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I want to add this entry:

127.0.0.1       api.localhost

To test the api of my web app.

However, the hosts file says:

##
# Host Database
#
# localhost is used to configure the loopback interface
# when the system is booting.  Do not change this entry.
##

Is it safe to add the entry I want to add? Can things go wrong?

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Fedora maps the hostname given at install time to 127.0.0.1 under certain circumstances. If I'm not mistaking it happens when you have an Ethernet card, but no network connectivity, e.g. DHCP is not working. –  Cristian Ciupitu Feb 6 '11 at 15:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The "do not change" warning refers to changing the name "localhost". Many software packages expect "localhost" to resolve to 127.0.0.1.

Adding more entries is not a problem. You can add the entries after the host (as shown by Iain), or add additional lines. For example:

127.0.0.1   localhost
127.0.0.1   api.localhost
127.0.0.1   testsite2.localhost

On many UNIX-like systems, you can also use 127.0.0.2 and so forth because the whole 127.*.*.* range is routed to the "local loopback device / driver".

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1  
Quoting from pRFC 5735 - "Special Use IPv4 Addresses"](tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5735): 127.0.0.0/8 - This block is assigned for use as the Internet host loopback address. So any TCP/IP compliant system including Windows, Linux, MacOSX etc. should route 127.x.y.z addresses to the loopback. –  Cristian Ciupitu Feb 7 '11 at 1:02

If your hosts file already contains a line for 127.0.0.1 then all you have to do is add your api.localhost at the end of it e.g.

127.0.0.1               localhost api.localhost
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It's perfectly safe, right? –  rightføld Feb 6 '11 at 14:18
2  
Yes :-) It's meant to do what you are doing ! –  Antoine Benkemoun Feb 6 '11 at 15:17
    
Have a look at the macos man page for the hosts(5) file which says each line has IP address official hosts name aliases –  Iain Feb 6 '11 at 15:19

Yup, this should be safe on any reasonable system. In fact, it's a common ad-blocking technique - for example, you can download premade hosts files filled with the names of common ad servers all pointed at 127.0.0.1.

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