Capibara.com and op.nu

Recently I received a message that my capibara.com domain required renewal. Capibara.com is the only remaining domain of the first 3 domains I owned and it has quite a history, but in recent years I basicaly forgot about this domain.

The renewal message made me remember the history of this domain, and made me think that I shouldn’t allow this domain that did play a modest but important role in the history of the world wide web to waste away.  So I decided to put wordpress up on this domain and this is my first blog. It seems only apropriate to dedicate my first blog post to the history of this domain.

The history of capibara.com (and the now long expired op.nu domain) started 14 years ago. At that time domain hosting wasn’t as cheap as it is today, in fact it was shamefully expensive.  With capibara.com I tried to change that. Fortunately in those days HTTP hosting had no virtual hosting, so my capibara.com server at that time was running on its own IP.  I created a simple index.cgi in Perl that looked at the requested domain, looked up an URL in an on-disk hashmap belonging with this domain, and generated a single frame page that hid the fact that the page wasn’t hosted at the requested domain. I created a script where people could register their domain and long url with capibara.com, and capibara.com would map the domain to the url. Capibara.com didn’t solve everything, but an other free service, granitecanyon that offered a free DNS service, and multiple providers of free web space (with long ugly url’s) combined to make it possible to get your own domain for just the domain registry costs.

For people for who this was still to much, I had the domain op.nu registered, and at granitecanyon had a wildcart domain entry for this domain. People could claim a free sub domain of op.nu.

For years this service helped people with litle money to be able to affort their own domain. At the end there were many thousands of domains mapper using the capibara.com url mapping service. But than things went badly. The hosting company that hosted capibara.com and tolerated the domain hosting service went bust, and as you may understand, other companies were unwilling to accept capibara.com on their servers.

At that same time ADSL was starting to pick up, but most ADSL providers didn’t deliver good quality of service on these lines, and Linux was getting prety popular already. The CDUCK project was born to fill the gap that the demise of the capibara free url cloacking service left. CDUCK was a distributed version of the services provided by granitecanyon and capibara, one that people could run at home.

With hosting programs now affordable to most and CDUCK orphaned as project on sourceforge, there is not much left of my original capibara.com initiative, neither is it needed anymore, but I do feel that capibara.com has played a modest yet important role in the history of the world wide web, one that makes this domain deserving of a second life as my personal blog space.

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