Waisman Computing Services

FAQ 2038Computer Names

Why does my computer have a goofy name that I can barely spell?
The name of a computer or "hostname" is completely arbitrary and comes from a list of names and corresponding internet addresses supplied when the computer is configured for the network. The names are usually from novels, short stories and screen plays that fall into the science fiction genre. Or they may just be words chosen at random from the dictionary. They have no particular significance other than to provide a unique, usually pronounceable name that won't be easily duplicated.
Can I change the name of a computer to something that I want?
No. A computer or "hostname" is registered in a distributed database of names and their corresponding internet addresses known as the Domain Name System or DNS. While changing a name is technically possible, it's not recommended after it's been established within the DNS.
If I order a new computer can I specify it's name?
Yes, if you specify the hostname you want before the computer is configured for the network. The name must also adhere to certain specifications and guidelines determined by internet standards such as hostnames can contain only alphanumeric characters (letters or numbers) and hyphens. In addition, a computer host name should not indicate the owner, location, function or application of the computer as those characteristics can and usually do change over time.
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