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I recently got my hands on an older version of O'Reilly's "DNS & BIND", specifically the Third Edition from September 1998. In chapter 3 it says that you'll need to decide on a domain name and then query the domain owner (which would be InterNIC for .com's I guess) to add it.

However, I was not able to find any information whether this information is still valid or not. The InterNIC page lists registrars, which sustains my initial theory, that now only accredited registrars may register TLD's. But for these I'd need to pay, which would be additional fees I'd like to save if it's possible.

So I would like someone to clarify the current situation, whether it is possible to get a "free" TLD domain (.com, .org, .net etc.), without having to pay to a registrar, by setting up an own DNS.

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2 Answers 2

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So I would like someone to clarify the current situation, whether it is possible to get a "free" TLD domain (.com, .org, .net etc.), without having to pay to a registrar, by setting up an own DNS.

Not if you want it to be available for use by the general public.

You're essentially paying for a DNS entry into a/b/c.gtld-servers.net which all cients are already setup to use (either directly or indirectly due to DNS hierarchy). Unless you inject your own "root nameserver" somehow, you won't be able to do this for free (and that injection will probably cost you money, anyway).

$ nslookup -type=ns cnn.com b.gtld-servers.net
Server:     b.gtld-servers.net
Address:    192.33.14.30#53

Non-authoritative answer:
*** Can't find cnn.com: No answer

Authoritative answers can be found from:
cnn.com nameserver = ns1.timewarner.net.
cnn.com nameserver = ns3.timewarner.net.
cnn.com nameserver = ns5.timewarner.net.
ns1.timewarner.net  internet address = 204.74.108.238
ns3.timewarner.net  internet address = 199.7.68.238
ns5.timewarner.net  internet address = 204.74.109.238

After this, you consult ns1.timewarner.net/ns3.timewarner.net/ns5.timewarner.net, which is what I assume you're referring to when you say

by setting up an own DNS.

$ nslookup -type=ns cnn.com ns1.timewarner.net
Server:     ns1.timewarner.net
Address:    204.74.108.238#53

cnn.com nameserver = ns1.timewarner.net.
cnn.com nameserver = ns3.timewarner.net.
cnn.com nameserver = ns5.timewarner.net.

and you proceed to connect to 204.74.108.238:80 to open cnn.com.

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No, you can not get a .TLD domain for free.

The only "free" TLD I'm aware of is .tk

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