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This month's answers created by:

[ Ben Okopnik, Rick Moen ]
...and you, our readers!

Editor's Note

These are the e-mail exchanges that lead to Rick Moen's Domain Expiration article in LG142 (http://linuxgazette.net/142/moen.html)

Our Mailbag

V. 3.2 results on all possible domains

Rick Moen [rick at linuxmafia.com]

Tue, 14 Aug 2007 14:55:33 -0700

I wrote to Ben, early Monday:

> OK, I've finished testing all 270 TLDs.

271. As an extreme oddity, it turns out that .arpa is both a valid TLD and serves up meaningful port-43 WHOIS data. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.arpa (DNS admins know .arpa from their reverse-DNS zonefiles, but there are other portions of the namespace.)

However, .arpa's WHOIS data lacks expiration dates, FWIW.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Generic_top-level_domains points out a variety of other wacky valid TLDs and proposed TLDs, but none other than .arpa is both valid and serves WHOIS data.

My favourite of the wacky TLDs is .root, described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrsn-end-of-zone-marker-dummy-record.root

> As noted, .my, .tk, and .tw aren't yet handled, but can be.

Ben, no hurry, but any time you can tweak the regexes for those three final additions, it would be good.

Other readers: http://linuxmafia.com/pub/linux/network/domain-check-testdata has notes, and the latest release of domain-check is in that directory.

[ Thread continues here (6 messages/8.33kB) ]

Domain auto-renew mechanisms

Rick Moen [rick at linuxmafia.com]

Mon, 6 Aug 2007 15:32:50 -0700

I figured this will be of general interest. Ben and I (with Ben doing the real work) have been working, off and on, on a scriptable mechanism for checking a list of Internet domains for impending expirations, and then do some sort of appropriate notification. Ben's Perl script, "domain-check", for this purpose relies on the commodity open-source client for the TCP port 43 "WHOIS" information service, offered by most domain registries.

We've run into a fascinating tangle of complications, most of them (primarily) non-technical. It's been a lovely case study in all of the manifold ways that the interface between people and automated systems can go wrong.

Domain registrars (typically) don't want their customers' domains to expire: That leads to loss of business, after all -- though most are pleased to put expired domains in a "held" state for a while, in which one can ransom them back for significant money. Registrars have a few ways to help customers avoid accidental expiration: One of them is called "auto-renew". With this feature enabled for one's domain (now a default setting at many registrars), the registrar will attempt to charge a renewal fee to the customer's credit card of record, at some time prior to -- or exactly at -- the time of expiration.

Most registrars' implementation of that idea involves, say, three successive attempts to charge the customer's credit card, at, say, 30 days from expiration, 20 days, and then 10 days -- or something like that. At least, I recall seeing such a policy once or twice: I think Joker.com does that, for example.

But then there's Gandi.net, of France. Look at the first line of the domain-check report below:

----- Forwarded message from root <root@linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2007 08:46:12 -0700
To: rick@linuxmafia.com
Subject: domain-check: Expired domains
From: root <root@linuxmafia.com>
According to 'whois', the following domains have expired:

laconiv.org (0 days ago) nic.edu (5 days ago) nic.cx (7 days ago) nic.hm (280 days ago)

----- End forwarded message -----

I've corresponded with Chaz Boston-Baden (a friend), owner of the laconiv.org domain (which was the site of the recent World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, L.A.con IV): He thanked me for keeping laconiv.org on my monitoring list, and assured me that he's arranged with Gandi.net, his registrar, to auto-renew.

Here's the relevant snippet from WHOIS:

$ whois laconiv.org | more [Querying whois.publicinterestregistry.net] [whois.publicinterestregistry.net] [...] Domain ID:D99628485-LROR Domain Name:LACONIV.ORG Created On:06-Aug-2003 22:18:41 UTC Last Updated On:10-Sep-2005 01:00:04 UTC Expiration Date:06-Aug-2007 22:18:41 UTC Sponsoring Registrar:Gandi SAS (R42-LROR) Status:OK Registrant ID:0-622473-Gandi Registrant Name:SCIFI INC. c/o BADEN Registrant Organization:SCIFI INC. c/o BADEN

So, holy mama! Expiration is set for 10:18 PM UTC today, which is 3:18 PM Pacific Daylight Time -- and it's 3:26 PM PDT right this moment. (Probably some timing glitch.)

[ ... ]

[ Thread continues here (4 messages/11.10kB) ]

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Published in Issue 143 of Linux Gazette, October 2007