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A hostname, or sitename, refers to the unique name by which a computer (host) is known on a network, used to identify it in electronic mail, Usenet news, or other forms of electronic information interchange.


On the Internet, the hostname is an ASCII string, such as "", which consists of an optional local subdomain (apple) and a domain name ( The hostname is translated into an Internet address either via the hosts file, Network Information Service (NIS), the Domain Name System (DNS), or other resolver. It is possible for one computer to have several hostnames (aliases) though one is designated as its canonical name.

It is sometimes possible to guess a hostname for a particular institution. This is useful if you want to know if they operate network services like anonymous FTP, World Wide Web or Finger. First try the institution's name or obvious abbreviations thereof, with the appropriate domain appended, such as "". If this fails, prepend "ftp." or "www." as appropriate, such as "". The ping command can be used to quickly test whether a hostname is valid.[1]


The folklore interest of some hostnames stems from the creativity and humor displayed. Interpreting a sitename is not unlike interpreting a vanity licence plate; one has to mentally unpack it, allowing for mono-case and length restrictions and the lack of whitespace. Hacker tradition deprecates dull, institutional-sounding names in favor of punchy, humorous, and clever coinages (as long as it is considered appropriate for an official public gateway machine bearing the organization's name or acronym). Mythological references, cartoon characters, animal names, and allusions to sci-fi or fantasy genres are often popular sources for sitenames.[1]


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