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RFC Number : 914

Title : Thinwire protocol for connecting personal computers to the Internet.


Network Working Group David J. Farber
Request for Comments: 914 Gary S. Delp
Thomas M. Conte
University of Delaware
September 1984

A Thinwire Protocol
for connecting personal computers
to the INTERNET

Status of this Memo

This RFC focuses discussion on the particular problems in the
ARPA-Internet of low speed network interconnection with personal
computers, and possible methods of solution. None of the proposed
solutions in this document are intended as standards for the
ARPA-Internet. Rather, it is hoped that a general consensus will
emerge as to the appropriate solution to the problems, leading
eventually to the adoption of standards. Distribution of this memo
unlimited.

What is the Problem Anyway ?

As we connect workstations and personal computers to the INTERNET,
many of the cost/speed communication tradeoffs change. This has made
us reconsider the way we juggle the protocol and hardware design
tradeoffs. With substantial computing power available in the $3--10K
range, it is feasible to locate computers at their point of use,
including in buildings, in our homes, and other places remote from
the existing high speed connections. Dedicated 56k baud lines are
costly, have limited availability, and long lead time for
installation. High speed LAN's are not an applicable interconnection
solution. These two facts ensure that readily available 1200 / 2400
baud phone modems over dialed or leased telephone lines will be an
important part of the interconnection scheme in the near future.
This paper will consider some of the problems and possibilities
involved with using a 'thin' (less than 9600 baud) data path. A trio
of 'THINWIRE' protocols for connecting a personal computer to the
INTERNET are presented for discussion.

Although the cost and flexibility of telephone modems is very
attractive, their low speed produces some major problems. As an
example, a minimum TCP/IP Telnet packet (one character) is 41 bytes
long. At 1200 baud, the transmission time for such a packet would be
around 0.3 seconds. This is equivalent to using a 30 baud line for
single character transmission. (Throughout the paper, the assumption
is made that the transmission speed is limited only by the speed of
the communication line. We also assume that the line will act as a
synchronous link when calculating speed. In reality, with interrupt,
computational, and framing overhead, the times could be 10-50%
worse.)

In many cases, local echo and line editing can allow acceptable


Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 1]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


Telnet behavior, but many applications will work only with character
at a time transmission. In addition, multiple data streams can be
very useful for fully taking advantage of the personal
computer/Internet link. Thus this proposal.

There are several forms that a solution to this problem can take.
Three of these are listed below, followed by descriptions of possible
solutions of each form.

o As a non-solution, one can learn to live with the slow
communication (possibly a reasonable thing to do for background
file transfer and one-time inquiries to time, date, or
quote-of-the-day servers).

o Using TCP/IP, one can intercept the link level transmissions,
and try various kinds of compression algorithms. This provides
for a symmetrical structure on either side of the 'Thinwire'.

o One could build an 'asymmetrical' gateway which takes some of
the transport and network communication overhead away from both
the serial link and the personal computer. The object would be
to make the PC do the local work, and to make the
interconnection with the extended network a benefit to the PC
and not a drain on the facilities of the PC.

The first form has the advantage of simplicity and ease of
implementation. The disadvantages have been discussed above. The
second form, compression at link level, can be exploited in two ways.

Thinwire I is a simple robust compressor, which will reduce the 41
byte minimum TCP/IP Telnet packets to a series of 17 byte update
packets. This would improve the effective baud rate from 30 baud
to 70 baud over a 1200 baud line (for single character packets).

Thinwire II uses a considerably more complex technique, and takes
advantage of the storage and processing power on either side of
the thinwire link. Thinwire II will compress packets from
multiple TCP/IP connections from 41 bytes down to 13 bytes. The
increased communication rate is 95 (effective) baud for single
character packets.

The third form balances the characteristics of the personal computer,
the communications line, the gateway, and the Internet protocols to
optimize the utility of the communications and the workstation
itself. Instead of running full transport and internet layers on the
PC, the PC and the gateway manage a single reliable stream,
multiplexing data on this stream with control requests. Without the
interneting and flow control structures traveling over the
communications line on a per/packet basis, the data flow can be


Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 2]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


compressed a great deal. As there is some switching overhead, and a
reliable link level protocol is needed on the serial line, the
average effective baud rate would be in the 900 baud range.

