back to article East Timor was officially removed from the internet yesterday

The country of East Timor was officially removed from the internet this week, with the '.tp' registry and all domains under it deleted from the "root zone". The unusual but not unprecedented decision to delete an entire arm of the internet comes following a long and painful independence struggle for the nation, and also …

  1. Rampant Spaniel

    Apologies if I am being over simplistic about this but wouldn't the appropriate path have been to mirror all .tp over to .tl then after a period drop .tp? Running the two in parallel with different domains is just asking for trouble. I understand the desire for the change, but it shouldn't actually affect who has what domain name, just the suffix at the point you terminate the original.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To do it in that fashion would surely have people moaning WAY more. It makes sense though, right? If your country gives the O.K. to do such a thing, why not?

      This article seems a little FUD'ish. If my country had 3 years to complete the transfer and then needed more time and had to apply for a "exceptional reservation", then...O.K. I don't think there is a standard being set on the time limit, because it appears it's based on the count. BTW, 40,000 domains isn't a lot, especially for 3 years.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      > Apologies if I am being over simplistic about this but wouldn't the appropriate path have been to mirror all .tp over to .tl then after a period drop .tp? Running the two in parallel with different domains is just asking for trouble.

      Yes, you are being simplistic !

      I believe the plan is to open up the new registry, then get all the existing domains to move across. I assume (would hope) that all existing names would be reserved in the new registry - it would be a bit of a bummer to find your name taken when you come to move.

      But that is just the easy bit. The really easy bit.

      As the article points out, there is a lot of work involved. Just sit down and work out how many places you have given your email address to. Make out a list - and I'll pretty much guarantee that unless you either a) kept a list from the beginning, or b) have an eidetic memory, then you'll miss loads and loads and loads of places.

      So a couple of years down the line, you come to log into something and can't recall your password. No problem - click the "forgotten password" link and put your email address in. FAIL. Because you forgot about it, you can no longer log in, AND you can't recover your password because your old email has stopped working.

      That's just one example. I can think of a few services that I'm registered with and might not access more than once a year (or even less). In fact, only this week I accessed a system for work (software licence portal for a bit of software a customer uses) that we probably didn't log into for nearly 4 years - and no-one knew the password as the person (no longer working for us) who created the account didn't record it anywhere we know of.

      If that service turns out to be for something critical then you could have problems - just think of all that manual work (alluded to in the article) for site operators changing domain for users !

      And of course, think of all those services where your email is your account - I know a few where it's hard or impossible to change (bad design, but sh!t happens).

      And then there's all those "forgotten systems" which keep churning away in the background and rely on email addresses embedded in config files and scripts. That little utility that "does something | mail -s "Here's your info" - they all need finding, changing, and testing. Each one is not a problem - but when there's a lot of them, in systems people have forgotten they have, then it adds up.

      For us, if a customer came along and said they were moving domains on their email, then depending on teh system it might not be too much work - but it would be manual work *moving* their existing accounts to the new domain and adding redirects from the old domain.

      That's just email. Now lets look at other services.

      For *every* web site the server config needs updating. It needs to know what to do when it gets a request for the new hostname. If it's a secure site, then it needs a new certificate - which now needs to be a multi-host certificate (== more costly) as it needs to be valid for both domains.

      The fact that you're posting here suggests you're probably reasonably technically literate. For the rest of the population, multiply the problems 10 fold or 100 fold !

      So yes, it *IS* a big deal. No it's *NOT* as simple as just mirroring the domains over.

      You can't just add the new TLD. If you do that, then people will try to access stuff on it that isn't working or simply gives confusing results == confusion. So you need a phased approach so each domain owner can get the new stuff set up and *then* get the new domain created.

      PS - don't get me started on the hassles of getting all the old email autocomplete entries purged !

    3. mmaguire


      All domains were indeed mirrored to the new domain (which went through various updates and wiped much of the data on several occasions).

      There were some users who wanted to use the .tp but not the .tl domain so imposing some - but not defined period of transition before removal. Other factors were for example, only about 2 years ago the main telco in Timor Leste moved over to .tl after many many reminders and indeed technical support from us.

      For us .tp had done its job and our offer of a development plan - which had for me some interesting ways of raising income was not taken up, even though it had been supported by the then governments external advisor.

