The website of Australia's annual Linux conference has
become temporarily inaccessible scant months before the event because of policy confusion over
whether or not it is allowed to use its long-standing domain
Linux.conf.au is the only active site in Australia to use a
.conf.au web address, which was designed for conferences but
has not been available for new registrants for some years.
An unexpected server configuration change is believed to have
rendered the site inaccessible. Attempts to visit the site result
in an "address not found" error message.
Organisers of the next Linux.conf.au event, which will take
place in Hobart in January 2009, have been forced to utilise an
alternative address as the outage coincides with the main
registration period for the conference.
"Don't let a mere domain issue deprive you of the chance to
attend," an RSS posting (which points possible attendees to the
alternative marchsouth.org domain) earlier this week noted.
The registries for the vast majority of Australian top-level
domains (such as .com.au and .net.au) are now managed by
AusRegistry under a contract with the Australia Domain Names
Administrator (auDA). However, .conf.au remains under the control
of Melbourne University computer technician Robert Elz, who
originally set up the Australian domain name policy.
Similar incidents have occurred with previous events. "When we
tried to get this sorted out last year auDA assured us it was all
under control," said Donna Benjamin, who helped organise last
year's conference in Melbourne. "The truth is it isn't."
auDA officials did not respond to requests for comment on the
current policy. In 2006, auDA said it was actively exploring the
possibility of more actively promoting the .conf.au domain, but there has been little evidence of subsequent activity.