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Is it possible to enable a "local area connection", i.e. network adapter in Microsoft Windows without specifying an IP address? Via the GUI and netsh commands the only two options seem to be either set an IP or DHCP. I would like to bring up an interface without either.

I know this can be done in Linux/UNIX operating systems but am stumped with Windows.

The host is running a virtual guest that needs to be on the network in bridged mode. The network only allows for one host, err IP per network connection. If I shutdown the LAN on the host than the virtual guest interface can not get an IP or connect because VMware's bridging uses the host adapter.


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For clarification: Do you want a running adaptor with no IP address, or do you want an adaptor to sort itself out without you having to set a static address or rely on DHCP??? – Linker3000 Jul 18 '11 at 19:51
Running adapter, interface active but I do not want to assign an IP or receive one from the DHCP host. I'm providing clarification in my original post. – Astron Jul 18 '11 at 23:27
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can set a static IP in the auto-assigned range (169.254.x.x). This is what happens behind the scenes when you do this in linux.

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That's interesting, I did not know that Linux used a link-local address. So if one were using an interface in promiscuous mode to sniff traffic on a NIX host without an assigned IP it is actually assigning itself a link local address? – Astron Jul 18 '11 at 23:35

Yes, addresses can be assigned with the APIPA functionality and Windows has supported it since the days of Windows 2000.

From the article:

"Automatic Private Internet Protocol Addressing (APIPA) is a common alternative to the use of the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to request and retrieve an Internet Protocol (IP) address for a host. APIPA simplifies the assignment of IP address and subnet-mask configuration information to hosts in small networks. When APIPA is used, the operating system allows the assignment of a unique IP address to each station on a small local area network (LAN). This avoids the administrative overhead of running a DHCP server or manually setting IP configuration information."

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As Joel mentions below, it would probably be my best bet to just assign an IP from the link-local subnet? I'm guessing with Windows, there's not a way to just bring up an interface without either specifying some IP or letting DHCP... – Astron Jul 18 '11 at 23:55

You'd have to uninstalled the TCP/IP adapters to have a network adapter without an IP address, but it seems that Windows 7 (and probably Vista and XP) doesn't allow this for either IPv4 or IPv6 -- once IP is there, it's there for good.

Back in the 1990s we didn't have a need for TCP/IP on most computers, and on Windows 95 we'd install an IPX/SPX adapter instead that was a different protocol altogether (commonly used in Novell NetWare networking environments).

Perhaps deleting the network adapter then finding a way to add it again but without an IP stack might work? I'm not sure how one would go about doing this with the current versions of Windows, but that might be worthy of further investigation.

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Of course it's possible. Go to Properties for the network interface. There is a part that says "This connection uses the following items:". There, uncheck "Internet Protocol version 4".

Though, I'm not sure why you would that, since a network interface without an IP address is not of much use.

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I thought about that but I want something a little less cumbersome as uninstalling the protocol every time I need to use the guest is tedious. See original post for clarification. – Astron Jul 18 '11 at 23:32

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