The hosts configuration file that is reside under /etc directory is useful to resolve the hostname locally without the use of the DNS server. The hosts configuration file can configure to map the local network host on your intranet network or internet network without the use of DNS.
The example of hosts configuration file under Linux Fedora 9:
[root@fedora ~]# cat /etc/hosts
# Do not remove the following line, or various programs
# that require network functionality will fail.
127.0.0.1 localhost.localdomain localhost localhost
::1 localhost6.localdomain6 localhost6
Using the ls -l command to show the hosts file permission, owner, group owner, file size, date created or edited and file location.
[root@fedora ~]# ls -l /etc/hosts
-rw-r--r-- 2 root root 197 2008-08-19 05:35 /etc/hosts