How to configure No-IP DUC service in your Raspberry PI

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Many Raspberry PI projects (like using it as a server, as home utomation or simply for Raspberry PI remote access) involve having its services exposed to internet. It means that your Raspberry PI will not only answer to its local IP address queries, but it will be available also from internet external access. This is useful to access your home server, monitor IP cameras & manage your websites DNS among many other things.

No-IP is a widely known Dynamic DNS service offering free hostnames easily manageable from a web dashboard. No-IP owns a wide number of public domains and gives its customers the use of subdomains for free. No-IP will take care to publish your IP to public DNS servers, so that your subdomain will be reachable from everywhere in the world. Once defined your favourite hostname, your work will be only updating IP associated to your hostname with the dynamic IP address you get from your Internet Service Provider. To simplify also this operation, No-IP team gives you a free Dynamic Update Client (DUC), available for Windows, Linux and MacOS, which scans at defined intervals your current public IP and operates dynamic updates to your subdomain A record.

Before digging into DNS topic, you have to take in consideration some networking concepts which can negatively influence this project success.

Networking Considerations

Public IP (Internet Protocol) addresses – usually referring only to IPv4 – are a list of IP addresses known and reachable worldwide. They are managed following IEEE recommendations and throught local agencies deputed to assure IP usability. They are associated to mnemonic labels (domain names) with the help of a world-wide connected network of public DNS servers (Domain Name Servers).

These assets are really important for computer communications becuse they are the main way internet devices can communicate each other. Public IPs are also precious resources, because their number is far lower than available internet devices.

To face Public IP addresses lack, Intenet Providers usually make use of some networking techniques like NAT (Network Address Translation), giving their customers only reusable private IP addresses which are after gathered and exposed all from a single public IP address. This allows them reducing static IP addresses usage.

So, the first question for dynamic DNS usage: you need to ask your Internet Provider if you have a public or private IP address. You can also get this info by comparing your internet gateway device (usually your router) WAN IP with output from this terminal command:

curl icanhazip.com    

If those values are different, the only way is asking your Internet Provider if they can get you a Public IP address instead of a Private IP address.

If those values are the same, then you are on right way to get a working dynamic DNS. But this IP address can change according to Internet Service Provider operations, since ISP usually assign dynamic IP addresses. Last problem is the reason where No-IP helps.

The second consideration regards Port Forwarding. This part isn’t strictly required for dynamic DNS, but it is needed for publishing Raspberry PI services. If use a router to connect your Raspberry PI to internet and you want to expose to public network some R<PI services, then your router needs to know that incoming traffic to specific TCP or UDP port(s) needs to be directly forwarded to one of its internal lan devices.

Let’s use an example. You need to publish your http page hosted in your Raspberry PI (let’s assume with local network IP 192.168.1.10) to internet. Http service usually relies on port 80. In this case, you have to configure in your router a rule to port forward TCP connection incoming from every internet device in its port 80 to your Raspberry PI port 80. This operation vary with different router models and you need to check router user guide for detailed procedure to make it working.

What We Need

Raspberry PI 4 model B image

As usual, I suggest adding from now to your favourite ecommerce shopping chart all needed hardware, so that at the end you will be able to evaluate overall costs and decide if continuing with the project or removing them from shopping chart. So, hardware will be only:

Check hardware prices with following links:

Amazon raspberry pi boards box
Amazon Micro SD box
Amazon Raspberry PI Power Supply box

Step-by-Step Procedure

Raspberry PI configuration is simple, but project requires some propedeutical configurations at No-IP page. You need to arrange your dynamic DNS record before installing DUC client in your RPI.

Prepare No-IP account

Start creating with your browser a free No-IP.com account (if not available) in No-IP signup page. With free plan you can get, without costs, up to 3 dynamic dns names. Another operation to do with free account will be that you need to confirm your hostname every 30 days. This task is really simple and can be achieved easily from notice mail that No-IP will send to you a few days before dynamic hostname expiration. Take note of your account mail and password, because them will be needed in Raspberry PI No-IP setup.

This procedure will require at least 1 hostname.

After logging-in, from your dashboard go to Dynamic DNS -> No-IP Hostnames:

NoIP dashboard select No-IP Hostnames

Use Create Hostname button to open hostname creation form:

NoIP create hostname form

Public IP address of your current PC will be automatically filled in “IPv4 Address” field. This can be left as is, because it will be soon updated automatically by DUC.

