Linux Network Configuration for Gigabit Ethernet Cameras

Cameras that are connected via Gigabit Ethernet (e.g. cameras that use the GigE Vision protocol) will typically not work out of the box on Linux if they are connected directly to the computer.

On Windows and macOS the default network configuration of a network card will first attempt to obtain an IP address via DHCP, and if that fails they will fall back to link-local addressing and assign an IP address in the 169.254.x.y range. Most cameras that are connected via Gigabit Ethernet will use the same logic for network configuration. If both are connected to a network that has a DHCP server, both will obtain an IP address in that network; however, if the camera is connected directly to a computer (not as part of a network), both will obtain a link-local address in the 169.254.x.y range.

This algorithm is not what happens on most Linux distributions by default. Instead, only DHCP will be attempted, and if that fails, no IP address will be assigned to that interface at all.

In the following sections it will be discussed how to configure the network for the case where a camera is directly connected to a network interface, and link-local addressing is required.

Configuration via NetworkManager

Most Linux distributions use NetworkManager to configure the network by default. NetworkManager can be configured to use either DHCP or link-local addressing, but not both.

To switch to link-local addressing, go to the network settings for the network device that the camera is connected to (make sure you select the right device), go to the IPv4 configuration, and then switch from DHCP to Link-Local Only. The following screenshot shows how this is done on current Ubuntu (other distributions will be similar):


After applying this setting, disconnect the network device and then reconnect it. When looking at the details the device should have an IP address in the range 169.254.x.y assigned.

Configuration via systemd-networkd

For embedded appliances (not using a GUI), systemd-networkd is often a better choice for network configuration than NetworkManager. This section describes how to configure systemd-networkd to use link-local addressing.

Disabling NetworkManager

In some cases NetworkManager will still be installed, even if systemd-networkd is used to configure the network. To ensure that NetworkManager doesn’t interfere, it is possible to tell it to not touch specific network interfaces.

In order to do so, create a file /etc/NetworkManager/conf.d/disabled-interfaces.conf with the following contents:


For example, if the MAC address of the network interface was 52:54:00:00:11:22, then the file would look like:


If there are two network interfaces that NetworkManager shouldn’t configure, with the MAC addresses 52:54:00:00:11:22 and 52:54:00:33:44:55, then the file would look like:


It is only possible to specify interfaces to ignore via the MAC address in NetworkManager.

Restart NetworkManager (systemctl restart NetworkManager.service) after changing this configuration.

Enabling systemd-networkd

On most distributions systemd-networkd is disabled by default. To enable and start it, run the following commands (as root):

systemctl enable systemd-networkd
systemctl start systemd-networkd

The first line ensures that systemd-networkd is enabled at boot, the second line starts it right now.

After the service has been enabled, you can check via the ip -4 addr command to see if the IP address has been assigned yet. For link-local addresses this may take a couple of seconds.

The following example output shows a link-local address being assigned to the network interface:

3: enp6s0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000
    inet metric 2048 brd scope link enp6s0
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

Note that the network cable must be plugged in and the camera on the other side switched on, otherwise systemd-networkd will not attempt to assign an IP to that interface until the cable is plugged in.

You can also use networkctl to check the status of the network interfaces. Note that when a link-local address is assigned to an interface, networkctl considers that interface to be degraded, even if that is what we want here. networkctl will display the following output if the network cable is not plugged in or the other device is not currently switched on:

  3 enp6s0 ether    no-carrier  configured

While it is still configuring the IP address (after plugging in the network cable and switching on the other device), it will look like this:

  3 enp6s0 ether    carrier     configured

And after it has obtained a link-local IP address it will look like:

  3 enp6s0 ether    degraded    configured