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Date:      Thu, 4 Jan 1996 16:47:47 -0800 (PST)
From:      Donald Burr <>
To:        FreeBSD Questions <>
Subject:   a couple host.conf and nameserver questions...
Message-ID:  <>

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I run FreeBSD 2.1-release on my 486/66, which is connected to the rest of 
the world via a 28.8 PPP connection.  Naturally, this ain't no 56k line, 
and so things tend to bog down sometimes, especially when I'm FTP'ing in 
another session or something.  This especially hurts stuff like 
IP->hostname resolution, e.g. when using the "netstat" command or 
similar.  So I decided to try something: I figured, as an experiment, to 
put the IP addresses and hostnames of some commonly-used hosts 
(,, all the various netcom servers, etc.) 
into /etc/hosts.  Because I remember vaguely that there is a way to tell 
UNIX to search /etc/hosts BEFORE going out on the net and consulting a 

Back in my heydey of Ultrix, I remember there was a file called 
something like /etc/svc.conf where I could say something like "hosts = 
hosts, bind", which basically meant that the system would look in 
/etc/hosts to resolve IP addresses to names, before checking the 
nameserver.  (Please excuse any mistakes, it's been a long time, and one 
I'd rather forget...)

More recently, when running LInux, I could use the /etc/host.conf and put 
"order = hosts, bind" in it to do the same thing.

But apparently, FreeBSD doesn't work that way.

If I just put "hosts" alone in /etc/host.conf, then it works fine.  But 
if I try accessing a host that's not in /etc/hosts, it craps out wiht an 
error.  OK, this makes sense.  But it isn't quite the desired behaviour.

If I put:


in it, then it checks the nameserver first, and if the nameserver doesn't 
know about it, THEN it looks in /etc/hosts.  This works too -- the 
nameserver knows about Internet hosts I'm contacting, but DOESN'T know 
about hosts on my local ("fake") ethernet.  But /etc/hosts knows about 
these, so everything is still cool.

BUT (and here's the clincher), if I put:


in /etc/host.conf... well, you'd figure that it'll check the hosts file 
first, and if it can't find it, it'll check the nameserver.  WRONG!!  It 
still insists on checking the nameserver first, then /etc/hosts.  Not the 
desired behavior either.

So what's going on here?  Is this a bug in the shared libraries, or the 
networking code, or whatnot?  (FYI, this system usd to be a 2.0.5 box, so 
MAYBE some old 2.0.5 stuff is still hanging around... if this behavior 
is fixed in 2.1, then that it might be the time to throw caution to the 
wind and go ahead and do a full re-install)

Now, on an aside: Is it possible for me to set up a SMALL nameserver 
(named) on my machine that will somehow CACHE all recent IP->host mappings 
that my box does, so taht if I've associated an IP with a host name 
already, it won't have to go out on the ppp link to access the internet?

enquiring minds want to know...

Donald Burr [], PO Box 91212, Santa Barbara CA 93190-1212
TEL (805)564-1871 / FAX 564-2315 / WWW
PGP Public Key available by request (send e-mail) or on Public Key Servers.
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