add a local DNS entry

How to Add a Local DNS Entry on Linux

In this guide, we’ll cover how to add a local DNS entry on Linux machines. Find out how you can do the same. 

Domain Name System (DNS) Server

Domain Name System (DNS) is a decentralized naming service that translates domain URLs into IP addresses on the internet and intranet. In addition, a system that provides this dedicated service is called a DNS server. 

You can add local entries in the DNS server when testing websites before taking them live. Also, the configuration files are stored in /etc/hosts on your local system, and you can edit those files to point to the local DNS. Also, local DNS entries help in resolving naming conflicts before launching the websites.


For this article, we’ll use:

  • A Linux machine with sudo access
  • Configuration files in /etc/hosts
  • A domain name, hostname, and static IP address.

How to Add a Local DNS Entry on Linux

In this article, we’ll look at how you can set a local DNS entry on a Linux machine. You can perform this step to test websites before taking them live. 

We’ll add a local DNS entry using the non-permanent solution in this section. This means the configuration will be gone once the DHCP server is reset. The local DNS entry won’t exist in the configuration file if the system reconnects to the network, the network service is restarted, or the machine is rebooted. So, let’s get started!

1. Check the DNS Order in Name Service Switch 

In Linux, there is an essential file that provides Name Service Switch functionality. Its configurations are in /etc/nsswitch.conf. The Name Service Switch functionality controls the order of execution of DNS and the domain lookup process. 

If the domain lookup process is before the DNS, then it will query the /etc/hosts first. However, if the DNA is before the files, then the service will consult DNS first. For this guide, we want to query the files service first. To check this, first, open the terminal by pressing “Ctrl + Alt + T”. After that, type:

# view content on the terminal
cat /etc/nsswitch.conf


add a local DNS entry
# search for hosts in the file and view them on terminal
grep hosts /etc/nsswitch.conf
# view file content in another window
less /etc/nsswitch.conf

To change the order, use any text editor to open the file and reorder the configurations. Specifically, type:

# nano text editor
sudo nano /etc/nsswitch.conf
# vim text editor
sudo vi /etc/nsswitch.conf


edit host file

As we can see from the output, the “files” is already at the top by default.

2. Add New Name Server in Linux

Open the /etc/resolv.conf file using the nano or vi text editor as shown below:

sudo nano /etc/resolv.conf
sudo vi /etc/resolv.conf


edit resolve config file

Next, add the following configurations:


Make sure to replace the name server and IP address with your required server and IP. After that, save the file and exit the text editor. 

3. Configure /etc/hosts File in Linux to Add a Local DNS Entry

Now we’ll reconfigure the /etc/hosts file to add the local DNS entry. Open the file using your favorite text editor and type:

# vim editor
sudo vi /etc/hosts
# nano editor
sudo nano /etc/hosts

Add both the static IP addresses at the end of this file in this format:

IP-address localhost localhost. localdomain

For example: nameserver nameserver DOMAIN

Press “Ctrl + S” to save and “Ctrl + X” to exit the editor.

The output should look something like this:

edit host files

If you want to know the DNS server and IP address of the host machine, then use the cat or less command to view the contents of /etc/resolv.conf file. Specifically, type:

cat /etc/resolv.conf
less /etc/resolv.conf

Alternatively, you can do the same from Settings. For this, head to Settings and locate Wi-Fi. Long press the network and choose Modify Network. 


add a static DNS entry

After that, locate IP Settings and change it to static. Next, enter the static IP address and click Apply to save the changes. 

4. Test the Static Hosts in Linux

Next, use the ping command to test the hosts. After that, type the hostname directly with the ping command as shown below: 

ping -c 4
ping -c 4 domain

How to Add a Local DNS Entry on Linux Using Network Manager (Permanent Solution)

If you want to add a local DNS entry permanently, use the Network Manager. However, you’ll have to revert it manually if it is no longer required. For this setup, we’ll edit the /etc/dhcp/dhclient.conf file. 

1. Add Local DNS Configurations

First, open the file using any text editor as shown below:

sudo nano /etc/dhcp/dhclient.conf
sudo vi /etc/dhcp/dhclient.conf

After that, add the following lines at the beginning of the file:

# using network manager
prepend domain-name-servers;
# using systemd

2. Restart Network Manager Service

Since we’ve configured the network manager for the first time, we’ll have to explicitly restart the service. For this step, use the restart command. Specifically, type:

# using the service 
sudo service network-manager restart
# using the systemd
sudo systemctl restart network-manager

3. Prevent Network Manager From Modifying Files

To prevent Network Manager from modifying the contents of /etc/resolv.conf and let systemd-resolved handle the local DNS entry, we’ll edit the /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf file. For this step, open this file using any text editor: 

sudo nano /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf
sudo vi /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf

Now, type the following lines under the [main] section of this file:


Lastly, we’ll restart the systemd-resolved service to implement the changes. We’ll use the systemctl stop and start commands. Specifically, type:

sudo systemctl stop systemd-resolved
sudo systemctl start systemd-resolved

To view the effective settings, use the status option as shown below:

sudo systemd-resolve --status

Final Thoughts

And that’s a wrap! We’ve covered how you can use both the permanent and nonpermanent solutions to add a local DNS entry on Linux. This will help you in testing your websites and routes before uploading them on server or SSH routes. For more information, check out the systemctl manual.

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