I want to disable DNS lookups via DNS server and only resolve host names that are listed in /etc/hosts. I am on Raspbian 9. How would I set this up?

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    Take the reference to the DNS server out of your network configuration so that it doesn't appear in /etc/resolv.conf – Raman Sailopal Nov 22 '17 at 10:32

Remove dns from hosts field in /etc/nsswitch.conf:

hosts:          files

You might also want to remove the DNS servers from /etc/resolv.conf.

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