Difference between revisions of "Dnsmasq"

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From a computer that is connected to the one with dnsmasq on it, configure it to use DHCP for automatic IP address assignment, then attempt to log into the network normally.
From a computer that is connected to the one with dnsmasq on it, configure it to use DHCP for automatic IP address assignment, then attempt to log into the network normally.
If you inspect the /var/lib/misc/dnsmasq.leases file, you should be able to see the lease.
=== TFTP server ===
=== TFTP server ===

Revision as of 11:44, 12 January 2018

dnsmasq provides a local DNS server, a DHCP server with support for DHCPv6 and PXE, and a TFTP server. It is designed to be lightweight and have a small footprint, suitable for resource constrained routers and firewalls. dnsmasq can also be configured to cache DNS queries for improved DNS lookup speeds to previously visited sites.


Install the dnsmasq package.


Merge-arrows-2.pngThis article or section is a candidate for merging with #Server setup.Merge-arrows-2.png

Notes: dnsmasq can be configured to do many things, there is no generic configuration that would apply to all use cases. (Discuss in Talk:Dnsmasq#)

To configure dnsmasq, you need to edit /etc/dnsmasq.conf. The file contains extensive comments explaining its options. For all available options see dnsmasq(8).

Warning: dnsmasq by default enables its DNS server. If you do not require it, you need to explicitly disable it by setting DNS port to 0:
Tip: To check configuration file(s) syntax, execute:
$ dnsmasq --test

Start the daemon

Start/enable dnsmasq.service.

To see if dnsmasq started properly, check the system's journal:

$ journalctl -u dnsmasq.service

The network will also need to be restarted so the DHCP client can create a new /etc/resolv.conf.

DNS cache setup

To set up dnsmasq as a DNS caching daemon on a single computer edit /etc/dnsmasq.conf and uncomment the listen-address directive, adding in the localhost IP address:


To use this computer to listen on its LAN IP address for other computers on the network:

listen-address=    # Example IP

It is recommended that you use a static LAN IP in this case.

Multiple ip address settings:


DNS addresses file

Merge-arrows-2.pngThis article or section is a candidate for merging with resolv.conf.Merge-arrows-2.png

Notes: Same topic. Also note that most of this can also be done natively in /etc/resolvconf.conf using the name_servers and name_servers_append options. (Discuss in Talk:Dnsmasq#)

After configuring dnsmasq, the DHCP client will need to prepend the localhost address to the known DNS addresses in /etc/resolv.conf. This causes all queries to be sent to dnsmasq before trying to resolve them with an external DNS. After the DHCP client is configured, the network will need to be restarted for changes to take effect.


One option is a pure resolv.conf configuration. To do this, just make the first nameserver in /etc/resolv.conf point to localhost:

# External nameservers

Now DNS queries will be resolved first with dnsmasq, only checking external servers if dnsmasq cannot resolve the query. dhcpcd, unfortunately, tends to overwrite /etc/resolv.conf by default, so if you use DHCP it is a good idea to protect /etc/resolv.conf. To do this, append nohook resolv.conf to the dhcpcd config file:

nohook resolv.conf

It is also possible to write protect your resolv.conf:

# chattr +i /etc/resolv.conf
More than three nameservers

A limitation in the way Linux handles DNS queries is that there can only be a maximum of three nameservers used in resolv.conf. As a workaround, you can make localhost the only nameserver in resolv.conf, and then create a separate resolv-file for your external nameservers. First, create a new resolv file for dnsmasq:

# Google's nameservers, for example

And then edit /etc/dnsmasq.conf to use your new resolv file:



dhcpcd has the ability to prepend or append nameservers to /etc/resolv.conf by creating (or editing) the /etc/resolv.conf.head and /etc/resolv.conf.tail files respectively:

echo "nameserver" > /etc/resolv.conf.head


For dhclient, uncomment in /etc/dhclient.conf:

prepend domain-name-servers;


NetworkManager has a plugin to enable DNS using dnsmasq. The advantages of this setup is that DNS lookups will be cached, shortening resolve times, and DNS lookups of VPN hosts will be routed to the relevant VPN's DNS servers (especially useful if you are connected to more than one VPN).

Make sure dnsmasq has been installed, but has been disabled. Then, edit /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf and change the dns in the [main] section:


Now restart NetworkManager or reboot. NetworkManager will automatically start dnsmasq and add to /etc/resolv.conf. The actual DNS servers can be found in /run/NetworkManager/resolv.conf. You can verify dnsmasq is being used by doing the same DNS lookup twice with $ drill example.com and verifying the server and query times.

Custom configuration

Custom configurations can be created for dnsmasq by creating configuration files in /etc/NetworkManager/dnsmasq.d/. For example, to change the size of the DNS cache (which is stored in RAM):



Enabling dnsmasq in NetworkManager may break IPv6-only DNS lookups (i.e. drill -6 [hostname]) which would otherwise work. In order to resolve this, creating the following file will configure dnsmasq to also listen to the IPv6 loopback:


In addition, dnsmasq also does not prioritize upstream IPv6 DNS. Unfortunately NetworkManager does not do this (Ubuntu Bug). A workaround would be to disable IPv4 DNS in the NetworkManager config, assuming one exists

Other methods

Another option is in NetworkManagers' settings (usually by right-clicking the applet) and entering settings manually. Setting up will depending on the type of front-end used; the process usually involves right-clicking on the applet, editing (or creating) a profile, and then choosing DHCP type as 'Automatic (specify addresses).' The DNS addresses will need to be entered and are usually in this form:, DNS-server-one, ....


