Windows Server 2008 RC2 DHCP Server Option 119

If you’ve scoured through Windows Server configurations for the DHCP server looking to set the Search Domains and have come up empty, there’s good reason: Most, if not all, versions of Windows do not support setting Search Domains via DHCP (option 119), thus Microsoft does not include a visible option to set this on their DHCP servers.

99% of the computers used at my company are Windows based, so we use GPO to push down the search domains and it works pretty well. We do, however, have iPads used by upper management, as well as Android users connecting to the corporate wifi and a few of us using Linux based operating systems which won’t accept Microsoft’s GPO. We were essentially out in the cold unless we manually configured our networking options to add all of the search domains used by our company.

Someone in Executive Management requested that the “GPO only” push of search domains be changed to be included in the DHCP server for any non-Windows users. After 3 hours of troubleshooting, searching the web, and scouring RFC’s, we finally implemented it. Here are some notes about our journey: Technet is wrong when it explains how to add this functionality; everyone who says just use GPO simply didn’t get that non-Windows couldn’t use GPO; Stephen was close in his explanation, but that still didn’t work (chankster even pointed him to the RFC that helped me, but he brushed it off).

The size does indeed have to be per domain component (excluding the ‘.’); but the size also comes BEFORE the domain component, not after. The domain in it’s entirety also needs to be null terminated. So here’s an example: (we’ll use Stephen’s example as a base).

We have two domain components: apple and com
Translated to hex, we get the following:

a - 0x61
p - 0x70
p - 0x70
l - 0x6c
e - 0x65
c - 0x63
o - 0x6f
m - 0x6d

The size of apple is 5, or 0x05 and the size of com is 3, or 0x03, so our complete string is

0x05 0x61 0x70 0x70 0x6c 0x65 0x03 0x63 0x6f 0x6d 0x00

Each one of these needs to be individually added as a separate byte in the array for the 119 option in the DHCP server configuration (Remember to null terminate the entries with 0x00). Once we made this change and saved it, our non-Windows based clients were then able to get the Search Domains via DHCP (note: it appears Android does not support option 119 as well, at least from my testing with packets from Wireshark).

Hope this helps someone out.

  • http://Website Derek Cordeiro

    Thanks for this article, made my life easier. I noticed a small mistake: You interchanged the hex codes for o and m

    • Matt

      Thanks Derek, I’ve corrected the hex codes. Glad this helped you.

  • http://Website Skip

    Works perfectly! Thanks so much for this.

  • http://Website Charlie

    Great article Matt, it really helped me out! Just one question – I have this working for multiple domains but it doesn’t seem to work for sub domains.

    For example, below are the domains and how they show up on the client:

    Converted to HEX and entered in DHCP 119:

    DNS Search List on Client:

    Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.


    • http://Website Charlie

      Don’t worry, simple typo was the issue! Easily done with all those HEX bytes!

      Thanks again for the great article.

      • Matt

        Glad you got it sorted… I was a bit perplexed at first, because all but one of our domains at work are sub-domains, so it should have worked.

  • Andrew McNaughton

    Thanks! Brilliant lifesaver. We’re slowly moving all our DHCP to Windows across hundreds of schools and we have various intranet sites with different domain endings. This helps the Macs get there where the content has many unqualified links. Don’t approve of unqualified links myself but you can’t stop everyone in such a large disparate organisation.

  • Roger

    Sorry to ask dummie questions (hope this help other dummies), so let’s say, i.e. I set 119 as a default dhcp option on a DHCP Windows Server, type string. Then configuring a scope options for a search list in and, according to Microsoft I should write in the ‘String’ field;, but this shouldn’t work on all OSes.
    Instead you suggest to set option 119 type as Byte and flag ‘Array’, then add for each (?) suffix an 119 option like 0x03 0x66 0x6f 0x6f 0x03 0x63 0x6f 0x6d 0x00 (corresponding to and 0x0a 0x74 0x65 0x6e 0x6c 0x65 0x74 0x74 0x65 0x72 0x7a 0x03 0x63 0x6f 0x6d 0x00 (corresponding to Does this work on Windows XP to 7?

    In any case, readers take care to convert string length, which is a number, following the link Decimal to Hex :)

    • Roger

      Sorry, forgot to change all No offense and no reference to (existing)

    • Matt

      Yes, I’m basically saying don’t listen to Microsoft. This will not work on any Windows machine as Windows does not support option 119. If you want to push down search domains to Windows machines you’ll need to either manually configure it on your machines or use Group Policy.

      • chris wess

        So you are saying that if i configure this option 119 on a server 2012 dhcp server that my non-domain joined PCs will not pick up this search list? Even if i follow your procedure for the length,hex,null at end?

