BOOTP Overview, History and Standards
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Changes to BOOTP and the Development of DHCP
BOOTP was the TCP/IP host configuration of choice from the mid-1980s through the end of the 1990s. The vendor extensions introduced in RFC 1048 were popular, and over the years, additional vendor extensions were defined; RFC 1048 was replaced by RFCs 1084, 1395 and 1497 in succession. Some confusion also resulted over the years in how some sections of RFC 951 should be interpreted, and how certain features of BOOTP work.
RFC 1542, Clarifications and Extensions for the Bootstrap Protocol, was published in October 1993 to address this, and also made some slight changes to the protocol's operation. (RFC 1542 is actually a correction of the nearly-identical RFC 1532 that had some small errors in it.)
While BOOTP was obviously quite successful, it also had certain weaknesses of its own. One of the most important of these is lack of support for dynamic address assignment. The need for dynamic assignment became much more pronounced when the Internet really started to take off in the late 90s. This led directly to the development of the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).
While DHCP replaced BOOTP as the TCP/IP host configuration protocol of choice, it would be inaccurate to say that BOOTP is gone. It is still used to this day in various networks. Furthermore, DHCP was based directly on BOOTP, and they share many attributes, including a common message format. BOOTP vendor extensions were used as the basis for DHCP options, which work in the same way but include extra capabilities. In fact, the successor to RFC 1497 is RFC 1533, which officially merges BOOTP vendor extensions and BOOTP options into the same standard.
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