Petter Reinholdtsen

Combining PowerDNS and ISC DHCP LDAP objects
14th July 2010

For a while now, I have wanted to find a way to change the DNS and DHCP services in Debian Edu to use the same LDAP objects for a given computer, to avoid the possibility of having a inconsistent state for a computer in LDAP (as in DHCP but no DNS entry or the other way around) and make it easier to add computers to LDAP.

I've looked at how powerdns and dhcpd is using LDAP, and using this information finally found a solution that seem to work.

The old setup required three LDAP objects for a given computer. One forward DNS entry, one reverse DNS entry and one DHCP entry. If we switch powerdns to use its strict LDAP method (ldap-method=strict in pdns-debian-edu.conf), the forward and reverse DNS entries are merged into one while making it impossible to transfer the reverse map to a slave DNS server.

If we also replace the object class used to get the DNS related attributes to one allowing these attributes to be combined with the dhcphost object class, we can merge the DNS and DHCP entries into one. I've written such object class in the dnsdomainaux.schema file (need proper OIDs, but that is a minor issue), and tested the setup. It seem to work.

With this test setup in place, we can get away with one LDAP object for both DNS and DHCP, and even the LTSP configuration I suggested in an earlier email. The combined LDAP object will look something like this:

  dn: cn=hostname,cn=group1,cn=THINCLIENTS,cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
  cn: hostname
  objectClass: dhcphost
  objectclass: domainrelatedobject
  objectclass: dnsdomainaux
  associateddomain: hostname.intern
  dhcphwaddress: ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00
  dhcpstatements: fixed-address hostname
  ldapconfigsound: Y

The DNS server uses the associateddomain and arecord entries, while the DHCP server uses the dhcphwaddress and dhcpstatements entries before asking DNS to resolve the fixed-adddress. LTSP will use dhcphwaddress or associateddomain and the ldapconfig* attributes.

I am not yet sure if I can get the DHCP server to look for its dhcphost in a different location, to allow us to put the objects outside the "DHCP Config" subtree, but hope to figure out a way to do that. If I can't figure out a way to do that, we can still get rid of the hosts subtree and move all its content into the DHCP Config tree (which probably should be renamed to be more related to the new content. I suspect cn=dnsdhcp,ou=services or something like that might be a good place to put it.

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.

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