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16.2. Configuring a DHCP Server

To configure a DHCP server, the /etc/dhcpd.conf configuration file must be created. A sample file can be found at /usr/share/doc/dhcp-<version>/dhcpd.conf.sample.

DHCP also uses the file /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases to store the client lease database. Refer to Section 16.2.2 Lease Database for more information.

16.2.1. Configuration File

The first step in configuring a DHCP server is to create the configuration file that stores the network information for the clients. Global options can be declared for all clients, while other options can be declared for individual client systems.

The configuration file can contain extra tabs or blank lines for easier formatting. Keywords are case-insensitive and lines beginning with a hash mark (#) are considered comments.

Two DNS update schemes are currently implemented — the ad-hoc DNS update mode and the interim DHCP-DNS interaction draft update mode. If and when these two are accepted as part of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards process, there will be a third mode — the standard DNS update method. The DHCP server must be configured to use one of the two current schemes. Version 3.0b2pl11 and previous versions used the ad-hoc mode; however, it has been deprecated. To keep the same behavior, add the following line to the top of the configuration file:

ddns-update-style ad-hoc;

To use the recommended mode, add the following line to the top of the configuration file:

ddns-update-style interim;

Refer to the dhcpd.conf man page for details about the different modes.

There are two types of statements in the configuration file:

Some parameters must start with the option keyword and are referred to as options. Options configure DHCP options; whereas, parameters configure values that are not optional or control how the DHCP server behaves.

Parameters (including options) declared before a section enclosed in curly brackets ({ }) are considered global parameters. Global parameters apply to all the sections below it.

ImportantImportant
 

If the configuration file is changed, the changes do not take effect until the DHCP daemon is restarted with the command service dhcpd restart.

TipTip
 

Instead of changing a DHCP configuration file and restarting the service each time, using the omshell command provides an interactive way to connect to, query, and change the configuration of a DHCP server. By using omshell, all changes can be made while the server is running. For more information on omshell, refer to the omshell man page.

In Example 16-1, the routers, subnet-mask, domain-name, domain-name-servers, and time-offset options are used for any host statements declared below it.

Additionally, a subnet can be declared, a subnet declaration must be included for every subnet in the network. If it is not, the DHCP server fails to start.

In this example, there are global options for every DHCP client in the subnet and a range declared. Clients are assigned an IP address within the range.

subnet 192.168.1.0 netmask 255.255.255.0 {
        option routers                  192.168.1.254;
        option subnet-mask              255.255.255.0;

        option domain-name              "example.com";
        option domain-name-servers       192.168.1.1;

        option time-offset              -18000;     # Eastern Standard Time

	range 192.168.1.10 192.168.1.100;
}

Example 16-1. Subnet Declaration

All subnets that share the same physical network should be declared within a shared-network declaration as shown in Example 16-2. Parameters within the shared-network, but outside the enclosed subnet declarations, are considered to be global parameters. The name of the shared-network should be a descriptive title for the network, such as using the title 'test-lab' to describe all the subnets in a test lab environment.

shared-network name {
    option domain-name              "test.redhat.com";
    option domain-name-servers      ns1.redhat.com, ns2.redhat.com;
    option routers                  192.168.0.254;
    more parameters for EXAMPLE shared-network
    subnet 192.168.1.0 netmask 255.255.252.0 {
        parameters for subnet
        range 192.168.1.1 192.168.1.254;
    }
    subnet 192.168.2.0 netmask 255.255.252.0 {
        parameters for subnet
        range 192.168.2.1 192.168.2.254;
    }
}

Example 16-2. Shared-network Declaration

As demonstrated in Example 16-3, the group declaration can be used to apply global parameters to a group of declarations. For example, shared networks, subnets, and hosts can be grouped.

group {
   option routers                  192.168.1.254;
   option subnet-mask              255.255.255.0;

   option domain-name              "example.com";
   option domain-name-servers       192.168.1.1;

   option time-offset              -18000;     # Eastern Standard Time

   host apex {
      option host-name "apex.example.com";
      hardware ethernet 00:A0:78:8E:9E:AA; 
      fixed-address 192.168.1.4;
   }

   host raleigh {
      option host-name "raleigh.example.com";
      hardware ethernet 00:A1:DD:74:C3:F2;
      fixed-address 192.168.1.6;
   }
}

