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Author Topic: DNSmasq: Local DNS + DHCP Reservations + PXE Options.  (Read 11524 times)

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Offline Patrick Wilson

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DNSmasq: Local DNS + DHCP Reservations + PXE Options.
« on: August 11, 2013, 07:08:56 am »
I have been using 3rd Party Firmware on my Routers for more than a decade.  I presently have Routers from ASUS,  Buffalo,  D-Llnk,  Linksys &  Netgear,  but I'm using 3rd Party Firmware on all of them.    My Almond is my only Router,  still running manufacturer provided Firmware.   

Why have I rejected the manufacturers Firmware?  It's actually pretty simple.  My biggest frustration with most manufacturer Firmware,  and been that they don't do "Local DNS" paired with "DHCP Reservations" properly.   My network contains more than 30 devices, including 5 WAPs,   so static IP addresses etc would be a nightmare to manage. 

To make my network easier to manage,  I make extensive use of DHCP Reservations,  so that I can control the IP addresses of all of my equipment centrally,  rather than having to manually setup all my devices.  Fortunately my existing 3rd party firmware uses DNSmasq as it's DNS/DHCP Server,  so I've been able to do all my IP address assignments in my Router,  where I can manage everything easily via it's WebUI. 

Because I am using DNSmasq for both DHCP and DNS,  I am able to setup all of my equipment using DHCP Reservations.  I even leave my network printers,  WAPs,  and SIP adapters in DHCP mode.  (I have also enabled the PXE features of DNSmasq).  Dumb equipment,  intelligent Router.   Any IP address issued is also populated in the DNS tables,  so all my equipment can find eachother by simply using my Router as their only DNS Server. 

My Router is aware of all local equipment,  and as it bounces unresolved queries upstream to my ISP's DNS servers,  it also knows about Internet addresses as well.  This allows my Router to be able to resolve both Local and Internet FQDNs (Fully Qualified Domain Names).  As my Router is the DNS server for my network,  this means that all my equipment can also resolve both Local and Internet FQDN's. 

If I set my equipment,  (especially WAP's and SIP adapters) via Static IP addresses (at the WAP/SIP adapter) it is not only harder to manage,  but also the statically assigned devices won't register in DNS at my Router,  so can't be resolved by other equipment on my network.   By adopting a 100% DHCP network,  all my equipment registers at the Router so every device can find every other device,  by "name".  I no longer need to remember the IP addresses of my devices.

Thanks to enabling the PXE features in my Router,  my SIP adapters not only pickup their IP addresses from the Router,  but they are also able to pick up their Configuration data via PXE from the TFTP server on my NAS.  For my PC's I have been able to create PXE Boot menus,  so that I can choose the OS to boot to,  (usually Ubuntu,   but Windows is also available).   

I also make extensive use of VirtualBox on my network,  so I have even setup DHCP Reservations for all my VM's.  I can literally start up a VM,  and then decide at boot time which OS to load.  None of this would be possible without DHCP Reservations,  and a Router that allows me to setup DHCP Reservations for all my equipment.  The fact that DNSmasq is also my DNS server,  makes it even easier. 

I now run most network services on my NAS device these days,  but I still need to be able to setup my Port-Forwarding etc in my Router for all this to be possible. as this requires that the IP addresses of my internal equipment doesn't change.  My Port-Forwarding table has some 39 entries,  for everything from RDP/VNC/SSH access to my Windows/Linux machines,  and WebServer/WebDAV/TFTP/Twonkymedia/Transmission/Samba/SSH access to my NAS.  None of this would work without DNSmasq on my Router.   

I note from recent Kickstarter updates,  that the Almond+ will be using OpenWRT along with it's native NUTS OS.  I similarly know that OpenWRT typically uses DNSmasq for it's DNS/DHCP Server.  I would like to request that Securifi's Web interface will permit large tables for both DHCP Reservations and Port Forwarding. 

It is my intention to write about this in more depth once I'm actually using an Almond+ for my main router,  but I thought I'd mention it here,  in hopes that Securifi can confirm/deny whether this functionality will be supported properly in their WebUI.   This is a very technical subject,  but I'll do my best to make my writing as understandable as I possibly can,   as I appreciate that not everyone is quite a "geeky" as I am. 

Additional Reading:  Lifehacker article:  How to Set Up DHCP Reservations (and Never Check an IP Address Again)

I understand the feeling others might be experiencing with my writing style,  because while I consider myself an expert in network configurations,  including Enterprise networks,  I am finding myself quite overwhelmed with some of the excellent Home Automation posts.  Home Automation is well outside my comfort zone,  so my participation in the Securifi Forum,  will be both a learning and a teaching opportunity for me.

« Last Edit: August 11, 2013, 11:48:20 am by Patrick Wilson »
Patrick Wilson
Victoria, BC Canada

Offline etijburg

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Re: DNSmasq: Local DNS + DHCP Reservations + PXE Options.
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2013, 08:51:01 pm »
Patrick, I too hate off the shelf home routers.  As a cisco engineer I understand your feeling.  I have started a Google+ page about creating packages to extend the DD-WRT side of the router while leaving the NutOS as is.  There would have to be a separate interface as well as the CLI to play with.

Here is the page . I would love to you and other other uber nerds that have advanced requirements to help me build a team to develop what we know a complete home router can be.



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Re: DNSmasq: Local DNS + DHCP Reservations + PXE Options.
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2013, 10:07:04 pm »
etijburg, I presume you mean OpenWRT?
Also, your Google page doesn't seem to work.

Offline pete

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Re: DNSmasq: Local DNS + DHCP Reservations + PXE Options.
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2013, 11:48:08 pm »
Great topic guys!

Personally here too have not utilized an off the shelf combo AP, switch, router and firewall with its native OS in many years. 

I am looking forward to the discussions related to OP.  Great stuff Patrick!

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Lockport, IL  USA


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