19 05 | 2011

About system host names

Written by Tanguy

Classified in : Homepage, Debian, Miscellaneous, To remember

The host name

Large address book icon

On Unix systems, the host name is kept in memory by the kernel: it is set and get by the sethostname() and gethostname() functions and their command-line wrapper hostname(1). It can be used by several programs, for instance by the mail server to determine what it should use as its HELO name.

In fact, the host name has two forms: the short one and the fully qualified one. For instance, a host can have muscadet as its short name muscadet and muscadet.example.com as its fully qualified one. From these two forms, a third information can be deduced: the domain name, which is the full name without its first component.

The system host name can be set as either the short name or the fully qualified name. When the full name is used, the short one can be easily deduced, by keeping only its first component. When the short name is used, the full name must be determined by using a more complex heuristic that takes more time and can fail for several reasons.

Read more About system host names