Register, Configure, Renew and Transfer .bit Domains
HOW DO DOT-BIT NAMES COME TO BE?
You don’t register Dot-Bit through some central authority, you do it yourself, registering the name to the decentralized and public Namecoin blockchain. It costs only pennies to do so.
You can easily register Dot-Bit domains from the Namecoin wallet. We recommend you do NOT cybersquat other people’s names, and we recommend that anyone who do so be shunned.
It can be good though to register a friend’s website name as Dot-Bit to HOLD the domains for them, as long as you give them the domain names as soon as they’re ready. I grab dot-domains for friends, then put up a placeholder website that says something like this:
until they’re ready to get up to speed with Dot-Bit. In fact, this is a good way to introduce friends to Dot-Bit.
If you have a domain name you’ve put a lot of time into building up as a Dot-Com and find that someone has already cybersquatted the Dot-Bit, just get something similar. Michael Dean found that the domain freedomfeens.bit (the Dot-Bit version of the domain name for his popular radio show at freedomfeens.com), had been taken by some rent-seeker, so Michael just got feens.bit instead.
(Note: months later, George Margaris pointed out to MWD that freedomfeens.bit had expired, and MWD grabbed it. Thanks, George! That’s the kind of community and helpfulness we like to foster in the MeowBit / Dot-Bit world.)
Domains are lower case only. Valid characters are letters, numbers and hyphens. A hyphen cannot be the first character.
REGISTERING DOT-BIT DOMAINS
First, you’ll need the Namecoin wallet. Get it free at http://namecoin.info/
Download links are top right of that page. You want “Windows Binary.”
Install the wallet and open it up. It takes several minutes to open. (This time will likely be shortened at some point in a future version of the wallet.)
Then it will take 3-5 hours to download the Namecoin blockchain.
You’ll automatically have an address in there. It will be a long block starting with the letter N. It will look something like this:
You can copy and paste that to send to people who want to send you NMC (Namecoin). You’ll also need to copy that address to use with an exchange, for them to send to when you buy Namecoin or trade other coin for Namecoin.
Click once on the address you want to receive coins to, then right click and copy the address.
^ That is my wallet after I’d added several addresses. The wallet will come with one address, and will not have a name (or “label”). You can highlight it and right click to add a label.
You can add basically unlimited addresses. Here’s how you add addresses:
On the main pane of the wallet, click on Receive Coins:
Click on New Address:
Add a descriptive name for your new address:
Here’s the new address after creating it:
You can change the label of the address at any time. Highlight the address, right click/Edit.
The label does not go out when you send Namecoin. It’s just for you.
I recommend having a different address for each project. Or sometimes I even make one for each aspect of a project. that helps me organize my scattered brain and keep track of things better.
Then you’ll need some Namecoin. Though you won’t need a lot. You can register 50 domain names for one Namecoin. One Namecoin costs about $5 US as of this writing, Feb 4, 2014. You can check the current value today here.
You might want to buy a bunch of Namecoin. MeowBit and Dot-Bit becoming widely adopted might drive up the price of Namecoin. (This is not financial advice, just a possibility. Your mileage may vary. And we do not own a crystal ball.)
But we do know people who heard about Dot-Bit and traded half their Bitcoin for Namecoin.
You can buy Bitcoin for cash at Cash Into Coins. You can trade Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies for Namecoin at these exchanges.
- Lilion Transfer
- bter.com* (see info below)
- BTC-e** (see info below)
At most of them, you’re not trading with the exchange, but with other users. So sometimes it will take a while and several transactions. I find Cryptsy to be the fastest for getting Namecoin with Bitcoin.
We were not compensated for listing any of the exchanges on this list, we have no financial stake in any of them, and we suggest due diligence in choosing an exchange.
If you have a bank account, you can buy Bitcoin to spend on Namecoin at http://cashintocoins.com
Many exchanges do not take USD for NMC yet, you have to buy NMC with BTC. There are some exceptions, e.g. BTC-e says they allow USD for NMC directly.
Kraken has supported Namecoin development, including conducting security audits. If you’d like to thank them for this, please consider using Kraken for your Namecoin exchange needs.
*MWD adds: Chinese site bter.com isn’t bad about turning BTC into NMC, I’ve done it a bunch. But they have no directions in English.
Also note that Bter.com sometimes generates a new address when you deposit coin into your account to spend on other types of coin. But sometimes they do not generate a new address. It’s confusing. They may explain this in Chinese on the Chinese part of their website, but there really aren’t any directions I can find on the English side where I was trading.
You can check your current send-to address by clicking on the link over on the left side of your bter.com account page. The link says “BTC Deposit” or “LTC Deposit.” (Or “Whatever Coin-Type You’re Depositing Deposit” if it’s some other coin.)
