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strange gethostsbyname error...

I'm down at a client site doing some troubleshooting and I've come across a 
very strange gethostbyname error.  It's returning NULL on a hostname in the 
/etc/hosts file.  What happens is when the remote server goes down the 
client program tries to re-connect every few hundred times though it's main 
loop.  The idea being it will re-connect when server comes back up.  When it 
first comes up it works, but after an hour or two gethostbyname starts to 
fail.  Has anyone seen anything like this before?
redhat 7.2


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