Section A.1. General RFC Information

A.1. General RFC Information

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) are the organizations that define the official specification documents of the Internet Protocol suite. These documents are recorded and published as standards track Request for Comment (RFC). If you want to understand the role of the IETF and the standardization process, if you need a list of all the organizations involved in the process and a description of what they do, or if you wish to attend an IETF meeting, there is an interesting and humorous RFC that describes the background, processes, and rules: RFC 3160, titled "The Tao of IETFA Novice's Guide to the Internet Engineering Task Force."

RFCs are written reports describing most of the information regarding TCP/IP and the architecture, protocols, and history of the Internet. There are many sites on the Internet where RFCs are electronically accessible. The sites are very different, but most of them support some form of search mechanism. Find the site that best suits your preferences.

A good starting point is There is a tribute to Jon Postel, one of the fathers of the Internet, who died in October 1998. He was the RFC editor. Besides this information, there is also an overview of the RFC series and process.

On the search and retrieve page of this site, there are many ways to access the wealth of information. RFCs can be viewed by number or in an index; they can be in forward or reverse chronological order; and they can be searched by author, title, number, or keyword. Of course, there is also a link to alternative RFC repositories.

RFC 2555 is an interesting overview of 30 years of RFC history and a good description of the contribution of Jon Postel's services to the Internet community. There is even more information about Jon Postel at

The first RFC, RFC 0001, was published by Steve Crocker on April 7, 1969. Today, the number of RFCs continues to rise quickly and has exceeded 4,000. RFCs can have different statuses, such as standard, informational, experimental, and historic. A good overview of the different statuses and current level of standardization can be found at Here's a short list of some important basic RFCs of which you should be aware:

RFC 3700, "Official Protocol Standard"

Known as the Internet Official Protocol Standard, this RFC lists only official RFC protocol standards and is therefore not a complete index. It contains the state of standardization as of July 2004. Find the most updated version by searching for the title of the document or go to

RFC 3232, "Assigned Numbers Document" (obsoletes RFC 1700)

RFC 1700 used to be the number one reference for the assignment of all protocol parameters for the Internet protocol suite. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is the central coordinator for the assignment of these parameters. RFC 1700 has been deprecated in RFC 3232 and replaced by an online database at

RFCs 1122 and 1123, Host Requirements Documents

These two RFCs are known as Host Requirements Documents and cover the requirements for Internet host software. RFC 1122 covers the communications protocol layers such as link layer, IP layer, and transport layer. RFC 1123 covers the application and support protocols. Many terms widely used throughout all RFCs are defined in these two documents. These two documents are not IPv6-specific, but they are a good read for general understanding.

RFC 1812, "Requirements for IPv4 Routers"

This RFC covers the requirements for IPv4 Routers and is very informative. RFC 4294, "IPv6 Node Requirements," covers the requirements for IPv6 nodes. The term "node" includes host and routers.

The RFCs ending in 99 are usually a summary of the previous 99 RFCs and their status. For instance, if you need a summary about the RFCs from 3000 to 3098, refer to RFC 3099.

IPv6 Essentials
IPv6 Essentials
ISBN: 0596100582
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 156
Authors: Silvia Hagen

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