ENS eliminates the need to copy - and worse, type - long hexadecimal addresses. With ENS, you'll be able to send money to your friend at 'aardvark.eth' instead of '0x4cbe58c50480...', interact with your favorite contract at 'mycontract.eth', or visit a Swarm-hosted site at 'swarmsite.eth'.
ENS is built on smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning it doesn't suffer from the insecurity of the DNS system. You can be confident names you enter work the way their owner intended.
ENS operates in a distributed fashion for both its infrastructure and governance. Anyone can register a .eth domain name for themselves by participating in an auction process, mediated by the blockchain.
Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things.
ENS launched on mainnet on May 4, 2017. At launch, ENS features an automated registrar that allows anyone to register names ending in ".eth" using an auction process. For more details on how this works, and to register your own name, see the registrar dapp (decentralised application).
This registrar is designed to be an interim step in ENS's long term development, to enable a fair and straightforward process in ENS's initial formation, and to provide an opportunity for the community to develop experience and insight into the operation of a decentralised name registry.
The goal is to replace this interim registrar with a permanent one, which has a target date of two years after launch of this initial registrar. The intervening period will give the community an opportunity to observe the interim registrar in operation, and to submit proposals for a permanent registrar via the EIP (Ethereum Improvement Proposal) standardisation process. The accepted proposal will be implemented and deployed to replace the interim registrar. We expect the proposal to provide a fair process for transferring names registered with the initial registrar to the permanent registrar.
To facilitate the possibility of upgrades and maintenance, and in exceptional circumstances to handle problems with ENS, the ENS root will initially be owned by a multisig, with members of the Ethereum dev community as keyholders. In the long term, we would like to see the root multisig replaced by some form of distributed decision making process, but developing such a process will require time, thought, and care, which we anticipate will be a longer term effort than the development of the permanent .eth registrar.
The current root keyholders are:
A majority of at least 4 of the 7 keyholders is required to effect any change to ENS.
All keyholders agree to act with the consensus of the community in facilitating the following ENS development activities:
Although these are the stated goals of the community and the ENS keyholders, all parties that participate in the ENS understand and agree that the ENS is and will continue to be a work-in-progress and no specific result can be guaranteed. Participants in the ENS can view the source code for the ENS which is on the publicly-available repo here. The interaction between ENS solidity code and the practical real-world operation of the ENS is an experimental effort and any problems or issues with the operation of the ENS are not the responsibility of the the ENS many contributors or even the keyholders, but rather a natural result of how the ENS code has been used. It is up to all individual participants in the ENS, no matter their role, to suggest changes that will improve the utility of the ENS for everyone in the community.
In the interest of clarity, once the ENS registrar launches, it is not within the control or direction of the Ethereum Foundation. Keyholders and others involved in the ENS registrar, each choose to participate solely in his or her individual capacities, wholly separate and apart from the Ethereum Foundation, and not as representatives, employees or any kind of agents of the Ethereum Foundation.