I have been reading through man dhclient and man dhclient.conf and cannot find a way to get it to ignore an interface. As in, pretend it does not exist.

I do not want to shut any interface down. I just want dhclient to establish a lease on a specific interface and leave the others alone.

I tried this as a very simple .conf file that I hoped would work to get it to stop paying attention to iface2.

interface "iface1" {


interface "iface2" {

The point here is to allow it to engage in default behaviour with iface1, but ignore iface2.

But at this point I am just making stupid guesses -- the manual, as far as I can tell, says absolutely nothing about disabling or ignoring interfaces, as if this were something ridiculous or impossible. However, it seems like a very simple task to me and presumably I have misinterpreted or just plain missed something somewhere.

The above conf (invoked dhclient -v -d -cf that.conf) does work to connect to and obtain a lease from iface1, but it then continues endlessly to post DCHPDISCOVER, etc, and failures to due with iface2. The reason I want this to stop is I want to try and do something unrelated with iface2 and if there are problems, I want to be sure it is not because of dhclient.

Note that specifying the interface on the command line (dhclient -v -d iface1) results in identical behaviour.


Okay, stupid me. The solution is to simply leave the inteface unmentioned in the conf file:

interface "iface1" {


It now just gets a lease on iface1 and that's it.

Note again this is not the behaviour I get from dhclient iface1, in which case it first acquires a lease on iface1 but then continues to keep paying attention to everything else -- although there was no pre-existing dhclient.conf anywhere and /etc/dhcp was empty.

  • Leaving an interface unmentioned doesn't work. From man page Note well: ISC dhclient only maintains one list of interfaces, which is either determined at startup from command line arguments, or otherwise is autodetected. – Kaz Feb 5 '18 at 21:21

If you have iface1 and iface2 but only want dhclient to get an IP address etc for iface1, then why not just run: dhclient [other-args] iface1?

By providing it with one or more interface name(s) on the command-line, it will only use that interface or interfaces.

see man dhclient for details.

  • As mentioned in the question and my answer this is not the observed the behavior. This is what I assumed (and have assumed for a long time, in fact), but I noticed it was not the case when I used a (usb tether) interface that doesn't normally exist ("iface1"). dhclient -v iface1 (how I normally connect) worked fine, then when I was trying to set up iface2 as an AP (wlan, which is what I commonly use as a client), I noticed in syslog repeated statements from dhclient about the wlan iface2 I did not want it to use. I shut it down and ran it in the foreground (-d) and low and behold, – goldilocks Mar 3 '16 at 7:44
  • that's what it does. I.e., dhclient -v -d iface1 does a discover and negotiation with iface1, but then endlessly reports messages about iface2 as well (I presume it has old leases related to this interface wherever). The only way I could stop this was by specifying a conf (-cf) which explicitly refers only to iface1. – goldilocks Mar 3 '16 at 7:46
  • sorry, i had stopped reading before your last paragraph. should have read to the end. I would recommend submitting a bug report because the documentation clearly shows that one or more interfaces can be supplied on the command-line, and there's really no point doing that except to limit which interfaces it works on. – cas Mar 3 '16 at 7:46
  • does it do the same if you clear out your old leases file? – cas Mar 3 '16 at 7:47
  • 1
    at least you have relevant info for your bug report - dhclient ignores interface restriction on command line if an old leases file mentions another interface. – cas Mar 3 '16 at 7:56

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