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RedHat 9 (Linux i386) - man page for hosts (redhat section 5)

HOSTS(5)			     Debian GNU/Linux manual				 HOSTS(5)

       hosts - The static table lookup for host names


       This  manual  page describes the format of the /etc/hosts file. This file is a simple text
       file that associates IP addresses with hostnames, one line per IP address. For each host a
       single line should be present with the following information:

	      IP_address canonical_hostname aliases

       Fields of the entry are separated by any number of blanks and/or tab characters. Text from
       a "#" character until the end of the line is a comment, and is ignored.	 Host  names  may
       contain	only  alphanumeric  characters,  minus signs ("-"), and periods (".").	They must
       begin with an alphabetic character and end with an alphanumeric character.   Aliases  pro-
       vide  for  name changes, alternate spellings, shorter hostnames, or generic hostnames (for
       example, localhost).  The format of the host table is described in RFC 952.

       The Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) Server implements the Internet	name  server  for
       UNIX systems. It augments or replaces the /etc/hosts file or host name lookup, and frees a
       host from relying on /etc/hosts being up to date and complete.

       In modern systems, even though the host table has been superseded  by  DNS,  it	is  still
       widely used for:

	      Most  systems  have  a small host table containing the name and address information
	      for important hosts on the local network. This is useful when DNS is  not  running,
	      for example during system bootup.

       NIS    Sites  that  use	NIS  use  the  host table as input to the NIS host database. Even
	      though NIS can be used with DNS, most NIS sites still use the host  table  with  an
	      entry for all local hosts as a backup.

       isolated nodes
	      Very  small  sites that are isolated from the network use the host table instead of
	      DNS. If the local information rarely changes, and the network is not  connected  to
	      the Internet, DNS offers little advantage.

EXAMPLE	localhost	foo.mydomain.org  foo	bar.mydomain.org  bar	master.debian.org      master www.opensource.org

       Before  the  advent  of DNS, the host table was the only way of resolving hostnames on the
       fledgling Internet. Indeed, this file could be created from the official  host  data  base
       maintained  at  the  Network  Information  Control Center (NIC), though local changes were
       often required to bring it up to date regarding unofficial aliases and/or  unknown  hosts.
       The  NIC  no  longer  maintains	the hosts.txt files, though looking around at the time of
       writing (circa 2000), there are historical hosts.txt files on the WWW. I just found three,
       from 92, 94, and 95.


       hostname(1) resolver(3), resolver(5), hosts(5), hostname(7), named(8), Internet RFC 952

       This  manual  page  was	written by Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org>, for the Debian
       GNU/Linux system.

Debian					    2002-06-16					 HOSTS(5)

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