A hostname is a user-generated custom name which identifies a computer system in a network. In Ubuntu 20.04, users assign a hostname to the machine during OS setup.
You may decide to change your computer’s hostname for several reasons. For example, no two computers on a network can have the same hostname and, if you find yourself in this situation, you will have to change the hostname to avoid a network conflict.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to change a hostname on Ubuntu 20.04 using the Linux command line or GUI.
- Ubuntu 20.04 installed
- An account with sudo privileges
- Access to the command line for non-GUI methods
How to Check Current Hostname on Ubuntu 20.04
To check the current hostname of your Ubuntu system, use one of two available commands.
hostnamecommand displays only the hostname itself.
- The other command,
hostnamectl, displays additional information about your computer system.
Static hostname line displays your machine’s hostname.
Note: Valid hostnames are between 2 and 64 characters in length. They can contain only letters, numbers, periods, and hyphens, but must begin and end with letters and numbers only.
Temporarily Change Hostname on Ubuntu 20.04
Use the hostname command to make a temporary change to your computer’s hostname.
In the terminal, type the following, replacing
new-hostname with the name you choose:
sudo hostname new-hostname
If successful, this step will not provide any output. To confirm the result of the process, check the current system hostname:
Change Hostname on Ubuntu 20.04 (No Reboot Required)
If you wish to permanently change the hostname without rebooting your computer, use the
Step 1: Use set-hostname to Change the Hostname
Type the following command:
hostnamectl set-hostname new-hostname
Use your own hostname choice instead of
Step 2: Use hostnamectl to Confirm the Change
Just like the
hostname command, if successful,
hostnamectl set-hostname does not produce any output. Therefore, use
hostnamectl to check the result.
Step 3: Change the Pretty Hostname (Optional)
A “pretty” hostname is the hostname presented to the user, not to another computer on a network. A computer system identifies another computer only by its static hostname.
Note: The pretty hostname does not have the naming limitations of its static counterpart – any UTF-8 value is permitted.
To change a machine’s “pretty” hostname, use the same
hostnamectl command with the
hostnamectl set-hostname "new-hostname" --pretty
new-hostname with your own UTF-8 value.
After checking the result with
hostnamectl, you will notice an additional line in the output, listing the computer’s “pretty” hostname.
Note: The “pretty” hostname is stored in /etc/machine-info. Updating this file is another way to perform this optional step.
Change Hostname on Ubuntu 20.04 – Alternative Method (Reboot Required)
Another way to permanently change the hostname is by editing two configuration files:
The changes take effect immediately after system reboot.
Step 1: Open /etc/hostname and Change the Hostname
Edit the file with a text editor of your choice. In this example, we will be using the Vim editor:
sudo vi /etc/hostname
The /etc/hostname file contains only the current hostname. Replace it with your new choice.
Step 2: Open /etc/hosts and Change the Hostname
Now edit the /etc/hosts file in the same way.
sudo vi /etc/hosts
The file /etc/hosts maps hostnames to IP addresses. Look for the hostname you wish to change and simply replace it with your new choice.
Save the edits and exit.
Step 3: Reboot the System
Reboot your computer to apply the changes:
sudo systemctl reboot
Note: If you use the
cloud-init package to run a cloud instance of Ubuntu, you need to perform another step before rebooting. Go to /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg file and make sure the line
preserve_hostname is set to
Change Hostname on Ubuntu 20.04 Using GUI
The Ubuntu GUI also provides a way to edit the system hostname:
1. First, navigate to Settings > About.
2. Now, locate the Device Name field.
3 Clicking the Device Name field opens the Rename Device dialogue box.
4. In the Rename Device dialogue box, replace the current hostname with a new one and confirm your choice by clicking the Rename button. This action permanently changes the hostname.
This article presented three methods in which you can change the hostname on your Ubuntu 20.04 machine, using the command line or GUI. All the methods are simple and straightforward, so you can choose whichever one fits your use case best.