18.6 TCP State Transition Diagram

18.6 TCP State Transition Diagram

We've described numerous rules regarding the initiation and termination of a TCP connection. These rules can be summarized in a state transition diagram, which we show in Figure 18.12.

Figure 18.12. TCP state transition diagram.
graphics/18fig12.gif

The first thing to note in this diagram is that a subset of the state transitions is "typical." We've marked the normal client transitions with a darker solid arrow, and the normal server transitions with a darker dashed arrow.

Next, the two transitions leading to the ESTABLISHED state correspond to opening a connection, and the two transitions leading from the ESTABLISHED state are for the termination of a connection. The ESTABLISHED state is where data transfer can occur between the two ends in both directions. Later chapters describe what happens in this state.

We've collected the four boxes in the lower left of this diagram within a dashed box and labeled it "active close." Two other boxes (CLOSED_WAIT and LAST_ACK) are collected in a dashed box with the label "passive close."

The names of the 11 states (CLOSED, LISTEN, SYN_SENT, etc.) in this figure were purposely chosen to be identical to the states output by the netstat command. The netstat names, in turn , are almost identical to the names originally described in RFC 793. The state CLOSED is not really a state, but is the imaginary starting point and ending point for the diagram.

The state transition from LISTEN to SYN_SENT is legal but is not supported in Berkeley-derived implementations .

The transition from SYN_RCVD back to LISTEN is valid only if the SYN_RCVD state was entered from the LISTEN state (the normal scenario), not from the SYN_SENT state (a simultaneous open). This means if we perform a passive open (enter LISTEN), receive a SYN, send a SYN with an ACK (enter SYN_RCVD), and then receive a reset instead of an ACK, the end point returns to the LISTEN state and waits for another connection request to arrive .

Figure 18.13 shows the normal TCP connection establishment and termination, detailing the different states through which the client and server pass. It is a redo of Figure 18.3 showing only the states.

Figure 18.13. TCP states corresponding to normal connection establishment and termination.
graphics/18fig13.gif

We assume in Figure 18.13 that the client on the left side does an active open, and the server on the right side does a passive open. Although we show the client doing the active close, as we mentioned earlier, either side can do the active close.

You should follow through the state changes in Figure 18.13 using the state transition diagram in Figure 18.12, making certain you understand why each state change takes place.

2MSL Wait State

The TIME_WAIT state is also called the 2MSL wait state. Every implementation must choose a value for the maximum segment lifetime (MSL). It is the maximum amount of time any segment can exist in the network before being discarded. We know this time limit is bounded, since TCP segments are transmitted as IP datagrams, and the IP datagram has the TTL field that limits its lifetime.

RFC 793 [Postel 1981c] specifies the MSL as 2 minutes. Common implementation values, however, are 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 2 minutes.

Recall from Chapter 8 that the real-world limit on the lifetime of the IP datagram is based on the number of hops, not a timer.

Given the MSL value for an implementation, the rule is: when TCP performs an active close, and sends the final ACK, that connection must stay in the TIME_WAIT state for twice the MSL. This lets TCP resend the final ACK in case this ACK is lost (in which case the other end will time out and retransmit its final FIN).

Another effect of this 2MSL wait is that while the TCP connection is in the 2MSL wait, the socket pair defining that connection (client IP address, client port number, server IP address, and server port number) cannot be reused. That connection can only be reused when the 2MSL wait is over.

Unfortunately most implementations (i.e., the Berkeley-derived ones) impose a more stringent constraint. By default a local port number cannot be reused while that port number is the local port number of a socket pair that is in the 2MSL wait. We'll see examples of this common constraint below.

Some implementations and APIs provide a way to bypass this restriction. With the sockets API, the SO_REUSEADDR socket option can be specified. It lets the caller assign itself a local port number that's in the 2MSL wait, but we'll see that the rules of TCP still prevent this port number from being part of a connection that is in the 2MSL wait.

