LXC container not getting configured static IP address because of netplan and disabled dhcp

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Ubuntu 18.04 ships with netplan as new network interface configuration tool, aiming to replace the previous (but highly stable) /etc/network/interface method with yaml-based configuration files in /etc/netplan/.

However netplan is pretty new and it can cause some weird behavior in certain setups. This lesson was also learned today using a LXC 3.0 container.

LXC container starting up but without an ip address

On the LXC host (also running Ubuntu 18.04), the LXC's config contained the static ip address configuration in its config file:

root@host:~# grep lxc.net /var/lib/lxc/container1/config
lxc.net.0.type = macvlan
lxc.net.0.macvlan.mode = bridge
lxc.net.0.flags = up
lxc.net.0.link = virbr2
lxc.net.0.ipv4.address =
lxc.net.0.ipv4.gateway =

But when the container was started, no IP address was shown for it (but it did for another container):

root@host:~# lxc-ls -f
container1    RUNNING 1         -      -             -    false        
container2    RUNNING 1         - -    false

Even starting the container with debug log enabled (lxc-start -n container1 -o /var/lib/lxc/container1/output.log -l DEBUG) did not show a reason why the IP address was not configured within the container.

On the other hand, container2 on the same system, running Ubuntu 18.04 as well, had no issues getting the IP address from the LXC host and running it in its OS. What's the difference between these two? Then I remembered.

Disabling dhcp in netplan causes it

In a default container setup, the container will run dhcpd at the begin to try to obtain an IP address, even though an address was configured in the container's config file. In the past years I used automation to disable the dhcp requests by removing eth0 from /etc/network/interface. But now with netplan this is a bit different. The default config in a LXC container looks like this:

root@container2:~# cat /etc/netplan/10-lxc.yaml
  version: 2
    eth0: {dhcp4: true}

In an attempt to solve the container running dhcp during boot, I set dhcp4 to false in container1:

root@container1:~# cat /etc/netplan/10-lxc.yaml
  version: 2
    eth0: {dhcp4: false}

I thought this would lead to prevent dhcp being run inside the container. Well, dhcp indeed did not run during boot anymore, however this also prevented the eth0 interface from getting any ip address.

Static ip address configured on the host? Get rid of netplan in the container!

So what's the lesson here? Basically the original configuration (with dhcp enabled on eth0) could be left untouched but it will slow down the container's boot time because of dhcp trying to find an (additional) ip address for eth0. Removing the netplan yaml's in the container might help, too, but I didn't try that. I went one step further and completely removed netplan from the container's OS:

root@container1:~# apt-get remove netplan.io

Afterall, netplan is not needed inside the containers as they all get their (static) IP addresses from the LXC host. At least in my setups.

As soon as netplan was removed and the container in question (container1) was rebooted, the address configured in /var/lib/lxc/container1/config was immediately used and network worked again.

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Igor from wrote on Sep 2nd, 2021:

I spent a lot of hours struggling with no ip address assigning for Ubuntu running inside lxc container.
But this remedy was so simple and effective :)
Thank you very much for this post!