Go Daddy ditches open source OS then donates $10k to open source project

In early 2006, Go Daddy announced that approximately 4.5 million domain names would be moved from Apache Web servers running Linux-based operating systems to Microsoft Windows-based Hosting.

Go Daddy is by some measures the largest single Web hosting provider in the world. On March 21 this year, it announced that approximately 4.5 million domain names would be moved from Apache Web servers running Linux-based operating systems to Microsoft Windows-based Hosting.

More domains are registered by Go Daddy than by any other registrar. This migration of 4.5 million domains involves the movement of Go Daddy's entire domain parking portfolio, and accounts for a sharp 5 percent shift in worldwide Web hosting statistics according to Netcraft, an Internet services company based in England that is known for online posting of comprehensive Web server statistics data.

A one-month shift of 5 percent of market share is a significant change. Pascal Martin, Microsoft's general manager of Worldwide Hosting, said "Microsoft solutions for the Web hosting industry have continued to gain traction in the market over the past several years. Go Daddy's decision to migrate its domains to the Windows platform is a significant validation point of our strategy."

Author, developer, and open source advocate Bruce Perens responded by launching a dedicated domain parking service called According to the front-page announcement on, Microsoft has been paying hosting providers to migrate their domain parking services to Microsoft Web server platforms, presumably to inflate Web hosting statistics. The stated purpose of is to provide "a domain parking service that helps Free Software and Open Source." The help comes in the form of regained market share statistics and revenue from advertising on parked domains that will help fund political and promotional advocacy for free and open source software.

It is notable that while this war over market share statistics may prove convincing to IT resource managers and other information technology decision makers, domain parking statistics do not in fact provide much useful information for making decisions about most Web hosting implementations. Domain parking only consists of hosting "undeveloped" domains, giving a home to domain names that are not yet pointed at an operational Website. Despite this, the battle for Web server market share appears to be heating up, and domain parking is the primary battleground.

Netcraft reports that Go Daddy was formerly the world's largest Linux Web host, and is now the world's largest Windows Server 2003 Web host, as measured by hostnames. The number of hostnames indicates individual installations of operating system software. VeriSign and both migrated to Windows-based Web hosting solutions in 2001 and 2002. Among other major domain name registrars, Netcraft reports that Network Solutions uses Solaris, while 1&1 Internet, Dotster, and currently use Linux for hosting.

Some bitterness over rumors that Go Daddy accepted a bribe from Microsoft to switch Web hosting platforms arose in the free and open source software community in the last month, as demonstrated by the creation of by Bruce Perens. In a surprise move on April 19, however, Go Daddy announced that it donated $10,000 to the OpenSSH project, an open source software development project that created and maintains the most widely deployed implementation of SSH secure shell software.

The OpenSSH project was spawned by the OpenBSD project, known by many as the most secure modern operating system in existence. SSH is used to provide remote login and shell access via an encrypted network connection for remote server management on free and proprietary UNIX systems worldwide, including Linux-based operating systems.

OpenBSD founder and leader Theo de Raadt said of the donation, "We are very thankful Go Daddy has the vision to financially support the mission of OpenSSH. This will allow us to keep improving the quality and security of the product which system administrators around the world rely on to do their jobs."

Go Daddy Group, Inc., the parent company of Go Daddy, is one of the fastest growing privately owned corporations in the United States, but MarketWatch reports that Go Daddy Group, Inc. has hired Lehman Brothers to manage an initial public offering.

About Chad Perrin

Chad Perrin is an IT consultant, developer, and freelance professional writer. He holds both Microsoft and CompTIA certifications and is a graduate of two IT industry trade schools.

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