blank.gif (43 bytes)

Church Of The
Swimming Elephant

THE TELNET "SYNCH" SIGNAL Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia

Up: Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
Up: Requests For Comments
Up: RFC 854


THE TELNET "SYNCH" SIGNAL Most time-sharing systems provide mechanisms which allow a terminal user to regain control of a "runaway" process; the IP and AO functions described above are examples of these mechanisms. Such systems, when used locally, have access to all of the signals supplied by the user, whether these are normal characters or special "out of band" signals such as those supplied by the teletype "BREAK" key or the IBM 2741 "ATTN" key. This is not necessarily true when terminals are connected to the system through the network; the network's flow control mechanisms may cause such a signal to be buffered elsewhere, for example in the user's host.

To counter this problem, the TELNET "Synch" mechanism is introduced. A Synch signal consists of a TCP Urgent notification, coupled with the TELNET command DATA MARK. The Urgent notification, which is not subject to the flow control pertaining to the TELNET connection, is used to invoke special handling of the data stream by the process which receives it. In this mode, the data stream is immediately scanned for "interesting" signals as defined below, discarding intervening data. The TELNET command DATA MARK (DM) is the synchronizing mark in the data stream which indicates that any special signal has already occurred and the recipient can return to normal processing of the data stream.

    The Synch is sent via the TCP send operation with the Urgent flag set and the DM as the last (or only) data octet.

When several Synchs are sent in rapid succession, the Urgent notifications may be merged. It is not possible to count Urgents since the number received will be less than or equal the number sent. When in normal mode, a DM is a no operation; when in urgent mode, it signals the end of the urgent processing.

    If TCP indicates the end of Urgent data before the DM is found, TELNET should continue the special handling of the data stream until the DM is found.

    If TCP indicates more Urgent data after the DM is found, it can only be because of a subsequent Synch. TELNET should continue the special handling of the data stream until another DM is found.

"Interesting" signals are defined to be: the TELNET standard representations of IP, AO, and AYT (but not EC or EL); the local analogs of these standard representations (if any); all other TELNET commands; other site-defined signals which can be acted on without delaying the scan of the data stream.

Since one effect of the SYNCH mechanism is the discarding of essentially all characters (except TELNET commands) between the sender of the Synch and its recipient, this mechanism is specified as the standard way to clear the data path when that is desired. For example, if a user at a terminal causes an AO to be transmitted, the server which receives the AO (if it provides that function at all) should return a Synch to the user.

Finally, just as the TCP Urgent notification is needed at the TELNET level as an out-of-band signal, so other protocols which make use of TELNET may require a TELNET command which can be viewed as an out-of-band signal at a different level.

By convention the sequence [IP, Synch] is to be used as such a signal. For example, suppose that some other protocol, which uses TELNET, defines the character string STOP analogously to the TELNET command AO. Imagine that a user of this protocol wishes a server to process the STOP string, but the connection is blocked because the server is processing other commands. The user should instruct his system to:

  1. Send the TELNET IP character;

  2. Send the TELNET SYNC sequence, that is:

    Send the Data Mark (DM) as the only character in a TCP urgent mode send operation.

  3. Send the character string STOP; and

  4. Send the other protocol's analog of the TELNET DM, if any.

The user (or process acting on his behalf) must transmit the TELNET SYNCH sequence of step 2 above to ensure that the TELNET IP gets through to the server's TELNET interpreter.

    The Urgent should wake up the TELNET process; the IP should wake up the next higher level process.


Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia


Protect yourself from cyberstalkers, identity thieves, and those who would snoop on you.
Stop spam from invading your inbox without losing the mail you want. We give you more control over your e-mail than any other service.
Block popups, ads, and malicious scripts while you surf the net through our anonymous proxies.
Participate in Usenet, host your web files, easily send anonymous messages, and more, much more.
All private, all encrypted, all secure, all in an easy to use service, and all for only $5.95 a month!

Service Details

Have you gone to church today?
All pages ©1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 Church of the Swimming Elephant unless otherwise stated
Church of the Swimming Elephant©1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 is a wholly owned subsidiary of Packetderm, LLC.

Packetderm, LLC
210 Park Ave #308
Worcester, MA 01609