Using Official ISC Packages for Kea
  • 10 May 2024
  • 15 Minutes to read
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Using Official ISC Packages for Kea

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Article Summary


ISC offers binary packages of Kea DHCP for our users and customers, hosted on Cloudsmith. They are provided along with the source code tarballs for every release.

Thank you to Cloudsmith!
The repository for Kea open source packages is provided by Cloudsmith at no charge as a free community service for non-profit open source projects.

The open source packages contain the base Kea software and the following hook libraries:

  • Flexible Option
  • High Availability
  • Lease Commands
  • MySQL Configuration Backend
  • PostgreSQL Configuration Backend
  • Run Script
  • Statistics Commands

For a full list of hooks provided by the latest development release, please refer to the list of Available Hook Libraries in the Administrator Reference Manual (ARM). Other hooks are provided under a commercial license, in separate private repositories (see below).

Why Use ISC's Kea Packages?

ISC's Kea packages let you:

  1. Update quickly and efficiently directly from our repository, in one step, and skip the added step of downloading and building binaries locally;
  2. Get all the latest bug fixes and features immediately, without waiting for your OS distribution to pick up the changes and release them. We provide binary packages along with sources at the time of each release (sometimes the binaries are posted a few hours later, but generally the same day).

Supported Operating Systems

ISC has created packages for what we think are the most popular operating systems for production DHCP servers. If your preferred operating system is not packaged, you can still build from our published sources.

We provide the following types of packages:

  • RPM for RHEL, CentOS, Fedora
  • deb for Debian and Ubuntu
  • apk for Alpine
  • Docker images (introduced with Kea 2.4.0)
Supported OS Versions

Please note that we only provide packages for currently supported versions of an operating system. When we release each new version of Kea, we evaluate the OSes we support. We add packages for newly released operating system versions as we are able to, and remove packages for operating system versions and Kea versions that become end-of-life.

A current list of supported systems and their versions can be found in the Kea documentation.)

ISC-Provided Kea Packages

ISC provides packages for the open source components, as well as the premium, subscriber-only, and enterprise hooks packages.

ISC Packages vs. OS Packages

Kea binaries are available in several packages. RHEL, CentOS, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, and Alpine all provide their own Kea packages, which may not be packaged the same way as the ISC-provided packages. To avoid confusing ISC packages with those from other distributors (with the exception of FreeRADIUS packages prior to Kea 2.5.4), all ISC packages start with the isc-kea- prefix.

Open Source Package Names

These are the names of the open source packages for all supported systems:

Open Source Packages
isc-kea ISC Kea metapackage (installs everything)
isc-kea-ctrl-agent Kea control socket REST API server
isc-kea-dhcp-ddns Kea DHCP DDNS server
isc-kea-dhcp4-server or isc-kea-dhcp4 for Alpine Kea DHCPv4 server
isc-kea-dhcp6-server or isc-kea-dhcp6 for Alpine Kea DHCPv6 server
isc-kea-hooks Open source hooks package for Kea
isc-kea-common Common libraries and files needed by Kea
isc-kea-admin Kea database administration utilities
isc-kea-perfdhcp DHCP benchmarking tool from ISC
isc-kea-hooks Open source hooks package for Kea
isc-kea-doc Documentation for Kea
isc-kea-dev or isc-kea-devel for RPM Development headers for Kea
Upgrading from before Kea 2.3.2

The package names listed above are in use since Kea 2.3.2. For upgrade guidance from a prior version, please refer to the following KB article: Upgrading Beyond Kea 2.3.2.