Each of these Thinwire possibilities will be explored in detail.

Thinwire I

The simplest technique for the compression of packets which have
similar headers is for both the transmitting and receiving host to
store the most recent packet and transmit just the changes from one
packet to the next. The updated information is transmitted by
sending a packet including the updated information along with a
description of where the information should be placed. A series of
descriptor-data blocks would make up the update packet. The
descriptor consists of the offset from the last byte changed to the
start of the data to be changed and a count of the number of data
bytes to be substituted into the old template. The descriptor is one
byte long, with two four bit fields; offsets and counts of up to 15
bytes can be described. In the most pathological case the descriptor
adds an extra byte for every 15 bytes (or a 6% expansion).

An example of Thinwire I in action is shown in Appendix A. A
sequence of two single character TCP/IP Telnet packets is shown. The
'update' packet which would actually be transmitted is shown
following them. Each Telnet packet is 41 bytes long; the typical
update is 17 bytes. This technique is a useful improvement over
sending entire packets. It is also computationally simple. It
suffers from two problems: the compression is modest, and, if there
is more than one class of packets being handled, the assumption of
common header information breaks down, causing the compression of
each class to suffer.

Thinwire II

Both of the problems described above suggest that a more
computationally complex protocol may be appropriate. Any major
improvement in data compression must depend on knowledge of the
protocols being used. Thinwire II uses this knowledge to accomplish
two things. First, the packets are sorted into classes. The packets
from each TCP connection using the thinwire link, would, because of
their header similarities, make up a class of packets. Recognizing
these classes and sorting by them is called 'matching templates'.
Second, knowledge of the protocols is used to compress the updates.
A bitfield indicating which fields in the header have changed,
followed only by the changed fields, is much shorter than the general
form of change notices. Simple arithmetic is allowed, so 32 bit




Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 3]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


fields can often be updated in 8 or 16 bits. By using the sorting,
protocol-specific updating, Thinwire II provides significant
compression.

A typical transaction is described in Appendix B. The 'template
matching' is based on the unchanging fields in each class of packet.
A TCP/IP packet would match on the following fields: network type
field(IP), version, type of service, protocol(TCP), and source and
destination address and port. Note that the 41 bytes have been
reduced to 13 bytes. An additional advantage is that multiple
classes of packets can be transported across the same line without
affecting the compression of each other, just by matching and storing
multiple templates.

Some of the implications of this system are:

o The necessity of saving several templates (one for each
TCP/IP connection ) means that there will be a relatively
large memory requirement. This requirement for current
personal computers is reasonable. In addition, the gateway
must keep tables for several connections at a time.

o The Thinwire links are slow (that's why we call them thin);
much slower than normal disk access. There is no reason that
inactive templates cannot be swapped out to disk and
retrieved when needed if memory is limited. (Note that as
memory density increases, this is less and less of a
problem.)

o There is state information in the connections. If the two
sides get out of synchronization with each other, data flow
stops. This means that some method of error detection and
recovery must be provided.

o To minimize the problem described above, the protocol used on
the serial line must be reliable. See Appendix D for details
of SLIP, Serial Line Interface Protocol, as an example of
such a protocol. There must also be periodic
resynchronization. (For example, every Nth packet would be
transmitted in full).

o The asynchronous link is not, by its nature, a packet
oriented system; a packet structure will need to be layered
on the character at a time transfer. However, if the
protocol layer below thinwire (SLIP) can be trusted, the
formation of packets is a simple matter.

o Thinwire II will need to be enhanced for each new protocol



Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 4]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


(TCP, UDP, TP4) it is called upon to service. Any packet
type not recognized by the Thinwire connection will be
transmitted in full.

For maintaining full network service, Thinwire II or a close variant
seems to be the solution.

