Internet Standards: RFCs

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We have introduced several open standards, including TCP/IP, LDAP, DAP, and X.500. You may be wondering where you can get more information about them. Where exactly do we find the standards, and how are they produced and maintained?

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) maintains the complete list of Internet standards on its Web site at

A mechanism known as "requests for comment" (RFC) is used to facilitate collaboration and sharing of open standards. Since you will frequently encounter the word "RFCs" when working with LDAP, it is a good idea to know what it is all about.

When a researcher implements a new protocol, she proposes it as a standard to the IETF. This proposal is published first as a draft on the RFC list. There is one RFC (RFC 2223) that defines the rules RFC authors must obey and outlines the procedure to submit an RFC to the IETF. Once the RFC is published, it can be updated or revised. This process produces a new RFC that substitutes or "obsoletes" (in RFC parlance) the previous one. Every RFC has a status describing its validity. The proposal of an RFC author has the status "draft," and the final status is "standard." The six categories of status are:

  • Draft: the first stage of an RFC, i.e., proposed for discussion

  • Proposed: a protocol existing for future use by IETF where a revision is very likely

  • Standard: the final status of an accepted RFC

  • Experimental: a specification used by the developer of a project

  • Informational: a specification published for general information of the Internet community only

  • Historic: a specification that has been substituted by a more recent one

Because all standards are defined in the RFCs, the method of defining these RFC standards is itself the subject of an RFC or, rather, of several RFCs. The most important of these for the standardization process is RFC 2026, "The Internet Standards Process v.3." Anyone interested in contributing to the RFC forum should review RFC 2223, "Instructions to RFC Authors."

In this section, we learned that standard protocols are defined in the RFCs (request for comments) maintained by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

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The ABCs of LDAP. How to Install, Run, and Administer LDAP Services
The ABCs of LDAP: How to Install, Run, and Administer LDAP Services
ISBN: 0849313465
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 149

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