To do a lookup speed test choose a website that has not been visited since dnsmasq has been started (drill is part of the ldns package):

$ drill archlinux.org | grep "Query time"

Running the command again will use the cached DNS IP and result in a faster lookup time if dnsmasq is setup correctly:

$ drill archlinux.org | grep "Query time"
;; Query time: 18 msec
$ drill archlinux.org | grep "Query time"
;; Query time: 2 msec

Server setup

DNS server

Tango-view-fullscreen.pngThis article or section needs expansion.Tango-view-fullscreen.png

Reason: Add instructions. (Discuss in Talk:Dnsmasq#)

Adding a custom domain

It is possible to add a custom domain to hosts in your (local) network:


In this example it is possible to ping a host/device (e.g. defined in your /etc/hosts file) as hostname.home.lan.

Uncomment expand-hosts to add the custom domain to hosts entries:


Without this setting, you will have to add the domain to entries of /etc/hosts.

DHCP server

Tango-view-fullscreen.pngThis article or section needs expansion.Tango-view-fullscreen.png

Reason: Add instructions for IPv6 and router advertisement. (Discuss in Talk:Dnsmasq#)

By default dnsmasq has the DHCP functionality turned off, if you want to use it you must turn it on in (/etc/dnsmasq.conf). Here are the important settings:

# Only listen to routers' LAN NIC.  Doing so opens up tcp/udp port 53 to
# localhost and udp port 67 to world:

# dnsmasq will open tcp/udp port 53 and udp port 67 to world to help with
# dynamic interfaces (assigning dynamic ips). Dnsmasq will discard world
# requests to them, but the paranoid might like to close them and let the 
# kernel handle them:

# Optionally set a domain name

# Set default gateway

# Set DNS servers to announce

# Dynamic range of IPs to make available to LAN PC and the lease time. 
# Ideally set the lease time to 5m only at first to test everything works okay before you set long-lasting records.

# If you’d like to have dnsmasq assign static IPs to some clients, bind the LAN computers
# NIC MAC addresses:

See dnsmasq(8) for more options.


From a computer that is connected to the one with dnsmasq on it, configure it to use DHCP for automatic IP address assignment, then attempt to log into the network normally.

If you inspect the /var/lib/misc/dnsmasq.leases file, you should be able to see the lease.

TFTP server

dnsmasq has built-in TFTP server.

To use it, create a directory for TFTP root (e.g. /srv/tftp) to put transferable files in.

For increased security it is advised to use dnsmasq's TFTP secure mode. In secure mode only files owned by the dnsmasq user will be served over TFTP. You will need to chown TFTP root and all files in it to dnsmasq user to use this feature.

Enable TFTP in dnsmasq.conf:


See dnsmasq(8) for more options.

PXE server

PXE requires DHCP and TFTP servers, both functions can be provided by dnsmasq.

Tip: dnsmasq can add PXE booting options to a network with an already running DHCP server:
  1. set up #TFTP server and #DHCP server
  2. copy and configure a PXE compatible bootloader (e.g. PXELINUX) on TFTP root
  3. enable PXE in /etc/dnsmasq.conf:
  • file paths are relative to TFTP root
  • if the file has a .0 suffix, you must exclude the suffix in pxe-service options

To simply send one file:


To send a file depending on client architecture:

pxe-service=x86PC, "PXELINUX (BIOS)", "bios/lpxelinux"
pxe-service=X86-64_EFI, "PXELINUX (EFI)", "efi64/syslinux.efi"
Note: In case pxe-service does not work (especially for UEFI-based clients), combination of dhcp-match and dhcp-boot can be used. See RFC4578 for more client-arch numbers for use with dhcp boot protocol.

See dnsmasq(8) for more options.

The rest is up to the bootloader.

Tips and tricks

Prevent OpenDNS redirecting Google queries

To prevent OpenDNS from redirecting all Google queries to their own search server, add to /etc/dnsmasq.conf:

server=/www.google.com/<ISP DNS IP>

View leases

dnsmasq's issued DHCP leased can be viewed in /var/lib/misc/dnsmasq.leases.

Override addresses

In some cases, such as when operating a captive portal, it can be useful to resolve specific domains names to a hard-coded set of addresses. This is done with the address config:


Furthermore, it's possible to return a specific address for all domain names that are not answered from /etc/hosts or DHCP by using a special wildcard:


More than one instance

If we want two or more dnsmasq servers works per interface(s).


To do this staticly, server per interface, use interface and bind-interface options. This enforce start second dnsmasq.


In this case we can exclude per interface and bind any others:

Note: This is default in libvirt.

See also