Commercially Licensed Package Names

ISC Premium package purchasers and support subscribers are entitled to additional hooks not included in the open source. The commercially licensed hooks are distributed in three bundles:

  1. a bundle for online purchasers of hooks, without ISC support, called Premium;
  2. a bundle for ISC support customers, called Subscription;
  3. and one additional hook offered to support customers at the highest SLA level, called Enterprise
Commercially Licensed Hook Packages
Hook name Bundle
isc-kea-premium-class-cmds Classification Commands hook library Subscriber
isc-kea-premium-cb-cmds Config Backend Commands hook library Subscriber
isc-kea-premium-ddns-tuning DDNS Tuning hook library Premium
isc-kea-premium-flex-id Flexible Identifier hook library Premium
isc-kea-premium-forensic-log Forensic Logging hook library Premium
isc-kea-premium-gss-tsig GSS-TSIG hook library Subscriber
isc-kea-premium-host-cache Host Cache hook library Subscriber
isc-kea-premium-host-cmds Host Commands hook library Premium
isc-kea-premium-lease-query Leasequery hook library Subscriber
isc-kea-premium-limits Limits hook library Subscriber
isc-kea-premium-ping-check Ping Check library Subscriber
isc-kea-premium-radius RADIUS hook library Subscriber
isc-kea-premium-rbac Role-Based Access Control hook library Enterprise
isc-kea-premium-subnet-cmds Subnet Commands hook library Subscriber

For more information about obtaining the subscription and enterprise Kea hook libraries, please contact us at All of the Kea hook libraries are described fully in the Kea ARM.

FreeRADIUS support in older versions of Kea (packages before Kea 2.5.4) requires a special patch from ISC to work. If you are using RADIUS with one of those versions of Kea, make sure you are installing the FreeRADIUS packages from the ISC repository. Starting with Kea release 2.5.4, ISC has replaced the patched Free RADIUS client with an ISC-developed client. This change reduces the number of dependencies and streamlines the installation process. If you are installing Kea 2.5.4 or a more recent version, please refer to the "Using the Cloudsmith Repositories" section, below.

The names of the FreeRADIUS packages are different on each system, but they do not need to be installed explicitly. They are installed automatically by the packages that require them.

FreeRADIUS Packages
freeradius-client deb FreeRADIUS client library
freeradius-client-devel deb FreeRADIUS development files
libfreeradius-client RPM FreeRADIUS client library
libfreeradius-client-dev RPM FreeRADIUS development files

Using the Cloudsmith Repositories

All ISC binary packages for Kea are contained in our repositories on Cloudsmith. Note that the source tarballs are also available alongside the binary packages for Kea 2.2.0 and later versions. We have both open source repositories, which are available to anyone, and private repositories for ISC customers, which require a security token to access.

Open Source Repositories

Packages can be downloaded from our public Cloudsmith repository by following these directions. These instructions are for Kea 2.4, but they can be easily customized for other versions by changing kea-2-4 in the commands to kea-2-2, etc., as appropriate. If the repositories are configured manually, the 0D9D9A1439E23DB9 part of the GPG key file also needs to be replaced. The current open source repositories on Cloudsmith are:

Repository Name Comments GPG fingerprint
kea-1-6 EOL stable branch 0607E2621F1564A6
kea-1-8 EOL stable branch 4DD5AE28ADA7268E
kea-2-0 EOL stable branch 8029D4AFA58CBB5E
kea-2-2 old stable branch A8CB727C62565FF8
kea-2-4 current stable branch 0D9D9A1439E23DB9
kea-2-5 old development branch D4FEAEAEFBD81FB9
kea-dev current development branch 98CB594EC0EC6D3A
keama migration tool for ISC DHCP migration to Kea 0C2174E4E9353587
stork GUI management tool for Kea 77F64EC28053D1FB
docker repo for Docker images of open source BD924E2BDFABFCAB

Setting Up Repos on Debian

To install packages, you can quickly setup the repository automatically (recommended):

curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E bash

If you need to force a specific distribution/release, you can also do that (e.g. if your system is compatible but not identical):

curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E distro=some-distro codename=some-codename arch=some-arch bash

or you can manually configure it yourself before installing packages:

apt-get install -y debian-keyring  # debian only
apt-get install -y debian-archive-keyring  # debian only
apt-get install -y apt-transport-https
# For Debian Stretch, Ubuntu 16.04 and later
# For Debian Jessie, Ubuntu 15.10 and earlier
curl -1sLf '' |  gpg --dearmor > ${keyring_location}
curl -1sLf '' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/isc-kea-2-4.list
apt-get update

Note: Please replace debian and bookworm (in distro=debian&codename=bookworm above) with your actual operating system, distribution, and distribution version.

