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Newsletter January 2016: New year, new projects, new beginnings

Maybe it's a bit trite to start off the new year with a "new beginnings" theme. But so far it's turning out to be quite a start for us for 2016. We launched a new TLS/SSL integration project with Let's Encrypt just a few days ago. Not long before that, we launched our new Live DNS service in Beta. We debuted our Packet Journey virtual router project on GitHub, we have a PHP update coming for Simple Hosting, and we are concentrating our energies in regards to supported system images, including adding FreeBSD.

Going in depth this month, we're looking at emoji domains, and a brief history of BSD. And of course, this month's release calendar and promo round-up.


Summary: At a Glance

1. Gandi Integrates Let's Encrypt
2. Recently-Approved TLDs
3. Live DNS now in Beta
4. Introducing Packet Journey
5. Events at Gandi
6. Events outside of Gandi
7. Reminder: .uk prices going up
8. Update: PHP update coming on Simple Hosting
9. Update: System Image Deprecation on Gandi Server


In Depth: Emoji Domains
Tech Fundamentals: BSD

And we'll be wrapping things up with

This month's release calendar and
Promo Round-up.

The New Year is sometimes a time for transition. We said goodbye this past month to longtime Gandi US cornerstone Amy Bowen, who many of you likely met at events at Gandi, meetups around the city, and at conferences. We're proud to have had her on the team, advocating for presumed lost causes and pushing us to constantly do better. Best of luck, AJ.

And outside of Gandi, we all collectively lost a guiding light in the open-source community in Ian Murdock, the "-ian" in Debian. It was a sad day when we learned of his passing and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. His legacy lives on.

We think it's important to recognize not so much that we are at a "new beginning" but that the new year is a point—albeit arbitrarily-located on the calendar—to refocus our efforts. What is Gandi refocusing on? Being on the cutting edge of the most advanced software, the stuff our customers want, without bogging ourselves down with jargon and arcane technical knowledge, empowering those without profound technical knowledge and experience to wield the same powerful technology nonetheless, and sticking to our commitments, most importantly, No Bullshit. And there's no better New Year's Resolution than that.

Gandi Integrates Let's Encrypt

The biggest news out of Gandi this month has to be the announcement of our financial support for Let's Encrypt and our subsequent technical integration with our Simple Hosting and Gandi Server platforms of Let's Encrypt certificates.

We are proud to be on the cutting edge of ensuring universal adoption of confidential and secure communications through the widespread adoption of TLS/SSL certificates. Let's Encrypt is the most exciting project in a long time in this area as it directly confronts the main barriers to adoption of public-key encryption on the web (price, difficulty in certificate generation and installation) and so we have been eagerly awaiting the moment where we can help facilitate the adoption of Let's Encrypt's certificates on our products.

That said, we highly recommend checking out our tutorials on adding Let's Encrypt certificates to your Gandi hosting here.

And of course, keep following us as we continue to expand the availability of this integration across our entire range of hosting options.

Recently-Approved TLDs

There have been a couple of pretty interesting developments since last month in TLDs being added by ICANN to the root. The biggest by far has to be the addition of seventeen new strings to the root, all of which were won by none other than Amazon, who will be running the registry. Amazon, of course, has been slowly breaking into the domain game over the past few years with Route53, for example, but the addition of these seventeen strings shows that Amazon is getting into the domain name business for serious now.

The list includes the following:  .smile, .bot, .joy, .buy, .got, .fast, .jot, .pin, .circle, .safe, .call, .room, .like, and .zero.

It also includes a few somewhat controversial additions, namely .read, .book, .author, all of which were contested by an industry group consisting of Barnes & Noble and other booksellers who basically asserted that it was unfair for one bookseller alone to be able to delegate domains in TLDs relating to such a broad market sector. The fact that these have now been added means ICANN ultimately sided with Amazon on that question.

A couple of other new strings added to the root by ICANN this past month have been a handful of extensions to be managed by Turkey-based Asia Green IT System (AGITSys), all of which target the wider global Persian community, with .nowruz, .shia (December 5) and .pars (December 7). AGITSys's stated goal is the opening up of the Internet to Persian-language speakers, and as far as that goal is concerned, it's certainly something we can get behind.

Remember: these are new TLDs on the cutting edge of having been added by ICANN. As such, any discussion of one of these TLDs should not be interpreted as meaning any of these extensions will be imminently available on Gandi (though we of course try to offer all extensions we possibly can).

