Network Working Group Internet Architecture Board Request for Comments: 2826 May 2000 Category: Informational IAB Technical Comment on the Unique DNS Root Status of this Memo This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this memo is unlimited. Copyright Notice Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000). All Rights Reserved. Summary To remain a global network, the Internet requires the existence of a globally unique public name space. The DNS name space is a hierarchical name space derived from a single, globally unique root. This is a technical constraint inherent in the design of the DNS. Therefore it is not technically feasible for there to be more than one root in the public DNS. That one root must be supported by a set of coordinated root servers administered by a unique naming authority. Put simply, deploying multiple public DNS roots would raise a very strong possibility that users of different ISPs who click on the same link on a web page could end up at different destinations, against the will of the web page designers. This does not preclude private networks from operating their own private name spaces, but if they wish to make use of names uniquely defined for the global Internet, they have to fetch that information from the global DNS naming hierarchy, and in particular from the coordinated root servers of the global DNS naming hierarchy.
- The existence of a common symbol set, and - The existence of a common semantic interpretation of these symbols. Failure to meet the first condition implies a failure to communicate at all, while failure to meet the second implies that the meaning of the communication is lost. In the case of a public communications system this condition of a common symbol set with a common semantic interpretation must be further strengthened to that of a unique symbol set with a unique semantic interpretation. This condition of uniqueness allows any party to initiate a communication that can be received and understood by any other party. Such a condition rules out the ability to define a symbol within some bounded context. In such a case, once the communication moves out of the context of interpretation in which it was defined, the meaning of the symbol becomes lost. Within public digital communications networks such as the Internet this requirement for a uniquely defined symbol set with a uniquely defined meaning exists at many levels, commencing with the binary encoding scheme, extending to packet headers and payload formats and the protocol that an application uses to interact. In each case a variation of the symbol set or a difference of interpretation of the symbols being used within the interaction causes a protocol failure, and the communication fails. The property of uniqueness allows a symbol to be used unambiguously in any context, allowing the symbol to be passed on, referred to, and reused, while still preserving the meaning of the original use. The DNS fulfills an essential role within the Internet protocol environment, allowing network locations to be referred to using a label other than a protocol address. As with any other such symbol set, DNS names are designed to be globally unique, that is, for any one DNS name at any one time there must be a single set of DNS records uniquely describing protocol addresses, network resources and services associated with that DNS name. All of the applications deployed on the Internet which use the DNS assume this, and Internet users expect such behavior from DNS names. Names are then constant symbols, whose interpretation does not specifically require knowledge of the context of any individual party. A DNS name can be passed from one party to another without altering the semantic intent of the name. Since the DNS is hierarchically structured into domains, the uniqueness requirement for DNS names in their entirety implies that each of the names (sub-domains) defined within a domain has a unique
meaning (i.e., set of DNS records) within that domain. This is as true for the root domain as for any other DNS domain. The requirement for uniqueness within a domain further implies that there be some mechanism to prevent name conflicts within a domain. In DNS this is accomplished by assigning a single owner or maintainer to every domain, including the root domain, who is responsible for ensuring that each sub-domain of that domain has the proper records associated with it. This is a technical requirement, not a policy choice.
DNSSEC], but a similar out-of-band configuration problem exists for the cryptographic signature key to the root zone, so the root zone still requires tight coupling and coordinated management even in the presence of DNSSEC.
correct names for a particular purpose to be unique DNS names that are then resolved normally, rather than having directory systems "replace" the DNS. There is no getting away from the unique root of the public DNS. [DNS-CONCEPTS] Mockapetris, P., "Domain Names - Concepts and Facilities", STD 13, RFC 1034, November 1987. [DNS-IMPLEMENTATION] Mockapetris, P., "Domain Names - Implementation and Specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, November 1987. [DNSSEC] Eastlake, D., "Domain Name System Security Extensions", RFC 2535, March 1999.
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