Some other exchanges may work like this, we don’t know. There are too many for us to have tried them all. Put a comment below if you have experience on this and have a recommendation or a condemnation for any particular exchange.
A very clear, very short e-mail in English to BTC-e support came back saying:
>Hello, it’s actually difficult to understand what’s the problem. Tell me please what’s your question? Could you describe it in detail + screenshots. Здравствуйте! Не совсем понимаю вашего вопроса. Будьте добры задайте его корректно. По возможности приложите скриншоты.
You can also mine your own Namecoin. Many people who mine Bitcoin also mine some Namecoin. (Tutorial post on mining coming soon. Subscribe to our RSS feed over on the right to be informed when it’s done.)
OK….Install and open the Namecoin wallet. It will take a few minutes to fully open. And the first time you run it, it will take about three to five hours to download the whole blockchain. After that, it will only take a few minutes to update each time you open it. The exact amount of time will depend on how long it’s been since your last update.
Once it’s updated, take a look at the interface:
(It doesn’t come with 1.9 NMC, lol, I bought those myself.)
First off, before using the wallet, click Settings and then click Encrypt Wallet and follow the instructions. If you fail to do this, then any program on your computer (including malware) could steal your NMC or your names.
After you’ve set up an account with a cryptocurrency exchange and put some money or Bitcoin in your account at the exchange, put in a request with the exchange to withdraw some NMC to your Namecoin wallet. This works the same as with Bitcoin and a Bitcoin wallet, i.e you’ll have to give the exchange your NMC address, and it will take 20 minutes to few days.
Once the funds show up in your Namecoin wallet, you can continue.
Click on “Manage Names” (I’ve obscured my IP and name server info in these images. I know people can still find out the info, but I prefer to be mysterious. lol):
You’ll get this pane. Note where it says “New Name”, there’s a d/
After the d/, type the domain name you want. Don’t add “.bit”, the program will do that for you. In other words, if you wanted the domain
you would just type
If the name is already taken, you’ll get an error message and have to pick a different name:
If the name is available, you’ll be asked to confirm. Click “Yes”:
You may be asked to pay a tiny Namecoin transaction fee. (It will depend on how long since those particular Namecoin were last spent.) If you are asked, click “Yes”:
You’ll be prompted to enter your password (a password is called the “passphrase” in Namecoin wallet). Enter your password, hit “OK.”
You can either just “park” the name, and add DNS info later, or you can do that now. But adding this info is required before you can point the domain somewhere to make a working Dot-Bit website.
Next we’ll show you how to do this, from both the Namecoin wallet end, and from your web hosts end. You’ll have to do both parts to have a working Dot-Bit website.
CONFIGURING YOUR WEB SERVER TO USE DOT-BIT DOMAINS
These directions work in HostGator. (I’ve added my HostGator affiliate link in there, but I would not recommend any service I would not personally use. I’ve used over 20 web hosts since 1996, and HostGator is the only one that hasn’t broken my heart and made me want to pull out my hair from downtime and other problems. HostGator has high uptime, great service, and is a very high quality service. Plus, they’re inexpensive. I pay $160 a year of practically unlimited server space and practically unlimited throughput.)
These steps may very slightly for other web hosting companies. If you write a tutorial for doing this on a different web host, leave a comment below. If it’s a good tutorial, we’ll link it here.
You’ll need to know whether your web hosting account has a static or dynamic IP address. If you don’t know this info, ask your web host’s technical support. Static IP’s currently offer somewhat better security, privacy, and censorship-resistance than dynamic IP’s. If the IP is static, you’ll need its IP address; if it’s dynamic, you’ll need its name server information. Either of these can be obtained from your web host panel. If you can’t find it, ask your web host.
On HostGator, the IP is near the bottom left, under “Dedicated IP Address”.
(Note that on HostGator, it says “Dedicated IP Address” even if you’re not paying for a full dedicated IP account.)
The name server info for a HostGator account depends on your type of account. Here’s a page on the HostGator site telling you where to find your name servers, with directions for each account type.
Most hosts also e-mail you your website’s IP address and name servers when you first sign up. You DID save that e-mail, right? If not, contact support.
Whether you enter the info for your domain into Namecoin now or later, here’s how to do it:
Highlight the domain name by double-clicking on it. Or single click on it, then click the button marked “Configure Name”:
Either action will open up this window:
If your website has a dynamic IP, enter your web host’s name servers in the DNS Configuration pane. (I like to keep the name server info in an open text document when I’m doing this, so I can copy and paste.)
If instead your website has a static IP, switch to the IP Configuration pane and enter that info:
If your webs host is set up for HTTPS, you can include it. We recommend you try to set your site up not https, not SSL, to try to just get a dot-bit site working. If you can get it working with just http, then try to get it working with SSL.
