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5. TFTP Packets Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
5. TFTP Packets

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5. TFTP Packets

5. TFTP Packets

TFTP supports five types of packets, all of which have been mentioned above:

          opcode  operation
            1     Read request (RRQ)
            2     Write request (WRQ)
            3     Data (DATA)
            4     Acknowledgment (ACK)
            5     Error (ERROR)

The TFTP header of a packet contains the opcode associated with that packet.

            2 bytes     string    1 byte     string   1 byte
            ------------------------------------------------
           | Opcode |  Filename  |   0  |    Mode    |   0  |
            ------------------------------------------------

                       Figure 5-1: RRQ/WRQ packet

RRQ and WRQ packets (opcodes 1 and 2 respectively) have the format shown in Figure 5-1. The file name is a sequence of bytes in netascii terminated by a zero byte. The mode field contains the string "netascii", "octet", or "mail" (or any combination of upper and lower case, such as "NETASCII", NetAscii", etc.) in netascii indicating the three modes defined in the protocol. A host which receives netascii mode data must translate the data to its own format. Octet mode is used to transfer a file that is in the 8-bit format of the machine from which the file is being transferred. It is assumed that each type of machine has a single 8-bit format that is more common, and that that format is chosen. For example, on a DEC-20, a 36 bit machine, this is four 8-bit bytes to a word with four bits of breakage. If a host receives a octet file and then returns it, the returned file must be identical to the original. Mail mode uses the name of a mail recipient in place of a file and must begin with a WRQ. Otherwise it is identical to netascii mode. The mail recipient string should be of the form "username" or "username@hostname". If the second form is used, it allows the option of mail forwarding by a relay computer.

The discussion above assumes that both the sender and recipient are operating in the same mode, but there is no reason that this has to be the case. For example, one might build a storage server. There is no reason that such a machine needs to translate netascii into its own form of text. Rather, the sender might send files in netascii, but the storage server might simply store them without translation in 8-bit format. Another such situation is a problem that currently exists on DEC-20 systems. Neither netascii nor octet accesses all the bits in a word. One might create a special mode for such a machine which read all the bits in a word, but in which the receiver stored the information in 8-bit format. When such a file is retrieved from the storage site, it must be restored to its original form to be useful, so the reverse mode must also be implemented. The user site will have to remember some information to achieve this. In both of these examples, the request packets would specify octet mode to the foreign host, but the local host would be in some other mode. No such machine or application specific modes have been specified in TFTP, but one would be compatible with this specification.

It is also possible to define other modes for cooperating pairs of hosts, although this must be done with care. There is no requirement that any other hosts implement these. There is no central authority that will define these modes or assign them names.

                   2 bytes     2 bytes      n bytes
                   ----------------------------------
                  | Opcode |   Block #  |   Data     |
                   ----------------------------------

                        Figure 5-2: DATA packet

Data is actually transferred in DATA packets depicted in Figure 5-2. DATA packets (opcode = 3) have a block number and data field. The block numbers on data packets begin with one and increase by one for each new block of data. This restriction allows the program to use a single number to discriminate between new packets and duplicates. The data field is from zero to 512 bytes long. If it is 512 bytes long, the block is not the last block of data; if it is from zero to 511 bytes long, it signals the end of the transfer. (See the section on Normal Termination for details.)

All packets other than duplicate ACK's and those used for termination are acknowledged unless a timeout occurs [4]. Sending a DATA packet is an acknowledgment for the first ACK packet of the previous DATA packet. The WRQ and DATA packets are acknowledged by ACK or ERROR packets, while RRQ and ACK packets are acknowledged by DATA or ERROR packets. Figure 5-3 depicts an ACK packet; the opcode is 4. The block number in an ACK echoes the block number of the DATA packet being acknowledged. A WRQ is acknowledged with an ACK packet having a block number of zero.

                         2 bytes     2 bytes
                         ---------------------
                        | Opcode |   Block #  |
                         ---------------------

                         Figure 5-3: ACK packet

               2 bytes     2 bytes      string    1 byte
               -----------------------------------------
              | Opcode |  ErrorCode |   ErrMsg   |   0  |
               -----------------------------------------

                        Figure 5-4: ERROR packet

An ERROR packet (opcode 5) takes the form depicted in Figure 5-4. An ERROR packet can be the acknowledgment of any other type of packet. The error code is an integer indicating the nature of the error. A table of values and meanings is given in the appendix. (Note that several error codes have been added to this version of this document.) The error message is intended for human consumption, and should be in netascii. Like all other strings, it is terminated with a zero byte.


Next: 6. Normal Termination

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
5. TFTP Packets

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