An idempotent command-line utility for managing your /etc/hosts file.
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hostess Coverage Status GoDoc

An idempotent command-line utility for managing your /etc/hosts file.

hostess add
hostess add

Why? Because you edit /etc/hosts for development, testing, and debugging. Because sometimes DNS doesn't work in production. And because editing /etc/hosts by hand is a pain. Put hostess in your Makefile or deploy scripts and call it a day.

Using Hostess

Download and Install

Download a precompiled release from GitHub.

Builds are supported for OSX, Linux, Windows, and RaspberryPi.


hostess add domain ip   # Add or replace a hosts entry for this domain pointing to this IP
hostess aff domain ip   # Add or replace a hosts entry in an off state
hostess del domain      # (alias rm) Remove a domain from your hosts file
hostess has domain      # exit code 0 if the domain is in your hostfile, 1 otherwise
hostess off domain      # Disable a domain (but don't remove it completely), exit 1 if entry is missing
hostess on domain       # Re-enable a domain that was disabled, exit 1 if entry is missing
hostess list            # (alias ls) List domains, target ips, and on/off status
hostess fix             # Rewrite your hosts file; use -n to dry run
hostess dump            # Dump your hostfile as json
hostess apply           # Add entries from a json file


-n   # Dry run. Show what will happen but don't do it; output to stdout
-4   # Limit operation to ipv4 entries
-6   # Limit operation to ipv6 entries

hostess will mangle your hosts file. Domains pointing at the same IP will be grouped together and disabled domains commented out. localhost hostname2 hostname3

IPv4 and IPv6

Your hosts file can contain overlapping entries where the same hostname points to both an IPv4 and IPv6 IP. In this case, hostess commands will apply to both entries. Typically you won't have this kind of overlap and the default behavior is OK. However, if you need to be more granular you can use -4 or -6 to limit operations to entries associated with that type of IP.

Developing Hostess


By default, hostess will read / write to /etc/hosts. You can use the HOSTESS_PATH environment variable to provide an alternate path (for testing).

Building from Source

To build from source you'll need to have go 1.4+

Install with go get

go get

Install from source

git clone
cd hostess
make install