For Debian, DNS nameservers can be set both in /etc/network/interfaces and in /etc/resolv.conf.

Which file has higher priority for DNS server configuration?


Depends on the distribution and what other packages are installed. Since the differences are part of a default install, I'll call it distribution related.

A quick test -

Debian Jessie stays with the /etc/resolv.conf even if dns-name-servers are set in /etc/interfaces. Even if /etc/resolv.conf is empty.

Ubuntu 16.04 server uses the resolvconf package, and it over writes the /etc/resolv.conf file each time it runs, so putting the dns-name-servers entry in /etc/network/interfaces is required unless you edit the various resolvconf options.

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