As discussed in chapter , TCP/IP networking may rely on different schemes to convert names into addresses. The simplest way, which takes no advantage of the way the name space has been split up into zones is a host table stored in /etc/hosts. This is useful only for small LANs that are run by one single administrator, and otherwise have no IP traffic with the outside world. The format of the hosts file has already been described in chapter .
Alternatively, you may use BIND - the Berkeley Internet Name Domain Service - for resolving host names to IP addresses. Configuring BIND may be a real chore, but once you've done it, changes in the network topology are easily made. On , as on many other ish systems, name service is provided through a program called named. At startup, it loads a set of master files into its cache, and waits for queries from remote or local user processes. There are different ways to set up BIND, and not all require you to run a name server on every host.
This chapter can do little more but give a rough sketch of how to operate a name server. If you plan to use BIND in an enviroment with more than just a small LAN and probably an Internet uplink, you should get a good book on BIND, for instance Cricket Liu's ``DNS and BIND'' (see ). For current information, you may also want to check the release notes contained in the BIND sources. There's also a newsgroup for DNS questions called comp.protocols.tcp-ip.domains.