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First off I should say that I am a total Linux and Networking Noob. I have used Windows all my life, but I am now trying to get into linux so I have set up an old PC with Fedora.

Currently I only have the Linux Box and a Windows 7 Box and they are both connected to my broadband router. I have set them up with static IP addresses in the router and they can both ping each other by IP address but not hostname. I would like to be able to use hostnames to access each box (e.g. for SSH access and File Sharing). My question is basically how can I do this, what are the options and which is recommended for a small home network?

So far I have been able to set up the linux box to be able to ping the Windows box by hostname by editing the hosts file. Is this the right thing to do? Should I just do this on the Windows box too?

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With only two systems on your network, editing the hosts files is probably the easiest thing to do. You could also run your own DNS service on one of the two systems or you could find a free DNS service and setup entries with your internal IP addresses. Setting up the named.conf and a few basic zone files on a Linux system is relatively easy to do.

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Does your router allow you to setup hostnames and a domain for the NATed machines? If it doesn't you will probably be stuck with editing host files since setting up a dns server probably isn't worth it for two machines. You will also have problems using the Internet if your internal DNS server goes down. You might be able to configure your computers to fail over to your router for DNS but from my experience it slows things down quite a bit.

For the brave, those willing to risk bricking their router, you might be able to try one of the open source firmwares like DD-wrt, OpenWRT, Tomato, etc. if your model is supported. They include many additional feature that you generally don't get with the stock firmwares on consumer grade access points/routers. You also get a command line interface to tinker with.

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