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My computer name in System Preferences > sharing is set to "archos" but is showing as "iphone" on the terminal. It just started doing this after I loaded Xcode for doing iPhone development.

Last login: Mon Nov  7 14:46:55 on ttys001
iphone:~ travis$ 

Any ideas what could be causing this?

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what do you get when you type echo $HOSTNAME –  Daniel Lawson Nov 8 '11 at 6:14
    
this is weird...I am getting 'archos.local' for echo $HOSTNAME. I did the initial writeup when I was at the office, but on my home network it is back to normal. I wonder if this has something to do with my work network? –  Travis Nelson Nov 8 '11 at 6:45
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5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

It's perfectly normal for this to occur; when you login Terminal remotely bash does a reverse DNS lookup. It will only be the same if the hostname is not specified on the network you're connecting from and there is no reply from the DHCP server, or the reverse lookup against the remote DNS server fails to resolve.

You can easily over-ride the default setting by using this command in Terminal:

# sudo scutil --set HostName archos

You can check it by using:

# nslookup nn.nn.nn.nn
( or )
# host nn.nn.nn.nn

(where nn signifies your Mac's ip address)

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How can you undo that? –  Gio Dec 1 '11 at 18:45
4  
@Gio Delete the HostName key under System from /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/preferences.plist. See this answer. –  Lri May 9 '13 at 10:42
1  
@Gio: @Lauri's post has excellent background info, but if you want a shortcut: to delete, run sudo scutil --set HostName ''. –  mklement May 5 at 4:51
    
Setting HostName is not advisable, because it creates a separate value that then persists even when you later try to change the hostname via System Preferences > Sharing. By contrast, setting LocalHostName updates the same value, and is normally also picked up by the shell and hostname (the ComputerName value should be updated in tandem). Or does setting HostName behave differently in a way that is advantageous here? –  mklement May 5 at 5:00
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I agree that Jeffrey Hoover's tip was the correct answer. Flushing the DNS cache and restarting the Mac is a nice step too. This is variant of Jeff Hoover's reply:

sudo -i

for n in HostName ComputerName LocalHostName; do
    scutil –set $n new_hostname
done

exit
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You're missing a -: it must be --set to work. Also, as I commented at Jeff's answer: it's probably better to not set HostName. –  mklement May 5 at 20:51
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There are two potential reasons for the shell ($HOSTNAME variable, '\h' in $PS1) and the hostname utility to report a hostname that differs from the one shown in System Preferences > Sharing:

  • sudo scutil --set HostName newName was used to persistently change the hostname - unfortunately, this value is independent from the LocalHostName value set by System Preferences behind the scenes - even though man hostname suggests this method, DO NOT USE it for that reason; run sudo scutil --set HostName '' to remove it, at which point LocalHostName should again be reported; for background, see this post by @Lauri Ranta.

  • If your /etc/hosts file has an entry that matches your machine's IP address, that entry's name will be reported.

Only if neither of the above is true will the shell and hostname reflect the value set via System Preferences.


If you want to change your hostname from the shell, run both of the following:

  • sudo scutil --set LocalHostName newName
  • sudo scutil --set ComputerName newFriendlyName

where the ComputerName value can be a friendlier version (spaces, punctuation) of the LocalHostName value (alphanumerics and dashes only).

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In addition to Jeffrey J. Hoover's tip (above),

I would add these last two steps:

  • Flush the DNS cache by typing: dscacheutil -flushcache
  • Restart your Mac.
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You may also want to change some other things using the scutil command:

sudo scutil --set ComputerName "newname"
sudo scutil --set LocalHostName "newname"
sudo scutil --set HostName "newname"
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By changing the name in System Preferences->Sharing and then using scutil to set HostName, both ComputerName and LocalHostName were already set to the new name for me (in Mavericks). Nice to know that these other settings exist, though. –  Jim Stewart Nov 15 '13 at 19:02
    
@JimStewart: Indeed, that's why it's better to NEVER set HostName, because doing so will make that value persist even when you later try to change your hostname via System Preferences. Conversely, the LocalHostName is picked up by the shell and hostname, so HostName is never needed. –  mklement May 5 at 4:50
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