is there a way i can change the DNS server on the command-line without having to change anything on the disk?

i recently booted into the rescue session and i got an IP address (using DHCP) but no DNS server. as my network config is usually done with the nm-applet in the desktop session and not in /etc/network/interfaces i would like to be able to provide a DNS server just for this rescue session and not write anything on disk.

this is usually possible by editing /run/resolvconf/resolv.conf. but resolvconf seems not to be running in the ubuntu 14.04 rescue session.

i was hoping there was something similar to the network configuration where i can configure an interface without having to edit a file:

# ifconfig eth0 netmask
# route add default gw

is there a way to do this for DNS in a rescue session on ubuntu 14.04?

  • Do you try to simple add dns server in nm-applet for connection?
    – 2707974
    Oct 6, 2015 at 7:05
  • i am in the rescue session - command line only - there is no nm-applet. Oct 6, 2015 at 7:06
  • Then try to write dns to /etc/resolv.conf. Edit /etc/resolv.conf and add nameserver ip_address_of_dns
    – 2707974
    Oct 6, 2015 at 7:12
  • that is the best workaround i could come up with so far - but it changes the configuration on the disk... Oct 6, 2015 at 7:14
  • 1
    nope. found a way! Oct 6, 2015 at 13:44

3 Answers 3


i found a way to do this:

kill the dns service (there may be a more subtle way?)

# killall dnsmasq

restart the service using the desired upstream server:

# dnsmasq --server=

on a newer ubuntu (one with systemd) this would be:

# systemd-resolve -i enp0s31f6 --set-dns=  # --set-dnssec=true

check with:

# systemd-resolve --status

Navigate to this directory /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d edit the head file using vi or vim with su privilege

sudo vi /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/head

add the following lines to the file

nameserver *DNS server IP*

save the file and use resolvconf utility to set the static DNS server address you entered by the following command

sudo resolvconf -u
  • thanks. but this requires writing on the disk. and in the rescue session resolvconf complains: Error: /run/resolvconf/interface either does not exist or is not a directory. removing the link /etc/resolv.conf and then writing directly into a file of that name seems simpler. Oct 6, 2015 at 8:50
  • 1
    Moreover, that file stands clearly with a "# DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE BY HAND -- YOUR CHANGES WILL BE OVERWRITTEN". Jul 14, 2017 at 0:41

To get this to work, I added au.archive.ubuntu.com to the /etc/hosts file with an IP address I got from pinging it on my PC.

Then did apt update and it resolved.

  • this will then only resolve that particular domain. any other DNS request will remain unresolved. but i agree, apt will work in the rescue session (but nothing else that needs DNS). Aug 22, 2018 at 6:27

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