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Part: V Appendices > The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

Each computer on a TCP/IP network must have its own unique IP address. When the ARPANET was first put into place, it was a simple matter to manually assign an IP address to each computer on the network. However, complications could arise when using this manual method. For example, in a large network, if you didn't keep good records, you might assign the same address to two different computers. In that situation, how would a packet get delivered to the correct computer?

The dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) was designed to solve this problem. DHCP allows the network administrator to assign a range of addresses to a DHCP server that, in turn, leases the IP addresses out to individual computers, keeping track of which computer is using which address. As long as you properly configure your DHCP server (and you can have more than one on a network), then it is a simple matter to simply configure your computer (see Chapters 24 and 25) to automatically acquire addressing information from a DHCP server. Over the years, DHCP has been enhanced so that it now supplies not only an IP address to a computer that makes a request, but also a lot of other information such as the subnet mask, default gateway, and the address of DNS servers.


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