I have a couple of local domains resolved to in my /etc/hosts file. And it was all alright for a period of time but now when I run:

nslookup test.local

It results in:


** server can't find test.local: NXDOMAIN

The is our network DNS and it's not supposed to know my local domain test.local. After a couple of searches I found that /etc/nsswitch.conf file holds information on the priority of the DNS sources to query by. But there was no problem there! Here's mine:

# /etc/nsswitch.conf
# Example configuration of GNU Name Service Switch functionality.
# If you have the `glibc-doc-reference' and `info' packages installed, try:
# `info libc "Name Service Switch"' for information about this file.

passwd:         compat
group:          compat
shadow:         compat

hosts:          files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns
networks:       files

protocols:      db files
services:       db files
ethers:         db files
rpc:            db files

netgroup:       nis

So does anyone know why my hosts file is not included in DNS look-up?


nslookup only does proper DNS resolution, which is significantly different from the Name Service Switch subsystem that your other applications use; that is to say nslookup ignores /etc/hosts and mDNS.

To test local resolutions like that, use something that uses NSS. ping <hostname> for example. Here's a simple demo based on an /etc/hosts entry on my network.

$ nslookup bert

** server can't find bert: NXDOMAIN

$ ping bert
PING bert ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from bert ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.352 ms
64 bytes from bert ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.407 ms

Note that there are DNS servers and proxies that can factor in an /etc/hosts file. In these cases, nslookup might return a result from a local source.

  • 6
    Instead of ping one should be using getent ahosts because that does not require all the extra stuff that ping has. Oct 2 '17 at 10:09

I guess that you want the name resolution from /etc/hosts file for the specific host (mysite.com).

Another common problem that can cause this behavior is that you may have many entries on the /etc/hosts file for the same IP, example: host1.domain1.com host2.domain2.com

In some implementations, this can cause the name resolution to get handed to DNS. A quick fix, group everything in 1 row host1.domain1.com host2.domain2.com

Another common thing I see is where somebody (usually me) reverses the IP address with the hostname in /etc/hosts - for example:


At first glance, it looks normal... Here is my solution about 50% of the time:    mysite.com
  • guilty of it this time...#sigh
    – CybeX
    Jun 14 '17 at 16:08
  • 1
    Usually the hosts files comes with predefined localhost entry. Doing it wrong is so much wrong :-)
    – m3nda
    May 16 '18 at 16:05

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