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I recently found out this service

but i'm not clear how it is useful, i mean, can't i just replace the IP instead of adding the host prefix in all URLs?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Like it says on the page, if you have virtualhosts on your webserver (more then one), you need to use a domain to get the (non-default) vhost on that server.

You can usually add those domains to a 'hosts' file, and point them to your development server*, but sometimes it's easier to just add a domain alias (eg. to the dev server, and access it via that domain name (since that works from everywhere now).

*( siteXYZ.tld, and then remove the line from the hosts file, when you wish to access the production server, and then re-add it, to access the dev. server, ...)

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Got it and now I understand why it is useful for mobile devices, since you cannot change the host file on an iPhone (for example). Thanks! – demogar Sep 26 '12 at 20:05

The purpose of the service is to allow you to easily reach multiple sites hosted using name-based virtual hosting. It appears to be very broken though:

$ dig any

; <<>> DiG 9.8.3-P2-RedHat-9.8.3-3.P2.fc16 <<>>
; any
; (1 server found)

;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NXDOMAIN, id: 34676
;; flags: qr rd; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;            IN      ANY

;; Query time: 59 msec
;; WHEN: Wed Sep 26 11:50:08 2012
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 36
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I use a wildcard DNS all the time in my development environment. * always resolves to my development server, while * resolves to my public test server I use for showcasing to clients.

However, I use a DNS server and specifically split DNS: * resolves to a private address when resolved internally by my internal DNS server, but resolves to a "real" IP when queried against our authoritative DNS server on the Internet.

As for, seems kind of cool, but I don't know if I'd like to rely on (and expose private addresses to) an external 3rd party when I really don't have to and it wouldn't really mesh with my workflow (i.e. sending publicly-accessible URLs to clients).

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I use it for development as well. With Apache's mod_vhost_alias‌​, setting up a new site is as easy as creating a directory. – afrazier Sep 26 '12 at 17:42

It looks like it's basically for an on-the-fly domain names for development purposes. If my work laptop has an IP address of and I need a domain name for that computer for whatever I'm testing, I could use instead of adding a new entry to my own DNS server. Test it out with dig or nslookup, it's kind of cool.

I see this as effective for developers who want a domain name but don't want to waste time sending in a request to IT to have something added to the DNS servers.

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