Thinwire III

When transmissions at the local network (link) level are not
required, if only the available services are desired, then a solution
based on Thinwire III may be appropriate. A star network with a
gateway in the center serving as the connection between a number of
Personal Computers and the Internet is the key of Thinwire III.
Rather than providing connections at the network/link level, Thinwire
III assumes that there is a reliable serial link (SLIP or equivalent)
beneath it and that the workstation/personal computer has better
things to do than manage TCP state tables, timeouts, etc. It also
assumes that the gateway supporting the Thinwire III connections is
powerful enough to run many TCP connections and several SLIP's at the
same time. The gateway fills in for the limitations of the
communications line and the personal computer. It provides a gateway
to the INTERNET, managing the transport and network functions,
providing both reliable stream and datagram service.

In Thinwire III, the gateway starts an interpreter for each SLIP
connection from a personal computer. The gateway will open TCP, UDP,
and later TP4 connections on the request of the personal computer.
Acting as the agent for the personal computer, it will manage the
remote negotiations and the data flow to and from the personal
computer. Multiple connections can be opened, with inline logical
switches in the reliable data flow indicating which connection the
data is destined for. Additional escaped sequences will send error
and informational data between the two Thinwire III communicators.

This protocol is not symmetric. The gateway will open connections to
the INTERNET world as an agent for the personal computer, but the
gateway will not be able to open inbound connections to the personal
computer, as the personal computer is perceived as a stub host. The
personal computer may however passively open connections on the
gateway to act as a server. Extended control sequences are specified
to handle the multiple connection negotiation that this server
ability will entail.

This protocol seems to ignore the problem of flow control. Our
thought is that the processing on either side of the communication
link will be much speedier than the link itself. The buffering for
the communication line and the user process blocking for this will



Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 5]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


provide most of the flow control. For the rare instances that this
is not sufficient, there are control messages to delay the flow to a
port or all data flow.

A tentative specification for Thinwire III is attached as Appendix C.

The authors acknowledge the shoulders upon which they stand, and
apologize for the toes they step on. Ongoing work is being done by Eric
Thayer, Guru Parulkar, and John Jaggers. Special thanks are extended to
Peter vonGlahn, Jon Postel and Helen Delp for their helpful comments on
earlier drafts. Responses will be greatly appreciated at the following
addresses:

Dave Farber
Gary Delp
Tom Conte



































Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 6]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


Appendix A -- Example of Thinwire I Compression

Here is an example of how Thinwire I would operate in a common
situation. The connection is a TCP/IP Telnet connection. The first
TCP/IP Telnet packet is on the next page; it simulates the typing of
the character 'a'. The second packet would be produced by typing
'd'; it is shown on the following page. The compressed version is on
the third page following.

[NOTE: The checksums pictured have not been calculated. Binary in
MSB to LSB format]








































Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 7]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
IP +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
header:|Version| IHL |Type of Service| Total Length |
|0 1 0 0|0 1 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0|
P | 4 | 5 | 0 | 41 |
a +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
c | Identification |Flags| Fragment Offset |
k |0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
e | 1 | 0 | 0 |
t +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
- | Time to live | Protocol | Header Checksum |
1 |0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0|0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0|
| 101 | 6 | nnn |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Source Address |
|1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0|
| 192. | 5. | 39. | 20 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Destination Address |
|0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0|
| 10. | 2. | 0. | 52 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
TCP +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
header:| Source Port | Destination Port |
|0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1|
| 1025 | 27 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Sequence Number |
|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0|
| 300 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Acknowledgement Number |
|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0|
| 100 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|offset | Reserved |U A P R S F| Window |
|0 1 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0|0 1 0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
| 5 | 0 | 16 | 512 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Checksum | Urgent Pointer |
|0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
| nnn | 0 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Data |
|0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
| 'a' |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+



Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 8]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
IP +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
header:|Version| IHL |Type of Service| Total Length |
|0 1 0 0|0 1 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0|
| 4 | 5 | 0 | 41 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
P | Identification* |Flags| Fragment Offset |
a |0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0|0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
c | 2 | 0 | 0 |
k +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
e | Time to live*| Protocol | Header Checksum* |
t |0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0|0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0|0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0|
- | 102 | 6 | nnn |
2 +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Source Address |
|1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0|
| 192. | 5. | 39. | 20 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Destination Address |
|0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0|
| 10. | 2. | 0. | 52 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
TCP +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
header:| Source Port | Destination Port |
|0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1|
| 1025 | 27 |
* 's +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
show | Sequence Number* |
changed|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1|
fields | 301 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Acknowledgement Number* |
|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1|
| 101 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|offset | Reserved |U A P R S F| Window |
|0 1 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0|0 1 0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
| 5 | 0 | 16 | 512 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Checksum* | Urgent Pointer |
|0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
| nnn | 0 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Data* |
|0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
| 'd' |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+



Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 9]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


The Thinwire Driver finds the template (which is the previous packet
sent), compares the template to the packet and creates a change
message (field names of change record data have been added for
comparison):

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|Descriptor byte| Data: |Descriptor byte| Data: |
|offset |length | Identification|offset |length | Time to live |
|0 0 1 0|0 0 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0|0 0 1 0|0 0 0 1|0 1 1 1 0 1 1 0|
| 2 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 102 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|Descriptor byte| Data: |Descriptor byte|
| offset| length| Header Checksum |offset |length |
|0 0 1 0|0 0 1 0|1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0|1 1 1 1|0 0 1 0|
| 2 | 2 | nn | 15 | 2 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Data: |Descriptor byte| Data: |Descriptor byte|
| Seq Number |offset |length | Ack Number |offset |length |
|0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1|0 0 1 1|0 0 0 1|0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1|0 1 1 1|0 0 1 0|
| 301 | 3 | 1 | 101 | 7 | 2 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Data: |Descriptor byte| Data: |
| -- TCP Checksum -- |offset |length | data |
|0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0|0 0 1 0|0 0 0 1|0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0|
| nn | 2 | 1 | 'd' |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|Descriptor byte|
|offset |length |
|0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0| the 0 0 offset/length record ends the update.
| 0 | 0 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

Thinwire I then sends this message over the line where the previous
packet is updated to form the new packet. Note: One can see that a
series of null descriptor bytes will reset the connection.















Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 10]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


Appendix B -- Examples of Thinwire II Compression

This Appendix provides an example of how the Thinwire II would
operate in a common situation. The same original packets are used as
in Appendix A, so only the updates are shown.

As the later field definitions depend on the contents of earlier
fields, a field by field analysis of the update packets will be
useful.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
Thinwire II |U|L|Template no| Len of change | Type of Packet|
minimum |0|0|0 0 0 1 0 1|0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|
header: |N N| 5 | 41 | TCP/IP |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

The first bit is the UPDATE bit. If it is a 0 this packet
describes a new template, and the entire new packet is included,
following the header. If there was a previous template with the
same number, it will be cleared and replaced by the new template.
If the UPDATE bit is a 1, then this packet should be used to
update the template with the number given in the template number
field.

The second bit is the LONG bit. If it is a 1 it indicates a LONG
packet. This means that the update length field will be 16 bits
instead of 8 bits.

The remaining 6 bits in the first byte indicate the template
number that this packet is an update to.

The template number is followed by 1 or 2 bytes (depending on the
value of the LONG bit) which give the length of the packet. This
is the number of data bytes following the variable length header.

If the UPDATE bit is 0 on this packet, the next byte will be a
flag telling what type of packet the sender thinks this packet is.
The flag will be saved by the receiver to interpret the update
packets. Type 0 is for unknown types. If the type 0 flag is set,
there will be no updates to this template number. Type 1 is
TCP/IP; the method of updating will be described below. Type 2 is
UDP/IP; the method of update is not described at this time.

At this time we have enough information to encode packet 1 of the
example. Assuming for the moment that this is the first packet for
this connection, the UPDATE bit would be set to 0. As the packet has
a length of 41 and so can be described in 8 bits, the LONG bit would
be set to 0. A template number not in use (or the oldest in use


Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 11]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


template number) would be assigned to this packet. The number 5 is
illustrated. The Length of Packet would be given as 41, and the Type
Flag set to TCP/IP (1). The 41 bytes of the packet would follow.

