Modify and Handle the Hosts File on Linux

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There’s a single file in your laptop that serves as a small gateway between you and the net. It’s known as the hosts file. If you want to block web sites or create customized net shortcuts on Linux, you possibly can deal with these jobs by including or tweaking a number of traces within the hosts file.

What’s the Linux Hosts File?

The hosts file is a plain textual content file that each one working programs use to translate hostnames (often known as net addresses or URLs) into IP addresses. Whenever you sort in a hostname, reminiscent of wikipedia.org, your system will look into the hosts file to get the IP deal with wanted to hook up with the suitable server.

When you open the hosts file, you’ll rapidly discover that it doesn’t have the listing of your complete web in there. As an alternative, there may be only a couple traces and that’s it. What provides?

Seems, your system will verify the hosts file first earlier than wanting up a web site on the DNS servers defined in your network settings (normally your ISP’s DNS servers).

Because of this you need to use the hosts file so as to add to what the DNS servers can’t present (reminiscent of aliases for places in your native community, which is in any other case solely doable in case you have a DNS server arrange inside your native community) or override the IP addresses that your DNS servers would usually present.

For instance, should you ask for wikipedia.org, the DNS servers will return Wikipedia’s IP deal with to your laptop. However should you wished to dam Wikipedia on that laptop, you possibly can add an entry within the hosts file that tells your laptop that wikipedia.org factors to another IP deal with that’s totally different from Wikipedia’s precise IP deal with.

There are numerous different issues you are able to do with the hosts file, however these are just a few fundamental examples and different makes use of extremely rely in your wants.

The Linux Hosts File’s Location

On Linux, yow will discover the hosts file below /and so on/hosts. Because it’s a plain textual content file, you possibly can open the hosts file utilizing your most popular textual content editor.

Nonetheless, for the reason that hosts file is a system file, you’ll want administrative rights to save lots of modifications. So to edit the file utilizing a Linux terminal-based textual content editor reminiscent of nano, you have to to first sort sudo to achieve superuser entry:

sudo nano /and so on/hosts

To make use of a graphical textual content editor reminiscent of gedit, you possibly can attempt gksu as a substitute:

gksu gedit /and so on/hosts

You need to use the terminal so you possibly can launch the suitable software with administrative rights. Simply substitute nano or gedit together with your favourite terminal-based or graphical textual content editor. With nano, when you’re finished enhancing the file, hit Ctrl + X, after which y to substantiate overwriting the modifications.

Add Websites to the Hosts File


Within the hosts file, every entry has its personal line. The syntax is straightforward. Sort the IP deal with you need the hostname to translate to, press the tab key in your keyboard, after which sort the hostname.

For instance, to dam Wikipedia, you’d sort (remembering to make use of the tab key quite than the spacebar):

127.zero.zero.1        wikipedia.org

127.zero.zero.1 is the loopback IP deal with that can at all times level again to your personal system. For the reason that net isn’t saved in your machine, your browser will say the location can’t be discovered. It’s now successfully blocked.

When you really feel intimidated by the terminal, try Linux Mint’s Area Blocker software (often known as mintnanny). It’s going to add entries into the hosts file that time the hostnames you specify to 127.zero.zero.1. However to do the rest, you’ll nonetheless have to make modifications with a textual content editor.

Obtain: Domain Blocker (Free)


Create Shortcuts within the Hosts File

When you have a pc on your property community (say with an IP deal with of that has a easy web site that does one thing helpful for you, you possibly can sort the next in your hosts file:        homeserver

Then, should you open your browser and simply sort in http://homeserver, it’ll robotically redirect to And that’s a lot simpler than typing within the IP deal with each time.

Alternatively, you need to use the hosts file to create shortcuts to sure websites on the internet. Use a command reminiscent of nslookup to discover a web site’s IP deal with, then add it to your hosts file alongside the specified shortcut, simply as within the instance above. However this solely works on web sites with devoted IP addresses. It most likely gained’t work with many of the websites you go to.

Potential Points With the Hosts File

So we’ve established how you can make modifications to the host file, however you should still run into points when utilizing Google Chrome. This net browser tends to disregard the hosts file except you do one in every of two doable issues:

  1. Sort http:// initially of every deal with. For instance, in case you have Wikipedia blocked within the hosts file, then Chrome will circumvent the block should you simply sort wikipedia.com into the deal with bar. When you sort http://wikipedia.com into the deal with bar, it’s going to comply with the hosts file.
  2. Disable “Use an online service to assist resolve navigation errors” in Chrome’s settings and you then gained’t should sort http:// initially each time. That is one in every of several Google Chrome privacy tips price doing anyway.

How Will You Change the Hosts File?

The hosts file provides a straightforward approach to block entry to sure web sites in your laptop. Since many variations of Linux don’t include parental management software program baked in, this information can turn out to be useful should you resolve to start your kids off with a Linux PC.

Picture Credit score: Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock

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