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I have connected my raspberry pi with a wireless access point and would like to run a DHCP Server on the RPi to assign the IP and gateway correctly. This is because the RPi serves as a gateway to a VPN. Unfortunately, the access point also runs a DHCP Server which I can't deactivate for some reason. What is the best way to automatically get the correct settings from the RPi spread to all wifi users?

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Fun question. Basically, if you have two DHCP servers on the same LAN, there will be a race to dish out addresses, and you cannot be sure who wins: you may end up with some addresses served by the raspberry, some by the AP, and a single device, once disconnected, not re-obtaining the same address as before. Or, worse, you might have two devices with the same address.

So it is a good idea to block one of the two. The easiest thing is the following:

  1. First, make sure the ranges from which they draw addresses do not overlap: you might have 192.168.1.11-74 for one, 192.168.1.139-202 for the other. At least, this prevents conflicts.

  2. We now prevent the AP from serving IP addresses to wired clients. Suppose the AP is plugged into the raspberry on eth1, then the following command will do:

    sudo iptables  -A INPUT -i eth1 -p udp --dport 67:68 --sport 67:68 -j DROP
    sudo iptables  -A OUTPUT -i eth1 -p udp --dport 67:68 --sport 67:68 -j DROP  
    

We are done. Two comments:

DHCP uses ports 67 and 68, on protocol UDP; by blocking communication on these, you are preventing DHCP requests from wired clients from reaching the DHCP server on the AP; thus wired clients will be served only by the raspberry.

Second, you must plug the AP directly into the raspberry (I know the raspberry only has one ethernet port, which is already used: you can buy a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, and your raspberry will have a second ethernet card). The reason is that if you plug the AP into a switch, then DHCP requests and replies will reach/come from the AP, without passing through the raspberry, thus the iptables command will be just useless.

EDIT:

I forgot to say that the iptables rule above also prevents dhcp requests from flowing from the AP to the raspberry, so that the situation you have now is that DHCP address in the range 192.168.1.0xx are given by the raspberry to wired clients, while addresses in the range 192.168.1.1xx are given by the AP to wifi clients. At least, this is orderly.

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  • Thanks! But this means I can't to anything regarding the clients connected via wifi to the AP, right? – bonanza Sep 10 '14 at 6:37
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    @bonanza Afraid so: all traffic from wireless clients to Ap never ever goes through the raspberry, neither requests nor replies. So there is no way to block it: everything takes place inside the AP. – MariusMatutiae Sep 10 '14 at 6:40

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