Modern, open source DHCPv4 & DHCPv6 server

Modern Open Source DHCPv4 and DHCPv6 Server

The Kea distribution includes three main daemons: a DHCPv4 server, a DHCPv6 server, and a dynamic DNS update module. Bundled with Kea are a portable DHCP library (libdhcp++), a control agent that provides the REST management interface for Kea, a NETCONF agent that provides a YANG/NETCONF interface, and a DHCP benchmarking tool, perfdhcp. The core applications are free open source, shared under MPL2.0 licensing. Kea is distributed as source code, and runs on most Linux and Unix platforms, as well as MacOS.

Address assignment options

Direct address assignment (DHCPv4 and DHCPv6) or DHCPv6 prefix delegation, with both dynamic IP addressing and static host reservations. Select an address from a pool within a subnet, or from multiple subnets in a shared network.

Binary packages from ISC

Up to date executable packages from ISC for RedHat/CentOS 7, Fedora 28, 29 & 30, Debian 9 & 10, and Ubuntu 18.10 & 19.04

Reconfigure without restart

Add and change subnets and pools without restarting the server.

Optional lease backend

Leases may be written to a local memfile (default, and the highest-performance option) or optionally, to a MySQL, PostgreSQL, or Cassandra database.

Manage host reservations

Host reservations may be stored in a separate database, giving the administrator additional flexibility in creating and managing a large number of host configurations.

Extendable with optional hooks libraries

Kea hooks allow administrators to control the assignment of options and even addresses from their own provisioning system. Hooks allow developers to edit information such as the lease parameters (time to renew), the subnet, the address, or options to be delivered.


You can replace the entire Kea configuration, or separately manage leases, subnets, and host reservations through a REST API. Many of these commands are implemented with premium hooks.

High-availability mode

Kea high-availability mode provides resilience for either DHCPv4 or DHCPv6.


Kea supports the IETF DHCPv4 and DHCPv6 standards and should interoperate seamlessly with other standards-compliant DHCP implementations.

Comprehensive Documentation

Our Kea Administrator Reference Manual, Kea Developer’s Guide, and Knowledgebase provide complete information for both developers and administrators.

About Kea

Kea DHCP is modular, and can be extended and customized through optional add-on hooks modules.

Hooks Modules

  • Hook points include: packet received, subnet selected, lease renewed, lease released, and ready to respond (different hook points for DHCPv4 and DHCPv6).
  • Using hooks, it is possible to control the assignment of options and even addresses from your own provisioning system.
  • Hooks allow the developer to edit information such as the lease parameters (time to renew), the subnet, the address, or options to be delivered.
  • Several hooks are distributed with the Kea open source, or you can write your own.
  • The High-Availability hooks library enables you to run Kea in an Active/Passive or 50%/50% load sharing failover pair.
  • The User-Check hook will look for a user record in an external file before assigning an address.
  • Lease-Commands provides an API for managing lease records.

Extending Kea with Hooks webinar


Kea commercially-licensed hooks

Kea Premium package

Our Forensic Logging application creates a separate log that may be useful for meeting law-enforcement data retention requirements. The Flexible Identifier library enables use of almost any available parameter as the identifier for host reservations. The Host Commands library extends remote management to manage host reservations stored in a backend database.

Purchase Premium hooks

Kea Support Subscriber package

In addition to the Premium features listed above, Kea support subscribers receive additional hook libraries. Subscribers also get any hook library updates that are released during their active subscription. The Subnet Management library allows you to add, remove, and modify subnets via the API, without resending the entire Kea configuration. The RADIUS Integration library, coupled with the Host Cache library, allows Kea to delegate decisions about whether to permit access, and what IP address to assign, to your existing RADIUS server. 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.

Contact ISC for a support quote


1.6.0-beta2 Development Kea ARM ( HTML PDF )
Kea Messages ( HTML PDF )
Release Notes ( TXT )
July 2019 On release of Kea 1.6
1.5.0 Current-Stable Kea 1.5 ARM ( HTML PDF )
Kea 1.5 Messages ( HTML PDF )
Release Notes ( TXT )
Dec 2018 On release of Kea 1.7
1.4.0-P1 Current-Stable Kea ARM ( HTML PDF )
Kea Messages ( HTML PDF )
Release Notes ( TXT )
Jul 2018 On release of Kea 1.6

Weighing Your Options

Feature Kea Open Source Kea Premium Package Kea Support Subscription
Lease File Local file or database backend Local file or database backend Local file or database backend
Host Reservations Local file or database backend Local file or database backend Local file or database backend
RESTful/https interface/JSON commands
Online reconfiguration
DHCPv4 & DHCPv6 High Availability
Lease Management API
Forensic Logging
Flexible Identifier library
Host Management API
Subnet Management API
[Client Classes Management API]
RADIUS Integration
Professional 24 x 7 support
Next step? Download above Buy Premium Hooks Contact ISC for Support
Mailing List

Join the kea-users mailing list to offer help to or receive advice from other users.

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Report a Bug

Before submitting a bug report please ensure that you are running a current version. Then log your report as an issue in our Kea GitLab project.

Kea Project Wiki

Our design documents and plans help you understand Kea internals.

Buy Premium Package

Premium libraries add Host Reservation API, Flexible Host Identifier, & Forensic Logging.


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