        How would you do this then if you have machines from another domain need a suffix search at this site?

        • Matt

          No, I’m saying that Windows doesn’t support option 119, regardless of whether they’re domain or non-domain machines. Option 119 will only work for domain or non-domain machines/devices that support it (Mac, Linux, etc).

          If you have Windows machines on another domain that need to search this domain, either push it down with GPO or manually configure it in the network settings.

  • Kieth

    Thanks Matt for the information. However, I have followed your instructions but my mac clients are still not receiving the domain search list. Is there an order in which you enter the bytes into the Data Byte Entry?
    In your example: 0x05 0x61 0x70 0x70 0x6c 0x65 0x03 0x63 0x6f 0x6d 0x00, do you enter 0x05 first, or 0x00?
    Many thanks in advanced!

    • Matt

      We typed them in, in the exact order shown. I’d suggest using a tool like Wireshark to capture the packets on the Mac (or over the wire in promiscuous mode) and see if a) the Mac is requesting option 119 from the server, and b) if so, what the response from the server is.

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  • Justin

    What the other person was trying to ask was the order in which the DHCP server reads the hex information. If you type it in the order in which you did, it shows up backwards in the scope options. Assuming the first hex address it read was 0x0 instead of 0x05, it would expect no letters after the first hex. If the first hex was 0x05, it would expect 5 letters.

    I will assume since the other scope options are in the correct order, you would need to put these in reverse order.

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  • Brett

    Is there a maximum length? I can get to work fine, like your example above… but I can’t get my company domain to work. 12(criticalmass) + 3(com) characters.

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  • Sio

    Thansk for this article Matt. Other than the RFC notes, this was the most helpful page I have come across on this topic so I thought I would share here.

    Configuring by hand using the GUI is tedious and error prone. Fortunately NETSH can be used to configure option 119. Using the example, the following netsh command will configure option 119 for scope x.x.x.x on server ‘servername':

    netsh dhcp server \\servername scope x.x.x.x set optionvalue 119 BYTE 05 61 70 70 6c 65 03 63 6f 6d 00

    • Matthew A. R .Sherian

      Here are the netsh commands to perform all of the steps, and a perl one liner to print the appropriate hex strings (CYGWIN):

      1) echo " " | perl -ne '@words=split;foreach $word ( @words ){ @chars=split(//,$word); $len=scalar(@chars); printf("%02X ", $len); foreach $char (@chars){ $ord = ord($char) ; printf("%02X ",$ord) }} printf("%02X\n","")'

      Example:echo "google com" | perl -ne '@words=split;foreach $word ( @words ){ @chars=split(//,$word); $len=scalar(@chars); printf("%02X ", $len); foreach $char (@chars){ $ord = ord($char) ; printf("%02X ",$ord) }} printf("%02X\n","")'
      06 67 6F 6F 67 6C 65 03 63 6F 6D 00

      2) Delete previous definitiion:
      netsh dhcp server V4 delete optiondef 119
      3) Add the option to the DNS Server (run from server itself)

      netsh dhcp server V4 add optiondef 119 "DNS Search Path" BYTE 1 comment="DNS Search Domains"
      4)Set the value for the scope:

      netsh dhcp server V4 scope set optionvalue 119 ARRAY 05 6E 78 73 79 73 03 6C 74 64 00

      • Matthew A. R .Sherian

        Here is a PowerShell version, it returns each element on a separate line… so you’ll have to concatenate them manually.

        "google com" | %{ $words= -split $_ ; $words | %{ $len=$_.length ; $len=([String]::Format("{0:x}", $len)).PadLeft(3,"0") ; $hex=[int[]][char[]]$_ ; ($len+" "+$hex) } | %{ Write-Host "$_ " } }

        006 103 111 111 103 108 101
        003 99 111 109

  • Simon

    Thanks for this. I just used it on a Windows 2003 R2 DHCP server and it worked a treat.

  • hp

    I am trying this on Windows 2003 DHCP, but it not working for me…Not sure, if I am doing correctly….So, when I create the Byte array and enter the value like: 0x3 0x72 0x74 0x70 0x4 0x63 0x6f 0x72…..It picks up 0x3 only and truncates the complete string…please assist….

    • Matt

      0x3 would indicate a string that is over 40 characters long… do you have a domain that is really that long? If it’s only 3 characters, you need 0x03.

      • Alex

        I have problem on windows 2008 r2, when i entering 0x03 it saved as 0x3 . Please help

        • Miles

          Enter the hex, line by line, don’t enter all the values on a single line otherwise all value except for the first will be truncated.