Note: Each repository has its own GPG key! When setting up multiple repos, please check for the appropriate GPG key and replace that in the script.

You can remove the repository with:

rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/isc-kea-2-4.list
apt-get clean
rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*
apt-get update

Setting Up Repos on Fedora/CentOS/RHEL

To install RPM packages, you can quickly setup the repository automatically (recommended):

curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E bash

If you need to force a specific distribution/release, you can also do that (e.g. if your system is compatible but not identical):

curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E distro=some-distro codename=some-codename arch=some-arch bash

or you can manually configure it yourself before installing packages:

yum install yum-utils pygpgme
rpm --import ''
curl -1sLf '' > /tmp/isc-kea-2-4.repo
yum-config-manager --add-repo '/tmp/isc-kea-2-4.repo'
yum -q makecache -y --disablerepo='*' --enablerepo='isc-kea-2-4'

Note: Please replace el and 9 (in distro=el&codename=9 above) with your actual distribution/version, and use wildcards when enabling multiple repos.

You can remove the repository with:

rm /etc/yum.repos.d/isc-kea-2-4.repo
rm /etc/yum.repos.d/isc-kea-2-4-source.repo

Setting Up Repos on Alpine

To install packages, you can quickly setup the repository automatically (recommended):

sudo apk add --no-cache bash
curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E bash

If you need to force a specific distribution/release, you can also do that (e.g. if your system is compatible but not identical):

sudo apk add --no-cache bash
curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E distro=some-distro codename=some-codename arch=some-arch bash

or you can manually configure it yourself before installing packages:

curl -1sLf '' > /etc/apk/keys/
curl -1sLf '' >> /etc/apk/repositories
apk update

Note: Please replace v3.18 above with your actual distribution version.

You can remove the repository entries with:

$EDITOR /etc/apk/repositories

Remove the /alpine/v3.18/main line, save then execute:

rm -f /etc/apk/keys/
apk update

Premium Repositories for Commercially Licensed Hooks

Organizations with access to the private repositories (designated with a -prv suffix in the repository name) should use those locations to retrieve their software; the -prv repositories contain extra software not included in the open source. These repositories are also updated in case of a security vulnerability, prior to publication of that vulnerability.

These instructions provide information on accessing the private Cloudsmith repositories with a token, indicated with your_token_goes_here in the commands. If you are an ISC Kea support customer and need a token, please log into our support portal to obtain yours. If you have purchased the Premium hooks bundle online, you should have received a token via email; if you have lost it, please send an email to to request your token.

The instructions are very similar to the ones for the open source repositories, given above. They can be easily customized by altering the URLs; the public part should be replaced with the token and kea-2-4 with kea-2-4-prv. For example:


should be changed to


Resulting in this command for .deb based systems:

curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E bash

For .rpm based systems:

curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E bash

And for Alpine distributions:

sudo apk add --no-cache bash
curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E bash

The current private repositories on Cloudsmith are:

Repository Name Comments GPG key fingerprint
kea-1-6-prv EOL stable branch 2CA572B420122833
kea-1-8-prv EOL stable branch 7167175DBD03497E
kea-2-0-prv EOL stable branch 1FDFF273A0AFE2E7
kea-2-2-prv old stable branch 637D17CDF63701B8
kea-2-4-prv current stable branch AE79F31676CC9BFA
kea-2-5-prv old development branch B5F2002191134438
kea-dev-prv current development branch 08BFAB189A1EE048
docker-prv premium docker images 93CEE5360A152100

Premium Repositories for Web-Based Purchases

If you have purchased Premium hooks from ISC's website (without a support contract), you can access them through Cloudsmith. For more information, please consult the Premium Repositories for Commercially Licensed Hooks section. Please note that the Premium hook packages only contain the hooks listed as part of the Premium bundle in this table.

