Bering-uClibc 6.x - User Guide - Advanced Topics - Setting Up a DHCP server with a configuration stored in openLDAP

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Advanced Topics - Setting Up a DHCP server with a configuration stored in openLDAP
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If you need to maintain a high available DHCP server consider to store its configuration and settings within an openLDAP server. You need to configure at least two openLDAP servers with replication (syncrepl) to spread its database over the nodes running on each (or on others) additional DHCP server instances. If you use the „ldap-method dynamic“ in your dhcpd settings, your changes in LDAP for host entries are effective without the need to restart the dhcpd daemon. Only for major changes like adding static routes, you need to restart the dhcpd daemons.

Our scenario

We have a LEAF machine called packethelper-201 which is one of perhaps more DHCP servers. We also have an openLDAP server which stores the complete DHCP server configuration and mostly other informations like users with passwords for authentication. The setup of the openLDAP server is not covered by this Wiki. The example domainname is „“ („a company makes everything dot com“).

Leaf dhcpd openldap.png


As mentioned above, our LEAF DHCP server is called packethelper-201 and it‘s full qualified domain name is You have to add the dhcpd.lrp package to your existing packages.

LRP="root license local keyboard openssl shorwall dropbear dhcpd"

To configure the DHCP server to pull it‘s configuraiton from LDAP we need to state the following settings on our LEAF box, you have to edit the /etc/dhcpd.conf:

ldap-server "";
ldap-port 389;
ldap-username "uid=admindhcpd,ou=system,dc=acme,dc=com";
ldap-password "topsecret";
ldap-base-dn "dc=acme,dc=com";
ldap-method dynamic;
ldap-debug-file "/var/lib/dhcpd-ldap-startup.log";
log-facility local7;

ldap-server points to your running LDAP server.

ldap-port is by default 389, not secured.

ldap-username is the user you have created in LDAP server that permits the DHCP server to connect.

ldap-password is the password you have given the above account.

ldap-base-dn this is the search base where it start to search for the requesting client.

ldap-method you can choose between static and dynamic, static means you have to restart the dhcpd daemon after each LDAP database modification, dynamic reads changes dynamical without restarting the daemon.

ldap-debug-file is the place you can find output while starting the daemon.

log-facility is the loglevel of DHCP daemon we catch with syslog-ng.

For logging it is often recommended to have one logfile for the DHCP daemon. This can be achieved by adding the following lines in /etc/syslog-ng/syslog-ng.conf on your LEAF box:

filter dhcpd { program('^dhcpd$'); };
destination dhcpd_log { file("/var/log/dhcpd.log"); };
log { source(s_all); filter(dhcpd); destination(dhcpd_log); flags(final); };

Next, if you are using shorewall to secure your LEAF box, you have to add the following lines to shorewall configuration stored in /etc/shorewall/rules:

# access ldap server and respone to dhcpd discover
ACCEPT  fw      net     tcp     389
ACCEPT  net     fw      udp     67:68

openLDAP server feeding the DHCP server

Next, we take a look at the LDAP server you have to set up. I suppose you have set it up and have it running. The DHCP server needs its settings which you have to add in the database.

ldap-username stated in dhcpd.conf

This is the service account used by dhcpd server to login into LDAP directory. The LDAP objectClass posixAccount is not required, only if you plan to use this account for shell login too.

Add this section into your LDAP server database (with ldif import or use your favorite LDAP tool):

dn: uid=admindhcpd,ou=system,dc=acme,dc=com
objectClass: simpleSecurityObject
objectClass: person
objectClass: organizationalPerson
objectClass: inetOrgPerson
objectClass: posixAccount
cn: admin.dhcpd
sn: admin.dhcpd
uid: admindhcpd
homeDirectory: /home/admindhcpd
uidNumber: 11112
gidNumber: 2512
userPassword: yoursecret  (here plain text format)
loginShell: /bin/false

This entry defines your LEAF DHCP server packethelper-201 in LDAP server database (with ldif import or use your favorite LDAP tool to add):

dn: cn=packethelper-201,dc=acme=com
objectClass: dhcpServer
objectClass: top
cn: packethelper-201
dhcpServiceDN: cn=DHCP Config,dc=acme,dc=com

Next we have to define main configuration of the DHCP server, required by LEAF packethelper-201:

dn: cn=ACME-COM,cn=DHCP Config,dc=acme,dc=com
objectClass: dhcpSharedNetwork
objectClass: top

If you are familiar with regular DHCP server configurations you detect your dhcpd.conf here in LDAP (import into ldif or use your favorite LDAP tool to add this):

dn: cn=DHCP Config,dc=acme,dc=com
objectClass: dhcpOptions
objectClass: dhcpService
objectClass: top
cn: DHCP Config
dhcpPrimaryDN: cn=packethelper-201,dc=acme,dc=com
dhcpServerDN: cn=packethelper-201,dc=acme,dc=com
dhcpStatements: default-lease-time 36000
dhcpStatements: max-lease-time 86000
dhcpStatements: one-lease-per-client true
dhcpStatements: use-host-dec1-names; true
dn: cn=ACME-COM,cn=DHCP Config,dc=acme,dc=com
objectClass: dhcpSharedNetwork
objectClass: top
dhcpStatements: authoritative

Now, we have to cover the network specific part, in this case for the subnet with all its options you can declare. These entries are set with either ldif import file or with your favorite LDAP tool:

dn: cn=,cn=ACME-COM,cn=DHCP Config,dc=acme,dc=com
objectClass: dhcpOptions
objectClass: dhcpSubnet
objectClass: top
dhcpNetMask: 16
dhcpOption: subnet-mask
dhcpOption: broadcast-address
dhcpOption: domain-name-servers
dhcpOption: netbios-name-servers
dhcpOption: routers
dhcpOption: time-servers
dhcpOption: ntp-servers
dhcpOption: domain-name ""
dhcpOption: smtp-server
dhcpOption: static-routes
dhcpStatements: local-address

Next, lets assume you want to assign a fixed IP to your notebook with MAC address 11:22:33:44:55:66. For having this, you need to add an LDAP entry in your database with the following settings, import as ldif file or add it with your favorite LDAP tool. We put all notebooks into one organizational unit (OU) called "4.notebooks". Therefor create the following entry in your LDAP server database:

dn: ou=4.notebooks,cn=,cn=ACME-COM,cn=DHCP Config,dc=acme,dc= com
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpOptions
objectClass: organizationalUnit
cn: notebooks
ou: 4.notebooks

In our example the first notebook entry in the above OU "4.notebooks" has the following lines:

dn: cn=R61LAN-61,ou=4.notebooks,cn=,cn=ACME-COM,cn=DHCP Config,dc=acme,dc=com
objectClass: radiusprofile
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpHost
cn: R61LAN-61
dhcpHWAddress: ethernet 11:22:33:44:55:66
dhcpStatements: fixed-address

For having an high-availability solution, you have to setup a second LDAP server with syncrepl to your master LDAP server. You might have at least two LEAF DHCP servers pulling their configurations from the LDAP servers. It is a good idea to let the the first LEAF DHCP server pull its configuration from the master LDAP and the second LEAF DHCP server get its configuration from the second LDAP server.

As you can see, the configuration of the LEAF box with DHCP server getting its configuration from LDAP directory is quite easy. The main configuration is done in LDAP directory. For further reading consider to buy a book like LDAP System Administration from O‘Reilly Media or others and take it with you at your next holidays.

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