ICMPv4 Source Quench Messages
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Problems With Source Quench Messages
What's interesting about the Source Quench format is that it is basically a null message. It tells the source that the destination is congested but provides no specific information about that situation, nor does it specify what exactly the destination wants the source to do, other than to cut back on its transmission rate in some way. There is also no method for the destination to signal a source it has quenched that it is no longer congested and to resume its prior sending rate. This means the response to a Source Quench is left up to the device that receives it. Usually, a device will cut back its transmission rate until it no longer receives the messages any more, and then may try to slowly increase the rate again.
In a similar manner, there are no rules about when and how a device generates Source Quench messages in the first place. A common convention is that one message is generated for each dropped datagram. However, more intelligent algorithms may be employed, specially on higher-end routers, to predict when the device's buffer will be filled and preemptively quench certain sources that are sending too quickly. Devices may also decide whether to quench all sources when they become busy, or only certain ones. As with other ICMP error messages, a device cannot count on a Source Quench being sent when one of its datagrams is discarded by a busy device.
The lack of information communicated in Source Quench messages makes them a rather crude tool for managing congestion. In general terms, the process of regulating the sending of messages between two devices is called flow control, and is usually a function of the transport layer. The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) actually has a flow control mechanism that is far superior to the use of ICMP Source Quench messages.
Another issue with Source Quench messages is that they can be abused. Transmission of these messages by a malicious user can cause a host to be slowed down when there is no valid reason. This security issue, combined with the superiority of the TCP method for flow control, has caused Source Quench messages to largely fall out of favor.
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