I often have the need to connect to devices directly through the ethernet port on my MacBook.

  • When I am connected to a wireless network, I can share my connection to ethernet. However, the second, I loose the wireless connection, I loose connectivity to the devices.

  • I can set up a static IP on both the MacBook and the Device, but this is not very easy because I still have to make an initial connection to setup the static IP.

Is there any way to setup a DHCP server on the ethernet port that works even if I am not connected to a network?

  • I marked this question as unclear. It looks like three questions in one. Please specify exactly what you want and how the question is related to your Rasberry Pi question from July, 23!
    – klanomath
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 4:21
  • Related: Using Server 5.0.15 to share internet WITHOUT internet sharing. Instead of buying Apple OS X Server set up dnsmasq.
    – klanomath
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 5:42
  • This is so convoluted. A DHCP server works without a network - it's useless, but it will work. I don't see how losing WiFi means losing connectivity to Ethernet. Finally, if you set up a DHCP server on either of your interfaces, how are you resolving the inevitable conflict with your existing DHCP server?
    – Allan
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 7:04
  • @Allan It seems to be true that loosing the en0 (sharing Internet to the internal en1 via bridge100) dumps the connection between host1 and 2 via en1. No DHCP is provided afterwards.
    – klanomath
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 22:17
  • @klanomath I see what you are saying, but the difficulty I am having with this question is that it starts off with wired devices and then goes to wireless. Even if DHCP (internet sharing) is turned off, how do those devices suddenly lose their lease? That doesn't seem right. Finally, his question then switches to setting up a DHCP server without a connection (is internet sharing involved or no?)
    – Allan
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


Based on my answer here: Using Server 5.0.15 to share internet WITHOUT internet sharing I provide a possibility to share internet with PF and dnsmasq (i.e. without Apple's OS X Server):

To get NAT working without using Internet Sharing you have to use a pf rule and create a plist to enable forwarding and load the pf rule. Additionally you have to set up a DNS/DHCP server: dnsmasq.

Below I assume en0: the interface connected to the internet or a router and en1: the interface connected to the LAN. The router has the IP and the netmask

Use ifconfig to get the device names.

Prepare the Mac gateway:

  • Set up the two interfaces en0 and en1 with fixed IPs and netmasks


    en0: IP: Netmask: Gateway: DNS: and Search Domains: home.org
    en1: IP: Netmask:

  • Disable System Integrity Protection if El Capitan is installed

  • Install Xcode Command Line tools/Xcode
  • Install, set up and doctor brew
  • Install dnsmasq:

    brew install dnsmasq
  • Set up and configure dnsmasq

    cp /usr/local/opt/dnsmasq/dnsmasq.conf.example /usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.conf
    sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/var/lib/misc
    sudo touch /usr/local/var/lib/misc/dnsmasq.leases

    open /usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.conf with an editor and modify at least the following lines:

    ~ line 144
    # 3) Provides the domain part for "expand-hosts"
    ~ line 163
    # don't need to worry about this.
    ~ line 243
    # Always give the host with Ethernet address 11:22:33:44:55:66
    # the name fred and IP address and lease time 45 minutes
    **use the proper MAC of your raspberry here**
    ~ line 536
    # This defaults to a sane location, but if you want to change it, use
    # the line below.

    You may configure much more - just check the config file and its descriptions.

    sudo brew services start dnsmasq
    sudo chmod 644 /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.dnsmasq.plist
    sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.dnsmasq.plist
  • Create a file named nat-rules in /private/etc/ with the following content

    nat on en0 from en1 to any -> (en0)
  • Create a shell script named nat-pf.sh enabling forwarding and loading the pf rule. I saved it in /usr/local/bin:

    sysctl -w net.inet.ip.forwarding=1
    sysctl -w net.inet.ip.fw.enable=1
    #disables pfctl
    pfctl -d
    sleep 1
    #flushes all pfctl rules
    pfctl -F all
    sleep 1
    #starts pfctl and loads the rules from the nat-rules file
    pfctl -f /private/etc/nat-rules -e
  • Create a plist named org.user.natpf.plist with the following content and save it in /Library/LaunchDaemons/ to execute the above shell script at start-up:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
    <plist version="1.0">

    All three files need a trailing empty line so don't simply copy the above code/lines.

  • Modify ownership and file modes:

    sudo chown root:wheel /private/etc/nat-rules
    sudo chown root:wheel /usr/local/bin/nat-pf.sh
    sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/nat-pf.sh
    sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.user.natpf.plist
  • Load the launch daemon:

    sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.user.natpf.plist
  • Reboot your gateway Mac. If everything works fine enable SIP again.

    The file /tmp/org.user.natpf.stderr contains error messages. You may add a similar key to the file /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.dnsmasq.plist to get potential error messages:


Prepare your Internet Router (if you have one)

  • Add a static route: Network: Netmask: Gateway:

Prepare your Raspberry

  • You may have to reboot it.

After setting all things up successfully you should have a reliable LAN with NAT, DHCP and DNS. You may even enter ping raspberry with a proper result.

If you run into problems leave acomment.

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