OpenNIC is an organization that runs an alternative top level domain system that can be used in paralell to the system run by Network Solutions. This is cool, since it aims to break ICANN's monopoly on assigning new TLDs but it will take a lot of time and effort to get there. The TLDs operated by OpenNIC is a separate namespace from the common one but OpenNIC does not allow registration that conflicts with other systems (such as AlterNIC).

OpenNIC runs a hierarchy of name servers, all located in the US. Those who want to participate in the project can either set their own name servers to use those servers in addition to the traditional root nameserver, or set up individual workstations to use OpenNIC server to resolve names. In either case, users will be able to access domains operated both by OpenNIC and Network solutions. The problem is that not many people know that the alternative systems even exist, which means that you cannot rely solely on an OpenNIC domain name if you want normal users to access your servers. Also, while OpenNIC respects the TLDs operated by Network Solutions, there is no guarantee that Network Solutions in turn will respect OpenNIC.

Membership in OpenNIC is open to all and decisions are made either through representative democracy or ballots. They claim that their system is owned and controlled by the users and also have tough policy on spamming and cracking but I have no way of verifying that nor can I imagine how that policy would be enforced.

At the time of this writing, the following TLDs were operated by OpenNIC.

  • .opennic - Non-commercial, for use by OpenNIC
  • .null - For non-commercial use only. Subdomains may only be owned by people, not companies, and may not be traded for compensation.
  • .oss - Reserved for use by open source software projects.
  • .parody - For non-commercial parody work.

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