|HOSTS(5)||Linux Programmer's Manual||HOSTS(5)|
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. Optional aliases provide for name changes, alternate spellings, shorter hostnames, or generic hostnames (for example, localhost).
The Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) Server implements the Internet name server for UNIX systems. It augments or replaces the /etc/hosts file or hostname 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In modern systems, even though the host table has been superseded by DNS, it is still widely used for:
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.
# The following lines are desirable for IPv4 capable hosts 127.0.0.1 localhost # 127.0.1.1 is often used for the FQDN of the machine 127.0.1.1 thishost.mydomain.org thishost 192.168.1.10 foo.mydomain.org foo 192.168.1.13 bar.mydomain.org bar 22.214.171.124 master.debian.org master 126.96.36.199 www.opensource.org # The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts ::1 localhost ip6-localhost ip6-loopback ff02::1 ip6-allnodes ff02::2 ip6-allrouters
Internet RFC 952