Doc asks why opendns has broken the search from the address bar feature of his firefox. The problem is that the address bar fail over to google relies on the dns request failing, but opendns requests never fail. Instead, if an opendns server gets a request for a non-existent address, it display the opendns search/advertising page instead. That’s how they make their money. One of the many side effects of this behavior is that when you type ‘cotcaro’ into the firefox address bar, firefox first tries to lookup ‘cotcaro.com’ and ‘cotcaro.org’. On a normal dns server, those lookups would fail, and firefox would then try a search for ‘cotcaro’. But with opendns, the name lookup never fails. Instead, it returns the address for the opendns search/advertising page. So firefox doesn’t get the chance to fall through to the search.
I’d advise Doc not to use opendns in any case. In addition to creating ugly side effects like described above by breaking the dns protocol, it makes its money by selling information about its clients to other companies in the way that all search / advertising companies do:
We are affiliated with a variety of businesses and work closely with them in order to provide our services to users. We will only share personal information with affiliates to the extent that is necessary for such affiliates to provide the services. For example, when a website visitor searches on OpenDNS, the IP address and query are shared with OpenDNS’s advertising partners.
The given example may describe what almost every search engine does to make it money (search on google, google displays some ads for other companies, when you click on one of those ads, the company gets your ip address and the term you searched for). But the language in the clause allows opendns to sell any of your personal information to any of its customers “to the extent that is necessary .. to provide the services.”
Update: language edited slightly to make clear that opendns just seems to be selling information about its clients in the same way that other search / advertising companies do.
The OpenDNS and Firefox Search by Hal Roberts, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.