In RHEL 7.2, systemd starts up and determines the host's hostname. If /etc/hostname is unavailable (ie, removed), and /etc/machine-info is unavilable, and the kernel is not configured with that information (ie, sysctl's kernel.hostname), systemd assigns a "transient" hostname to the host. The question is: from where does it determine this?

The host was originally named this way. I then cloned the host (it's a VM) and wiped all references to that name. But then during the boot process, very early, it gets set that way.

If I boot into rescuemode I can see that it sets the hostname very early:

[    0.456076] systemd[1]: systemd 208 running in system mode. (+PAM +LIBWRAP +AUDIT +SELINUX +IMA +SYSVINIT +LIBCRYPTSETUP +GCRYPT +AC
L +XZ)
[    0.456664] systemd[1]: Detected virtualization 'kvm'.
[    0.456955] systemd[1]: Running in initial RAM disk.
[    0.458496] systemd[1]: Set hostname to <badhostname.example.com>.
[    0.475394] systemd[1]: Expecting device dev-mapper-vgroot\x2dlvroot.device...

At the command prompt, it's set as a "transient" hostname:

# hostnamectl status
Transient hostname: badhostname.mydomain.com

It might be that it's not systemd: I even get this problem when using init=/bin/bash, but systemd is running within the initrd image.

  • It's not set in grub or anything.
  • It's not set by DHCP as networking is disabled at boot.
  • It's not anywhere in the filesystem:

    # find / \( -path /sys -prune -o -path /proc -prune -o -path /run -prune \) -o -type f -exec grep -ilrF "${HOSTNAME}" {} +
    <some .git files>
    <history files of non-root user>

Somehow, the kernel or systemd is determining the old hostname and using it as a transient, and I'm at a complete loss as to how! . I did a find ... -exec grep with no results except /var/log/dmesg. I'm telling you, systemd has haunted my host!

EDIT 2: The only time I don't get it is if I boot into the provided rescue initramfs. Apparently, the generated initramfs holds dirty secrets!

  • I've narrowed it down to 3 possibilities: (1) the initrd image, (2) even when not in networked mode, it uses DHCP to get the hostname -- possibly within initrd, (3) black magic.
    – Otheus
    May 20, 2016 at 22:23
  • 1
    As an aside, nice use of the word "whence." ;)
    – Wildcard
    Nov 5, 2016 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


Thanks to Don Crissti's insights and via process of elimination, it is concluded that the culprit is the initramfs image. Somehow dracut when it builds the image decides to include a cached version of the hostname (!?!).

Rebuilding the initrd/initram fs is covered here but in short (since you, dear reader might not have access), do

dracut -f -v

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .