Private DHCP

Recently I was working on a project in which I was creating loads of tap devices, with HaNS instances connected to them. Initially, I was abusing the Galois network, stealing away precious addresses from our internal /24 allocation. This wasn’t the end of the world, as I was reusing addresses I was given, but it got me thinking: shouldn’t I be able to just allocate my own addresses?

After a bit of googling, I decided to use Dnsmasq to manage DNS caching, and DHCP. My first step was then to configure the network.

Network Configuration

NetworkManager injects a bit too much uncertainty into the network configuration, so I opted to disable it, and configure the network manually.

$ sudo systemctl stop NetworkManager
$ sudo systemctl disable NetworkManager

I’ll be configuring all devices using the config scripts stored in /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts, which requires enabling the network service. I’m not going to enable it here, but instead just restart the machine later. I know that I should be able to just start it after my configuration is done, but I was experiencing some odd crashes when following that workflow that disappeared with a reboot.

$ sudo systemctl enable network

Make sure that the ethernet device you’re planning on using as your interface to the rest of the world is configured to your liking. I’m doing DHCP with mine to get configuration data from the outer network, so it looks like the following. (To make work easier, I’m putting everything in the trusted firewall zone – this is a development VM, so I don’t feel too bad.)

  • /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-p2p1

Additionally, I’ve created a bridge named br0 and a dummy device to occupy it, named dummy0:

  • /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-br0

  • /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-dummy0


At this point, the layout of the network is all set. Now, I just need to make sure that the dummy kernel module will load at startup, and that I’ll be able to forward traffic between br0 and p2p1. Loading the module is fairly straightforward, as I can just dump the following listing into /etc/sysconfig/modules/dummy.modules


modprobe -a dummy

Next, let’s make sure that packets will be forwarded between p2p1 and br0 by setting the net.ipv4.ip_forward sysctl in /etc/sysctl.conf.

net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1

Finally, we’re ready to reboot, and then begin setting up Dnamasq.

$ sudo reboot


First, let’s install the server.

$ sudo yum install dnsmasq

Now, let’s make minimal modifications to /etc/dnsmasq.conf, enabling the domain-needed and bogus-priv options to make us better netizens. The effective full dnsmasq.conf file is included below.


Now we’ll configure the DHCP server in /etc/dnsmasq.d/dhcp.conf:


This gives us most of a /24 network to work with, and listens on the address we gave to the bridge in /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-br0.

At this point, dnsmasq can be started, and we can test that everything is working by using the tcp-test program from HaNS.

  • Enable Dnsmasq

    $ sudo systemctl enable dnsmasq
    $ sudo systemctl start dnsmasq
  • Create a tap device for tcp-test to use, and add it to the brige that Dnsmasq is listening on

    $ owner=$USER
    $ sudo tunctl -p -u $owner -t tap6
    $ sudo brctl addif br0 tap0
    $ sudo ip link set tap0 up
  • Start tcp-test (assuming that you’ve already built it with cabal build, and are in the base of the HaNS repo)

    $ ./dist/build/tcp-test/tcp-test dhcp
    Network stack running...
    Discovering address
    Bound to address:

From a separate terminal you should be able to ping the address that tcp-test outputted, in this case`, and see fairly quick responses.

External Access

In order to have access to this new network node, from a host outside of the machine that it’s running on, you’ll need to install a route to the network. You’ll need to know the address of your ethernet device (p2p1 here) to install this route.

$ ip addr show dev p2p1

In my case, this was the address Next, install the host-specific route. (Remember to replace with the address you’re using.)

  • Mac OSX

    $ sudo route -n
  • Linux

    $ sudo ip route add via


Hooray! Now you can manage all of the devices that are added to the bridge br0 with a real DHCP server, making the propegation of configuration data a breeze.