Live DNS now in Beta

We are really excited about this one. We are currently beta testing our new DNS service, LiveDNS! This represents a significant development from our previous (current) DNS service. We completely overhauled the backend and the new service has its own set of nameservers that we update immediately upon any change you make. LiveDNS offers powerful features to manage DNS Zone templates that you can then integrate into your workflow, such as:

  • bulk record management
  • association with multiple domains
  • versioning and rollback

You can easily create a zone file and assign it to one or more domains with a couple of HTTP calls, and it makes it simple for developers to programatically pilot their zones and automate DNS management.

Currently, we are beta testing the service through the RESTful API and we want to invite you to give it a spin.

To start playing with the new API, get your API token from your Gandi Account and your favorite HTTP client, then head over to the documentation.

Keep in mind that the platform is in Beta, so we don't recommend that you use its nameservers in production just yet. But if you're feeling adventurous, you can try pointing your domain to the new LiveDNS nameservers once you have created the appropriate records using the API:


Happy testing!

Events at Gandi

OpenLate: Docker Volume Plugins

OpenDNS continues to host its OpenLate series in our space.

Last time, on December 15, Anshu Gupta, Director of Information Security at HelloSign, talked about handling various security and compliance issues, with an emphasis on electronic signatures.

Last night, January 12, Clint Kitson, an EMC CODE Developer Advocate, spoke about how leveraging Docker containers by taking advantage of Docker Volume plugins with VirtualBox.

UX Speed Dating

For those who missed last month's User-Experience Speed Dating (UX Speed Dating) event hosted at our office space, your chance to drop by this month is coming up next Wednesday, January 20 when we are once again hosting the UX Speed Dating meetup in our SOMA office space. It's not exactly a singles-ready-to-mingle kind of speed dating—more like user-experience-enthusiasts-ready-to-test-drive-websites kind of vibe—but still a great chance to meet people.

Events outside of Gandi

Last month we gave a run-down of some of the exciting events this year at one of our favorite conferences of the year, SCaLE. SCaLE kicks off this month and we are in fact attending this year's conference. Look for us there!

Reminder: .uk prices going up

It won't be for a while yet, but we wanted to give you a fair warning about this upcoming price increase on .uk domains (including, and On the first of March, prices for these domains will be changing in all currencies. For the details, we suggest navigating to this page.

But overall we want you to know that if you own a .uk domain—or want to—now is the time to register or renew it, before the price increase in March.

Also, don't forget .net prices go up in February!

Update: PHP update coming on Simple Hosting

Love it or hate it, PHP is the backbone of a lot of sites online, including popular CMSs like Wordpress, and it's by far the most popular language choice for a Gandi Simple Hosting instance, which currently uses PHP 5.4.45. The good news this month is that by the end of January we expect to be pushing version 5.6 on new Simple Hosting instances. No interruption in service will occur this time around since the change will only be applicable to new Simple Hosting instances. For those who currently have Simple Hosting instances using PHP 5.4.45, we're still working on an update procedure that will minimize the impact on your up-time. We'll keep you posted as we make further progress on that part. For now, though, once this update is installed, new instances will have PHP 5.6 available, good news to a growing portion of current and potential Simple Hosting users.

Update: System Image Deprecation on Gandi Server

"Jack of all trades, master of none," has never been a slogan we subscribed to. But we do recognize the need to focus our energies on making what we do well as perfect as possible, and yes, sometimes that means letting other things go. It's in that spirit that we are, as of January 16, 2016, reducing the number of available systems on our cloud infrastructure hosting platform.

Starting January 14, 2016, only these systems will still be maintained by Gandi staff:

  • Debian 8.x and 7.x
  • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and 12.04 LTS
  • CentOS 7.x and 6.x
  • FreeBSD 10.2 (a ZFS version and a UFS version)

All other images will be flagged as deprecated on January 14, 2016 and will be removed on June 14, 2016, at which point you will no longer be able to create new servers or disks with them, so make your backups with snapshots sooner rather than later.

As part of our ongoing effort to transition our customers to the new HVM platform, supported images will only be available for one  architecture (x86_64) as we are also deprecating all 32-bit images on  our Xen platform.

Going forward, we will offer the latest stable versions of selected systems according to the release schedules of the upstream developers. Please see our wiki article for detailed information about supported and deprecated images.

For more information on how to migrate to HVM, we suggest this page.

You might notice on the above list of supported systems the addition of FreeBSD, which was not previously supported. FreeBSD in addition to being one Gandi's premier supported projects, is most known for the its stablity and its security. The servers with the highest uptime on the Internet run FreeBSD. Some also like the FreeBSD community and feel it's a group driven more by technology than ideology. And of course, that little demon/daemon guy. Whatever the reasons to use FreeBSD, we are now supporting it on our cloud infrastructure.

