Network Working Group S. Cheshire
Internet-Draft Apple Inc.
Intended status: Standards Track November 11, 2014
Expires: May 15, 2015

Special Use Top Level Domain "home"


This document specifies usage of the top-level domain "home", for names that are meaningful and resolvable within some scope smaller than the entire global Internet, but larger than the single link supported by Multicast DNS.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

This Internet-Draft will expire on May 15, 2015.

Copyright Notice

Copyright (c) 2014 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the document authors. All rights reserved.

This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documents ( in effect on the date of publication of this document. Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect to this document. Code Components extracted from this document must include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.

1. Introduction

Globally unique domain names are available to individuals and organizations for a modest annual fee. However, there are situations where a globally unique domain name is not available, or has not yet been configured, and in these situations it is still desirable to be able to use DNS host names [RFC1034] [RFC1035], DNS-Based Service Discovery [RFC6763], and other facilites built on top of DNS.

In the absence of available globally unique domain names, Multicast DNS [RFC6762] makes it possible to use DNS facilities with names that are unique within the local link, using the "local" top-level domain.

This document specifies usage of a similar top-level domain, "home", for names that have scope larger than a single link, but smaller than the entire global Internet.

Author's Note [to be removed when document is published]: The purpose of this draft is not to propose some novel new usage for ".home" names. The purpose is to learn more about the current widespread use of ".home" names, and to document and formalize that usage.

Evidence [ICANN1][ICANN2] indicates that ".home" queries frequently leak out and reach the root name servers. We speculate that this is because of widespread usage of ".home" names in home networks, for example to name a printer "printer.home." When a user takes their laptop to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, attempts by that laptop to contact that printer result in fruitless ".home" queries to the root name servers. It would be beneficial for operators of public Wi-Fi hotspots to recognize and answer such queries locally, thereby reducing unnecessary load on the root name servers, and this document would give those operators the authority to do that. Readers who are aware of other usages of ".home" names, that are not compatible with the rules proposed here, are encouraged to contact the authors with information to help revise and improve this draft.

It is expected that the rules for ".home" names outlined here will also be suitable to meet the needs of the IETF HOMENET Working Group, though that is not the primary goal of this document. The primary goal of this draft is to understand and document the current usage. If the needs of the IETF HOMENET Working Group are not met by this document codifying the current de facto usage, then the Working Group may choose to reserve a different Special Use Domain Name [RFC6761] which does meet their needs. With luck that may not be necessary, and a single document may turn out to be sufficient to serve both purposes. In any case, the HOMENET Working Group is likely to be a good community in which to find knowledge about how ".home" names are currently used.

2. Conventions and Terminology Used in this Document

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels" [RFC2119].

3. Mechanism

Typical residential home gateways configure their local clients via DHCP [RFC2131]. In addition to the client's IP address, this DHCP configuration information typically also includes other configuration parameters, like the IP address of the recursive (caching) DNS server the client is to use, which is usually the home gateway's own address (the home gateway is also a DNS cache/relay).

For a home network consisting of just a single link (or several physical links bridged together to appear as a single logical link to IP) Multicast DNS [RFC6762], which requires no configuration, is sufficient for client devices to look up the dot-local host names of peers on the same home network, and perform DNS-Based Service Discovery (DNS-SD) [RFC6763] of services offered on that home network.

For a home network consisting of multiple links that are interconnected using IP-layer routing instead of link-layer bridging, link-local Multicast DNS alone is insufficient because link-local Multicast DNS requests, by design, do not cross between links. (This was a deliberate design choice for Multicast DNS, since even on a single link multicast traffic is expensive -- especially on Wi-Fi links -- and multiplying the amount of multicast traffic by flooding it across multiple links would make that problem even worse.) In this environment, unicast DNS requests (as may be facilated by use of ".home" names instead of ".local" names) should be used for cross-link name resolution and service discovery.