Insecure HTTP is being removed from the HTTP 2.0 draft standard. If your web server supports HTTPS, place your server’s HTTPS fingerprint in the “SSL Fingerprint” text box. To find your fingerprint, visit your web site’s IP address (not .com domain) in Firefox using HTTPS. For example, https://184.108.40.206/ . You will get a security warning; click Add Exception but don’t confirm it. Instead, click “View…” in the dialog. Look for the SHA1 fingerprint; this is what you should type into the “SSL Fingerprint” text box in the Namecoin wallet. You can then click “Close” and “Cancel” in Firefox.
Now that your information is entered, hit OK:
You need to leave your computer running and your Namecoin wallet open for about three hours, or until both the name_new and either name_firstupdate or name_update processes have all been confirmed in the blockchain. You can track the progress by clicking on the Transactions tab at the middle top of the wallet.
That will reveal this pane:
Notice the far-left column. If you’re creating a new name, in the first hour or so, the name_new transaction will go from a question mark, to a clock, to a green check mark. After another hour or so, a name_firstupdate transaction will appear. It will go through the same process in the following hour. When everything (both name_new and name_firstupdate) is green check marks, you can close the Namecoin wallet and shut down the computer if you want. If instead you’re changing an existing name, there will be a single name_update transaction, which will take about an hour to get a green check mark. As with new names, don’t close the Namecoin wallet until it’s confirmed with a green check mark.
To point your domain to your website to make a Dot-Bit version of a Dot-(whatever) website, or to make a Dot-Bit-only website, check out our tutorial How to Set up a Dot-Bit Version of Your Website.
You have to manually renew your Dot-Bit domains every 36,000 blocks or the name will expire and someone else can take it. This is currently about every 8 months. Mark 6 months on your calendar and also check periodically in the Namecoin wallet to see how many blocks you are away from expiring (a single block is about 10 minutes). You have to renew it before it gets to zero blocks. If you let it get to zero blocks, you can re-register it only if you do so before anyone else does.
In your Namecoin wallet, click on the “Manage Names” tab. In the pane that comes up, notice the far right column.
It shows how many blocks away from zero each name is. When you renew a name, the blocks will reset to 36,000 and start slowly counting down to zero again.
You renew a name yourself through the wallet. Renewal costs approximately .005 NMC.
The process for renewing a name is similar to the process for configuring a name. Click on the “Manage Names” tab. Highlight the name you want to renew, and click “Configure Name”:
You’ll get the same “Update Name” window you got before. You don’t need to enter anything, just click “OK”, enter your password, confirm paying the transaction fee by clicking “Yes”. (It won’t always come up. If you renew a lot of names often, you won’t get charged all the time.) Then leave Namecoin running for about an hour (until you show all green check marks). After that, your domain name will start counting down again from 36,000 blocks.
BACK THAT UP
Make sure you regularly back up your Namecoin wallet (File/Back Up Wallet) to a different machine or external drive. Namecoin wallets cannot yet easily be cold stored the way Bitcoin wallets can be.
Use a password that will be easy for you to remember and hard for others to guess or brute-force crack. Creating secure passwords is out of the scope of this document, but really long nonsense sentence passwords like
are actually far harder to crack with brute force than shorter random-character passwords like
That goes for any passwords, anywhere, by the way. (As long as the nonsense sentence isn’t from a book or film. It should be from your own head.)
Note that the Export function under File just backs up a list of your transactions. It is NOT a backup of your wallet itself. You need the backup of the wallet in order to be able to replicate the wallet if your computer crashes.
You can also export a list of the names you have registered. First click on “Manage Names”, then click on “Export.” You’ll be prompted to give the list a file name. You don’t need a password for this, and aren’t offered the chance to input one.
It’s useful to be able to export the names, and prevents the need for a lot of retyping (which always increases the chance of errors). Exporting like this is how I got the list of my many Dot-Bit sites that are included on our List of Working Dot-Bit Websites page.
TRANSFERRING A Dot-Bit NAME TO SOMEONE ELSE
It’s similar to configuring a name. You click Manage Names/Configure, then enter the person’s Namecoin address in the space at the bottom.
Then hit OK.
You’ll have to enter your password and possibly pay a .005 NMC fee, and in about an hour, the person you’re transferring to will have the name. They can then set up another website, hold on to the name, transfer the name, forget to renew the name, whatever. Once it’s transferred, it’s theirs, not yours.
IF YOU EVER LOSE YOUR WEB HOST, OR WANT TO CHANGE TO A NEW WEB HOST
The fix is easy: transfer all your files to the new host, and send a name update command (with the new IP address and name servers) from the Namecoin wallet. Within about 40 minutes, anyone with MeowBit will be able to find your site again at the new host using the same Dot-Bit domain name. They won’t even know you moved.
—Michael W. Dean (with a whole lot of tech proofing, and some very smart additions by Jeremy Rand.)
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