iHub, a Nairobi-based part co-working space, part vector for investors and part pre-incubator for startups, has announced that a mirror of the L root name server has been deployed at the hub.
Root name servers are an integral, if not the most important, part of the directory of the Internet known as the domain name system or DNS. DNS is more than three decades old but it is so essential for everyday online activities that many take it for granted.
You interact with DNS, although in the background, any time you type an address or access an app such as WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook.
Let’s take iROKOtv as an example. Whenever you access iROKOtv.com on your browser or via an app, a set of background processes occur that allows you to access iROKOtv servers to stream your videos. In DNS parlance, “iROKOtv.com” represents a string, however the iROKOtv servers have only been assigned an IP address/addresses e.g. 22.214.171.124 and thus do not quite understand what a string is.
DNS is supposed to address this problem and map a string to an IP address and conversely an address to a string. Just think of the phone directory, which would be used to look up a phone number and the respective subscriber.
So, where do the root servers fit into this elaborate translation mechanism?
The root servers sit at the very top of DNS. Let’s take a look again at the string “iROKOtv.com”. The DNS reads the string as “iROKOtv.com.” (Notice the dot added at the end of the string). This dot represents the root zone, which underpins ALL domain names. When your device or app is locating any service on the Internet, it usually begins at the root.
Currently there are 13 groups of root name servers each identified with the labels A to M mirrored across the world that handle this function.
When the iROKOtv.com query reaches the root, the root name servers direct the query to the .com zone which then looks up to ascertain if iROKOtv.com exists. If so, the .com zone directs the query to the iROKOtv.com zone, which retrieves the IP address and sends it to the app or device. The device can then proceed and communicate with the server and begin streaming if all goes well.
Overwhelmed by this rather lengthy explanation? The YouTube video below makes it easy to understand!
The mirror of the L root name server deployed at iHub will assist local network operators to resolve DNS queries more expeditiously and therefore reducing latencies. In addition, the server is accessible in both IPv4 and IPv6.
The root server was deployed in conjunction with ICANN, the Internet Society and AFRINIC.