The transmission of packet 2 requires the specification of Type 1
(TCP/IP) updating. There are portions of the packets which will
always be the same; these are described in the body of the paper, and
are used to match the template. These do not need to be transmitted
for an update. There are portions of the packet which will always
(well almost always) change. These are the IP Header checksum, the
IP Identification number, and the TCP checksum. These are
transmitted, in that order, with each template update immediately
after the packet length byte/bytes. Following the invariant portion
of the header are updates to the fields which change some of the
time. Which fields are different is indicated with a bitfield
describing the changes.

The Bitfield is used to indicate which fields (of those that may stay
the same) have changed. The technique for updating the field varies
with the field description. The specifications for TCP/IP are shown
in Table B-1.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
Thin- |U|L|Template no| Len of change | Type of Packet|
wire II|0|0|0 0 0 1 0 1|0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|
header:|N N| 5 | 41 | TCP/IP |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
IP +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
header:|Version| IHL |Type of Service| Total Length |
|0 1 0 0|0 1 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0|
P | 4 | 5 | 0 | 44 |
a +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
c | Identification |Flags| Fragment Offset |
k |0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
e | 1 | 0 | 0 |
t +~+~+~+~+~.~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+.+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~.~+~+~+~+~+
- . . .
1 . . .
+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+
| Checksum | Urgent Pointer |
|0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0|
| nnn | 0 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Data |
|0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1|
| 'a' |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+


Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 12]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


The changed field update information is added to the update header in
the order that the bits appear in the field. That is, if both the IP
packet length bit and the Time to Live bit are set, the 2 new bytes
of the IP Packet length will precede the 1 new byte of the Time to
Live field.

The update for packet 2 is shown below. Note that this is an update
to template 5, the length of update is 8 bits with a value of 1. The
new checksums and IP Identification Number are included, and the
flags are set to indicate changes to the following fields: Time to
Live, Add 8 bits to Sequence and Acknowledgement Numbers. The new
data is one byte following the header.

Thinwire II would send this message over the line where it would be
reassembled into the correct packet.

Note: For purposes of synchronization, if three 0 length, template 0,
type 0 packets are received, the next non-zero byte should be treated
as a start of packet, and the template tables cleared.

____________________________________________________________________

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
|U|L|Template no| Len of change | IP Header Checksum |
|1|0|0 0 0 1 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0|
|Y|N| 5 | 1 | nnn |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| IP Identification number | TCP Checksum |
|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0|0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0|
| 2 | nnn |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| Bitfield | Time to Live |add to Seq no. | add to Ack Num|
|0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1|
| T Ad8 | 1 | 1 | 1 |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
| data |
|0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1|
| 'd' |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

Packet 2. Thinwire II update

____________________________________________________________________







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RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


Appendix C -- Tentative Specification for Thinwire III

Thinwire III, as stated in the body of this paper, provides multiple
virtual connections over a single physical connection. As Thinwire
III is based on a single point to point connection, much of the
per/datagram information (routing and sequencing) of other transport
systems can be eliminated. In the steady state any bytes received by
thinwire III are sent to the default higher level protocol
connection. There are escaped control sequences which allow the
creation of additional connections, the switching of the default
connection, the packetizing of datagrams, and the passing of
information between the gateway and the personal computer. The
gateway and the personal computer manage a single full duplex stream,
multiplexing control requests and streams of data through the use of
embedded logical switches.

The ascii character 'z' (binary 01011011 ) is used as the escape
character. The byte following the 'z' is interpreted to determine
the command. Table C-1 shows the general classes the bytes (Request
codes) can fall into.

In order to transmit the character 'z', two 'z''s are transmitted.
The first is interpreted as an escape, the second as the lower case
letter 'z' to be transmitted to the default connection. The letter z
was chosen as the escape for its low occurrence in text and control
data streams, because it should pass easily through any lower level
protocols, and for its generally innocuous behavior.

Descriptions of specifications of each of the Request codes are
below.

