Determine non-Windows host names on LAN with no DNS?

Posted on 2008-11-12
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
On my local LAN that has no DNS, I have a bunch of different types of hosts including Windows, Macs and various consumer electronics that probably have embedded linux.  Using several different LAN scanners, I can get a list of all the devices and IP addresses, but these seem only to be able to show host names for the Windows devices.  I even found one tool that displayed some "description" field data that's filled in on some of the devices.  But, I have not found any such tool that will tell me host names for the Mac OS X devices nor the Linux devices; they find IP/MAC addresses for all devices but don't come up with host names.

I know many of these non-Windows devices have host names because using the Admin console of our DLink router, I can see host names for all types of devices that have been assigned addresses using DHCP.  But this does not allow me to see host names for statically assigned devices.  Several of these have no admin consoles or telnet capability, so there's no way to log on to them to find out what their host names are.  And going one by one isn't what I had in mind anyway.

Are there any free tools that will allow me to find out the host names for -all- devices on the network?

Question by:charlieopp
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Short answer? No.

    The discovery tools you are using needs some way to look up the hostname of the devices it probes. The usual sources are DNS lookups, lookups in various windows name services (like WINS or local browse list) or through SNMP (supported by many routers/switches/printers). If the discovery tools you are using can't find the hostname from one of those sources, it simply will be unable to tell you the hostname for a given IP.
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Anyway, are we talking large network / lots of devices here? You are doing an inventory, right?

    Even if you are unable to find the hostname, you can usually figure out what kind of device that has a particular IP. You would usually do this checking what kind of services that the particular device is running (f.ex, many printers / routers / embedded devices have a web-server for administration, so entering http://ip.of.device/ in a web browser will usually tell you the name/model).

    You can also tell a bit from the MAC address (ping a device and do arp -a on the command line to list which MAC address an IP address corresponds to). The first 3 octets of the MAC will tell you the manufacturer of the network card. Some scanner tools include this list, or you can use to look up. F.ex. a MAC that is registered to Lexmark usually means a lexmark printer.

    If you have reasonably smart switches, you can either log on to the switch or use a SNMP tool to list which MAC addresses it sees on which port. So if you have a mystery device, you could follow the MAC from switch to switch until you reach the last one and then follow the network cable from that particular port on the switch.


    Author Comment

    But then where does the DLink router get host names in its DHCP table (e.g. The AppleTV on the network has the hostname "Apple TV" in the DHCP table.)?
    LVL 4

    Accepted Solution

    DHCP clients usually include their hostname in the DHCP request when they ask for an IP from the DHCP server, so on many DHCP servers you can find this hostname in the logs. But if the device (in this case an Apple TV) does not use windows networking or is registered in DNS, then a scanner tool won't be able to figure out its hostname.


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