Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol; allows computers on the same network to automatically obtain unique IP addresses and other network configuration parameters.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is an IP protocol that offers dynamic configuration of terminals, allowing automatic assignment of host IP addresses and other configuration parameters for network clients. DHCP is the successor of the simpler BOOTP protocol, which had more limited functionality. DHCP was first released as a standard in October 1993; the most current specification is given in RFC 2131 published March 1997.

Briefly, DHCP works as follows:

  1. A client sends a UDP packet broadcast (for all machines) with a DHCP request.
  2. The DHCP servers that capture this packet will respond (if the client falls within a range of criteria) with a packet which will include configurations with at least one IP address, netmask and other optional data, such as gateway, DNS servers, etc.