      We pursued and completed this action some months after having received a request. We also put in information on a number of sub domains (, and which we had in place. Unfortunately, tyo my mind, that information managed to disappear leaving the people of East Timor now Timor Leste with less funding opportunities from domain registration activities.

      I will comment again with more details on what our plan for this actually was.

      One thing that has to be remembered is that the domain (.tp) was not set up as a "normal" registry as it was controlled by an external military force which appeared to operate without any or at best very few humanitarian controls and so our motivation for setting up a "virtual" country.


    4. Crazy Operations Guy

      Just add some URL re-writing

      Wouldn't be difficult to do some URL re-writing on incoming DNS packets (something similar to 'sed s/.tp./.tl.') not like the old .tp. TLD is going to be used by anything else for a while... This would keep anything depending on it alive and the changes would be fairly transparent. Cut it after about 5-10 years and all will be well.

    5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Also there can be much complication with politics. In this case it's probably relatively easy. As one single country is simply changing its ccTLD. But in the case of the split up of Yugoslavia you've got 2 new successor countries, so you can't just set up automatically on the new domains.

      So there are many technical pitfalls. And if you're unlucky political ones too.

  2. Bob Dole (tm)

    I never really understood why country codes were applied. Sure someone that's living in a "stable" country - ie: one that's been around at least 100+ years might think it's a good idea but how many of those are there in comparison to those in flux?

    Just wasn't very well thought out. Like most of the rest of it.

    1. thames

      The Internet is a network of networks - an inter-network so to speak. With a country code, you could regulate trademark disputes in domain names under the same known body of law as trademarks which exist in every other form. Each country can deal with its own registry in its own way.

      With anything else, you just have what? Whatever the US says? How long do you think any country with even a modicum of self-respect would be willing to put up with that? Or maybe each country would run its own "dot-com" etc., name registries that conflict with those in other countries, making cross-border networking rather like back in the days when Compuserve and the other private networks ran their own walled gardens. Country codes are the most reasonable and practical thing you can do.

      If anything, I would be in favour of getting rid of "dot-com", "dot-org", and all the other non-country code domains, including especially all the new "dot-word" domains. Then we could get rid of the politics-ridden ICANN and leave the purely technical cooperation decisions up to obscure non-political technical committees. The only losers in that scenario are the multi-national companies who like to think of themselves as living in a stateless and taxless limbo where they are subject to no laws or restraints on their behaviour.

      1. LaeMing

        While that is largely true, some of us non-ccTLD users are simply little people who don't want to associate with any particular arbitrary region on a map.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, you could even get rid of the country codes themselves. Virtuality isn't like reality, and if you dropped the country codes, some countries might have to work harder to censor the internet (i.e. China). You shouldn't need the dot in .com. I've often wondered why it was made a requirement and if they had it over again to decide, would they of kept this aspect as a requirement (the '.' has turned out to be a financial billy club vastly more than anything else).

        1. alain williams Silver badge

          Getting rid of country codes ...

          Well, you could even get rid of the country codes themselves. ....

          It all depends on how people see their identity or that of their organisation. Many of us still see us as entities within a country, thus I am Larger or multinational/global entities might choose something different, eg or one of the new TLDs that were recently created.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          "if you dropped the country codes, some countries might have to work harder to censor the internet (i.e. China)"

          I doubt it. Such censorship depends rather more on controlling the physical wires leading in and out of the country. As a thought experiment, bear in mind that you can already surf by numeric IP address if you choose and *that* doesn't stop the censors, despite the horrendous balkanisation of the IPv4 address space.

  3. FF22

    The future of startups

    Expect hundreds of new startups founded with names ending in "tl", with the "e" missing. Like,,, and such....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The future of startups

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The future of startups

        and for the tourists -

      2. Sarah Balfour

        Re: The future of startups


      3. Michael Hawkes

        Re: The future of startups

        I'm glad to see someone snagged I'm wee bit sad it wasn't me.

  4. G2


    or is that now?


