Ubuntu 12.04 IPv4 NAT Gateway and DHCP Server

The setup is simple: a single Ubuntu server will act as a gateway and DHCP server for a local network. All other machines on the local network will receive their IPs from the DHCP server. To make things easier, I’ll call this Ubuntu server “Skyray” for the rest of the post.

Skyray has two network interfaces, eth0 and eth1. eth0 is on the subnet and this is the Internet facing interface. eth1 is on the subnet, where all other machines are also present. Basically, eth0 will connect to the Internet and eth1 will serve DHCP requests and act as the gateway.


First you need to configure eth0 and eth1 for Skyray. Edit the file and make sure it has at least the following settings (or whatever settings are appropriate for your environment).

sudo vim /etc/network/interfaces

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
    dns-search codeghar.com

auto eth1
iface eth1 inet static


You need to enable IPv4 forwarding. To do so, edit this file.

sudo vim /etc/sysctl.conf

And uncomment the line

# net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

so that it now appears as


Save the file and run the following command to make the change effective without a reboot.

sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1


You’ll need to allow iptables rules for NAT to work. Edit the file and save it.

sudo vim /etc/rc.local

Make sure the following two lines appear before the exit 0 line in the file.

/sbin/iptables -P FORWARD ACCEPT
/sbin/iptables --table nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

To make these iptables rules active without rebooting, run the following commands:

sudo iptables -P FORWARD ACCEPT

sudo iptables –-table nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

Install DHCP server

sudo aptitude install isc-dhcp-server


Configure your newly installed DHCP server. Edit the file and save.

sudo vim /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf

The file is very well commented and you can learn a lot reading it. Just make sure it has at least the following configuration.

ddns-update-style none;

# option definitions common to all supported networks...
option domain-name "codeghar.com";
option domain-name-servers,;

default-lease-time 3600;
max-lease-time 7200;

# If this DHCP server is the official DHCP server for the local
# network, the authoritative directive should be uncommented.

# Use this to send dhcp log messages to a different log file (you also
# have to hack syslog.conf to complete the redirection).
log-facility local7;

# This is a very basic subnet declaration.

subnet netmask {
  option subnet-mask;
  option broadcast-address;
  option routers;


We want to serve DHCP only on eth1 interface to we need to configure it that way. Edit the file and save it.

sudo vim /etc/default/isc-dhcp-server

The line will look like this before you change it


And after you change it, it will look like this:


Now you should stop and start the DHCP server.

sudo service isc-dhcp-server stop (if the service is already running; skip if it’s not running)

sudo service isc-dhcp-server start


Now any machines you have on the network will get their IP address from Skyray if they are set to DHCP. And Skyray will also serve as their gateway.

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