Modern Open Source DHCPv4 & DHCPv6 Server


Broad, standards-compliant support for both DHCPv4 and DHCPv6

  • Free-open source, shared under MPL 2.0 licensing
  • Direct address assignment (DHCPv4 and DHCPv6) or DHCPv6 prefix delegation
  • Dynamic IP addressing and static host reservations
  • Dynamic DNS for updating DNS records as leases are renewed or expired
  • Tracking of MAC addresses, even in DHCPv6
  • Extend and customize Kea through Hooks

Flexible Management

  • Add and change subnets and pools without restarting Kea
  • Store leases and host reservations in a MySQL, PostgreSQL or Cassandra database rather than a text file
  • Replace the entire Kea configuration, or separately manage leases, subnets and host reservations through a REST API
  • Comprehensive Developer and Administrator documentation.
  • ISC offers commercial 7 x 24 support for Kea, as well as consulting and contract development to assist in implementing Kea, including migration from ISC DHCP.

Kea runs on Linux, BSD, and MacOS, like ISC DHCP.   The Kea distribution does not yet include a DHCP client or relay, but because both are standards-based, the ISC DHCP client works fine with the Kea DHCP server.  Kea is under active development.


Kea Hooks Integrate with Your Other Systems

  • Using Hooks, it is possible to control the assignment of options and even addresses from your own provisioning system
  • Hook points include: packet received, subnet selected, lease renewed, lease released, ready to respond (different hook points for DHCPv4 and DHCPv6)
  • Hooks allow the developer to edit information such as the lease parameters (time to renew), the subnet, address or options to be delivered
  • The Kea distribution includes a sample hooks application that can retrieve per-user information from an external file (such as options).
  • Kea 1.3+ also includes a hooks application for managing leases
  • Kea 1.4+ includes a hook application for creating a load-sharing or failover pair of Kea servers operating in high availability mode
  • We have a recorded presentation on writing a Hooks application, given by one of our software engineers.
  • For an example of how this can be used, see the Facebook Kea Application
  • If this sounds like too much – ask us if we can do it for you!

Commercially-licensed hooks

We are building a library of commercially-licensed hooks applications to help support Kea development. These are distributed as source packages, but with an End User License Agreement that prohibits redistribution outside your organization.

Premium Management Features

These are available for separate, one-time purchase from this web site. After you purchase, you may continue using the hook for as long as you like, there is no annual fee.  If in the future you require an updated hook library (e.g. because you have updated to a newer version of Kea that requires a newer hook library) simply purchase the new version when you need it.

  • Our Forensic Logging application works with Kea 1.1 and later versions and creates a separate log that may be useful for meeting law enforcement data retention requirements.
  • The Flexible Identifier library is supported on Kea 1.2 and later and enables use of almost any available parameter as the identifier for host reservations.
  • The Host Commands library, supported with Kea 1.2 and later, extends remote management to manage host reservations stored in a back end database.

Subscriber-only Features

In addition to the Forensic Logging (link), Flexible Identifier (link), and Host Commands (link) hooks from the Premium package, Kea support subscribers also receive the following hooks as well. Subscribers will also get any hook library updates that are released while they are active subscribers.

  • The Subnet Management library, supported with Kea 1.3 and later allows you to add, remove and modify subnets via the API, without resending the entire Kea configuration. This hook library is only available to support subscribers.
  • The RADIUS Integration library, supported with Kea 1.4 and later, allows Kea to delegate decisions about whether to permit access, and what IP address to assign, to your existing RADIUS server.  This hook library, and the associated Host Cache library, is only available to support subscribers.
  • The Client Classification library, supported with Kea 1.5 and later, exposes REST commands to list, get details of, add, modify and delete client classes in Kea.

Weighing your options

Feature ISC DHCP Kea Open Source Kea with Premium Package Kea with Support
Leases, hosts in local file
Leases, hosts in database backend X
Lease management Limited
Forensic log X X
Flex-ID (custom client IDs) X X
Host management api X X
Subnet, shared network management api X X X
Client classes management api X X X
RADIUS integration X X X
LDAP integration √ (community contribution – unsupported) X X X
Management interfaces OMAPI (command-line tool using custom syntax) RESTful/https interface/ JSON commands RESTful/https interface/ JSON commands RESTful/https interface/ JSON commands
Uninterrupted service – online reconfiguration Limited changes with OMAPI no restart unless physical interfaces change no restart unless physical interfaces change no restart unless physical interfaces change
Failover DHCPv4 failover DHCPv4/v6 high availability mode DHCPv4/v6 high availability mode DHCPv4/v6 high availability mode
Professional 24 x 7 support available X X
  • We liked the fact that ISC Kea is modern software and is designed to be extensible. Kea has hook points where you can add your own logic to parse incoming DHCP packets and modify them as you like right before they leave the server network interface. We leveraged the hooks feature extensively to customize Kea to meet our requirements.
  • The University of New Hampshire Interoperability Lab uses Kea as part of their certification testing for DHCP. Read an interview with Tim Winters, IPv6 logo Technical Lead for the lab about how and why he uses Kea.
  • Kea is awesome, and it was a huge windfall for our design when we found out about it.   April 2017 post on Kea-users mailing list
  • I really like Kea, and I think it is a HUGE step forward. I am using it with PowerDNS, and it is nice having everything in a database. 🙂   April 2017 post on Kea-users mailing list  
  • I'm using Kea 1.2 and I didn't have (any) problem provisioning CMs and CPEs on our DOCSIS/HFC networks. I didn't need to disable Client-ID on DHCP Offer packets. .... Kea docs are well documented...   August 2017 post on

Last modified: March 8, 2019 at 2:36 pm