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I'm aware that modifying /etc/sysconfig/network can set a permanent hostname for my server. But I also want to set some alias for it, and make several clients able to resolve them, how can I achieve this?

/etc/hosts is just working for one local machine, I have to modify it for client machines separately, so it will not be an option. Is setting up a dns server the only way?

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Either distributing a hosts file or leveraging DNS is the only way to accomplish this.

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