Linux Step By Steps
NETSCAPE: Timeouts & Dial up triggers


I was watching the thread regarding 'setting blank page' and supposedly ominous calls online to port 53 etc when netscape first starts. This will trigger an automatic dial up (for instance). Which is annoying when you dont necesarily want to browse online at all!

The secondary thing about the above, is this 'behaviour' is also characterised by agonisingly long pauses before Netscape gets it's act together and actually responds after first being initiated.

The bottom line is a very simple fix (tm). Stupidly simple, but it's worth a few paragraphs first to explain what's going on.

Netscape when it first starts assumes for reasons of it's own that you want  to be connected to a news service. Why? Dunno, don't care.

It makes calls to port 53 which is not ominous at all, it is the DNS server request in both udp and tcp protocols, and happens from lack of any other information provided.

What DNS?

NEWS.<some domain>

if <some domain> does not have a news service then you will get an agonising wait, for it to refuse the connection. Secondly, of course, it triggers an online traffic connection.

The FIX is edit /etc/hosts and create a news.server. Your personal phony news server. How?

1) cat /etc/hostname

MY machine is mikea, and MY domain is 'nf'. Therefore, netscape will look

YOUR machine will be different. Adjust accordingly.

2) kedit /etc/hosts

add to the following line localhhost.localdomain localhost news

(Obviously? replace 'nf' with whatever your /etc/hostname says it is)

You do NOT have to reboot or restart anything (except Netscape) for this to take effect.

Voila, goodnight.


For those of you just entering these waters 'Linux' interprets requests for humanly readable domain names (such as into unique IP numbers. Ie, a hard address of a machine 'out there'. It first looks up /etc/hosts If the name is in that file, it has it's IP and no further action necessary. If not, 'Linux' does a DNS lookup. DNS = Domain Name Server. If that server doesn't have what's needed, that server, looks further, and so on.

Which Domain Name Server? The IP you specify in/etc/resolv.conf

And, you can alter the search order (DNS 1st, local first, yellow pages first) in /etc/hosts.conf

In the above, all we are doing is telling 'Linux' that is on a machine with an IP of The fact that that IP happens to be our machine, is of no concern to the mechanism trying to resolve the domain name, and problem solved.

Have a look at these three files if it's whet your appetite.

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