Command line program to test DHCP service


Solution 1

Even if you don't use a Nagios monitoring server, you can grep the check_dhcp binary or compile it from source and use the check to test a DHCP-Server. E.g.

./check_dhcp -v -s <dhcp_server_address> -r <expected_ip_address> -m <mac_address_touse>

Solution 2

Based on this answer, assuming you have installed nmap (sudo apt install nmap):

sudo nmap --script broadcast-dhcp-discover

Add the -e $interface option if you have more than one network interface. (For example: nmap --script broadcast-dhcp-discover -e eth0)

Sample output:

Starting Nmap 7.01 ( ) at 2017-09-27 17:40 CEST
Pre-scan script results:
| broadcast-dhcp-discover: 
|   Response 1 of 1: 
|     IP Offered:
|     DHCP Message Type: DHCPOFFER
|     Server Identifier:
|     IP Address Lease Time: 5m00s
|     Subnet Mask:
|     Router:
|     Domain Name Server:
|     Domain Name: example.lan
|     NTP Servers:,
|     NetBIOS Name Server:
|_    NetBIOS Node Type: 8
WARNING: No targets were specified, so 0 hosts scanned.
Nmap done: 0 IP addresses (0 hosts up) scanned in 0.66 seconds

Or this output on a different network, with nmap v. 6 :

Starting Nmap 6.00 ( ) at 2017-09-27 17:42 CEST
Pre-scan script results:
| broadcast-dhcp-discover: 
|   IP Offered:
|   DHCP Message Type: DHCPOFFER
|   Server Identifier:
|   IP Address Lease Time: 7 days, 0:00:00
|   Subnet Mask:
|   Time Offset: 7200
|   Router:
|   Domain Name Server:,
|   Renewal Time Value: 3 days, 12:00:00
|_  Rebinding Time Value: 6 days, 3:00:00
WARNING: No targets were specified, so 0 hosts scanned.
Nmap done: 0 IP addresses (0 hosts up) scanned in 1.15 seconds

Solution 3

or you can try dhcpcd in test mode:

dhcpcd -T eth0

Solution 4

dhcpdump is good for sniffing and displaying DHCP packets on the network.


# dhcpdump -i eth0

  TIME: 2015-11-27 11:41:37.379
    IP: (0:11:b9:5:0:b8) > (ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff)
 HTYPE: 1 (Ethernet)
  HLEN: 6
  HOPS: 0
   XID: abce9327
  SECS: 0
CHADDR: 00:11:b9:05:00:b8:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00:00
OPTION:  53 (  1) DHCP message type         1 (DHCPDISCOVER)
OPTION:  57 (  2) Maximum DHCP message size 576
OPTION:  55 (  4) Parameter Request List      1 (Subnet mask)
                          3 (Routers)
                         28 (Broadcast address)
                          6 (DNS server)


You can use it in conjunction with another tool to do DHCP requests, or just use it to watch PCs/devices query DHCP.

Solution 5

Why not just make a DHCP request?


For verbose output use:

dhclient -v


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Updated on July 19, 2022


  • pufferfish
    pufferfish about 9 hours

    Is there a simple ping-like command to test whether a DHCP service is running on a network? ...on Linux

  • ThiefMaster
    ThiefMaster about 10 years
    Probably because that will make your system use the IP assigned by the DHCP server which is not what one wants when e.g. trying to find out if there are rogue DHCP servers in his network.
  • akostadinov
    akostadinov over 9 years
    -n option helps here?
  • Josip Rodin
    Josip Rodin over 6 years
    Option -n seems to be broken on ISC DHCP Client v4.2.4 on Ubuntu 14 LTS?
  • the
    the almost 6 years
    Also available for macOS thru brew install dhcpdump.
  • Maarten Wolzak
    Maarten Wolzak almost 5 years
    Use dhcpcd -T eth0 -t 2 to timeout after 2 seconds
  • mivk
    mivk almost 5 years
    This seems to only only work if there is actual dhcp traffic on the network.
  • Jasen
    Jasen over 4 years
    I don't think -n does what you think it does.
  • Jasen
    Jasen over 4 years
    this didn't find my DHCP server.- must be something wrong with my pc... ethernet works, just not that.
  • Ken Sharp
    Ken Sharp over 4 years
    @mivk Are you being serious?
  • mivk
    mivk over 4 years
    @KenSharp Why? Yes. dhcpdump will only show something when a client on the network requests a dhcp address. If you don't want to wait and don't want to send a dhcp request yourself but only see which machine would answer what IF there were a request, then this is not the solution.
  • Gert van den Berg
    Gert van den Berg over 3 years
    Written in D... It seems possible (with ldc2) to get static binaries with ldc2 -link-defaultlib-shared=false -static -L=-lphobos2-ldc -L=-lz dhcptest.d
  • mwfearnley
    mwfearnley over 3 years "Do not configure any interfaces. This is most likely to be useful in combination with the -w flag."
  • Dessa Simpson
    Dessa Simpson about 3 years
    @mivk Why? Because the poster said exactly that.
  • Bob
    Bob almost 3 years
    Note that this script uses a fixed MAC address (DE:AD:CO:DE:CA:FE) and therefore will not work if your DHCP server is configured with a whitelist.
  • mivk
    mivk almost 3 years
    @Bob : Thanks. That is good to know
  • Sopalajo de Arrierez
    Sopalajo de Arrierez about 2 years
    Could you please expand on why should this command detect DHCP servers on your network and what kind of output should we expect when someone will be detected?
  • Paul M
    Paul M about 2 years
    That test is run on the dhcp server to check its configuration, it doesn't tell you if a device on the network will actually see a working server
  • Paul M
    Paul M about 2 years
    a dhcp server needs to see a packet on the network from a host requesting a dhcp configuration message. therefore we need to mimic a dhcp request,, and this tool will do that and print the response, which will be an ip address, netwmask, default router, and optionally dns resolvers, ntp servers etc.
  • Aleksandr Dubinsky
    Aleksandr Dubinsky almost 2 years
    @Bob An option has been added. --script-args mac=XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX. It hasn't been released yet though.
  • Paul M
    Paul M over 1 year
    not all distros seem to have the dhcpcd program, so you'll have to try the dhclient program in test mode, as discussed elsewhere on this page.
  • MemphiZ
    MemphiZ 6 months
    This should be the accepted answer IMHO.