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Host Names

Number of views : 4
Article Number : KB0011249
Published on : 2019-01-17
Last modified : 2019-01-26 00:55:37
Knowledge Base : IT Public Self Help

ITS registers devices attached to UTnet, the campus network, and assigns each device a unique host name and a corresponding IP address.


What is a Host Name?

A host name is the unique name by which a computer or device is known on a TCP/IP network. The host name combined with a domain forms a domain name, which is translated into an Internet Protocol (IP) number by DNS. Host names are used to identify the host from other computers in a domain for purposes of email, Web, and other forms of network communication. It is possible for one computer to have several host names (aliases), though one is designated as its canonical name.


Host names are usually shown as part of a larger domain name. Domain names are represented with the standard "dot-delimited" notation as in the following example:


host name + domain = domain name
www + =

where www is the host name and is the registered domain for the University.

Many of the computers at the University are hosts within subdomains of the larger "" domain. These subdomains, such as "" and "", have their own host names.

Note that host names can be used in more than one domain; "www" is a good example in that most domains use "www" to identify their Web server.


Choosing a Host Name

Once your department has been assigned a domain, you need to choose host names for all the devices - hosts - within your domain. These host names, registered by UTnic and associated with an IP address, are necessary for DNS service.

RFC 1178 "Choosing a Name for Your Computer" provides traditional advice on selecting computer names. Included here are the main points that the author, Don Libes, has made. For further explanation and some examples, please refer to his text.

Some guidelines on what NOT to do:

  • Don't overload other terms already in common use.

  • Don't choose a name after a project unique to that machine.

  • Don't use your own name.

  • Don't use long names.

  • Avoid alternate spellings.

  • Avoid domain names.

  • Avoid domain-like names.

  • Don't use antagonistic or otherwise embarrassing names.

  • Don't use digits at the beginning of the name.

  • Don't use non-alphanumeric characters in a name.

  • Don't expect case to be preserved.

And some suggestions on names that work well:

  • Use words/names that are rarely used.

  • Use theme names.

  • Use real words.

  • Don't worry about reusing someone else's host name.

  • There is always room for an exception.

In addition to RFC 1178, RFC 2100 "The Naming of Hosts" is an interesting commentary — in iambic pentameter — on the difficulty of deciding upon an acceptably distinctive host name for one's computer.

See the ITS DNS Naming Conventions for specific requirements for name selection at the university.


Registering Your Device

Once you have selected an appropriate host name within your assigned domain and have an IP-address assignment, you may register your device using the standard format.


Further Reading

  • RFC 1178 - Choosing a Name for Your Computer




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