I have several machines, both virtual and physical, in my home network. Currently I have to connect to each machine via IP address. The one main machine I connect with to all the other machines is running Windows Vista.

Is there a way I can have some sort of DNS capability inside my network so I can refer to these machines with a name instead of IP?

I think this would be a common problem in most households (running a few computers) and I think there might be some simple solutions out there. This would be something most routers should support out of the box - but why don't they?

Can anyone recommend some of these or an easy way to accomplish this?

4 Answers 4


WINS/NetBIOS is the traditional distributed "workgroup DNS" for small private networks. It's why you can see other computers in the "Network" on Windows.

If you have static IPs and don't change around your VMs or computers, then just making a quick hosts file and distributing that is a quick, easy and once over fix. "Visiting laptops" won't resolve to that of course.


Afterthought: If these are Windows computers, then simply enabling Network browsing, and file and printer sharing should do the trick.

  • 4
    Sorry, but that's not dynamic name resolution. That's explicit name assignment in a hosts override file. If the IP address of one of your devices changes, this won't work. Jan 26, 2011 at 4:03

DD-WRT might be the solution for this problem, from their About page:

DD-WRT is a third party developed firmware released under the terms of the GPL for many ieee802.11a/b/g/h/n wireless routers

It has a large set of features, including a small DNS server Dnsmask, which is bescribed as:

It is designed to provide DNS and, optionally, DHCP, to a small network. It can serve the names of local machines which are not in the global DNS. The DHCP server integrates with the DNS server and allows machines with DHCP-allocated addresses to appear in the DNS with names configured either in each host or in a central configuration file.

Here is the tutorial from their website on how to do that: DNSMasq As DHCP Server


Microsoft's LLMNR in Vista and Windows 7 is supposed to do this. Is it not working?

IETF Zeroconf (which is implemented by Apple as "Bonjour", and implemented by the Linux/FOSS community as "Avahi") also does this, via multicast DNS (mDNS). Installing Bonjour for Windows on all the relevant machines might give this to you.

  • 1
    I used systemd-resolved to get local hostname resolution working: systemctl enable --now systemd-resolved. Things like ssh machineOnLAN and http://myRaspi work fine now. Nov 9, 2022 at 19:15

Many routers do support this. Try to use telnet (or maybe ssh, if it supports that) to connect to your router, and look for a dns menu.

  • 2
    Most also have a web interface. Point your browser to it.
    – Keith
    Apr 15, 2011 at 5:35

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