Can pfSense's DHCP server update Microsoft DNS?

  • Inside pfSense under the DHCP Server options, it looks like it's able to send a dynamic DNS update to a DNS server.

    It has the following options (in pfSense's DHCP server):

    Enable registration of DHCP client names in DNS.
    Enter the dynamic DNS domain which will be used to register client names in the DNS server.
    Enter the primary domain name server IP address for the dynamic domain name.
    Enter the dynamic DNS domain key name which will be used to register client names in the DNS server.
    Enter the dynamic DNS domain key secret which will be used to register client names in the DNS server. 

    Can anybody point me in the right direction on how to get this working so pfSense's DHCP registers the hostnames in a Microsoft DNS server?

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    At a loss to why you would want to do this?  Why not just have AD dhcp be your dhcp server if your using AD for your dns, etc.  Seems like your over complicating it.

  • Well, I have a dedicated router (physical hardware) but my domain controller is on a virtual machine on different hardware.

    Because this is on a home network, if my domain controller (or virtual server) is down, I'd still like internet access to be available to my other devices.  (i.e. iPad, etc)

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    what does that have to do with registering dhcp in AD?

    If your AD vm goes down, and your pointing to it for dns your still going to be down.

    You have your clients pointing to dns both at your AD and pfsense.  Members of AD should ONLY Point to AD for dns, you can not split dns that do not have all the same information or you going to have problems.

    If your worried about your AD vm crashing and not having internet.. Why not just setup dhcp on pfsense only when that happens, takes what 5 seconds to enable.  So you set it up, and if your VM crashes you enable it.. Have your clients renew dhcp and big bang zoom your on the internet again.

    How do you have your client setup now, pointing to both pfsense and your AD for dns?  This is borked setup.. AD members should only point to AD DNS, this AD dns can then forward for external lookups or direct to roots.  Having a client point to say pfsense at and AD dns at is not good configuration.  Unless you had full sync of all dns records for your AD, etc.  And since unbound or dnsmasq can not do that - are you running bind on pfsense?

  • OK - I'm still learning all of this, so I do appreciate your help.

    My plan was to use pfSense for DHCP and Windows for DNS.  pfSense's DHCP would hand out the Windows DNS as primary DNS, and Google DNS ( for secondary DNS.  This way if the domain controller was offline, clients could still obtain an IP address and resolve DNS queries.

    Because this is only for a home network/lab, it's important to me to "decouple" the domain controller as much as possible from internet access.

    I understand what you're saying about being able to toggle pfSense DHCP on and off, but I'm really hoping for something more automatic.

    Here's a scenario I'm thinking about:

    At my house, the power goes out and all servers are offline.  The power comes back online and the router and cable modem work fine.  However, my virtual server cannot start due to a hardware failure, etc.  If I'm relying on my virtual server (domain controller) for everything, then nothing at my house will be working until I get home to fix it.

    This type of scenario doesn't make sense in a full production environment, but I'm looking to use this for different purposes.  (also, before anybody asks, I have a full MSDN membership allowing licenses for Microsoft products for development/education purposes)

    I really, really do appreciate your help!

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    "Windows DNS as primary DNS, and Google DNS ( for secondary DNS."

    That is not how you would do it.. if your machines are members of your AD.. then the ONLY dns they should point to should be to your AD DNS..  google at has no clue to anything to do with your AD.

    Be it your setting up AD in production, home lab whatever.. if a box is a member of AD then the only dns it should point to is AD DNS - period!!!  Now you can have more than 1 dns server listed if they are both your AD dns..  What your going to do is borked from the get go.

    If you want your machines to join your AD, then they should point to your AD for dns, and dhcp for that matter makes it easy for your AD to keep track of its members and when their IPs change, etc..  Now you setup your AD dns to forward to if you want or have it look up from roots, or forward to pfsense..  But having 2 different dns servers 1 public and one AD on a client that is joined to AD is not good setup.

    If you want to run AD and are worried about hardware failure, then you should have 2 DCs etc.. To be honest I see no reason to run AD in the home, other than play and test - and you can do that with a vms, etc..

    To be honest who is to say that pfsense doesn't have a hardware failure, and now nothing works til you get home anyway.  I run pfsense in VM, I have a domain as well - but my actual machines and laptops are not joined to it because there is no real use of that sort of setup in a home.  I have other vms joined to the domain for when I have to test something or want to play with something, lab it etc..

    I have had power outages in my home - but then again I have my esxi box on a UPS, and also have my modem and switch and since my AP are poe - even when there is a power outage my internet works for 20 to 30 minutes before everything starts shutting down ;)

    So get UPS or 2 if your worried about power outages ;)

  • Yeah, I think that AD might be overkill but my goal was to be able to synchronize UIDs and GIDs across my different VM servers.

    Here's a list of my machines:

    Windows PC (gaming, physical machine)
    MacBook (physical machine)
    Router (pfSense, physical machine)
    ESXi (physical machine)

    On my ESXi box, I have lots of virtual machines:

    File Server (VT-d passthrough of HBA cards and 16x HDDs, shares using NFS and SMB)
    Media Server (Plex, AirVideo, etc)
    Download Server (Nzbget, etc)
    Web Server (Nginx)
    Build Server (OSX project building)

    I thought that Active Directory might be nice to synchronize my username/password across all machines but should be looking at something else maybe?

    Should I maybe look into FreeIPA or something even simpler?

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    what user names are you going to sync?  How are you going to sync say username on pfsense to your AD?  Might be simpler to just setup a radius or ldap server and use that login to your different devices.  Freeipa might be a solution for you sure.

    I do believe freeipa can have window machines auth with use of ksetup on the windows machine.  You could use pGina on your windows machine as well to point to different auth methods vs just local accounts so you could use something that all your devices support.

    Not sure about esxi, while it does support AD login I do believe you need the non free license to do that, since you would have to use vserver vs just the client to manage your host.

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