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Related issue It may be desirable to have table aging and/or timeouts. The implementation of these is outside the scope of this protocol. Here is a more detailed description (thanks to MOON@SCRC@MIT-MC).

If a host moves, any connections initiated by that host will work, assuming its own address resolution table is cleared when it moves. However, connections initiated to it by other hosts will have no particular reason to know to discard their old address. However, 48.bit Ethernet addresses are supposed to be unique and fixed for all time, so they shouldn't change. A host could "move" if a host name (and address in some other protocol) were reassigned to a different physical piece of hardware. Also, as we know from experience, there is always the danger of incorrect routing information accidentally getting transmitted through hardware or software error; it should not be allowed to persist forever. Perhaps failure to initiate a connection should inform the Address Resolution module to delete the information on the basis that the host is not reachable, possibly because it is down or the old translation is no longer valid. Or perhaps receiving of a packet from a host should reset a timeout in the address resolution entry used for transmitting packets to that host; if no packets are received from a host for a suitable length of time, the address resolution entry is forgotten. This may cause extra overhead to scan the table for each incoming packet. Perhaps a hash or index can make this faster.

The suggested algorithm for receiving address resolution packets tries to lessen the time it takes for recovery if a host does move. Recall that if the is already in the translation table, then the sender hardware address supersedes the existing entry. Therefore, on a perfect Ethernet where a broadcast REQUEST reaches all stations on the cable, each station will be get the new hardware address.

Another alternative is to have a daemon perform the timeouts. After a suitable time, the daemon considers removing an entry. It first sends (with a small number of retransmissions if needed) an address resolution packet with opcode REQUEST directly to the Ethernet address in the table. If a REPLY is not seen in a short amount of time, the entry is deleted. The request is sent directly so as not to bother every station on the Ethernet. Just forgetting entries will likely cause useful information to be forgotten, which must be regained.

Since hosts don't transmit information about anyone other than themselves, rebooting a host will cause its address mapping table to be up to date. Bad information can't persist forever by being passed around from machine to machine; the only bad information that can exist is in a machine that doesn't know that some other machine has changed its 48.bit Ethernet address. Perhaps manually resetting (or clearing) the address mapping table will suffice.

This issue clearly needs more thought if it is believed to be important. It is caused by any address resolution-like protocol.


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