dhclient [ -4 | -6 ] [ -S ] [ -N [ -N... ] ] [ -T [ -T... ] ] [ -P [
-P... ] ] [ -D LL|LLT ] [ -p port ] [ -d ] [ -e VAR=value ] [ -q ] [
-1 ] [ -r | -x ] [ -lf lease-file ] [ -pf pid-file ] [ --no-pid ] [ -cf
config-file ] [ -sf script-file ] [ -s server-addr ] [ -g relay ] [ -n
] [ -nw ] [ -w ] [ -v ] [ --version ] [ if0 [ ...ifN ] ]
The Internet Systems Consortium DHCP Client, dhclient, provides a means
for configuring one or more network interfaces using the Dynamic Host
Configuration Protocol, BOOTP protocol, or if these protocols fail, by
statically assigning an address.
The DHCP protocol allows a host to contact a central server which main-
tains a list of IP addresses which may be assigned on one or more sub-
nets. A DHCP client may request an address from this pool, and then
use it on a temporary basis for communication on network. The DHCP
protocol also provides a mechanism whereby a client can learn important
details about the network to which it is attached, such as the location
of a default router, the location of a name server, and so on.
There are two versions of the DHCP protocol DHCPv4 and DHCPv6. At
startup the client may be started for one or the other via the -4 or -6
On startup, dhclient reads the dhclient.conf for configuration instruc-
tions. It then gets a list of all the network interfaces that are
configured in the current system. For each interface, it attempts to
configure the interface using the DHCP protocol.
In order to keep track of leases across system reboots and server
restarts, dhclient keeps a list of leases it has been assigned in the
dhclient.leases file. On startup, after reading the dhclient.conf
file, dhclient reads the dhclient.leases file to refresh its memory
about what leases it has been assigned.
When a new lease is acquired, it is appended to the end of the
dhclient.leases file. In order to prevent the file from becoming
arbitrarily large, from time to time dhclient creates a new
dhclient.leases file from its in-core lease database. The old version
of the dhclient.leases file is retained under the name dhclient.leases~
until the next time dhclient rewrites the database.
Old leases are kept around in case the DHCP server is unavailable when
dhclient is first invoked (generally during the initial system boot
process). In that event, old leases from the dhclient.leases file
which have not yet expired are tested, and if they are determined to be
valid, they are used until either they expire or the DHCP server
A mobile host which may sometimes need to access a network on which no
DHCP server exists may be preloaded with a lease for a fixed address on
configure may be specified on the command line. If no interface names
are specified on the command line dhclient will normally identify all
network interfaces, eliminating non-broadcast interfaces if possible,
and attempt to configure each interface.
It is also possible to specify interfaces by name in the dhclient.conf
file. If interfaces are specified in this way, then the client will
only configure interfaces that are either specified in the configura-
tion file or on the command line, and will ignore all other interfaces.
The client normally prints no output during its startup sequence. It
can be made to emit verbose messages displaying the startup sequence
events until it has acquired an address by supplying the -v command
line argument. In either case, the client logs messages using the sys-
-4 Use the DHCPv4 protocol to obtain an IPv4 address and configura-
tion parameters. This is the default and cannot be combined
-6 Use the DHCPv6 protocol to obtain whatever IPv6 addresses are
available along with configuration parameters. It cannot be
combined with -4. The -S -T -P -N and -D arguments provide more
control over aspects of the DHCPv6 processing. Note: it is not
recommended to mix queries of different types together or even
to share the lease file between them.
-1 Try to get a lease once. On failure exit with code 2. In
DHCPv6 this sets the maximum duration of the initial exchange to
timeout (from dhclient.conf(5) with a default of sixty seconds).
-d Force dhclient to run as a foreground process. Normally the
DHCP client will run in the foreground until is has configured
an interface at which time it will revert to running in the
background. This option is useful when running the client under
a debugger, or when running it out of inittab on System V sys-
tems. This implies -v.
-nw Become a daemon immediately (nowait) rather than waiting until
an an IP address has been acquired.
-q Be quiet at startup, this is the default.
-v Enable verbose log messages.
-w Continue running even if no broadcast interfaces were found.
Normally DHCP client will exit if it isn't able to identify any
network interfaces to configure. On laptop computers and other
computers with hot-swappable I/O buses, it is possible that a
broadcast interface may be added after system startup. This
flag can be used to cause the client not to exit when it doesn't
find any such interfaces. The omshell(1) program can then be
used to notify the client when a network interface has been
previously recorded in the PID file. When shutdown via this
method dhclient-script(8) will be executed with the specific
reason for calling the script set. The client normally doesn't
release the current lease as this is not required by the DHCP
protocol but some cable ISPs require their clients to notify the
server if they wish to release an assigned IP address.