Example 16-3. Group Declaration

To configure a DHCP server that leases a dynamic IP address to a system within a subnet, modify Example 16-4 with your values. It declares a default lease time, maximum lease time, and network configuration values for the clients. This example assigns IP addresses in the range 192.168.1.10 and 192.168.1.100 to client systems.

default-lease-time 600;
max-lease-time 7200;
option subnet-mask 255.255.255.0;
option broadcast-address 192.168.1.255;
option routers 192.168.1.254;
option domain-name-servers 192.168.1.1, 192.168.1.2;
option domain-name "example.com";

subnet 192.168.1.0 netmask 255.255.255.0 {
   range 192.168.1.10 192.168.1.100;
}

Example 16-4. Range Parameter

To assign an IP address to a client based on the MAC address of the network interface card, use the hardware ethernet parameter within a host declaration. As demonstrated in Example 16-5, the host apex declaration specifies that the network interface card with the MAC address 00:A0:78:8E:9E:AA always receives the IP address 192.168.1.4.

Note that the optional parameter host-name can also be used to assign a host name to the client.

host apex {
   option host-name "apex.example.com";
   hardware ethernet 00:A0:78:8E:9E:AA; 
   fixed-address 192.168.1.4;
}

Example 16-5. Static IP Address using DHCP

TipTip
 

The sample configuration file provided can be used as a starting point and custom configuration options can be added to it. To copy it to the proper location, use the following command:
cp /usr/share/doc/dhcp-<version-number>/dhcpd.conf.sample /etc/dhcpd.conf
(where <version-number> is the DHCP version number).

For a complete list of option statements and what they do, refer to the dhcp-options man page.

16.2.2. Lease Database

On the DHCP server, the file /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases stores the DHCP client lease database. This file should not be modified by hand. DHCP lease information for each recently assigned IP address is automatically stored in the lease database. The information includes the length of the lease, to whom the IP address has been assigned, the start and end dates for the lease, and the MAC address of the network interface card that was used to retrieve the lease.

All times in the lease database are in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), not local time.

The lease database is recreated from time to time so that it is not too large. First, all known leases are saved in a temporary lease database. The dhcpd.leases file is renamed dhcpd.leases~ and the temporary lease database is written to dhcpd.leases.

The DHCP daemon could be killed or the system could crash after the lease database has been renamed to the backup file but before the new file has been written. If this happens, the dhcpd.leases file does not exist, but it is required to start the service. Do not create a new lease file. If you do, all old leases are lost which causes many problems. The correct solution is to rename the dhcpd.leases~ backup file to dhcpd.leases and then start the daemon.

16.2.3. Starting and Stopping the Server

ImportantImportant
 

When the DHCP server is started for the first time, it fails unless the dhcpd.leases file exists. Use the command touch /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases to create the file if it does not exist.

If the same server is also running BIND as a DNS server, this step is not necessary, as starting the named service automatically checks for a dhcpd.leases file.

To start the DHCP service, use the command /sbin/service dhcpd start. To stop the DHCP server, use the command /sbin/service dhcpd stop.

By default, the DHCP service does not start at boot time. To configure the daemon to start automatically at boot time, refer to Chapter 12 Controlling Access to Services for information on how to manage services.

If more than one network interface is attached to the system, but the DHCP server should only be started on one of the interfaces, configure the DHCP server to start only on that device. In /etc/sysconfig/dhcpd, add the name of the interface to the list of DHCPDARGS:

# Command line options here
DHCPDARGS=eth0

This is useful for a firewall machine with two network cards. One network card can be configured as a DHCP client to retrieve an IP address to the Internet. The other network card can be used as a DHCP server for the internal network behind the firewall. Specifying only the network card connected to the internal network makes the system more secure because users can not connect to the daemon via the Internet.

Other command line options that can be specified in /etc/sysconfig/dhcpd include:

16.2.4. DHCP Relay Agent

The DHCP Relay Agent (dhcrelay) allows for the relay of DHCP and BOOTP requests from a subnet with no DHCP server on it to one or more DHCP servers on other subnets.

When a DHCP client requests information, the DHCP Relay Agent forwards the request to the list of DHCP servers specified when the DHCP Relay Agent is started. When a DHCP server returns a reply, the reply is broadcast or unicast on the network that sent the original request.

The DHCP Relay Agent listens for DHCP requests on all interfaces unless the interfaces are specified in /etc/sysconfig/dhcrelay with the INTERFACES directive.

To start the DHCP Relay Agent, use the command service dhcrelay start.