Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Kea, the ISC's successor to the DHCP daemon


Article from ADMIN 76/2023
The Internet Systems Consortium announced the end of life for the standard DHCP daemon in Fall 2022. Its designated successor Kea has been in development for years.

In early October 2022, the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) released versions 4.4.3-P1 and 4.1-ESV-R16-P2 of the ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server. At the same time, the non-profit organization announced that this would likely be the last release of the software and set the end-of-life date for December 2022. Although the DHCP server daemon dhcpd remains functional, according to ISC it will no longer be updated unless serious security vulnerabilities arise. Now is the time therefore for you to take a look at Kea, ISC's new DHCP server suite.

Development of the designated dhcpd successor began in 2014. At the time of writing, the available Kea versions were 2.2.0 (July 2022, Current-Stable) and 2.3.6 (March 2023, Experimental-Development). Most distributions have prebuilt Kea packages in their repositories, and the ISC itself offers its own DEB, RPM, and APK packages. A source code tarball is available for download, as well.


Under the auspices of the legacy ISC dhcpd, IPv4 and IPv6 DHCP were still completely separate processes with completely separate configurations. Kea still maintains two separate services with separate configuration files, but a single Kea control agent controls them. A REST API can also be used to configure services consistently. The fourth component is the dynamic DNS (DDNS) update daemon, which creates entries on DNS servers on the basis of assigned DHCP leases. This function was already part of the classic ISC dhcpd.

The way data is stored is another major difference. The ISC dhcpd allowed LDAP as an external data source. Kea supports PostgreSQL and MySQL databases for lease and host reservations. However, the Kea administrator's guide advises creating host reservations in the configuration file so that perfomance is not affected, unless large volumes are involved.

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