[Techtalk] Host names on a LAN

Chris Wilson chris+linuxchix at aptivate.org
Wed Feb 2 15:19:13 UTC 2011

Hi David,

On Wed, 2 Feb 2011, David Sumbler wrote:

> I have 2 desktop computers (one running Ubuntu 9.10 and a new one with
> 10.10) and a handheld one running Windows XP Pro (yuck!)  They are all
> connected to a Netgear DGN2000 router which is a DHCP server.
> The router knows the hostnames of all the computers, but the individual
> conputers don't know each other's names, so when I want to use SSH or
> Samba to connect two together I have to log into the router to find out
> the relevant IP address and then use that.

The only reason that the router knows that is that some, but not all, DHCP 
clients (on the hosts) send the machine's hostname to the server when they 
request an IP address, to help it to decide which address to give them.

It seems in this case that the router remembers this name and lets you see 
it using its web interface. However it doesn't necessarily support 
serving those hostnames via DNS. 

> But surely there must be a way to get the router to act as a DNS server
> within the LAN, or to inform the client computers of the names of the
> other hosts.  How can this be done?

You might have to look for a "dynamic DNS" option on the router, install 
alternative firmware such as tomato, or replace the router.

Or you could look at enabling Bonjour or some other service discovery 
protocol on your local network.

Cheers, Chris.
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