It’s been more than 10 years since we first released cPanel DNSOnly, and it’s remained one of the best parts of cPanel & WHMHistorically, DNSOnly servers have not required a cPanel license of any kind, but that’s about to change.

What is DNSOnly?

In case you aren’t familiar, DNSOnly is a free limited-feature cPanel & WHM server type. It allows server administrators to run nameservers on their own dedicated servers.

DNSOnly servers also integrate perfectly with full-feature cPanel & WHM hosting servers. That integration allows web hosting providers to create and manage a DNS server clusterDNS changes made on the web hosting server are immediately synced to the other servers in the cluster, ensuring that all DNS information is up to date.

Why start licensing DNSOnly servers now?

While adding a DNSOnly license type hasn’t been a priority, it’s been something we wanted to do for many years. As a free product, our highest priority for DNSOnly servers has been to ensure that the servers continued to receive updates from us.  As we start to look more closely at our customer base, however, we see a significant problem: we lack any real insight into our DNSOnly customers.

We’re adding this license type because we want to be able to make intelligent decisions about the DNSOnly product. Then we can continue to focus on making the best solutions for our customers.

What will change on my DNSOnly server?

In cPanel & WHM version 68 we started passively issuing licenses for DNSOnly servers. That means that during a nightly upgrade, the server attempted to retrieve a license from the cPanel licensing serverThis first step has helped us to help us determine how many servers are misconfigured, and how many servers might have problems when we do start to require licenses on DNSOnly serversYou can see an example of what the DNSOnly license looks like in our License Verification interface.

Our goal when we do start requiring a license is to ensure that no DNS functions fail, regardless of whether or not the server is issued a license.

For example, if the license check fails on your DNSOnly server right now, you will see a typical failure message logged. All essential services on the server will continue to function the same. However, the error could reveal a misconfiguration of your server. You, your license provider, or our support team will need to address that problem.

Our long-term goal is to require a license for DNSOnly servers like we do with cPanel & WHM servers. When we do, we will begin locking down the use of WHM on DNSOnly servers without a valid DNSOnly license.

We don’t have a timeline for this yet, as there are still far too many questions we need to answer, but we expect it to take effect sometime this year.

Will DNSOnly licenses remain free?

While we can’t promise it will always be the case (only Sith deal in absolutes), we can say that it’s the plan for them to remain free at this time. We need more information before we can make any decisions at all. We can also say that if that ever changes we’ll be as open and honest with everyone in our community about it as possible.

What’s next for DNSOnly?

We have lots of ideas around DNSOnly, but nothing solid lined up yet. There are a few requests on the Feature Request site, but we want to hear from you! Comment below with what you’d like to see, or send me an email!