Starting with the range 0-31; these Request codes change the default
connection. After a connection has been established, any characters
which come across the line that are not part of a Request code
sequence are transmitted to one of the connections. To begin with
this connection defaults to Zero, but when the 'Switch Default
Connection' command is received, characters are sent to the
connection named in the request until a new request is received.
Zero is a special diagnostic connection; anything received on
connection number Zero should be echoed back to the sender on
connection number One. Anything received on connection number One
should be placed on the diagnostic output of the receiving host. Any
other connection number indicates data which should be sent out the
numbered connection. If the numbered connection has not been opened,
the data can be thrown away, and an Error Control Message returned to
the sender.

Escapes followed by numbers 32 through 255 are for new connections,
requests for information, and error messages. The escape will be


Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 14]



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Thinwire Protocol


followed by a Request code, a one byte Request Sequence Number (so
that the Reply to Request can be asynchronously associated with the
Request), and the arguments for the specific request. (The length of
the argument field will be determined by the Request code.) The
format of the request will be as pictured below:

'z' [ ... ]

At this time the Request codes 32-63 are reserved.

The Request codes 64-127 are for stream server open requests. For
the purposes of compression, many of the common servers are assigned
single byte codes. See Table C-2.

Request code 68 is to a connection to the default hostname server
used by the gateway. It takes 3 bytes for this request. It has the
form:

'z' < 68 > < Request Sequence Number >

Request code 95 is to open any specified TCP Port at the specified
address. It takes 9 bytes for this request. It has the form:

'z' < 95 > < Request Sequence Number > < 4 bytes of IP address> <
2 bytes of TCP Port >

Request codes 96-127 are RESERVED for alternate transport protocols.

The Request codes 128-191 are used for framing Datagrams and opening
new Datagram connections. The code 128 is the Start of Datagram
code. The format is:

'z' <128> Data ...

As with the Stream opens, there are a number of assigned ports with
codes for them. They are listed in Table C-3.

The Request Codes 192-254 are control, status and informational
requests. These are still under development, but will include:

-flow control
-get host/server/protocol by entry/name/number.
-additional error messages
-overall reset
-open passive connection

The Request Code 252 is the request to close a connection. This
Code, followed by the connection number, indicates that no more data



Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 15]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


will be sent out this connection number. A second request with the
same connection number will indicate that no more data will be
accepted on this connection.

The Request Code 253 is the information request for a connection. The
protocol, status, and port number of the connection should be
returned. The format of this reply has yet to be specified.

The Request code 254 is an error notification. These are to be
acknowledged with their Request Sequence Numbers. Error codes are
under development.

The Request code 255 is the Reply to Request. The Request Sequence
Number identifies the request being replied to. The format is:

'z' <255> (1 byte)> Reply...

The Thinwire Drivers on each side will wait at their inbound sockets,
and relay across the thinwire link
character-by-character/packet-by-packet for the stream/datagram
connections.

Thinwire III is labeled as a tentative specification, because at this
time, in order to publish this RFC in a timely fashion, several minor
issues are still unresolved. An example is the scheduling of serial
line use. Short messages could be given priority over long packets,
or priority schemes could be changed during the session, depending
upon the interactive desire of the user. Addition issues will be
resolved in the future.





















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Thinwire Protocol


Appendix D -- Serial Line Interface Protocol (SLIP)

Initial Specifications and Implementation Suggestions

PHILOSOPHY

The world is a dangerous place for bits. Data transmission can be
an time consuming business when one has to make sure that bits
don't get lost, destroyed, or forgotten. To reduce such problems,
the Serial Line Interface Protocol (SLIP) maintains an attitude
toward the world that includes both a mistrust of serial lines and
a margin of laziness. Examples of this approach include how SLIP
recovers from errors and how SLIP handles the problem of
resequencing (see PROTOCOL SPECIFICATIONS and IMPLEMENTATION
SUGGESTIONS).

THE MESSAGE FORMAT

Both the Sender Task and the Receiver Task communicate using a
standard message format and the Sender and Receiver Task of one
machine's SLIP communicate using a shared buffer. The message
begins with a 1 byte Start of Header token (StH, 11111111) and is
followed by a sequence number of four bits (SEQ) and an
acknowledgement number of four bits (ACK). Following the StH, SEQ
and ACK, is a 5 bit length field which specifies the length of the
data contained in the message. Following the length is a three bit
field of flags. The first bit is used to indicate that the a
receive error has occurred, and the ACK is actually a repeat of
the Last Acknowledged message (a LACK). The second bit is used to
indicate a Synchronize Sequence Numbers message (SSNM), and the
third bit is used to indicate a Start of Control Message (SOCM);
all three of these flags are explained below. Finally, at the end
of the message is an exclusive-or checksum. The message format is
shown in figure D-1.