For residential home networks, Zero Configuration [ZC] operation is desirable, without requiring any manual configuration from the user. A client device learns about its network environment in a variety of ways. It builds a list of network-recommended DNS search domains using DHCP options 15 (Domain Name option [RFC2132]) and 119 (Domain Search option [RFC3397]). It builds a list of network-recommended DNS-SD browsing domains by sending domain enumeration queries [RFC6763].

For organizations and individuals with a registered globally unique domain name under their control, hosts and services can be given names within that domain. Client devices can be configured to use that globally unique domain name as their DNS search domain and/or DNS-SD browsing domain [RFC6763]. For example, at IETF meetings the network configures client devices to use "" as their DNS search domain and DNS-SD browsing domain. This domain name is globally unique and under the control of the IETF. It is entered into the DHCP and DNS servers manually by the IETF meeting network administrators, and then communicated automatically via the network to client devices.

When a suitable globally unique domain name is available, as at IETF meetings, manual configuration of that name in a residential home gateway (or equivalent enterprise equipment) is appropriate. The network infrastructure then communicates that information to clients, without any additional manual configuration required on those clients.

However, many residential customers do not have any registered globally unique domain name available. This may be because they don't want to pay the annual fee, or because they are unaware of the process for obtaining one, or because they are simply uninterested in having their own globally unique domain. This category also includes customers who intend to obtain a globally unique domain, but have not yet done so. For these users, it would be valuable to be able to perform cross-link name resolution and service discovery using unicast DNS without requiring a globally unique domain name.

To facilitate zero configuration operation, residential home gateways should be sold preconfigured with the default unicast domain name "home". This default unicast domain name is not globally unique, since many different residential home gateways will be using the name "home" at the same time, but is sufficient for useful operation within a small collection of links. Such residential home gateways SHOULD offer a configuration option to allow the default (non-unique) unicast domain name to be replaced with a globally unique domain name for cases where the customer has a globally unique domain available and wishes to use it.

This use of the the top-level domain "home" for private local use is not new. Many home gateways have been using the name this way for many years, and it remains in widespread use, as evidenced by the large volume of invalid queries for "home" reaching the root name servers [ICANN1][ICANN2]. The current root server traffic load is due to things like home gateways configuring clients with "home" as a search domain, and then leaking the resulting dot-home queries upstream. In large part what the document proposes is, "stop leaking dot-home queries upstream." This document codifies the existing practice, and provides formal grounds basis for ISPs to legitimately block such queries in order to reduce unnecessary load on the root name servers.

4. Security Considerations

Users should be aware that names in the "home" domain have only local significance. The name "My-Printer.home" in one location may not reference the same device as "My-Printer.home" in a different location.

5. IANA Considerations

[Once published, this should say] IANA has recorded the top-level domain "home" in the Special-Use Domain Names registry [SUDN].

5.1. Domain Name Reservation Considerations

The top-level domain "home", and any names falling within that domain (e.g., "My-Computer.home.", "My-Printer.home.", "_ipp._tcp.home."), are special [RFC6761] in the following ways:

  1. Users may use these names as they would other DNS names, entering them anywhere that they would otherwise enter a conventional DNS name, or a dotted decimal IPv4 address, or a literal IPv6 address.