-x Stop the running DHCP client without releasing the current
lease. Kills existing dhclient process as previously recorded
in the PID file. When shutdown via this method dhclient-
script(8) will be executed with the specific reason for calling
the script set.
The UDP port number on which the DHCP client should listen and
transmit. If unspecified, dhclient uses the default port of 68.
This is mostly useful for debugging purposes. If a different
port is specified on which the client should listen and trans-
mit, the client will also use a different destination port - one
less than the specified port.
Specify the server IP address or fully qualified domain name to
use as a destination for DHCP protocol messages before dhclient
has acquired an IP address. Normally, dhclient transmits these
messages to 255.255.255.255 (the IP limited broadcast address).
Overriding this is mostly useful for debugging purposes. This
feature is not supported in DHCPv6 (-6) mode.
Set the giaddr field of all packets to the relay IP address sim-
ulating a relay agent. This is for testing pruposes only and
should not be expected to work in any consistent or useful way.
Print version number and exit.
Options available for DHCPv6 mode:
-S Use Information-request to get only stateless configuration
parameters (i.e., without address). This implies -6. It also
doesn't rewrite the lease database.
-T Ask for IPv6 temporary addresses, one set per -T flag. This
implies -6 and also disables the normal address query. See -N
to restore it.
-P Enable IPv6 prefix delegation. This implies -6 and also dis-
ables the normal address query. See -N to restore it. Note
only one requested interface is allowed.
-D LL or LLT
Override the default when selecting the type of DUID to use. By
default, DHCPv6 dhclient creates an identifier based on the
ularly useful if, for example, DBDIR or RUNDIR have not been mounted
when the DHCP client is started.
Path to the client configuration file. If unspecified, the
default ETCDIR/dhclient.conf is used. See dhclient.conf(5) for
a description of this file.
Path to the lease database file. If unspecified, the default
DBDIR/dhclient.leases is used. See dhclient.leases(5) for a
descriptionof this file.
Path to the process ID file. If unspecified, the default
RUNDIR/dhclient.pid is used.
Option to disable writing pid files. By default the program
will write a pid file. If the program is invoked with this
option it will not attempt to kill any existing client processes
even if invoked with -r or -x.
Path to the network configuration script invoked by dhclient
when it gets a lease. If unspecified, the default CLIENT-
BINDIR/dhclient-script is used. See dhclient-script(8) for a
description of this file.
The syntax of the dhclient.conf(5) file is discussed separately.
The DHCP client provides some ability to control it while it is run-
ning, without stopping it. This capability is provided using OMAPI, an
API for manipulating remote objects. OMAPI clients connect to the
client using TCP/IP, authenticate, and can then examine the client's
current status and make changes to it.
Rather than implementing the underlying OMAPI protocol directly, user
programs should use the dhcpctl API or OMAPI itself. Dhcpctl is a
wrapper that handles some of the housekeeping chores that OMAPI does
not do automatically. Dhcpctl and OMAPI are documented in dhcpctl(3)
and omapi(3). Most things you'd want to do with the client can be
done directly using the omshell(1) command, rather than having to write
a special program.
THE CONTROL OBJECT
The control object allows you to shut the client down, releasing all
leases that it holds and deleting any DNS records it may have added.
It also allows you to pause the client - this unconfigures any inter-
faces the client is using. You can then restart it, which causes it
The following environment variables may be defined to override the
builtin defaults for file locations. Note that use of the related com-
mand-line options will ignore the corresponding environment variable
The dhclient.conf configuration file.
The dhclient.leases database.
The dhclient PID file.
The dhclient-script file.
DBDIR/dhclient.leases, RUNDIR/dhclient.pid, DBDIR/dhclient.leases~.
dhcpd(8), dhcrelay(8), dhclient-script(8), dhclient.conf(5),
dhclient(8) has been written for Internet Systems Consortium by Ted
Lemon in cooperation with Vixie Enterprises. To learn more about
Internet Systems Consortium, see https://www.isc.org To learn more
about Vixie Enterprises, see http://www.vix.com.
This client was substantially modified and enhanced by Elliot Poger for
use on Linux while he was working on the MosquitoNet project at Stan-
The current version owes much to Elliot's Linux enhancements, but was
substantially reorganized and partially rewritten by Ted Lemon so as to
use the same networking framework that the Internet Systems Consortium
DHCP server uses. Much system-specific configuration code was moved
into a shell script so that as support for more operating systems is
added, it will not be necessary to port and maintain system-specific
configuration code to these operating systems - instead, the shell
script can invoke the native tools to accomplish the same purpose.
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