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There is one important part of networking that I have neglected to mention: the standard documentation for all published networking protocols. Early on in the development of
I'll let you in on an inside joke. There are many funny RFCs in the general RFC database. It is kind of an Internet tradition to submit one of these every April Fools' Day. For example, RFC 1149 is officially entitled "A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers," which basically documents a method of transmitting IP packets using carrier pigeons. RFC 2324 is entitled "Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol (HTCPCP/1.0)" and defines a method of controlling coffee pots over HTTP. More recent is RFC 2795, "The Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite (IMPS)." I don't even want to know what that's about. We programmers have a strange sense of humor.
ARPANet, engineers recognized the need for a formal way to publish the standards and specifications of protocols. They eventually called the documents they created RFCs , which stands for Request For Comments .
You can easily look up RFCs by using their published identification numbers . For example, the current RFC describing IPv4 is RFC 791. You can search for that with any Internet search engine, and you'll get hundreds of links. RFCs are public documentation, and they're free to be published anywhere .
Once RFCs are submitted to the world, they can never be changed. If a protocol needs to be changed, the old RFC is deprecated , which means that it is no longer current, and a new RFC with updated information is published.
My favorite place for getting RFC information is at a website entitled Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia , which is located at http://www.freesoft.org/CIE/. If that site is down, you can probably find a mirror, as it is very popular. The site is fairly well updated with all the RFCs, and it's even got useful courses and background material for most of the networking topics I haven't covered here.
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