When you are self-hosting, some problem appears once : which domain name you can use, and therefor which registrar to select.
DNS being the masterkey to internet, it is not surprising how internet business is awful.
One can find the best of the worst of the absurd and awful.
I am going to talk about Bullshit Bingo, Euro, languages, tax fraud.
NB : This article is mostly targeted at people with good knowledge of internet and DNS. Purists will excuse me (or not…), I use the designations tld and register for the same concept. For what it matters, difference is almost non visible to us.
What is a registrar ?
The DNS is organised in a hierarchic tree (for a finer description of it, you may read the wikipedia article): root zone -> tld -> domain -> sub-domain. Each of this level has its own name servers indicated in the upper level.
So each tld should contain the addresses of name servers which are authoritarian for each of their domains.
A registrar is actually a technical interface, or intermediary, between the persons who register a domain (who rent it, might be an accurate formulation) and the organisation which maintains the tld and its name servers. This is its sole and only role (including glue records and DS registration in the so called name servers).
The fact is that, as of many intermediary, we would really like to avoid it !
How to chose a registrar ?
The various registers (organisations which maintains tld) might have a list of accredited registrars on their website. If the corporation X is accredited registrar for .eu, it does not mean it is also for the .dk, none the less for the .ph (Phillipines). Or it can provide you some interesting features for such tld but not for this other one that you are interested in too.
There is another problem in the registrars system : only enterprises can be registrars. Conditions to be a registrar are very hard to reach (servers synchronised in perfect conditions in several physical points, etc…). But probably the hardest is the financial condition : one has to pay a deposit of 10 000 X, where X is the country’s monetary unit. That means no not-for-profit organisation could really become a registrar. It could have the best IT engineers in its members, and thus being at the top of skills and efficiency, but it won’t ever be able to simply lock out 10 000 € (or anything else) to have nothing actual but the right to declare domains.
That means only businesses can be registrars. And you have to be a client of such, meaning you cannot ask for sanity, look at the way it’s being run, what are their process, you cannot be in the process. And you have to go through Bullshit Bingo.
A lot of businesses start on internet, sort of libertarian far-west. And we see here limits to free market : there is a lot of bullshit. That is one of the several reason I am wary about anything that works for profit.
What I mean is that a lot of those services will promise you everything at an absurd level, with no accuracy or concern for your actual needs or wishes, nor pragmatic things (like a good ipv6 deployment for ex.).
Yes, we have a solution for all you need, at a fair price. You will obviously choose us, because, who else ? Come one, we are only the best ! Yes, our technicians and engineers are pro, our servers are located on all continents including Antarctica, no one knows, maybe penguins are looking for you ! No matter what, we plan to set a server on the moon. Next step.
But there is nothing like good doc. Sometimes, it’s hard to understand what they really do or charge for, nor prices.
So, how much is it? And you do like… ? Ok, you don’t know yourself!
Quite often, you get the general quality of the service only when you signed up, with no way of getting back your money.
This little package thing
So, actually, you might understand that their activity as registrars is just some “side business”. Most of the time, their main business remains web hosting. They might also host VPS or physical servers.
But to do this, they need to provide domain names to their clients, which price is either integrated transparently or really cheap in the package. Package which actually you don’t want to use ! You are self-hosted. And quite often, the registrar has not figured it out : that you might manage and run all of this on your own.
This criteria is called self-hosting friendly.
My domain is secured with DNSSEC. But to use it, you need to publish keys or key hashs (DS records) along the NS : in the upper layer of the hierarchy, aka in the tld zone itself.
So, the registrar has to have some technical ways to register DS records in the tld. And that is quite rare. You can also have the case where the registrar itself manage your keys.
The .dk tld chose a weird way to deal with that: to register DNSSEC keys, you have to log on the register’s website itself (dk-hostmaster.dk). I can also register name servers and pay the next bills here.
Here we are : as soon as I have created my domain 22december.dk, I could have forget about the registrar. Awesome how useless that can be ! (Actually, the only other good thing with my current registrar is that they provide a free NS backup).
Money and languages
Internet money and language is a trouble. As soon as a business begins to grown out of its national market on the net, it will use one or another international monetary units and language.
But my bank account is in danish kroner. One can always blame the monetary system : Divide to rule opposed to the Relative Theory of Money. But the fact is that you have to live in this world, here and now. My salary comes in DKK and my rent and bills as well. No way I get them in euros, bitcoins, or any other system I might like.
So, if I receive a bill for 10 €, but my bank account is charged for 80 DKK, I got a problem. Because 10 € is 75 DKK. It is more or less a question of principle : I definitely prefer to pay with the monetary unit I own. Too easy to get screwed by any middleman, whoever it may be.
On this side, Euro is a good thing. Because 10 euros, french or german, that is 10 euros. Not 10 euros plus a transaction fee.
What about this tax fraud you said about ?
Yes. Just to remind you of it. Some internet business don’t pay taxes !
For example, if I am using Gandi, I am going to pay french VAT, whereas at GratisDNS I will pay the danish one, so I will contribute to the respective tax system, and ultimately to european society and welfare at large.
But GoDaddy, biggest registrar in the world, I don’t know if it pays any taxes, but it sure doesn’t do it in Europe. Same as CloudFlare.
Something else : I think it is fair you pay taxes in your tld’s country. .dk holders should pay danish taxes if they earn money on their website. Denmark has a solution : NemID. To have a NemID, you have to be a danish citizen, live legally in Denmark or being a danish registered business. Meaning if you have a NemID, you are on the danish tax system. So actually, having a .dk domain should be validated via your NemID, ensuring you are a good contributor to the danish society.
NemID has also the good side of allowing you not to use one more password. I hate passwords.
By the way, one can think that the recent creation of a hundred new *tld*s of weird inspiration could be seen as a way to escape tax.
The tld work, social or name give sense. But beer or bar ?
The best and the one I recommand if you can have.
Very self-hosted friendly, you can run your whole domain on your own and just add your NS and your DNSSEC key.
And then you manage the rest at home, like an adult.
They provide NS backup too, you can mail them, all the good things.
I like their slogan : no bullshit. It’s so true. You truly think stupid of internet (and the world) economics when a business says:
We will just do our job fine, without trouble for you, nothing more, nothing less.
They have good doc in french and english. Apparently in spanish too.
Only one bad thing (on my side) : you can pay in €, $, CHF or £, but not in my own currency.
French web giant. You can pay with them in € or $.
I began to run my domain with them. They were not really self-hosted friendly as I remember. I don’t know if it has changed.
Quite popular domain hoster in Denmark. They provide NS backup as well. Here you pay in DKK.
But the doc is quite bad, and the general design of the website is weird (It is orange ! You have to modify your settings by using their whois page.)
Beside, it is quite self-hosting friendly, except from one point : you cannot manage DNSSEC keys on your own, except on a .dk domain. If you want to use DNSSEC on a .eu for example, they will run the keys. Bad.
CloudFlare is, like GoDaddy, quite famous in the club, serious reputation with servers all around the world.
Bad thing is: you don’t know what currency you pay with, nor the prices. Generally, if I have to search more than 5 minutes to have the price of something simple I need, then I quite. Don’t play Bullshit Bingo.
Biggest player in the field. They have a good doc in every know language I am aware of (don’t talk about elfic or klingonese). You can also pay with them in your own currency.
They are apparently self-hosting friendly, and allow dnssec use.
But, as said before, they don’t pay taxes in Europe.