Configuring a Networks IP Addresses with DHCP

Chapter 19, "Basic Network Configuration," describes the use of DHCP to configure a Linux system's networking options. If you want to use DHCP in this way, consult that chapter. This section is devoted to the other side of the coin—configuring Linux to deliver IP addresses to other computers.

Before embarking on setting up a DHCP server, you should know when it is and is not appropriate to use one. If you've decided to use the server, you must know where to find it and how to install it. You can then set general network-wide options. You must also tell the server what IP addresses it can deliver. The easiest configuration is to deliver dynamic IP addresses, meaning that clients aren't guaranteed the same IP address time after time. If necessary, you can also configure your DHCP server to deliver static IP addresses, meaning that any given client receives the same IP address whenever it asks for one.

Tip Small office and home networks often use broadband routers. These devices are small boxes that include simple Network Address Translation (NAT) routers, switches, and often additional functionality in small and easy-to-configure packages. These devices can usually function as DHCP servers. Using them for this purpose can result in easier DHCP administration than is possible with a Linux DHCP server. On the other hand, a Linux DHCP server is far more flexible than the DHCP servers that come with small broadband routers.

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