Nov 01, 2011

How does DHCP configure the IP addresses for each host on a network?

Our server operating system came with a built in DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol) server, and we successfully enabled the DHCP function and configured the settings. So we are up and running, but I don't really understand how DHCP client configuration actually works. Does anyone have a concise explanation of what DHCP is actually doing?


Each time you boot up your host computer, DHCP configures TCP/IP hosts, and the DHCP client software sends out a DHCP Discover message to determine whether there are any DHCP servers out there.  In response the DHCP server sends out a DHCP Offer message that includes an IP address that can be used.  The client receives the offer message and replies with a DHCP Request to accept that IP address, and upon receipt of that request, the server assigns the IP address to the client and broadcasts a DHCP Ack message that provides the necessary information for the client to configure its TCP/IP stack and start using the IP address that was provided by the server.  It is almost like going to a restaurant and asking what the special is.  The waiter tells you which IP sandwich is available today.  It sounds good, so you say, "Thanks, I'll have that," and he brings it out for you.  Bon appetit!

Hi jlister,

You might want to check out these two articles for helpful background about DHCP:

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

Installing and Configuring DHCP

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