it is a name (See domain name below).
But in common usage we are often referring
to the most basic part of a group of
domain names (e.g. edatabase.biz being
the domain behind the names www.edatabase.biz
and ftp.edatabase.bizand http://edatabase.biz/
). In this sense it is more like an
address (123 some street) for an infinitely
expandable house (so you can just keep
adding suite numbers :-).
It is a convenient
name (or label) for some information
that would be awkward to refer to directly.
Usually that information is an IP address
(which is 4 numbers between 0 and 255,
A domain registration
is a 'right to use' for a given domain.
Usually registrations cost money, and
are sold by the year.
A registRANT is the
organization that has purchased a domain
A Registrar is an
organization that sells domain registrations.
Usually registrars have a contract with
a registry, and often are certified
by an organization. Some Registrars
use resellers (like OpenSRS), so it
may be hard to know who the registrar
is. Some registrys sell direct, so the
registrar and the registry may be the
A registry is the
single organization that co-ordinates
the domain registrations for a given
top level domain (e.g. .com, .ca, or
Generally, the organization
that wants to register a domain ( which
might be an individual), contacts a
registrar or visits a registrar's website,
requests a particular domain name, provides
some contact information, provides some
other information (which may include
a chosen password, and/or DNS servers,
and usually payment information like
a credit card number).
The Registrar then
sends the appropriate information/request
to the registry to complete the registration.
For most domains,
much of the contact information provided
during the registration process is put
into a public whois record.
(The .com domains
are one extreme, with full info for
the registrant, plus admin, technical,
and billing contacts. At the other extreme
is .co.uk which provides registrant
name, the name of the registrar and
the DNS servers.)
They are the people
you contact if you have questions about
the domain or trouble accessing it.
Just as importantly,
the admin contact is the authority allowed
to make changes to the domain, and the
billing contact (if there is one) is
where the domain expiration messages
DNS servers are what
actually makes a domain name work. By
work I mean that they convert a text
label to the information like IP addresses
that the Internet is based on. (See
'What is a domain name'.)
This is not to say
that they handle e-mail, or serve web
pages. Instead they direct web surfers
and e-mail messages to the correct computers.
By "work" I am assuming
that you mean setup a web page at your
domain name, or enable e-mail addresses
at your domain name.
The short answer is
that most people simply hire a hosting
service to look after their needs, which
means you simply need to get the DNS
servers for the domain set to the DNS
servers that the hosting service operates,
and they do everything else.
The long answer is
that you need to get a computer (#1)
configured to handle your e-mail and/or
serve your web pages. You also need
to get a computer (#2, a DNS server)
configured to answer DNS lookups and
refer requests to the first computer.
If you are comfortable
adding and configuring new software,
and you have a computer connected full
time to the internet, then the answer
is probably "yes!" Of course, there
are many good reasons to use a competent
professional hosting service, but for
casual or experimental use, a home computer
can do fine. (Also, there are various
free services on the net. You may be
able to combine free dns with free webspace.)
DNS servers generally
require static IP addresses, so they
are not usually run from ADSL and cable
modem connections... but there are a
number of free and non-free DNS services
(see the or our
There are many solutions
for web server software, so I'll just
provide a link to the . (Note that there
are subdirectories for Windows, Macintosh,
and Unix software.)