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searching for hosts in domain local

In my local network, the machines generally know each other by names like

So if i'm on first_host, i can ssh to second_host with
    ssh my_account@second_host.local
and i can ping second_host by
    ping second_host.local

I would like to drop the '.local' because it's an extra six characters
with absolutely no value.

In principle, i think it should be possible to by just adding
     search local
to my /etc/resolv.conf, but this absolutely does not work.  (I imagine that
local is a really magic name in some contexts but not very magic in others.)

Furthermore, /etc/resolv.conf doesn't want to be written, as it
says it is generated automatically, so even if it worked, it wouldn't
be such a good solution.

I can sort of fix the situation by editing ~/.ssh/config and adding lines
    Host second_host
        Hostname second_host.local
but this has the disadvantage that i have to do it for every host on
the network, and it only affects ssh --- ping and presumably every
other command (naturally!) do not consult this file.

(I don't have any influence over my router which comes from
my service provider, but i wouldn't want to change it even if
i could, since i'm just asking my own machine to intercept
a name like second_host and convert it to second_host.local
before processing further.)

Thanks in advance for any clues or references to man pages
or even other mailing lists.


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