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Linux / UNIX set the DNS from the command line

Q. I just got Linux installed on my system. I’m able to connect to internet via IP address only. I’m not able to find out information about setting up new DNS sever ip under Linux. How do I configure primary and secondary DNS via terminal / shell prompt?

A. Under Linux / UNIX / BSD operating system, you need to edit the /etc/resolv.conf file and add the line:

nameserver {IP-OF-THE-DNS-1}
nameserver {IP-OF-THEISP-DNS-SERVER-2}

Login as the root, enter:
# vi /etc/resolv.conf
$ sudo vi /etc/resolv.conf
Modify or enter nameserver as follows:

Save and close the file. To test DNS configuration type any one of the following command:
$ host google.com
$ dig google.com
$ ping google.com
$ nslookup your-domain.com


google.com has address
google.com has address
google.com has address
google.com mail is handled by 10 smtp4.google.com.
google.com mail is handled by 10 smtp1.google.com.
google.com mail is handled by 10 smtp2.google.com.
google.com mail is handled by 10 smtp3.google.com.

If you see valid output such as actual IP address or able to ping to remote server via hostname, it means that the dns is working for you. Also make sure you have valid default gateway setup, if you see the time out error.

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • me December 19, 2007, 9:01 pm

    you’re easily sliding to the point where your tutorials will be as complex as ‘how to start your computer? press the power button!’


  • Ash December 19, 2007, 9:08 pm


  • Robert de Bock December 20, 2007, 10:49 am

    Ping is a tool to send ICMP echo requests to machines, not to check if resolving works. nslookup, dig and host can be used to check resolving, as you perfectly describe in this article.

    • musolff92 July 2, 2011, 3:25 am

      well that’s true, but it has to resolve the dns name before it can continue the ping. So ping works too.

      • marazzi. February 6, 2016, 8:55 pm

        Not exactly so @musolff92. If you are blocking ICMP’s then the ping will not hit you back, but you still be resolving names, or if you don’t specify a default gateway, pings will fail yet end might be working. The ping is good to test connectivity issues before this step.

  • user December 20, 2007, 4:33 pm

    > http://www.google.com

    Non-authoritative answer:
    http://www.google.com canonical name = google.navigation.opendns.com.
    Name: google.navigation.opendns.com
    Name: google.navigation.opendns.com

  • Phil January 22, 2008, 1:44 pm

    Using nslookup you can query different name servers.

    nslookup http://www.google.com XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX

    where XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX is the ip adress or name of the name server you are trying to query.

    Doing :
    nslookup http://www.google.com localhost
    will query your local dns server if you have one.

  • Sajain Geevar July 8, 2008, 8:33 am

    How can I specify something like for site say ‘www.mysite.com’ go to this ip say ‘’?

  • nixCraft July 8, 2008, 7:17 pm

    You need to set named or bind9 software to point to specific IP.

  • FM September 20, 2008, 4:51 am


  • Ashis September 4, 2011, 2:14 pm

    i m very much crazy abt Linux

  • FuzzyGhost June 19, 2012, 2:53 pm

    How does one set this permanently though? /etc/resolv.conf will erase changes upon reboot/shutdown.

    • Andy October 8, 2012, 6:20 pm

      From resolv.conf:

      # No nameservers found; try putting DNS servers into your
      # ifcfg files in /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts like so:
      # DNS1=xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
      # DNS2=xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
      # DOMAIN=lab.foo.com bar.foo.com

  • Dr Chaos October 4, 2012, 1:42 am

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!
    fixed my network after visiting 8 sites. This one did it for me :)
    Ubuntu 12 server, with KDE installed on top.

  • Sellmy March 13, 2013, 12:53 am

    Good link.Luckily stumbled after visiting 1st 3 results on google search. Glad i checked it out .

  • Adi Kwok March 29, 2014, 7:20 am

    Finally, i found this clear answer,

    Thank you, nixcraft team

  • asd January 23, 2015, 11:26 am

    why do you edit resolve.conf directly?
    Boot, and see if your changes are still there.

    This file gets overwritten.
    You need to use /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/head for this or set dns in /etc/network/interfaces
    You can even use dhcpclient conf file for this

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