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What Is An Alternative DNS (Domain Name System)?

Published January 3, 2011

The DNS currently utilised by the vast majority of Internet users isn't the only one. Several organizations operate alternative DNS roots. So how do they work and why do they exist?

The Domain Name System acts as a huge location service - putting devices that connect to the Internet in touch with the data sources chosen. The official DNS root is administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), who also oversee the administration of domain names accessible via the official DNS root - in other words, just about all domain names.

Alternative DNS roots have usually been started out by groups of like-minded individuals that believe there are problems with the current DNS in terms of governance, security and choice.

One of the most popular alternative DNS roots is OpenNIC, an organization run by hobbyists. It describes itself as a "co-operative effort to provide a non-national, alternative Domain Name System that encompasses and expands upon the legacy Domain Name System". This means that aside from offering access to domain names such as .bbs, .free and .geek; people who use the system can also access .com, .net and all other "mainstream" domain name extensions approved by ICANN.

However, as most Internet connected computers aren't configured to access alternative DNS roots; most people aren't even aware of the existence of these additional domain extensions. As they cannot be accessed from a system with standard configuration, using one as a primary

Learn more about alternative DNS roots at OpenNIC.

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