In Depth: Emoji Domains

Okay, so Oxford English Dictionary may not be the hippest, most trendsetting media source anymore (it's hard to be when the full print version comes with a magnifying glass, by necessity), so our response to their November 2015 blog post that the "Face with Tears of Joy" emoji was their word of the year wasn't exactly overly enthusiastic but we have to admit they make a good argument: not only did the face with tears of joy emoji see a surge in popularity in 2015, the word "emoji" itself apparently tripled in usage last year and continues to rise (check out Deadpool's emoji billboard).

We don't need to rehash the obvious reasons. We all know: mobile technology, texting, the SnapChats and Facebooks.

But this year there were also a couple of events that brought emojis into the world of domain names. First, Coca-Cola had a successful advertising campaign in Puerto Rico involving smiley emoji domain names. That generated a lot of buzz about the concept but maybe even more significantly, Wordpress version 4.2 was released in April with emoji support, adding not only the ability to save posts containing emoji but, radically, also in the URL slug.

This is an area where, sadly, domain names are actually lagging a bit behind. The domain name world is still grappling with a similar, related hurdle: IDNs or Internationalized Domain Names. Gandi is now on three continents, so we appreciate the fact that historically, the domain name game has historically been heavily biased towards English speakers. Even the accented characters in French, the language of Gandi's home country, are not permitted in the standard character set. Not to mention totally non-Latin scripts like Chinese, and ones that read right-to-left like Arabic.

Slowly but surely, through IDNs, non-English scripts are beginning to be accommodated more equitably online, but not without some risk. The IDN system also opens the door to very subtle fraud as it can be used to produce URLs that are, in some fonts, visually identical to an English-language brand name (say, for example, PayPal) but use characters from the Cyrillic alphabet. Last year at M3AAWG, we saw Mark Risher speak on exactly this issue (Hi Mark!).

It seems like for now most registries are still pretty reticent to accept domain names outside of the ASCII character-set, including emojis. The same security problem exists as with IDNs, and is perhaps worse. There are a limited number of identical-looking characters in all known natural languages, but emojis are a rapidly developing character set. Facebook might register, for example, and all it takes is a new emoji that looks practically the same as either the face-emoji or the book-emoji to be introduced—without necessarily notifying either Facebook, their registrar, the registry or ICANN—and a clever fraudster could easily harvest a bumper crop of Facebook usernames and passwords through a sly mailing campaign.

All that said, we hope that the technical and security hurdles presented by IDNs as well as emojis can be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. Sure, some registrars are offering them in extensions with looser rules, but the big fish are the really high-volume TLDs, like .com. Emoji domains aren't likely to show up at Gandi in the near future but if you're interested, up-vote it on our wishlist and stay tuned ...

Tech Fundamentals: BSD

With Let's Encrypt, LiveDNS, Packet Journey and hosting images all cropping up in this month's newsletter it seems like as good a time as any to launch a new feature in our newsletter we're calling Tech Fundamentals, a monthly dive into the arcana of tech history. This month, since we are now supporting FreeBSD on our Gandi Server platform, we thought we'd take a look at the history of BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution).

BSD began, as it's name (Berkeley Distribution Software) implies, at UC-Berkeley in the early 1970s when the first distributions of AT&T's proprietary Unix operating system arrived on campus from Bell Labs, which licensed Unix to Berkeley for what was then the low price of $99. It was this cheap licensing in part that attracted Bob Fabry to purchase the license to the later-named "Research Unix", which afforded his department access to the Unix source code, giving them the opportunity to modify and expand Unix.

The Berkeley version of Unix, especially the Pascal implementation for the system worked on by Berkeley alum, AT&T employee, Unix founder and visiting professor Ken Thompson and improved upon by graduate students including Bill Joy, generated interest among other universities and in the spirit of academic cooperation, Joy compiled 1BSD, an add-on to version 6 of Unix in March of 1978.

It was the third distribution of BSD, 3BSD, released in 1979, that attracted the attention of DARPA, funders of the Arpanet, to Berkeley's unusually popular Unix distribution.

What made BSD an attractive distribution of Unix, so much so that DARPA funded Berkeley to adopt BSD for the Arpanet, was the fact that BSD was an open operating system, which made it especially attractive to researchers, who were the ones really behind BSD's proto-open source alignment. In essence, they treated playing with the source code research. And as with academic endeavour for centuries, the fruits of one researcher's inquiries were something to be shared openly, and the team at Berkeley carried on this tradition, which has in fact been a key aspect of the original spirit of Unix.

