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I know they're defined in /etc/resolv.conf, but what if it's not there? And more specifically, how do you find the DNS server returned by DHCP?

In GNOME you can use the NetworkManager applet to see the primary DNS for any connection, so how would you do the same from the command line?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Usually dhclient.leases file is located at /var/lib/dhcp3/dhclient.leases, type the following command:

less /var/lib/dhcp3/dhclient.leases


cat /var/lib/dhcp3/dhclient.leases


You can just use grep command to get DHCP server address, enter:

grep dhcp-server-identifier /var/lib/dhcp3/dhclient.leases


dhclient eth0

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Great, thanks! In case anybody looks for this, the IPCop file is found on /var/ipcop/dhcpc/dhcpcd-*.info – Ivan Sep 17 '09 at 18:56
This is specific of one DHCP client but there are others (such as pump). – bortzmeyer Sep 18 '09 at 7:06
I ran ps aux | grep dhclient and found that my leases file was set to /var/run/dhclient.eth0.leases with the -lf option. – Roger Dueck May 5 '15 at 20:22

I found my DHCP lease info at /var/lib/dhclient/dhclient-eth0.leases in case anyone can't find it at /var/lib/dhcp3/dhclient.leases

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I recently had this problem where my dhcpcd was misconfigured as was not setting DNS servers. I found out that I can query which nameservers are available by DHCP with the following command:

sudo dhcpcd -o domain_name_servers -T

The command will output a bunch of network connection information. Look for the line beginning with new_domain_name_servers.

From here I was able to manually set the nameservers.

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Perfect. This should be the accepted answer, hehe. – drumfire Jun 3 '15 at 0:37

well, why not simply dig that?

marcus@marcus ~ $ dig

; <<>> DiG 9.4.3-P3 <<>>
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 27579
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 3, AUTHORITY: 6, ADDITIONAL: 0

; 		IN	A

;; ANSWER SECTION:  	1785	IN	A  	1785	IN	A  	1785	IN	A

de. 		23431	IN	NS	L.DE.NET.
de. 		23431	IN	NS
de. 		23431	IN	NS
de. 		23431	IN	NS	C.DE.NET.
de. 		23431	IN	NS	S.DE.NET.
de. 		23431	IN	NS

;; Query time: 1 msec
;; WHEN: Thu Sep 17 19:33:39 2009
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 181

look at the last lines: ;; SERVER:

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I was thinking the same thing originally, but I don't that that would show ALL of the assigned DNS servers, would it? I think dig only returns the one it used for that particular lookup. On second look, the poster didn't specify so if he's happy with it then your answer is definitely the easiest. :-) – KPWINC Sep 17 '09 at 17:40
yes you are right output only shows up the dns used by that query... so you can see what is really happening. I found your solution fine to figure out what should happen, thy for that :-) – Marcus Spiegel Sep 17 '09 at 17:45
That wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but thanks anyway. – Ivan Sep 17 '09 at 18:57
When no DNS server responds, dig doesn't show any useful info, is it possible to make it spit out the DNS servers it tried to ask? – Ivan Sep 17 '09 at 18:58
So after RingTFM, I see it just uses whatever is on /etc/resolv.conf – Ivan Sep 17 '09 at 19:07

If there is nothing in /etc/resolv.conf, DNS resolution (that is, resolution using dns as defined in /etc/nsswitch.conf) will not work. This is what dig, host and the libc routines use to do DNS resolution. If there is nothing specified in this file, DNS resolution will not work (though host resolution may work via other means, if another host resolution method is configured, such as NIS (this is unlikely)).

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this command show the DNS server on your net

dig | grep SERVER: | awk -F# '{ print $1 }' | awk -F: '{ print $2 }'

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This does answer the question. In fact it is less reliable than the approach the OP mentions in the question, which is simply to read it from /etc/resolv.conf. After all dig is going to read from /etc/resolv.conf as well and then (try to) communicate with the server before producing any output. – kasperd Nov 27 '14 at 19:14

Read /etc/resolv.conf. That's all.

man resolv.conf is useful, too.

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except he said what to do if it's not there.. – warren Sep 23 '09 at 6:01
Yes, but I ignored this point, which makes no sense. Since the libc resolver uses resolv.conf, it has to be there. – bortzmeyer Sep 23 '09 at 7:08

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