1. (Or "sitename"). The unique name by which a computer is known on a network,
used to identify it in electronic mail, Usenet news, or other forms of
electronic information interchange.
On Internet the hostname is an ASCII string, e.g. "foldoc.doc.ic.ac.uk" which,
consists of a local part (foldoc) and a domain name (doc.ic.ac.uk). The hostname
is translated into an Internet address either via the /etc/hosts file, NIS or by
the Domain Name System (DNS) or resolver. It is possible for one computer to
have several hostnames (aliases) though one is designated as its canonical name.
It is often possible to guess a hostname for a particular institution. This is
useful if you want to know if they operate network services like anonymous FTP,
World-Wide Web or finger. First try the institution's name or obvious
abbreviations thereof, with the appropriate domain appended, e.g. "mit.edu". If
this fails, prepend "ftp." or "www." as appropriate, e.g. "www.data-io.com". You
can use the ping command as a quick way to test whether a hostname is valid.
The folklore interest of hostnames stems from the creativity and humour they
often display. Interpreting a sitename is not unlike interpreting a vanity
licence plate; one has to mentally unpack it, allowing for mono-case and length
restrictions and the lack of whitespace. Hacker tradition deprecates dull,
institutional-sounding names in favour of punchy, humorous, and clever coinages
(except that it is considered appropriate for the official public gateway
machine of an organisation to bear the organisation's name or acronym).
Mythological references, cartoon characters, animal names, and allusions to SF
or fantasy literature are probably the most popular sources for sitenames (in
roughly descending order). The obligatory comment is Harris's Lament: "All the
good ones are taken!"
See also network address.
2. Berkeley Unix command to set and get the application level name used by the
Unix manual page: hostname(1).
Host Command Facility « Host Control Interface «
host-host layer « hostname » host number »
Hot Fix » HotJava