Essentially, Berkeley's code allowed users to do whatever they wanted with BSD code so long as the University of California retained the copyright.

With the coordination of DARPA, Berkeley's Computer Systems Research Group incorporated TCP/IP into Berkeley Unix, permitting perhaps one of the singular most significant advances in networking to the development of the Internet.

When a lawsuit from AT&T challenged Berkeley's copyright, Berkeley countersued. A settlement finally removed the last vestiges of AT&T's propriety over the BSD code.

An organizational model soon grew up that involves a "core group" who grant or revoke the right to commit code to the code base, an array of trusted committers extending from this core group and finally the general community of developers submitting bug reports, fixes and changes to the committers. This structure is something of a model for open source development.

However, while stuck in court battles with AT&T, the uncertainty of BSD's fate led BSD to largely miss the boat on developing a version of Unix for PC use. 386BSD was BSD's answer, but it was developed slowly and didn't incorporate patches quickly enough. So at that point, a group of developers dissatisfied with 386BSD founded FreeBSD. In the meantime, a new operating system, development structure and licensing model had been developed by Linus Torvald—Linux, which gained the upperhand through GNU licensing and a distinct, though related, open-source development model.

However, BSD survives, largely in the form of FreeBSD, to this day.

New gTLD release Calendar for January

Here's a look at this month's release calendar, which includes quite a few intriguing new options. The new TLD .ist, for example seems not only ripe for all kinds of -ism domains but also for listicles.

Saturday January 9 :

    .feedback (Landrush)

  Monday January 11 :

    .swiss (GoLive)

  Sunday January 17 :

    .family (Landrush)

  Monday Jaunary 18 :

    .feedback (GoLive)

  Tuesday January 19 :

    .corsica (GoLive)
    .pet (Sunrise)

  Wednesday January 20 :

    .auto (GoLive)
    .car (GoLive)
    .cars (GoLive)
    .family (GoLive)

  Sunday January 24 :

    .vin (Landrush)
    .wine (Landrush)

Monday January 25 :

    .cloud (Landrush)

Tuesday January 26 :

    .protection (Landrush)
    .security (Landrush)
    .theatre (Landrush)

  Wednesday January 27 :

    .protection (Landrush)
    .security (Landrush)
    .theatre (Landrush)
    .vin (Landrush)
    .wine (Landrush)
    .ist (Sunrise)
    .istanbul (Sunrise)

Promo Roundup for January

The new year is starting out with a lot of new promotions, some longer lasting than others. There are also a few that are still hanging on from last year, including .irish, which has now been extended until the end of February.

New promotions

  • Half-price for a half-year means .in domains are on sale for $7.75 until June 30, 2016.
  • A virtual explosion of colorful (and more) extensions are 50% off from now until June 30.
  • You and .me can spend 2016 together with 40%-off one-year registrations all year, that's just $14.40.
  • From January 1, 2016 until March 31, 2016, .asia is on sale for just $7.50 per year—that's 70% off.
  • Attention designers! From January 1 until February 15, .design domains are 50% off. That's just $31.18 per year.
  • One-third off the TLDs for the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey: .je and .gg this January.
  • Link yourself in with a .link domain, on sale this January for 80%-off: that's $2.41 per year.
  • Got photos? Like photos? Take photos? Get a .photo domain for 80% off this January. That's $6.50 per year.
  • Explore .space this month (until January 31, 2016) when domains in this extension go on sale for just $1.60 per year.
  • From January 11 through March 31, .rocks and .social are half-price: $7.77 and $16.25 , respectively.


  • more than just your friends and .host more than a party this winter with this great promotion until January 15
  • Short for Cameroon (and with the imagination a few other things), .cm is on sale for $16.50 until January 31st.
  • EXTENDED .irish is on sale until November 10 December 31 February 29 for $15.
  • 50-75% off a delightful selection of TLDs from Minds + Machines Registry until January 31, 2016
  • .online is on sale for 80%-off for domain creations from December 15 through January 14.

We also suggest you keep an eye on our promo page to be sure not to miss any other promotions that might pop up.


That's it for this month. Best of luck to all of you on your own new beginnings and your own refocusing of efforts and energies. If you're looking for a new beginning at Gandi, we're hiring !

Otherwise, don't hesitate to drop us a line below.

You can also reach us at:
and on the #gandi channel on Freenode. \o/

All the best,
- The Gandi Team