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Where does the word at the beggining of the prompt on my MacBook Pro terminal come from?

At the moment, it looks like this

Last login: Fri Oct 14 12:55:34 on ttys000
sherrythinkpad:~ ConfusedNoob$ 
sherrythinkpad:~ ConfusedNoob$ 

Obviously, the ConfusedNoob is my username - but where on Earth is sherrythinkpad coming from?

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see also… –  rogerdpack Dec 19 '14 at 17:49

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Terminal is showing you the first label of your BSD hostname (assuming your shell is BASH). If your BSD hostname is then Terminal will display only yourhostname-

So from where does the BSD hostname come? It can come from several places:

• from the file: /etc/hostconfig

• else from the file: /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/preferences.plist (System ▸ System ▸ HostName)

• else the result of a reverse DNS query for your primary IP address (so you might notice a totally different hostname showing up when you visit an internet café than when connected at home)

• else your "Bonjour" hostname in System Preferences > Sharing (preferences.plist again... System ▸ Network ▸ HostNames ▸ LocalHostName)

• finally, if none of the above have been set, the BSD hostname will be simply localhost

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#2 is where the default value of #4 is stored, not a separate thing. #3 is used before #2/#4, which is what ConfusedNoob is seeing. –  Kevin Reid Oct 14 '11 at 21:02
true, Kevin — yes, if you want to get specific. but since there is no place in the GUI, unless you have Server app installed, to set the former, I had to list the file. –  username Oct 14 '11 at 21:07
hang on a sec ;) #3 is most certainly not used before #2 — that would defeat the whole purpose. this is because #2 is a replacement for hostconfig, and is meant to allow one to override any other values, like a changing reverse DNS name. there would be no point setting a static hostname if it were to simply be steamrolled as soon as you connect to a network... aw crap, this is more complicated than the original poster probably wanted :( –  username Oct 14 '11 at 21:10
at any rate the original poster would likely not have a value defined for System ▸ System ▸ HostName unless he has installed the Server OS — the name he's seeing is likely the Bonjour name, unless he's got a public IP or a private DNS server running on his local network –  username Oct 14 '11 at 21:20
I think it must be 3. It isn't anywhere else and seems to change randomly... –  ConfusedNoob Oct 14 '11 at 21:44

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