    • Sio

      With DHCP Windows Server 2003 I had to enter binary values instead of hex when using netsh

  • Dan

    Which character do I use to separate domains? I tried to simply end in 0x00 and then have 0x09 as the next character to indicate 9 letters in the first part of the next domain, but my client only picks up the first search domain. Do I use some other character to separate domains?

    • Dan

      Figured it out, I simply had to follow point 4.1.4 of RFC 1035, available here:

      • abraham

        Hi Dan, I could not understand it, would you mind sharing the solution.

  • Shiva


    I have a windows server 2008 and win 7 clients. Does the mentioned scope option support my scenario

  • Brocifer

    Thanks very much for this article, it finally helped me solve this problem. I toyed around with this a year ago but couldn’t find anything definitive, this guide definitely works.

  • thorsten


    i have a Powershell Script to simplify it.
    If you not own a Windows 2012 DHCP Server you need a Powershell DHCP Module:

    You have Set the Predefined Option 119 on each DHCP Server.
    Name: Domain Search List, Description: Domain Suffix Search Order, Code: 119, Datatype: Byte, Array: True

    # Change Servernames and DNS suffixes
    $a = “,”
    $arr1= $a -split “\,”
    foreach ($a1 in $arr1) {
    $arr2 = $a1 -split “\.”
    Foreach ($a2 in $arr2) {
    $b += $a2.Length
    $b += $a2.ToCharArray();
    Foreach ($element in $b) {
    $c = $c + ” ” + [System.String]::Format(“{0:X}”, [System.Convert]::ToUInt32($element))
    $c = $c + ” 0″
    foreach ($server in $serverarr) {
    # I don’t need New-DHCPOptionDefinition…
    New-DHCPOptionDefinition -Server $server -DataType Byte -OptionID “119” -Name “Domain Search List” -Description “Domain Suffix Search Order” -IsArray -DefaultValue 1
    Set-DhcpOption -Owner $server -optionid 119 -DataType byte -Value $c

    I hope it works for you.

  • Dwight

    I know this thread is dated but I ran into this problem as well.

    I wrote a bash script to generate the needed commands to update the search domains. (I need option 119 set for Linux DHCP clients).

    I’m using 0x20 to separate domains and that is working for me.

    #!/usr/bin/env bash


    printf ‘netsh dhcp server V4 delete optiondef 119\n’

    printf ‘netsh dhcp server V4 add optiondef 119 ‘
    printf ‘”DNS Search Path” BYTE 1 ‘
    printf ‘comment=”DNS Search Domains”\n’

    printf ‘netsh dhcp server V4 set optionvalue 119 ‘
    printf ‘BYTE %02X ‘ ${#path}

    for (( i=0; i<${#path}; i++)); do
    printf '%02X ' "'${path:$i:1}"

    printf '00\n'

    ./ outputs the following lines:

    netsh dhcp server V4 delete optiondef 119

    netsh dhcp server V4 add optiondef 119 “DNS Search Path” BYTE 1 comment=”DNS Search Domains”

    netsh dhcp server V4 set optionvalue 119 BYTE 0F 61 62 63 2E 6E 65 74 20 64 65 66 2E 63 6F 6D 00

  • Dwight

    My script works with dhcpd but not with dhclient.

    dhclient does not like the space separator.

  • Dwight

    Alright, I got it working with both dhcpcd and dhclient.

    There can’t be any spaces or periods in the encoding for dhclient to accept the search path, so I followed the encoding for rfc3397.

    #!/usr/bin/env python3
    import sys


    out = ‘netsh dhcp server V4 delete optiondef 119\n’

    out += ‘netsh dhcp server V4 add optiondef 119 ‘
    out += ‘”DNS Search Path” BYTE 1 ‘
    out += ‘comment=”DNS Search Domains”\n’

    out += ‘netsh dhcp server V4 set optionvalue 119 BYTE’

    for domain in sys.argv [1:]:
    # break up the domain name
    for part in domain.split (‘.’):
    # output length of part
    out += ” %02X” % len (part)
    for c in part:
    # output each character in part
    out += ” %02X” % ord (c)
    # Not using compression pointers, so end in zero
    out += ” 00″

    print (out)

    $ ./

    netsh dhcp server V4 delete optiondef 119

    netsh dhcp server V4 add optiondef 119 “DNS Search Path” BYTE 1 comment=”DNS Search Domains”

    netsh dhcp server V4 set optionvalue 119 BYTE 05 65 65 61 62 63 03 6E 65 74 00 04 61 64 65 66 03 63 6F 6D 00