From here, you can select your favourite “Domain” from related dropdown list of freely available. Let’s suppose you decide to left default “webhop.me” (later, it will be harder to find available your favourite hostname with the most common no-ip domain: ddns.net). This will be the final part of your url.

Hostname is the important part of this process. This will be the record your update client will edit on changes. You have to write your favourite one (No-IP will check that it is not already used on confirmation). Your hostname should be simple, so that you can easily remember it because it will be initial part of your url. Let’s suppose you decide to use “myhomepi” as hostname, than your complete url will be “myhomepi.webhop.me”.

So, once added your favourite hostname and domain, click “Create Hostname” at bottom of form. If your hostname is available, a new “A” type record will appear in your No-IP hostnames list:

NoIP example hostname created

Tasks on No-IP are now finished. Let’s move on setting up update client on Raspberry PI.

Install No-IP DUC in Your Raspberry PI

For Raspberry PI operations, we’ll work from terminal. So this procedure will be valid both on Lite and Desktop Raspberry PI OSs.

If not already done, install your Operating System. If this is your first time, please refer to installing Raspberry PI OS Lite. Update your operating system, from terminal:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Create a folder from where No-IP update client will be installed and enter it:

mkdir noip
cd noip

Download and uncompress No-IP package with following commands:

wget https://www.noip.com/client/linux/noip-duc-linux.tar.gz
tar vzxf noip-duc-linux.tar.gz

It will create a new folder whose name includes current No-IP update client version. Let’s suppose our version is 2.1.9-1, enter the folder:

cd noip-2.1.9-1

Finally install the software:

sudo make
sudo make install

Second command will require some info to configure your setup:

  • Device interface to use – select your Raspberry PI interface used to connect Internet
  • NoIP.com account user (mail) and password – use the ones to login with your account in Noip.com
  • Hostnames to update – if you have more than one hostname registered in your No-IP account, you should probably not update all hostnames together, but only the one referring your Raspberry PI (myhomepi.webhop.me in our example)
  • update frequency – this is the time between IP refresh on No-IP servers, in minutes. According to No-IP, this value should be greater than 5 minutes. Default is 30 minutes.

Following screenshot shows my configuration (with some fields greyed), used with a Raspberry PI Zero W connected to internet with wireless interface and Docker installed (docker creates its own internal virtual network interface

NoIP DUC configuration on Raspberry PI

At this point, No-IP update client is configured and working sending dynamic updates when on public address changes. To check its status, please type in your terminal:

sudo /usr/local/bin/noip2 -S

(last letter is a capital S). This command will give back your No-IP configuration.

After each Raspberry PI reboot, you need to launch again your No-IP DUC client with command:

sudo /usr/local/bin/noip2

To avoid this boring task at each reboot, you can include noip2 start command in your sudo nano rc.local file:

sudo nano /etc/rc.local

then add “/usr/local/bin/noip2” string just before final “exit 0” row:

....
 printf "My IP address is %s\n" "$_IP"
fi

/usr/local/bin/noip2

exit 0

This way, on next restart your DUC will start on boot.

No-IP update client will start checking its Public IP and will send dynamic updates to your hostname only on IP address change (not when it is different from what the host is currently set to).

Test No-IP Dynamic DNS Resolution

In this paragraph we’ll prepare a very easy test for our dynamic dns service resolution by publishing a simple Apache test page from Raspberry PI.

Before starting, I’m assuming that you already configured port forwarding in your router. I want to add a new tip. In this test I’ll use a different external port (8080) which is port forwarded in my router to Raspberry PI port 80:

RPI (80) <—> Router (8080) <—> Internet

When you call a url fom browser, it uses by default (hiding it in address bar) port 80 (for http pages) or port 443 (for https pages). If you need to browse a different port, you need to append it to URL with colon char (for example, with our test the resulting external url will be http://myhomepi.webhop.me:8080 (because router exposes port 8080), while access from lan will result (changing <<RaspberryPiAddress>> with your RPI local IP) in http://<<RaspberryPiAddress>> (because Raspberry PI is available from local network and is exposing port 80).

Start installing Apache in your Raspberry PI from terminal:

sudo apt install apache2 

Wait for installation to finish.

Using your Raspberry PI IP Address for local area network browing (my RPI IP is 192.168.43.100):

LAN access apache default page

While external remote access to the same page will resull in same output from different URL:

Dynamic DNS apache default page

Enjoy your free dynamic dns!

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