How to set the hostname from DHCP in Ubuntu 14.04

I have a lot of virtual servers, and I like preparing a “golden image” and instantiate it many times. One of the steps is to set the hostname for the host, from my private DHCP server. It usually works, but sometimes it fails and I didn’t know why. So I got tired of such indetermination and this time…

I learned how to set the hostname from DHCP in Ubuntu 14.04

Well, so I have my dnsmasq server that acts both as a dns server and as a dhcp server. I investigated how a host gets its hostname from DHCP and it seems that it occurs when the DHCP server sends it by default (option hostname).

I debugged the DHCP messages using this command from other server

# tcpdump -i eth1 -vvv port 67 or port 68

And I saw that my dhcp server was properly sending the hostname (dnsmasq sends it by default), and I realized that the problem was in the dhclient script. I googled a lot and I found some clever scripts that got the name from a nameserver and were started as hooks from the dhcpclient script. But if the dhcp protocol sets the hostname, why do I have to create other script to set the hostname???.

Finally I got this blog entry and I realized that it was a bug in the dhclient script: if there exists an old dhcp entry in /var/lib/dhcp/dhclient.eth0.leases (or eth1, etc.), it does not set the hostname.

At this point you have two options:

  • The easy: in /etc/rc.local include a line that removes that file
  • The clever (suggested in the blog entry): include a hook script that unsets the hostname
echo unset old_host_name >/etc/dhcp/dhclient-enter-hooks.d/unset_old_hostname
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