  5. Christoph

    While they're sorting out the country codes

    Bring back the original internet code for Australia - .oz

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: While they're sorting out the country codes

      That's a bit unfair. How would the Wicked Witch of the West get her email then?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you

    This article has saved me some research. Yesterday a newly found arts organisation in Germany had a home page domain ending with a suffix. As only .de had been expected then it made me cautious about whether it was the genuine article.

    It also had a list of cities and countries where the group had performed. These were not in English - although mostly recognisable as the usual worldwide locations. An exception was Timor-Leste - which was presumed to need translation at some point for an English-speaking audience.

    Having a country domain like .de under a country domain .tl seems ripe for confusion - especially for an organisation with otherwise impeccable German credentials. No doubt there is a connection with their performance in Timor-Leste.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Thank you

      "Having a country domain like .de under a country domain .tl seems ripe for confusion "

      Perhaps less so than you might think --

    2. thames

      Re: Thank you

      "Having a country domain like .de under a country domain .tl seems ripe for confusion"

      In Canada, the ".ca" domain used to be split up by province, with each province regulating it separately under their own sub-domains. Thus you would have "" for Ontario, etc. After a while they scrapped that idea and just had everyone except for the provincial governments themselves register directly under ".ca" (e.g. "").

      There are a few collisions between the "provincial" and foreign codes such as:

      ".nf" - For both Newfoundland and Norfolk Island.

      ".nl" - For both Newfoundland and Labrador and Netherlands.

      ".nu" - For both Nunavut and Niue.

      ".pe" - For both Prince Edward Island and Peru.

      ".sk" - For both Saskatchewan and Slovakia.

      The province of "Newfoundland" changed its name to "Newfoundland and Labrador". Labrador was always part of the colony and later province, but was only recently recognized in the official name (everyone still just calls it Newfoundland anyway). As you can see, they still managed to collide the name, and the second time it was with an even bigger country. I've no idea how they handled the change-over in domains in that case. Of course they didn't need to involve ICANN, so it's possible that they simply kept both.

      I've never heard of any confusion with country codes arising from this. The ".ca" tells you it's Canada. The only "problems" I've heard of are with spammers and scammers who don't know the history of domain names in Canada and think the two letter province sub-domain is the name of a company or ISP and represent themselves as being the tech support for that organization. The result of that is they are shown to be even more obviously fake than usual.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know someone who'll take it off their hands...

    I am the Great Cornholio! I need .tp for my bunghole!

    Where I come from, we have no .tp.

    Are you threatening me?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know someone who'll take it off their hands...

      Damn you beat me to it.

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge


    I'm confused..

    "UK" (reserved by the United Kingdom, although its real code is "GB" for "Great Britain").

    How can this be? The present political entity is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"

    GB != UK If the 'real code' is GB where do the Six Counties of Norn Ireland go?

    1. caffeine addict

      Re: UK/GB

      Based on country codes, we are indeed GB (look on the back of cars in any southern port town). Presumably Northern Ireland should always have had a NI country code.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UK/GB

      UK is the name of the alliance of England, NI, Wales and Scotland.

      Great Britain is the name of the actual islands.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: UK/GB

        UK is the name of the alliance of England, NI, Wales and Scotland.

        Great Britain is the name of the actual islands.

        I'm amazed at how many people still get this wrong, even when correcting others. Britain is an island - the British mainland, hence the Great prefix denoting it as the principal island in the archipelago, c.f. Gran Canaria for instance. The islands as a whole are the British Isles, consisting of the UK, ROI and Isle of Man (but not the Channel Islands which are not considered part of the group).

        1. Joseba4242

          Re: UK/GB

          Ordnance Survey disagrees and includes the surrounding islands in the term GB: "Great Britain is the official collective name of of England, Scotland and Wales and their associated islands."

  9. Anomalous Cowshed


    As seen spelled in the middle of the article. The truth will out!

    "Megalomaniac UK journalist attempts to take over entire new Asian nation"

  10. caffeine addict

    Is it still true that there's just one .GB website out there for some random army/defense website?

    Would be nice if the registrations were opened back up again...

  11. Dan Paul

    I want to register...

    and trademark the address of

    Maybe then I can become rich suing that Phisher that keeps sending those damn emails

  12. stupormundi

    Thanks for letting me know,

    I'll go through all my bookmarks and update the Timuridian ones. Can only take a couple hours.

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