[TUHS] [COFF] Pondering the hosts file

Jaap Akkerhuis jaapna at xs4all.nl
Fri Mar 12 04:21:18 AEST 2021

The "new" host table format is described in RFC 810 <https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc810 <https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc810> (mentions UNIX) but it goes back to RFC 608 (1974) or so.


> On Mar 11, 2021, at 19:12, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:
> The SRI file was different format.   There was a tool that fetched and converted from the PDP-10 scheme to the UNIX scheme - gethtable(8) or something like that.
> On Thu, Mar 11, 2021 at 1:08 PM Warner Losh <imp at bsdimp.com <mailto:imp at bsdimp.com>> wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 11, 2021 at 10:40 AM Bakul Shah <bakul at iitbombay.org <mailto:bakul at iitbombay.org>> wrote:
> From https://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?hosts(5) <https://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?hosts(5)>
> For each host a single line should be present with the following information:
> 	   Internet address
> 	   official host name
> 	   aliases
> HISTORY <https://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?hosts(5)#end>
>      The hosts file format appeared in 4.2BSD.
> While this is true wrt the history of FreeBSD/Unix, I'm almost positive that BSD didn't invent it. I'm pretty sure it was picked up from the existing host file that was published by sri-nic.arpa before DNS.
> Warner
>> On Mar 11, 2021, at 9:14 AM, Grant Taylor via TUHS <tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org <mailto:tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org>> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I'm not sure where this message best fits; TUHS, COFF, or Internet History, so please forgive me if this list is not the best location.
>> I'm discussing the hosts file with someone and was wondering if there's any historical documentation around it's format and what should and should not be entered in the file.
>> I've read the current man page on Gentoo Linux, but suspect that it's far from authoritative.  I'm hoping that someone can point me to something more authoritative to the hosts file's format, guidelines around entering data, and how it's supposed to function.
>> A couple of sticking points in the other discussion revolve around how many entries a host is supposed to have in the hosts file and any ramifications for having a host appear as an alias on multiple lines / entries.  To whit, how correct / incorrect is the following:
>>    host.example.net <http://host.example.net/>    host
>>    localhost    host.example.net <http://host.example.net/>    host
>> --
>> Grant. . . .
>> unix || die
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