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[ale] how to see if a host is up on a network

I need a way to find out if a host is alive on our network.  I've looked at
using "ping -c 1 thehost" and it would work fine but my script can't afford to
wait 10 seconds for a downed host not to respond.  Any suggestions? 
------         David Hamm - dhamm at itserve.com           --------