Oct 21, 2010
I had this issue with Fedora Core 13, so I switched my laptop back to OpenSuse and continued to have the problem. I can do a host lookup for software.opensuse.com and I get a correct response ...
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linux-edxs:/etc # host software.opensuse.org
software.opensuse.org has address 184.108.40.206
linux-edxs:/etc # host download.opensuse.org
download.opensuse.org has address 220.127.116.11
Firefox works. Thunderbird finds my mail servers just fine. SSH works. But then when I try to do anything involving software updates or installation, I get ...
linux-edxs:/etc # zypper update
Retrieving repository 'Updates for openSUSE 11.3 11.3-1.82' metadata 
Download (curl) error for '[URL]':
Error code: Connection failed
Error message: Couldn't resolve host 'download.opensuse.org'
I've seen others here post queries about this, and I'll tell you what it was in my case: our DSL modem's DHCP server returns its own IPV4 address as the DNS server. When I looked at /etc/resolve.conf, I saw "nameserver: 192.168.50.254" on the last line -- the IPV4 address of our DSL modem. I manually inserted "nameserver" lines for our ISP's two actual DNS servers, and everything magically started working. Why this should confuse some software under Linux, but not other software, is a mystery. It also seems to be Gnome-specific (I didn't have this problem with OpenSuse 11.3 and KDE 4).
Ask if they're using Gnome, and ask them to check resolve.conf. A lot of DSL modems and home/small office routers return their own IP address (i.e., the same as the gateway address) for the DNS server on a DHCP query. The solution is to manually edit resolve.conf and put in your ISP's DNS server addresses manually. Incidentally, just my opinion, but Network Manager needs to make this an option. Under Windows, for example, you can select "automatically assign DNS" or you can enter them manually, even if you're using DHCP. It'd be nice if Network Manager permitted that.