Linux conference domain faces uncertain future

A proposed review of little-used second-level domains by .au Domain Administration (auDA) has left a cloud hanging over the domain for Australia's biggest Linux conference.

A proposed review of little-used second-level domains by .au Domain Administration (auDA) has left a cloud hanging over the domain for Australia's biggest Linux conference.

At the auDA board meeting in Melbourne yesterday, auDA policy officer Jo Lim said that future plans for the .conf.au and .info.au domains would be examined later this year. While management of existing domains in those spaces is being handled by AusRegistry, which manages most registry systems for .au domains, no new registrations in either domain have been accepted for some time.

The only current active owner of a .conf.au domain is Linux Australia, which uses linux.conf.au as both the site and brand for its annual conference. There are around 15 users of .info.au, including National Science Week and Quit Now.

Given the limited demand for domains in both segments, one option would be to switch off both domains and encourage existing users to register using other domains. An alternative approach would be to grant the rights to sell .conf.au and .info.au to a commercial registrar, who could more actively promote both domains.

Linux enthusiasts would undoubtedly prefer the second option. "Linux.conf.au is our conference brand," said Donna Benjamin, conference director for the 2008 Linux.conf.au gathering in Melbourne (the 2007 event will take place in Sydney). Changing the name "would be like asking the Coca-Cola company to give up Coke", she said.

Because .conf.au is supposed to be a "short duration domain" used during the active lifespan of a particular conference, it can't be used for archival material from earlier conferences. Linux Australia works around that requirement by using conf.linux.org.au and similar domains for information on older conferences.

auDA is holding off on a broader review of the Australian domain space until next year, following a review of its operations by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA).

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