Talk:Host (network)

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a Host is not always a node. I have removed the redirect and corrected the def. I have also included the cites for this def. --akc9000 (talk contribs count) 20:59, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

A host is not always a computer[edit]

Depending on the definition. A router is also a host. A (level 7) gateway is also a host. As is a printer with a NIC.

I would suggest that a host is a node that has a level 3 address. In *nix, anything that can be added to the hosts file. (This is one of the few instances where I believe even the CCNA material is wrong.)

Is there any RFC on this? Or any academically researched book? --itpastorn (talk) 09:35, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

All these things are computers. They have electricity running through them. They have central processing units which process programs. They have RAM and ROM. They have input-output ports and react to interrupts. They have peripherals under their control. They are neither vitamin pills nor mountain ranges; they are unquestionably computers. Unfree (talk) 03:57, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Would that be understandable to a normal reader. The word "computer" normally means something more narrow (PCs, servers, mainframes, handhelds...) than computer in a very strict technical sense. BTW, why do you think I wrote: "Depending on the definition"? --itpastorn (talk) 16:15, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

That is a computer[edit]

The first sentence of the article reads, "A host is a node on a network that is a computer." It's got a certain poetry to it, but I have no idea what it means. Evidently, "that" is being used to mean "which."

If "that" were changed to "which" and followed by a comma, it would obviously mean that the network is a computer. But without a comma, or as it stands, there's no way to tell which noun "that" refers to. It could be "host," "node," or "network."

I'm coming to this article to find out precisely what a host is, but I don't know what nodes or networks are, either, except vaguely.

May I entice somebody to provide an opening sentence (or to reword that one) giving a clearer idea of what a host is -- and without the jargon, if possible? It's so frustrating to look something up only to discover you need an education to understand the opening sentence. Unfree (talk) 22:47, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

The Whole Article[edit]

Actually, the whole article stinks. Here's the text as it stands at present, with my comments interspersed throughout and enclosed in braces:

Host (network)

A host is a node on a network that is a computer.[1][2] Every host is a node but every node is not a host.

{I've already discussed the first sentence; the second is simply wrong. It says "every node is not a host," but the beginning of the sentence says "every host is a node"! Obviously, the intent is to say that "not every node is a host," which is entirely different. Moreover, it goes without saying. Furthermore, it follows the statement that "A host is a node," making "Every host is a node" utterly redundant.}


In general terms, a host is a computer on a computer network. {Is there any good reason for the disclaimer, "in general terms"? Definitions ought to be definite. We already know from the opening sentence that a host is a computer, and that it's a node. The whole sentence, like the one before it, contributes nothing.} A host is at a specific location {Why "specific"? Are there locations other than specific ones?} on the network; {Doesn't that, too, go without saying? Perhaps there are computers which have no location. Are there?} this holds true {"This holds true" is bad style.} for the nodes which make up the network as well. {"As well" as what? We know that a host is a computer which acts as a node on a network. What is now being said of nodes?} The location is called an address; {So the location isn't called a location; why call it a location in the first place?} in the Internet protocol suite, the address is an IP address. {If the address is an IP address, why not introduce it as an "IP address" in the first place? And how does it help to know that? Does "host" mean something in other contexts which differ from its meaning in the Internet protocol suite, and if so, why isn't that explained explicitly? Also, what is it that a "host" hosts? According to the first reference at the bottom, which, incidentally, is gone, but archived by the Wayback Machine, it hosts information. Is that true? Is that why it's called a host? The second reference is a lot more confusing; it only says what "a host used to be."}

The term host should not be confused with host computer, which is a computer server on a computer network. {This really throws a monkey wrench into the whole concept. None of these things are surrounded with quotation marks to distinguish them as precise terms. Is "host computer" not a host? Is it not a computer? What is it? What about "computer host"? Does that mean anything? Is a "computer server" a computer? Does it serve computers? Is a computer network a network made up of computers? Why not say so? The sentence seems to imply, assuming that a "host computer" is a computer, and assuming that "computer server on a computer network" means that the "host computer" is "on" a network in some way, that it's something other than a node. What else is there on networks besides nodes? Doesn't that require explanation in order to understand what a host is?}

History {The information here is of historical interest, but it's peripheral to a discussion of hosts.}

A hosts file originally defined in RFC 627 to define locations of hosts on the ARPANET.

{That isn't a sentence. Also, RFC 627 doesn't define or mention "hosts file." Nor does it define "locations" or "locations of hosts." It is about a file, but the name of the file is "HOSTS.TXT," not "hosts."}

This is why the file was named hosts, literally a file with a list of hosts.[3]

{"This" is vague; what does it refer to? "Literally" goes without saying; we know the article isn't worded figuratively. "HOSTS.TXT," apparently, wasn't "with" a list of hosts, it actually was one, but RFC 627 isn't very helpful in explaining what a host is; its purpose, evidently, was to document and publicize the existence and location of the file.}

References {All these references are very poor. I discuss them with respect to the information they present under the word "host." The inclusion of an RFC among the references is encouraging, though. There must be a few gems among them.}

  1. ^ Glossary of Distance Learning Terms, University of New Orleans, Accessed: June 27, 2007.

{That has been taken down, was poorly worded, and was not in the least authoritative. Judging by "Distance Learning," it was intended only as a brief introduction to a few essential ideas students might need to know.}

  2. ^ Advertising Glossary Index, Accessed: June 27, 2007. 

{This reference is even less clear than the first, is less authoritative, discusses the subject only tangentially, and is profit-motivated. It discusses hosts in a way suggesting its intended readers are already familiar with the term. It actually says only what "host" was, not what it is.}

  3. ^ ASCII TEXT FILE OF HOSTNAMES, RFC 627, Mike Kudlick - Jake Feinler, March 25, 1974

{This is ancient and primitive. It's interesting to see how "hostname" was used in 1974, but it isn't really about hosts, only about a file which acted as an index.}

Unfree (talk) 03:34, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

Formal definitions[edit]

I am looking for definitions of terms in RFCs. It seems "host" is a bit vague, depending on the circumstances. We have got:

Unix hosts
Anything you can put in a hosts file
Formally defined where?
History of the term is described where?
NetBIOS hosts
Confusion abound:
Host computers
aka. servers
Web hosts
Physical and virtual
IPv4/Internet hosts
Any device that has or can have an IP-adress. It's a host even before it has been given an IP address through DHCP, according to the language in the RFCs. Eg in
A host computer, or simply "host," is the ultimate consumer of communication services. A host generally executes application programs on behalf of user(s), employing network and/or Internet communication services in support of this function.
An Internet host corresponds to the concept of an "End-System" used in the OSI protocol suite [INTRO:13].
A host typically must implement at least one protocol from each layer.
IPV6 hosts
Any node that is not a router (, where a node is any device that "implements IP" (which normally is not the definition of a node)


Two factors seem consistent: Naming and addressability. Generally RFC 1122 seems to be the best source for how the term host is used today. Anyway, the article needs a rewrite.--itpastorn (talk) 20:52, 11 March 2008 (UTC)