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Domain Name Sanity

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is a guide to domains for the web-adjacent. It clarifies domains and makes their behavior predictable and debuggable. This book includes the tools and information you need to set up, maintain, and troubleshoot any domain. It even describes how to set up a TLS certificate from scratch.

The book is written in an informal, conversational style, as if we’re talking while sitting in comfortable chairs. This is not another boring technical manual or RFC, promise.

Read a sample chapter.

Why read this book?

As a developer, I found domains to be unpredictable and frustrating. Without deep knowledge, even the simplest tasks ended up taking more time than I wanted. Fortunately, now there's a clear-cut guide to configuring domains for real tasks. uses examples and simple language to explain domains so that everyone (including you!) can use them confidently and effectively.

Table of Contents


  • Welcome
  • Who is this book for?
  • Who is this book not for?
  • How to Read This Book
  • Software

Registering A New Domain

  • Step One – Figure Out if the Domain Is Already Taken
  • Step Two – Find a Registrar
  • Step Three – Lease the Domain
  • Step Four – Complete WHOIS Information
  • Privacy vs legal concerns
  • Next Steps

Types of DNS Records

  • A
  • AAAA
  • NS
  • TXT
  • SRV
  • MX
  • What If It All Goes Wrong?

Tools of the Trade

  • How DNS Works
  • dig
  • nslookup
  • host
  • ping & ping6

Common Scenarios

  • Creating a Subdomain
  • Transferring a Domain
  • Connecting a Domain to an External Service
  • Remove www From a Domain
  • Use a CNAME on the Apex Domain
  • The Website Is Only a Blank or Placeholder Page
  • My Old Website Is Showing Up
  • Redirect One Domain to Another

Securing Your Website

  • TLS and SSL
  • Certificates
  • Be Prepared
  • Getting a Certificate
  • Installing a Certificate for nginx
  • Installing a Certificate for Apache
  • Wrapping Up



  • Installing tools
  • Package Management for Mac OS X
  • Package Management for Windows
  • Recommended Registrars


  • Afterword
  • Thanks
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Domain Name Sanity

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