[TUHS] [COFF] Pondering the hosts file

Ron Natalie ron at ronnatalie.com
Fri Mar 12 06:32:52 AEST 2021

Which hosts table?  The Berkeley one or the REAL internet one?

The Berkeley one (which I think may predate the IP implementation) is 
the one that we know as /etc/hosts that has the address then the namees 
of the hosts.

The "real" one is the one the NIC put out in the pre-domain days.    
It's defined in RFC 952,  looks like

HOST : : BRL.ARPA, BRL : PDP-11/70 : UNIX : TCP :

There was also a simple TCP service that would serve up the file.

I detested the Berkeley one and we always downloaded and used the NIC 
table on our machines.  I rewrote "rhost" and it's successors 
(gethostbyname, etc...) to read directly from the NIC format.

Amusingly one day we got an Imagen ethernet-connected laser printer.    
Mike Muuss decided the thing should be named BRL-ZAP and since I didn't 
know what to put down as the machine type, and it did have a 68000 in 
it, I had Jake put 68000 in the entry in the host table.

The next day I got all kinds of hate mail from other BSD sites who 
assumed I had intentionally sabotaged the host table.   Apparently, the 
BSD systems used a YACC grammar to parse the NIC table into the Berkeley 
one.   The only problem is they got the grammar wrong and assumed the 
CPU type always began with a letter.    There parse blew up on my "ZAP" 
host and they assumed that was the desired effect.

I countered back that using a YACC grammar for this was rediculous.   
There was already a real popular file on UNIX that had a bunch of fields 
separated by colons and commas (/etc/passwd anybody) that it was never 
necessary to use YACC to parse.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20210311/05dacf11/attachment.htm>

More information about the TUHS mailing list