Any delayed segments that arrive for a connection while it is in the 2MSL wait are discarded. Since the connection defined by the socket pair in the 2MSL wait cannot be reused during this time period, when we do establish a valid connection we know that delayed segments from an earlier incarnation of this connection cannot be misinterpreted as being part of the new connection. (A connection is defined by a socket pair. New instances of a connection are called incarnations of that connection.)

As we said with Figure 18.13, it is normally the client that does the active close and enters the TIME_WAIT state. The server usually does the passive close, and does not go through the TIME_WAIT state. The implication is that if we terminate a client, and restart the same client immediately, that new client cannot reuse the same local port number. This isn't a problem, since clients normally use ephemeral ports, and don't care what the local ephemeral port number is.

With servers, however, this changes, since servers use well-known ports. If we terminate a server that has a connection established, and immediately try to restart the server, the server cannot assign its well-known port number to its end point, since that port number is part of a connection that is in a 2MSL wait. It may take from 1 to 4 minutes before the server can be restarted.

We can see this scenario using our sock program. We start the server, connect to it from a client, and then terminate the server:

 sun %  sock -v -s 6666   start as server, listening on port 6666   (execute client on bsdi that connects to this port)  connection on 140.252.13.33.6666 from 140.252.13.35.1081     ^  ?   then type interrupt key to terminate server  sun %  sock -s 6666   and immediately try to restart server on same port  can't bind local address: Address already in use     sun %  netstat   let's check the state of the connection  Active Internet connections     Proto Recv-Q Send-Q  Local Address Foreign Address              (state)     tcp        0      0  sun.6666        bsdi.1081                 TIME_WAIT  many more lines that are deleted  

When we try to restart the server, the program outputs an error message indicating it cannot bind its well-known port number, because it's already in use (i.e., it's in a 2MSL wait).

We then immediately execute netstat to see the state of the connection, and verify that it is indeed in the TIME_WAIT state.

If we continually try to restart the server, and measure the time until it succeeds, we can measure the 2MSL value. On SunOS 4.1.3, SVR4, BSD/386, and AIX 3.2.2, it takes 1 minute to restart the server, meaning the MSL is 30 seconds. Under Solaris 2.2 it takes 4 minutes to restart the server, implying an MSL of 2 minutes.

We can see the same error from a client, if the client tries to allocate a port that is part of a connection in the 2MSL wait (something clients normally don't do):

 sun  % sock -v bsdi echo   start as client, connect to echo server  connected on 140.252.13.33.1162 to 140.252.13.35.7  hello there   type this line  hello there  and it's echoed by the server   ^D   type end-of-file character to terminate client   sun % sock -b1162 bsdi echo  can't bind local address: Address already in use 

The first time we execute the client we specify the -v option to see what the local port number is (1162). The second time we execute the client we specify the -b option, telling the client to assign itself 1162 as its local port number. As we expect, the client can't do this, since that port number is part of a connection that is in a 2MSL wait.

We need to reemphasize one effect of the 2MSL wait because we'll encounter it in Chapter 27 with FTP, the File Transfer Protocol. As we said earlier, it is a socket pair (that is, the 4-tuple consisting of a local IP address, local port, remote IP address and remote port) that remains in the 2MSL wait. Although many implementations allow a process to reuse a port number that is part of a connection that is in the 2MSL wait (normally with an option named SO_REUSEADDR ), TCP cannot allow a new connection to be created with the same socket pair. We can see this with the following experiment:

 sun %  sock -v -s 6666   start as server, listening on port 6666  (  execute client on  bsdi  that connects to this port  )     connection on 140.252.13.33.6666 from 140.252.13.35.1098  ^?   then type interrupt key to terminate server  sun  % sock -b6666 bsdi 1098   try to start as client with local port 6666  can't bind local address: Address already in use     sun  % sock -A -b6666 bsdi 1098   try again, this time with -A option  active open error: Address already in use 

The first time we run our sock program, we run it as a server on port 6666 and connect to it from a client on the host bsdi. The client's ephemeral port number is 1098. We terminate the server so it does the active close. This causes the 4-tuple of 140.252.13.33 (local IP address), 6666 (local port number), 140.252.13.35 (foreign IP address), and 1098 (foreign port number) to enter the 2MSL wait on the server host.

