Using Official ISC Packages for Kea
  • 07 Jun 2024
  • 13 Minutes to read
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Using Official ISC Packages for Kea

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  • PDF

Article summary


ISC provides binary packages and corresponding source code for Kea DHCP hosted on Cloudsmith. Packages and source code tarballs are provided for every release.

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

The open source packages in the current release provide 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

The table below lists the current open source packages for all supported systems:

Open Source Package
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-doc Documentation for Kea
isc-kea-dev or isc-kea-devel for RPM Development headers for Kea
Upgrading from versions prior to Kea 2.3.2

These package names have been in use since Kea version 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 Packages

ISC Premium package purchasers and customers with support subscriptions are entitled to additional hooks not included in the open source version of Kea. The commercially licensed hooks are distributed in three bundles:

  • Premium for online purchasers of hooks without ISC support
  • Subscription for customers with ISC support subscriptions
  • Enterprise for support customers at the highest SLA level

The table below lists the current commercially licensed packages for all supported systems:

Commercially Licensed Package
Description 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 Kea hook libraries are described fully in the Kea ARM.

FreeRADIUS support in versions prior to Kea 2.5.4 was implemented with a patch from ISC. If you are using FreeRADIUS with one of those versions, ensure you install the FreeRADIUS packages from the ISC repository. Starting with Kea version 2.5.4, ISC has replaced the patched FreeRADIUS 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 specific to the package type used by your distribution of Linux, but they do not need to be installed explicitly. FreeRADIUS packages are installed automatically by packages that require them.

FreeRADIUS Package
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. The source tarballs are also available for Kea 2.2.0 and later versions. We have 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 repositories and installed by following the directions below. The examples use Kea version 2.6; use the table below to replace kea-2-6 with a different string for a different version, such as kea-2-4:

Package String Description
kea-2-6 current stable branch
kea-2-4 old stable branch
kea-dev current development branch
kea-2-2 EOL stable branch
kea-2-0 EOL stable branch
kea-1-8 EOL stable branch
kea-1-6 EOL stable branch
keama migration tool for ISC DHCP migration to Kea
stork GUI management tool for Kea
docker Docker images of open source

Set up the repository on Debian and Ubuntu

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

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

You can remove the repository with:

rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/isc-kea-2-6.list
apt-get clean
rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*
apt-get update

Set up the repository on Fedora/CentOS/RHEL

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

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

You can remove the repository with:

rm /etc/yum.repos.d/isc-kea-2-6.repo
rm /etc/yum.repos.d/isc-kea-2-6-source.repo

Set up the repository on Alpine

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

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

You can remove the repository by editing the repositories file:

$EDITOR /etc/apk/repositories

Remove the /alpine/v3.18/main line and save the file, then run these two commands:

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

Premium Repositories for Commercially Licensed Hooks

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

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 your token, please send an email to to request your token.

The instructions are very similar to the ones for the open source repositories, given above. In the URLs, replace public with your token and append -prv to the repository name, such as changing kea-2-6 to kea-2-6-prv. For example, the command:


should be changed to:


Resulting in this command for deb-based distributions:

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

For RPM-based distributions:

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
kea-2-4-prv current stable branch
kea-2-2-prv old stable branch
kea-dev-prv current development branch
kea-2-0-prv EOL stable branch
kea-1-8-prv EOL stable branch
kea-1-6-prv EOL stable branch
docker-prv premium docker images

Premium Repositories for Web-Based Purchases

If you have purchased Premium hooks from ISC's website and do not have 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 using a private link in the email sent at the time of purchase.

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=2.6.0; \
  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=2.6.0; \
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 request. Change the keyword to specify which hooks to download. The possible values include premium, subscription, and enterprise.

version=2.6.0 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-2-6-prv/raw/versions/$version/$file; \

and use a similar script to verify signatures:

version=2.6.0 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; \

In the examples above, replace kea-2-6 and 2.6.0 with the version that you will use.

Accessing Cloudsmith From Behind a Proxy Server

Systems which are required to use a proxy server for internet access can use any of the methods described below when configuring repositories and downloading packages. In the examples below, the proxy server IP address is and the proxy listens on port 3128 (expressed as

The first step involves fetching a setup shell script from Cloudsmith, then running the configuration script. Since both the fetching of the setup script and the HTTP requests from inside the script are done with curl, we can make use of curl's proxy support.

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 curl to use this proxy persistently with a .curlrc file. Note that this affects all curl calls for any user whose environment reads the .curlrc file:

echo 'proxy =' >> ~/.curlrc

If you want package downloads to be proxied as well, proxy settings can be configured for the package manager:

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 system, 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 automatically installed.

The following examples will install the main Kea package isc-kea, which depends on (and automatically installs) all of the packages in the open source bundle.

Deb version:

apt install isc-kea

RPM version:

yum install isc-kea

Alpine version:

apk add isc-kea

Installing only specific components is also possible. Please refer to the list of packages above to determine 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 Docker Images

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. 2.6.0)

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


Using the Docker Image

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 Docker Images

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. Use your access token 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 2.6.0.

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