Premium hook purchasers can also download source tarballs through a private link from SendOwl, which is sent via email.

Source Tarballs in the Package Repository

Official Source Tarball Releases

These instructions are only included for the benefit of users who are not running the software on an officially supported platform. You should only need to follow these instructions if you plan on installing Kea from source. More information on how to do this can be found on the Installation Page in the ARM.

Since Kea 2.2.0, source tarballs are available alongside the binary packages in the Cloudsmith repository. This is a particular convenience for our support subscribers, who can now use the same token to download the source that they have already been using to install the packages.

To download the source tarball and its signatures from Cloudsmith, use the following set of commands, replacing the version string with the current version you wish to download:

version=2.4.0; \
  for file in kea-$version.tar.gz kea-$version.tar.gz.asc kea-$version.tar.gz.sha1.asc kea-$version.tar.gz.sha256.asc kea-$version.tar.gz.sha512.asc Kea-$version-ReleaseNotes.txt;  do \
  curl -O$version/$file; \

or just a single file:

curl -O

The tarballs (in contrast to the binary packages) have been signed using ISC's code signing key. To verify signatures, after importing the ISC key from please run this set of commands:

version=2.4.0; \
for i in .asc .sha1.asc .sha256.asc .sha512.asc; do \
  gpg --verify kea-enterprise-$version.tar.gz$i kea-enterprise-$version.tar.gz; \

For ISC support subscribers, change to the -prv repository and insert your token into the query. Change the keyword to specify which hooks to download. The possible values include premium, subscription, and enterprise.

version=2.4.0 hooks=premium; \
  for file in kea-$hooks-$version.tar.gz kea-$hooks-$version.tar.gz.asc kea-$hooks-$version.tar.gz.sha1.asc kea-$hooks-$version.tar.gz.sha256.asc kea-$hooks-$version.tar.gz.sha512.asc;  do \
  curl -O<your-customer-token-here>/isc/kea-2-4-prv/raw/versions/$version/$file; \

and use a similar script to verify signatures:

version=2.4.0 hooks=premium; \
for i in .asc .sha1.asc .sha256.asc .sha512.asc; do \
  gpg --verify kea-$hooks-$version.tar.gz$i kea-$hooks-$version.tar.gz; \

Note that in the examples above you will need to replace kea-2-4 and 2.4.0 with the appropriate version that you are planning to use.

Accessing Cloudsmith From Behind a Proxy Server

It is a common scenario to use a forward proxy server as an internet access intermediary. It is possible to configure the proxy to limit access to permit installing Kea packages, without permitting any other traffic.

Make sure the proxy server supports forwarding of HTTPS traffic.

At the moment of writing, Caddy requires an experimental plugin to forward HTTPS traffic, and NGINX is not able to do it at all. Squid is a popular, open-source and easy-to-setup solution.

Assuming the proxy server listens on here is how it could be configured.

The first step involves fetching a script from Cloudsmith servers and running it. Since both the fetching itself of the script and the network activity inside the script are done with curl, we can make use of curl proxying capabilities.

Either set the HTTPS_PROXY environment variable like this:

HTTPS_PROXY= curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E bash

or like this:

curl -1sLf \
  '' \
  | sudo -E bash

Or configure it persistently in .curlrc while being mindful that this affects all curl calls on the system:

echo 'proxy =' >> ~/.curlrc

If you want package downloads to be proxied as well, it can be configured at the package manager level:

OS Command
Debian-based echo 'Acquire::https::Proxy "";' >> /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/proxy.conf
RPM-based echo 'proxy=;' >> /etc/dnf/dnf.conf
Alpine setup-proxy

Installing Kea Packages

After configuring the repositories on a host machine, the Kea packages can be installed. As there are several packages, you can choose to install only the parts of Kea that you require. The dependencies between packages are set up so any dependent packages will be pulled in as well.

The following examples will install the main Kea metapackage which depends on (and consequently installs) all of the components in the open source bundle.

