Switching to randomly generated hostnames

John Watlington wad at laptop.org
Wed May 2 03:28:16 EDT 2012

On May 1, 2012, at 6:49 PM, John Gilmore wrote:

>> Currently, XO hostnames are set on first boot in the following format:
>> xo-A-B-C
>> Where A, B and C are the last 3 bytes of the MAC address expressed in hex.
>> In Nicaragua we are seeing cases where XOs have no hostname set, both
>> on XO-1 and XO-1.5. On XO-1 this is presumably because libertas
>> usb8388 init was never 100% reliable, and on XO-1.5 its presumably
>> because the wireless card was DOA but was replaced after first boot.
> Why would we need to get it from the wireless card?  Isn't the
> laptop's MAC address stored in the manufacturing data in motherboard
> flash?

I second this recommendation.   While the MAC address in the manufacturing
data may not be correct (if the WLAN card has been changed), it is guaranteed
to be as unique as the laptop serial number.

Using only the last three bytes of the MAC may not result in a unique name, however.
It was when we only used cards from one manufacturer, but that changed starting
with XO-1.5.

My problem with the suggestions to randomly generate the host name are
that no-one has proposed a method for detecting and correcting the name collisions
that are sure to occur.   (How is /dev/urandom seeded these days ?)

Personally, most of the laptops I use don't have manufacturing data, but that
can be corrected.


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