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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Lower-Layer (Interface, Internet and Transport) Protocols (OSI Layers 2, 3 and 4)
      9  TCP/IP Internet Layer (OSI Network Layer) Protocols
           9  Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP/ICMPv4 and ICMPv6)
                9  ICMP Message Types and Formats
                     9  ICMP Version 6 (ICMPv6) Error Message Types and Formats

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ICMPv6 Destination Unreachable Messages
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ICMPv6 Time Exceeded Messages
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ICMPv6 Packet Too Big Messages
(Page 3 of 3)

Applications of Packet Too Big Messages

While Packet Too Big is obviously an error message, it also has another use: the implementation of Path MTU Discovery. This process, described in RFC 1981, defines a method for a device to determine the minimum MTU for a path to a destination. To perform path MTU discovery, the source device sends a series of test messages, decreasing the size of the datagram until it no longer receives Packet Too Big messages back in response to its tests. See the topic on IPv6 MTU and fragmentation issues for a bit more detail on this.

Note: The Packet Too Big message is new to ICMPv6. However, its use is somewhat similar to the use of the Fragmentation Needed and DF Set version of the ICMP4 Destination Unreachable message type, which is used as part of IPv4’s path MTU discovery feature.


Incidentally, Packet Too Big is an exception to the rule that ICMP messages are sent only in response to unicast datagrams; it may be sent in reply to an oversized multicast datagram. If this occurs, it is important to realize that some of the intended targets of the multicast may still have received it, if the path the multicast took to them did not go through the link with the small MTU that caused the error.


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ICMPv6 Destination Unreachable Messages
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Pages in Current Topic/Section
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Next Page
ICMPv6 Time Exceeded Messages
Next Topic/Section

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