Deb version:

apt install isc-kea

RPM version:

yum install isc-kea

Alpine version:

apk add isc-kea

If you would only like to install specific components, or subpackages, that is also possible. Please refer to the list of packages above to discover which specific packages you need.

Once Kea is installed, it can be configured; the configuration files are located in the /etc/kea/ folder.

Installing Premium Hooks

After setting up the Premium hooks repository, you should be able to install the Kea premium hooks with your platform's package manager.

The following command installs the Flexible Identifier Kea premium hook library; use the same command for other libraries, with the appropriate library name.

Deb version:

apt install isc-kea-premium-flex-id

RPM version:

yum install isc-kea-premium-flex-id

Alpine version:

apk add isc-kea-premium-flex-id

Please refer to the Premium Packages section above to discover names of other premium hooks which you may have access to.

Managing Kea Services

When using the ISC-provided packages, Kea services should be managed using the service manager of your OS.

Packages do not include keactrl

The keactrl utility is not included in these packages because it is assumed the user will use the operating system's init system to start and stop Kea instead.

Service Names

RPM and Alpine Systems

Service Name Description
kea-dhcp4 DHCPv4 Server
kea-dhcp6 DHCPv6 Server
kea-dhcp-ddns DHCP DDNS Server
kea-ctrl-agent Kea Control Agent - REST API

Debian Systems

Service Name Description
isc-kea-dhcp4-server DHCPv4 Server
isc-kea-dhcp6-server DHCPv6 Server
isc-kea-dhcp-ddns-server DHCP DDNS Server
isc-kea-ctrl-agent Kea Control Agent - REST API

Service Management

To start, stop, or restart Kea daemons, systemctl should be used on Debian/Ubuntu and RPM based systems, and OpenRC should be used on Alpine.

In the following examples, the kea-dhcp4 service is being enabled, started, and stopped. Adjust the commands to the service you wish to manage.

Deb version:

systemctl enable isc-kea-dhcp4-server
systemctl start isc-kea-dhcp4-server
systemctl stop isc-kea-dhcp4-server

RPM version:

systemctl enable kea-dhcp4
systemctl start kea-dhcp4
systemctl stop kea-dhcp4

Alpine version:

rc-update add kea-dhcp4
service kea-dhcp4 start
service kea-dhcp4 stop

Pulling and Using Dockers

Docker images available in the open source repository include:

  • kea-dhcp4
  • kea-dhcp6
  • kea-dhcp-ddns

Pulling (downloading) an image from the Cloudsmith Docker registry can be done using the standard docker pull command:

docker pull

Note: You should replace your-image with one of the image names (e.g. kea-dhcp4), and version with a Kea image name and version string (e.g. 2.5.3.)

To refer to images after pulling in a Dockerfile, specify the following:


Using the Docker

Using a Docker image for Kea DHCP is complicated! We strongly encourage you to read the README in the Docker repository.

Pulling and Using Premium Dockers

Docker images available in the private repository correspond to the three levels of commercially licensed software: Premium (typically purchased from the ISC website, Subscription (available to all ISC technical support subscribers), and Enterprise (available to ISC support subscribers at the highest levels).

  • kea-dhcp4-enterprise
  • kea-dhcp4-premium
  • kea-dhcp4-subscription
  • kea-dhcp6-enterprise
  • kea-dhcp6-premium
  • kea-dhcp6-subscription
  • kea-dhcp-ddns-premium
  • kea-dhcp-ddns-subscription

As this is a private registry, you'll need to authenticate to pull images, using the access token issued to you when you either purchased the Premium hooks package or subscribed for support from ISC. Put your own access token in when prompted for a password:

docker login
Username: isc/docker-prv
Password: your_token_goes_here
Login Succeeded

Pulling (downloading) an image from the Cloudsmith Docker registry can be done using the standard docker pull command:

docker pull

Note: You should replace your-image and version in the above with a Kea image name, such as kea-dhcp4-premium, and a version number, such as 2.5.3.

To refer to images after pulling in a Dockerfile, specify the following:


Using the Docker

Using a Docker image for Kea DHCP is complicated! We strongly encourage you to read the README in the Docker repository.