Got (dynamic) DNS?


Operating a home server is very educational in addition to being a cheapo solution for self-hosting ones hobby-site. Up-time might not be the same as with a professional hosting provider, but for many geeks and hobbyists that’s not the important part anyway. One draw-back is usually the need for a work-around when using the ISP provided dial-up and dynamically assigned IP. Since the IP address may change frequently, a server might not be accessible upon change.

Myself had once a few Linux and Windows boxes online through a dial-up connection which allowed me to fiddle around and learn. Well, that was more then ten years ago, but was nevertheless a great experience.  To this day people serve their private blogs and photo galleries through a dial-up Cable or DSL connection.

When I was defining the policies of the StartCom Certification Authority I had a conflict to solve. I sincerely believed that only domain name owners should be eligible for digital certificates. But this meant, that all those using some dynamic hostname resolution of well-known providers like DynDNS would be excluded, because they don’t own the domain; instead receive a sub-domain from the same provider. Unfortunately those providers usually charge a fee when one wants to use a real domain name in conjunction with their dynamic IP DNS services. And that’s many times beyond reach or would miss the target for those hosting their little servers at home.

Compromising on the domain ownership principal of the CA was out of question, but because I found it discriminating against those using their modem connection for hosting their sites, I decided that StartCom should provide a public DNS service for IP resolution. That’s why StartCom launched the StartSSL™ DNS Network which provides static and dynamic DNS resolution for domain name owners. The service is already more than a year online and has DNS servers in the US, Canada and Israel.

StartCom made no special effort to promote this service, as it’s really meant to provide a solution to those on dynamic IP addresses to get digital certificates - the more I was surprised to find during a recent clean-up and maintenance routine, that there are apparently many more using this service than I expected. Not sure if it’s because of the authentication protection StartCom provides or simply because it’s just around the corner from the digital certificates or because of its ease of use. The IP address is simply updated when visiting with a browser the StartSSL™ DNS site - this should be obviously done from the server and can be automated with a simple cron job and wget (on Linux) or by leaving a browser window open (on Windows). And these days dynamic dial-ups don’t change the IP address as frequently as it was the case during my time - some users simply update the IP address manually once in a while.

Should you need a DNS service for your sites - being it for dynamic resolution, for backup and added stability in addition to other servers or as a standalone solution - feel free to log in with your StartSSL™ ID and setup the DNS zone for your domain name.

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Reader Comments

Thanks for the article, and the DNS service. I know this is a bit dated, but perhaps you could write a short how to for updating your IP using a Dynamic IP address?