________________________________________________

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+...
| StH | SEQ | ACK | Length |Flags|...Data...
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+...
The maximum data length is 32 bytes. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
This limits the vulnerability of receiver ...-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
timeout errors occurring because of bit error .Data...| Checksum |
in the length field. ...-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

Figure D-1. SLIP Message Format

________________________________________________


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Thinwire Protocol


The Sender, when idle but needing to acknowledge, will send out
short messages of the same format as a regular message but with
the SOCM flag set and the data field omitted. ( This short
message is called a SOCM, and is used instead of a zero length
message to avoid the problem of continually ACK'ing ACK's ). The
Sender Task, when originating a connection (see STARTING UP AND
FINISHING OFF COMMUNICATIONS), will send out another short message
but with the SSNM flag set and the data omitted. This message (a
SSNM) used for a TCP-style 3 way startup handshake.

PROTOCOL SPECIFICATIONS and SUGGESTIONS

The SLIP module, when called with data to send, prepends its
header (SEE ABOVE) to the data, calculates a checksum and appends
the checksum at the end. (This creates a message.) The message
has a sequence number associated with it which represents the
position of the message in the Sender SLIP's buffers. The
sequence number for the message can range from 0 to 15 and is
returned in the ACK field of the other machine's Sender SLIP
messages to acknowledge receipt.

There are two scenarios for transmission. In the first, both
SLIP's will be transmitting to each other. To send an
acknowledgement, the Receiver SLIP uses the ACK field in its next
outgoing message. To receive an acknowledgement, the Sender checks
the ACK field of its Receiver's incoming messages. In the second
scenario, one SLIP may have no data to transmit for a long time.
Then, as stated above, to acknowledge a received message, the
Receiver has its Sender send out a short message, the SOCM (SEE
ABOVE) which specifies the message it is acknowledging. The SOCM
includes a checksum of its total contents. If there is a checksum
error, THE SOCM IS IGNORED.

When there is a checksum error on a received normal message, the
Receiver asks its Sender to send out a SOCM with the LACK flag
set, or set the LACK flag on its next message. The Sender sends
this flag ONCE then ceases to increment the acknowledgement number
(the ACK) while the Receiver continues to check incoming messages
for the sequence number of the message with a checksum error.
(Note that it continues to react to the acknowledgement field in
the incoming messages.) When it finds the needed message, it
resumes accepting the data in new messages and increments the
acknowledgement number transmitted accordingly.

The sending SLIP must never send a message greater than four past
the last message for which it has received an acknowledgement
(effectively a window size of four). Under normal processing
loads, a window size greater than four should not be needed, and
this decreases the probability of random errors creating valid


Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 18]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


acknowledgement or sequence numbers. If the Sender has four
unacknowledged messages outstanding, it will retransmit the old
messages, starting from the oldest unacknowledged message. If it
receives an acknowledgement with the LACK flag set, it transmits
the message following the LACK number and continues to transmit
the messages from that one on. Thus a LACK is a message asking
the Sender to please the Receiver. If the Sender times out on any
message not logically greater than four past the last acknowledged
message, it should retransmit the message that timed out and then
continues to transmit messages following the timed out message.

The following describes a partial implementation of SLIP. System
dependent subjects like buffer management, timer handling and
calling conventions are discussed.

The SLIP implementation is subdivided into four modules and two
sets of input/output interfaces. The four modules are: The Sender
Task, The Receiver Task, the buffer Manager, and SLIPTIME (the
timer). The two interfaces are to the higher protocol and to the
lower protocol (the UARTian, an interrupt driven device driver for
the serial lines).

