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CompTIA Linux+ XK0-005 - 1.5 - Name Resolution: nsswitch.conf & resolv.conf

Name resolution is a crucial aspect of networking that allows translating human-readable hostnames into IP addresses. In Linux, name resolution is facilitated through various configuration files and settings. This guide will provide an overview of two important components related to name resolution: nsswitch and /etc/resolv.conf. We will explore their functionalities, configurations, and how they contribute to the name resolution process.


The nsswitch (Name Service Switch) configuration file determines the order and sources used for various system databases and services, including hostname resolution. The nsswitch file is located at /etc/nsswitch.conf and contains directives specifying the lookup order for different databases.

By default, the hosts line in nsswitch.conf controls hostname resolution. Here is an example of a typical nsswitch.conf file:

hosts:      files dns

In this example:

  • The files database refers to local files such as /etc/hosts, which is consulted first for hostname resolution.
  • The dns database refers to DNS (Domain Name System), which is consulted if the hostname is not found in the local files.

The nsswitch file can be customized to modify the lookup order or include additional sources for name resolution. However, it is important to be cautious when making changes to avoid disruptions to the name resolution process.


The /etc/resolv.conf file is another component of name resolution in Linux. It contains configuration information for the DNS resolver, including the IP addresses of DNS servers used for hostname resolution.

Here is an example of a typical /etc/resolv.conf file:


In this example, the file specifies two DNS servers: and, which are Google's public DNS servers. The resolver uses these DNS servers in the order they are listed to query and resolve hostnames to IP addresses. Additionally, the search directive specifies the search domain as When a hostname is provided without a domain suffix, the resolver will automatically append the search domain to the hostname and attempt resolution.

It's important to note that some Linux distributions automatically generate the /etc/resolv.conf file using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) or other network management tools. Therefore, manual changes to this file may be overwritten by the system.


Name resolution is a critical aspect of networking in Linux, enabling the translation of hostnames to IP addresses. Understanding and configuring the components involved in name resolution, such as nsswitch and /etc/resolv.conf, is essential for proper network functionality.

By customizing the nsswitch file, you can control the order and sources used for hostname resolution. Modifying the /etc/resolv.conf file allows you to specify the DNS servers used for name resolution.

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