ucam.org domain names


A centrally-maintained list of Cambridge student-run machine names and their full canonical DNS names is kept, so that users wishing to refer to any such machine from a system which mentions ucam.org in its DNS search path need to type only the bare hostname.

Some misguided people will only issue hostnames to students which are generated in some poor way (for example, by requiring that the user's machine's hostname be their username). Such machines can have a more sensible names in ucam.org.

Administrators of services on student-run systems can use and publish service names for them, so that the service can be moved to different systems transparently when required.

Finally, to provide a mail domain and www site that can be used for miscellaneous Cambridge activity associated with ucam.chat and the like.


The ucam.org DNS zone contains, largely, CNAME (ie, alias) entries for the student-run systems. In most cases these are a simple alias which maps, for example, exemplar.ucam.org to exemplar.botolph.cam.ac.uk or spqr9b.misguided-college.cam.ac.uk.

Allocation and Change Request Procedure

Requests for allocation of names, changes, fault reports, etc, should be sent by email to hostmaster@ucam.org.

For a simple alias, please state:

Allocation Policy

Prospective domain owners should read FYI5 (RFC1178), `Choosing a name for your computer'. Names should be neither too short nor too long. We will not usually issue names that are simply the name of the domain owner, and you are strongly advised not to use your CRSID (ie, CS-issued userid). We'll avoid issuing names that clash with well-known CS and Departmental systems.

Names in ucam.org will usually be handed out first come first served to members and staff of Cambridge University and the Colleges. They will persist while they are still being used, unless the owner requests that they be removed. If a name falls into disuse it may be reused later.

Societies will not usually be allocated society-name.ucam.org; instead, societies will be allocated abbrev.soc.ucam.org. We're aware that there is a lot of collision in society acroynms; they are on a first come first served basis, but it would be nice if people could try to pick likely-to-be-unique abbreviations rather than likely-to-collide acronyms.

We'll usually accede to requests for aliases for systems in cam.ac.uk made by other than the system's owner, but the owner will be informed and we'll remove the alias if they object (or change it if they prefer a different name).

`Meaningful' names

`Meaningful' names such as (for example) people.ucam.org and pubs.ucam.org are allocated on a different basis: they are allocated for the particular purposes that you agree with us in our email discussions.

In the unlikely event of some kind of dispute between competing claimants we'll have to make a decision as to who or what is the best group or way to provide the service, so we reserve the right to revoke the allocation of such a meaningful domain name and to allocate subdomains to different people or some such (though we hope never to have to exercise it).

If the activities you'll use the name for are related to the meaning of the name itself then you should let us know, either when you request the name or when you propose to change the use in this way.

CRSID's (Computing Service usernames) and `namespace' uses

We will not allocate a domain of the form crsid.ucam.org to anyone but the owner of the CRSID. You may therefore use your CRSID to generate a personal unique domain name and use it whereever appropriate (eg, Java class names), without consulting us.

We recommend that you do not name your computer(s) after your CRSID. It is a bad idea to give a computer your own name in this way, for a number of reasons. See the advice in FYI5, aka RFC1178, `Choosing a Name for Your Computer'.

You may find it useful to inform us of your use of the CRSID. This will help avoid us accidentally allocating your name to someone else (eg, because we didn't realise that they weren't you), and can also help avoid problems in the rare cases where the Computing Service reissue a CRSID to someone else.

Relationship with the University Computing Service

CS Conditions of issue of IP addresses (10th February 1999) say that
You should not cause address(es) or name(s) to be registered in any other part of the DNS without previously consulting the Computing Service as such aliases can give a misleading impression about the proper use of the CUDN, JANET and other networks, and can cause confusion leading to the waste of network staff time.

According to a mail to Ian Jackson from Tony Stoneley in January 1998,

As far as I'm concerned, the consultation referred to therein has happened in respect of ucam.org with its current style and purpose.

Note that publishing a name in ucam.org for a service rather than a name in cam.ac.uk doesn't obviate the need for you to comply with the JANET, CUDN and College AUPs.

More complex activities and requirements

Web site aliases

It is of course perfectly fine to use a name allocated to you in ucam.org for a website. You will have to find a system to do the actual hosting; have their administrator contact hostmaster@ucam.org, CC you, with the ucam.org allocation request.

Service names

If you have been allocated (or are requesting) a domain in ucam.org, exemplar.ucam.org for example, and need a service alias, www.exemplar.ucam.org for example, just ask.

(A service name is a name that refers to a service rather than to a particular host. Service names are a good idea because they make it much easier to move a service without publishing a new name for it.)

Departure of a ucam.org host from the CUDN

When a host named in a ucam.org alias leaves the Cambridge network its name and address will be deallocated from Cambridge's namespace. When we notice that this has happened we will usually delete the relevant alias, and free up the name in ucam.org for reallocation. If continuity of service is desired then you need to let us know what the new hostnames are so that we can change the aliases.

If the new systems are not in the CUDN then this is fine. However:

Normal consumer-level ISP service cannot usually be made to handle providing service under a ucam.org alias. For example, if we were to make www.exemplar.ucam.org an alias for www.exemplar.demon.co.uk then it wouldn't work properly, because Demon's webservers would not know which pages to deliver for www.exemplar.ucam.org when they received the requests. Similar considerations apply for mail and most other internet services.

If you wish continuity of www service, or other services, then you need to get someone to actually host those services. This could be a competent person with a permanently network-connected system who is willing to do you this favour, or a commercial ISP that you've paid the relevant (usually much higher) amount of money. In either case the hosting systems' relevant technical people should contact hostmaster@ucam.org so that the details can be sorted out - either addition of the appropriate DNS RRs to the ucam.org zone, or delegation (but see below).


We will usually be willing to delegate a subdomain of ucam.org, if you can find somewhere to run the primary nameserver and someone competent to edit the zone file.



For a number of technical and political reasons it is hard to make the aliases in ucam.org be mail domains. If you think you know of a way to do this, please consider the following points:
Ian Jackson as hostmaster@ucam.org
ucam.org main page

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