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How can I get the /etc/hosts file to refer to another configuration file for it's list of hosts?

Example /etc/hosts:

 ## My Hosts   localhost broadcasthost

 #Other Configurations
 <Link to /myPath/to/MyConfig/ConfigFile.txt>

 #Other Addresses MyAwesomeDomain.com SomeplaceIWantToGoTo.com


##My additional Hosts SomeLocation.com AnotherLocation.com

How do I add a link/Reference to /etc/hosts file such that ConfigFile.txt will be loaded?

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up vote 22 down vote accepted

You can't. The format for /etc/hosts is quite simple, and doesn't support including extra files.

There are a couple approaches you could use instead:

  • Set up a (possibly local-only) DNS server. Some of these give a lot of flexibility, and you can definitely spread your host files over multiple files, or even machines. If you're trying to include the same list of hosts on a bunch of machines, then DNS is probably the right answer.

  • Set up some other name service (NIS, LDAP, etc.). Check the glibc NSS docs for what is supported. Personally, I think you should use DNS in most all cases.

  • Make yourself an /etc/hosts.d directory or similar, and write some scripts to concatenate them all together (most trivial: cat /etc/hosts.d/*.conf > /etc/hosts, though you'll probably want a little better to e.g., sort), and run that script at boot, or from cron, or manually whenever you update the files.

Personally, at both home and work, to have machine names resolvable from every device, I run BIND 9. That does involve a few hours to learn, though.

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Thanks! I was wondering why each attempt was failing. It would be so much easier if it were possible, but I'll use the /etc/hosts.d – DogEatDog Jan 7 '13 at 16:53
@DogEatDog I recommend running a local DNS server. Dnsmasq is very easy to set up; on user-friendly distributions, you install the package and it just works. – Gilles Jan 7 '13 at 19:17
+1 for recommending a local DNS Server for that. – Bonsi Scott Jan 7 '13 at 20:56

Similar to this Can I create a user-specific hosts file to complement /etc/hosts?. AFAIK it is not possible to get external file associated with /etc/hosts file.

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