    Since there is no global authority responsible for assigning dot-home names, devices on different parts of the Internet could be using the same name. Users SHOULD be aware that using a name like "www.home" may not actually connect them to the web site they expected, and could easily connect them to a different web page, or even a fake or spoof of their intended web site, designed to trick them into revealing confidential information. As always with networking, end-to-end cryptographic security can be a useful tool. For example, when connecting with ssh, the ssh host key verification process will inform the user if it detects that the identity of the entity they are communicating with has changed since the last time they connected to that name.
  2. Application software may use these names the same way it uses traditional globally unique unicast DNS names, and does not need to recognize these names and treat them specially in order to work correctly. This document specifies the use of the top-level domain "home" in on-the-wire messages. Ideally this would be purely a protocol-level identifier, not seen by end users. However, in some applications domain names are seen by end users, and in those cases, the protocol-level identifier "home" becomes visible, even for users for whom English is not their preferred language. For this reason, applications MAY choose to use additional UI cues (icon, text color, font, highlighting, etc.) to communicate to the user that this is a special name with special properties. Due to the relative ease of spoofing dot-home names, end-to-end cryptographic security remains important when communicating across a local network, just as it is when communicating across the global Internet.
  3. Name resolution APIs and libraries SHOULD NOT recognize these names as special and SHOULD NOT treat them differently. Name resolution APIs SHOULD send queries for these names to their configured recursive/caching DNS server(s).
  4. Recursive/caching DNS servers SHOULD recognize these names as special and SHOULD NOT, by default, attempt to look up NS records for them, or otherwise query authoritative DNS servers in an attempt to resolve these names. Instead, recursive/caching DNS servers SHOULD, by default, act as authoritative and generate immediate responses for all such queries. This is to avoid unnecessary load on the root name servers and other name servers.

    The type of response generated depends on the role of the recursive/caching DNS server: (i) Traditional recursive DNS servers (such as those run by ISPs providing service to their customers) SHOULD, by default, generate immediate negative responses for all such queries. (ii) Recursive/caching DNS servers incorporated into residential home gateways of the kind described by this document should act as authoritative for these names and return positive or negative responses as appropriate.

    Recursive/caching DNS servers MAY offer a configuration option to enable upstream resolving of these names, for use in networks where these names are known to be handled by an authoritative DNS server in said private network. This option SHOULD be disabled by default, and SHOULD be enabled only when appropriate, to avoid queries leaking out of the private network and placing unnecessary load on the root name servers.
  5. Traditional authoritative DNS servers SHOULD recognize these names as special and SHOULD, by default, generate immediate negative responses for all such queries, unless explicitly configured otherwise by the administrator. As described above, DNS servers incorporated into residential home gateways of the kind described by this document should act as authoritative for these names and return positive or negative responses as appropriate, unless explicitly configured otherwise by the administrator.
  6. DNS server operators SHOULD, if they are using these names, configure their authoritative DNS servers to act as authoritative for these names. In the case of zero-configuration residential home gateways of the kind described by this document, this configuration is implicit in the design of the product, rather than a result of conscious administration by the customer.
  7. DNS Registries/Registrars MUST NOT grant requests to register these names in the normal way to any person or entity. These names are reserved for use in private networks and fall outside the set of names available for allocation by registries/registrars. Attempting to allocate a these name as if it were a normal DNS domain name will probably not work as desired, for reasons 4, 5, and 6 above.

6. Acknowledgments

Thanks to Francisco Arias of ICANN for his review and comments on this draft.

7. References

7.1. Normative References

[RFC1034] Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - concepts and facilities", STD 13, RFC 1034, November 1987.
[RFC1035] Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - implementation and specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, November 1987.
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.
[RFC6761] Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, "Special-Use Domain Names", RFC 6761, February 2013.

7.2. Informative References

, ", ", "
[RFC2131] Droms, R., "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol", RFC 2131, March 1997.
[RFC2132] Alexander, S. and R. Droms, "DHCP Options and BOOTP Vendor Extensions", RFC 2132, March 1997.
[RFC3397] Aboba, B. and S. Cheshire, "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) Domain Search Option", RFC 3397, November 2002.
[RFC6762] Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, "Multicast DNS", RFC 6762, February 2013.
[RFC6763] Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, DNS-Based Service Discovery", RFC 6763, February 2013.
[ICANN1]New gTLD Collision Risk Mitigation", .
[ICANN2]New gTLD Collision Occurrence Management", .
[SUDN]Special-Use Domain Names Registry", .
[ZC] Cheshire, S. and D. Steinberg, "Zero Configuration Networking: The Definitive Guide", O'Reilly Media, Inc. , ISBN 0-596-10100-7, December 2005.

Author's Address

Stuart Cheshire Apple Inc. 1 Infinite Loop Cupertino, California 95014 USA Phone: +1 408 974 3207 EMail:

Table of Contents