host versus nslookup

Lightner, Jeff JLightner at
Wed Oct 12 17:28:55 UTC 2011

One thing that is different about nslookup on HP-UX (which doesn't have host) is that it actually respects nsswitch.conf so will give you results from /etc/hosts OR from name services whereas most implementations only do it from name services.

Nslookup is "deprecated" meaning you should use host where possible.   Also for DNS troubleshooting dig is a much better tool than nslookup or host.

-----Original Message-----
From: at [ at] On Behalf Of Martin McCormick
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 1:22 PM
To: 'bind-users at'; martin at
Subject: host versus nslookup

Many years ago, various flavors of unix began distributing a
utility called host which did almost the same thing as nslookup.
Host is what I use most of the time, now, and I actually thought
that nslookup on unix systems was maybe going away.

        A coworker recently asked me about nslookup on our
FreeBSD system and I verified the behavior he was asking about.

        Other than a different output format, what are the
advantages of having both host and nslookup.

        On the FreeBSD system in question, nslookup is
definitely a different binary than is host so one is not
hard-linked to the other.

        The behavior he was asking about was simply that all
foreign domains that one looks up with nslookup report as
non-authoritative since the DNS one is using isnot authoritative
for, say, or

        This is not a problem. I am just curious.

        Many thanks.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ  Stillwater, OK
Systems Engineer
OSU Information Technology Department Telecommunications Services Group
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