In a distributed Erlang system, it is sometimes useful to connect to a node without also connecting to all other nodes. An example is some kind of O&M functionality used to inspect the status of a system, without disturbing it. For this purpose, a hidden node can be used.
A hidden node is a node started with the command-line flag -hidden. Connections between hidden nodes and other nodes are not transitive, they must be set up explicitly. Also, hidden nodes does not show up in the list of nodes returned by nodes(). Instead, nodes(hidden) or nodes(connected) must be used. This means, for example, that the hidden node is not added to the set of nodes that global is keeping track of.
This feature was added in Erlang 5.0/OTP R7.