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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols, Services and Applications (OSI Layers 5, 6 and 7)
      9  TCP/IP Network Configuration and Management Protocols (BOOTP, DHCP, SNMP and RMON)

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TCP/IP Network Configuration and Management Protocols (BOOTP, DHCP, SNMP and RMON)
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Host Configuration Concepts, Issues and Motivation
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Host Configuration and TCP/IP Host Configuration Protocols (BOOTP and DHCP)

Each host that is placed on a network or internetwork must be set up and configured before it can be used. Configuration ensures that the host functions properly, and that it is told the parameters needed for it to successfully communicate with other hosts and devices. In the “good old days”, administrators would manually set up each host as it was added to the network, and would also manually make changes to the configuration as they were required. Modern networks, however, are very large, and manual configuration of hosts is a time-consuming chore. Furthermore, we often need to make use of features that only automated configuration can provide, particularly for special hosts that have no internal storage. It is for these reasons that host configuration protocols were developed.

In this section I describe the concepts behind host configuration protocols, and then illustrate the operation of two of the most important ones in use today. I begin with a topic that provides an overview of host configuration concepts and issues. I describe the TCP/IP Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP), the first truly capable automated configuration tool for IP hosts. I then describe BOOTP's successor, the feature-filled Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which is used extensively in modern TCP/IP hardware and software.

Related Information: Technically, the very first host configuration protocol for TCP/IP was the Reverse Address Resolution Protocol (RARP). RARP is a very simple, crude protocol that allows very basic host configuration to be performed, but little else. RARP is very different from BOOTP and DHCP, not only because of its more limited capabilities, but because it operates between layers two and three like the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) upon which it is based. It is therefore covered in the same section that describes ARP.


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