You will learn how to set up an ENS domain
The ENS domains for Ethereum manage domains with a Smart Contract. This allows you to register a pseudonym in a decentralized way, through which you receive money — and access a website in a decentralized network. If it weren’t for a painful lack of privacy, ENS would be the perfect system to replace addresses for cryptocurrencies.
Because addresses for cryptocurrencies are cumbersome, unwieldy, and unsightly, we are currently testing the possible alternatives. How can you send crypto coins to a name or pseudonym instead of an address? Meanwhile, the market has some offers, some of which are already widely accepted.
What is ENS?
The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is a Smart Contract that connects identities with Ethereum addresses. Besides, ENS can also be used to connect files that you have uploaded to the Interplanetary File System (IPFS). With a plugin, browsers can then retrieve web pages from the .eth domain.
Technically, ENS is probably the most advanced system for removing addresses. Since a smart contract has a “memory” — it maintains its database — the mapping of pseudonym and speech is always unique. If it were stored via OP_Return at Bitcoin or BCH or BSV, it would not be unique, because someone could link the same name to another address, and a wallet would not know which is the correct entry. This is a problem with CashID on Bitcoin Cash, for example, which requires slightly more unwieldy and ugly pseudonyms.
The full acceptance of Ethereum wallets speaks for ENS, as does the option to store web pages that can be displayed in the browser with the help of plugins. The completely decentralized infrastructure, where the ENS app only serves as a translator, is also a great advantage. While users of OpenAlias need their web domain, anyone who owns Ether can buy an eth domain. The technical requirements are minimal. There is also no risk that one of the website providers will lose their footing, which would spoil the OpenAlias identity with ENS.
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One problem, however, is the lack of privacy. ENS couples the identity directly to an address. Anyone can look it up and see how many ethers and tokens the owner has received with it. Since many users operate the Smart Contract with their usual wallet, for example, with a metamask, they also bind their regular account to a name. If you use it carelessly, everything you have ever done with Ethereum suddenly becomes transparent. This is not much different from OpenAlias with Bitcoin. But you can also use Monero for this, which eliminates the problem.
Despite this limitation, ENS is perhaps the most attractive method to get rid of addresses for cryptocurrencies. It is entirely decentralized, widely accepted, understands both Ether and any token, and allows you to attach a web page and files.
In the following tutorial, you will learn how to set up an ENS domain.
The guide to your ENS domain
First of all, as for almost everything at Ethereum, you need a functional wallet. I like to use Metamask, an amazingly powerful browser plugin, for testing. Still, I have also had good experiences with the mobile wallet Alphawallet as well as the Opera browser, which now has an Ethereum wallet integrated.
First, you have to visit the apps.ens. Domains page. There you can search for the desired domain name and see if it is still available.
At the latest, now you should allow the website to interact with the wallet. With Metamask, this happens partly automatically when you unlock the wallet, partly you have to enable it in the wallet itself. To buy an ENS domain, you have to register first. This is done by a small transaction, with which you probably express your interest. As soon as this has collected some confirmations, which usually takes no longer than 30 seconds to two minutes, one can buy the domain.
Further transactions can be used to instruct the ENS smart contract to change owner, manager, and assigned address. I tried this with another eth domain, and it works, but again I didn’t want to do it because of the high fees.
Especially interesting are the “records.” Here you can create a new record to connect files to the domain. This works via the Interplanetary File System, a decentralized network to store files online. You can, of course, operate an IPFS node yourself and propagate the file. But it is easier to do this with a provider like Pinata. With this provider, you can easily upload files to the IPFS network. You have to insert the corresponding hash into the relevant field in the ENS-Dashboard and prefix “ipfs://”. It will then be assigned to the domain via transaction.
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Overall, the user experience of ENS was enjoyable. You don’t need technical knowledge or your domain to get your ETH domain. The other features, such as passing on control, changing the address, or adding HTML files, were also very straightforward and smooth. The only thing that bothered me was the high gas prices of Ethereum. ENS can’t help that, but it is certainly not an advantage.
Finally, of course, as I mentioned several times, there is a lack of privacy. Therefore I would strongly recommend not buying an ENS domain with your main account. Instead, create a new account — MetaMask can manage as many as you like — and load some Ether directly on the account. This way, the domain does not unintentionally reveal your entire Ethereum profile. Nevertheless, an ENS domain is unlikely to be suitable to be used as a billing address or company account. For that, you would need more privacy.
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What is an Ethereum Name Service? was originally published in The Capital on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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