The second time we run the program, we run it as a client and try to specify the local port number as 6666 and connect to host bsdi on port 1098. But the program gets an error when it tries to assign itself the local port number of 6666, because that port number is part of the 4-tuple that is in the 2MSL wait state.

To try and get around this error we run the program again, specifying the -A option, which enables the SO_REUSEADDR option that we mentioned. This lets the program assign itself the port number 6666, but we then get an error when it tries to issue the active open. Even though it can assign itself the port number 6666, it cannot create a connection to port 1098 on the host bsdi, because the socket pair defining that connection is in the 2MSL wait state.

What if we try to establish the connection from the other host? First we must restart the server on sun with the -A flag, since the local port it needs (6666) is part of a connection that is in the 2MSL wait:

 sun  % sock -A -s 6666   start as server, listening on port 6666  

Then, before the 2MSL wait is over on sun, we start the client on bsdi:

 bsdi %  sock -b1098 sun 6666  connected on 140.252.13.35.1098 to 140.252.13.33.6666 

Unfortunately it works! This is a violation of the TCP specification, but is supported by most Berkeley-derived implementations. These implementations allow a new connection request to arrive for a connection that is in the TIME_WAIT state, if the new sequence number is greater than the final sequence number from the previous incarnation of this connection. In this case the ISN for the new incarnation is set to the final sequence number from the previous incarnation plus 128,000. The appendix of RFC 1185 [Jacobson, Braden, and Zhang 1990] shows the pitfalls still possible with this technique.

This implementation feature lets a client and server continually reuse the same port number at each end for successive incarnations of the same connection, but only if the server does the active close. We'll see another example of this 2MSL wait condition in Figure 27.8, with FTP. See Exercise 18.5 also.

Quiet Time Concept

The 2MSL wait provides protection against delayed segments from an earlier incarnation of a connection from being interpreted as part of a new connection that uses the same local and foreign IP addresses and port numbers . But this works only if a host with connections in the 2MSL wait does not crash.

What if a host with ports in the 2MSL wait crashes, reboots within MSL seconds, and immediately establishes new connections using the same local and foreign IP addresses and port numbers corresponding to the local ports that were in the 2MSL wait before the crash? In this scenario, delayed segments from the connections that existed before the crash can be misinterpreted as belonging to the new connections created after the reboot. This can happen regardless of how the initial sequence number is chosen after the reboot.

To protect against this scenario, RFC 793 states that TCP should not create any connections for MSL seconds after rebooting. This is called the quiet time

Few implementations abide by this since most hosts take longer than MSL seconds to reboot after a crash.

FIN_WAIT_2 State

In the FIN_WAIT_2 state we have sent our FIN and the other end has acknowledged it. Unless we have done a half-close, we are waiting for the application on the other end to recognize that it has received an end-of-file notification and close its end of the connection, which sends us a FIN. Only when the process at the other end does this close will our end move from the FIN_WAIT_2 to the TIME_WAIT state.

This means our end of the connection can remain in this state forever. The other end is still in the CLOSE_WAIT state, and can remain there forever, until the application decides to issue its close.

Many Berkeley-derived implementations prevent this infinite wait in the FIN_WAIT_2 state as follows . If the application that does the active close does a complete close, not a half-close indicating that it expects to receive data, then a timer is set. If the connection is idle for 10 minutes plus 75 seconds, TCP moves the connection into the CLOSED state. A comment in the code acknowledges that this implementation feature violates the protocol specification.



TCP.IP Illustrated, Volume 1. The Protocols
TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 1: The Protocols (Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series)
ISBN: 0201633469
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 1993
Pages: 378

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