed on organizations wishing to be
      "top level" domains.  Initially, all the hosts in the Internet
      will be in the domain "ARPA".  As soon as is practical a second
      domain, "DDN", will be introduced.  Other domains may be added
      after that, provided the requirements listed below are met.

      Domain names will be supported in the long run by a system of
      special servers called "domain servers" which will be used to
      translate names to addresses.  While this system of domain servers
      is being created and programs are being converted to use them, the
      existing host tables will evolve to include domain style names.

      The domain server design also provides for mapping mailbox
      addresses to the host name of the mail server for that mailbox.
      This feature allows mailboxes to be related to an organization
      rather than to a specific host.

      This plan will be implemented in the ARPA community.  After the
      domain system is demonstrated in the ARPA community, the DDN
      Program Management Office (DDN-PMO) will determine the schedule
      for implementation of the domain system in the DDN community.
      This approach will cause some extra steps in the ARPA community
      implementation, and may limit communication between the ARPA and
      DDN communities in some ways.  The details and implications of
      this two phase approach are discussed more fully below.

Postel                                                          [Page 1]

RFC 881                                                    November 1983
The Domain Names Plan and Schedule                                      

   A Catch 22

      There is a problem in introducing domain style names: a great deal
      of software has to be changed.  Some groups would like to start
      using domain style names right away, and other groups don't want
      to see them or use them for a very long time.  Communication
      patterns are very complex and as soon as domain style names are
      allowed and used by a few groups they will start showing up almost
      everywhere.  This argues that everyone should be prepared for them
      before they are used at all.  However, we know that with people
      being people and with so many of people involved, the probability
      of everyone being ready in any reasonable time period is nearly
      zero.  The way out of this situation is to set up a reasonable
      schedule for experimenting with domain style names and authorizing
      their use.  People that get ready on schedule should have no
      problems with these names.

   Evolution of the Table

      Nearly all the hosts in the Internet now use some form of host
      table based on the master file "HOSTS.TXT" maintained by the
      Network Information Center (NIC).

      One way to introduce domain style names is to add to the entries
      in this table names in the domain style.  In particular, make the
      first name in each entry the official host name in the ARPA

         For example, the current entry for USC-ISIF is:

            HOST : : USC-ISIF,ISIF : DEC-1090T : TOPS20 :

         This could become:

            HOST : : USC-ISIF.ARPA,USC-ISIF,ISIF : DEC-1090T :

      For some hosts and programs this could be done today with no
      disruptions, but for others substantial problems could occur.  For
      example, with over five hundred entries in the table the addition
      of 500 names could exceed the space allocated to store the table
      in some programs.  (One could argue that these programs are going
      to blow up soon anyway as new host entries are added to the
      table.)  Another problem is that period (or dot, ".") is not now a
      legal character in host names and some programs may not be able to
      parse these new names.

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