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I can't connect to a server in my domain

C:\Users\evil>nslookup winserver
Server:  m0n0wall.local
Address:  192.168.123.254

Name:    winserver
Address:  192.168.123.246

this is ok, nslookup finds the server

however

C:\Users\evil>ping winserver
Ping request could not find host winserver. Please check the name and try again.

This is rather weird, any hints?

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See my comments here. NSLOOKUP queries the DNS server directly, whereas ping uses name resolution as provided by the operating system.

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