At the beginning of December 2023, we released a new version of FRED, the domain management system we developed for the operation of the Czech national domain, .CZ. and serving the same purpose in ten other countries. It is used to manage the domains of Argentina (.AR), Bosnia and Herzegovina (.BA), Costa Rica (.CR), Albania (.AL), North Macedonia (.MK), Tanzania (.TZ), Angola (.IT.AO and .CO.AO), Malawi (.MW), Lesotho (.LS) and Macau (.MO). The new version of FRED is pieced together from a multitude of incremental changes developed over the last 12+ months, which, with a few exceptions, we have continuously deployed into production in our country. A number of the modifications were interdependent in a significant way, so it was not possible to publish minor updates of the system because it would have been difficult for foreign registries to switch to them. FRED 2.48 is recommended as the version to upgrade to.
A comprehensive list of changes from the last version is available in our extensive documentation, or in the changelog section. However, we needed to implement some of the changes earlier, and we were able to do so efficiently thanks to close internal collaboration between developers, testers and system engineers. Therefore, the information about changes in the following paragraph is not new for users of the FRED installation used in the .CZ domain.
I wrote about increasing the security of domain transfers (and objects in the registry in general) last year. The password for the transfer, the so-called Authinfo, is now stored in a hashed form and is valid for a limited period of time. In case of .CZ domain it is 14 days, but the parameter is configurable. This summer we also started using a new contact verification system, which helps keep the registry data about domain holders verified and up-to-date. We are currently verifying mainly contacts we suspect to be incorrect, but as the checking processes are automated, we will be able to verify more contacts For example, by using data from the Register of Territorial Identification, Addresses and Real Estates (RÚIAN) or from the Administrative Register of Economic Entities (ARES). Interaction with domain holders takes place via the Verification Portal and all information about the status of contact verification and the required tools are available to our helpdesk operators in the FRED web interface, which we call FERDA (the successor to the legacy Daphné system).
We have developed many improvements in FERDA last year.. In addition to adding new features, such as the mentioned Verifications, management of registrars (including certificates) and management of public requests , we have also improved the search engine of objects in the registry, from API and helpdesk operator perspectives. And speaking of less visible changes, one of the most significant ones was the complete rewrite of the old system for sending messages (e-mails, SMS and letters) into a completely new module called Messenger. This new feature was the biggest reason for delaying public release of the new version of FRED, because we wanted to release it when FRED was no longer using the original messaging system anywhere. The last change among the already implemented ones in the .CZ domain, which is less obvious, is the gradual transition from CORBA to gRPC for remote procedure calls. We are using the modern gRPC for all the newly developed functions, but we also used it in the development of the inovated logging module called Logger, which is now deployed for all FRED components.
FRED version 2.48 also contains new features that we have not yet deployed, but we are preparing to release them in a publicly available testing environment, which serves mainly registrars. We will set the minimum number of Authinfo characters to 8, we will be able to advice registrars what email address the Authinfo was sent to (hints in the form a*****@b*****.*), and we will disable the creation of objects containing Authinfo using the create command. Furthermore, we will discontinue technical inspection of nameservers, so that the ability to call checks via EPP will no longer be implemented (as it was not used), and we will replace automated checks with a new tool next year (the current system was unstable and too costly to maintain). In general, FRED 2.48 is about cleaning up unused obsolete code, but it also brings new features that we will build on in the future. The most significant is the implementation of support for domain auctions, Domain auctions aims to make expired domains available for registration to a wider range of users. However, I will describe this topic in more detail when we have finished developing and testing the interface for bidders, as well as the required extensions for FERDA. That will be in 2024.
This year, we would like to supply the installation script for DEMO FRED published last year with a guide on how to upgrade from older versions of FRED to the current version 2.48, and we will also try to offer support to the registries that would need it during the upgrade or for general administration.