OPERATIONS OF THE SENDER TASK

The Sender Task takes a relatively noncomplex approach to
transmitting. It sends message zero, sets a timer (using the
SLIPTIME Task) on the message, and proceeds to send and set timers
for messages one, two, and three. When the Receiver Task tells
the Sender Task that a message has been acknowledged, the Sender
Task then clears the timer for that message, and marks it
acknowledged. When the Sender Task has finished sending a
message, it checks several conditions to decide what to do next.
It first checks to see if a LACK has been received. If it has then
it clears all the timers, and begins retransmitting messages
(updating the acknowledgement field and checksum) starting from
the one after the LACK'ed message. If there is not a LACK waiting
for the Sender Task, it checks to see if any messages have timed
out. If a message has timed out, the Sender Task again will clear
the timers and begin retransmitting from the message number which
timed out. If neither of these conditions are true, the Sender
Task checks to see if, because it has looped back to retransmit,
it has any previously formulated messages to send. If so, it send
the first of these messages. If it does not have previously
formulated messages, it checks to see if it is more than three
past the last acknowledged message. If so, it restarts from the
message after the last acknowledged message. If none of these are
true, then it checks to see if there is more data waiting to be
transmitted. If there is more data available, it forms the
largest packet it can, and begins to transmit it. If there is no


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RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


more data to transmit, it checks to see if it needs to acknowledge
a message received from the other side. If so then it sends a
SOCM. If none of the above conditions create work for the Sender
Task, the task suspends itself.

Note that the Sender Task uses the Receiver Task to find out about
acknowledgements and the Receiver Task uses the Sender Task to
send acknowledgements to the other SLIP on the other side (via the
ACK field in the Sender Task's message). The two tasks on one
machine communicate through a small buffer. Because
acknowledgements need to be passed back to the Sender Task
quickly, the Receiver Task can wake up the Sender Task (unblock
it).

OPERATIONS OF THE RECEIVER TASK

The Receiver Task checks the checksums of the messages coming into
it. When it gets a checksum error, it tells the Sender Task to
mark the next acknowledgement as a LACK. It then throws away all
messages coming into it that don't match the message it wants and
continues to acknowledge with the last ACK until it gets the
message it wants. As a checksum error could be the result of a
crashed packet, and the StH character can occur within the packet,
when a checksum error does occur, the recovery includes scanning
forward from the last StH character for the next StH character
then attempting to verify a packet beginning from it. A valid
message includes a valid checksum, and sequence and
acknowledgement numbers within the active window of numbers. This
eliminates the need for the resequencing of messages, because the
Receiver Task throws away anything that would make information in
its buffers out of sequence.

OPERATIONS OF SLIPTIME

The timer task will maintain and update a table of timers for each
request. Its functions should be called with the timer length and
the sequence number to associate with the timer. Its functions
can also be called with a request to delete a timer. An
interrupt-driven mechanism is used to update the running timers
and to wake up the Sender when an alarm goes off.











Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 20]



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Thinwire Protocol


THE INPUT AND OUTPUT INTERFACES

To force SLIP to do something, the higher protocol should create a
buffer and then call SLIP, passing it a pointer to the buffer.
SLIP will then read the buffer and begin sending it. The call to
SLIP will return the number of bytes written, negative number
indicates to the caller that SLIP could not do the request. Exact
error numbers will be assigned in the future. To ask SLIP to
receive something, one would call SLIP and SLIP would immediately
return the number of bytes received or a negative number for an
error (nothing ready to receive, for example).

SLIP, when it wants to talk to the underworld of the serial
interface, will do much the same thing only through a buffer
written to by the UARTian (for received data) and read from by the
UARTian (for sent data).

OPERATIONS OF THE BUFFER/WINDOW MANAGER

The Manager tends a continuous, circular buffer for the Sender
Task in which data to be sent (from the downcalling protocol) is
stored. This buffer is called the INPUT-DATA BUFFER (IDBuff).
The Manager also manages a SENDER TASK'S OUTPUT-DATA BUFFER
(SODBuff), which is its output buffer to the UARTian.

The IDBuff has associated with it some parameters. These
parameters include: START OF MEMORY (SOM), the start of memory
reserved for the IDBuff; END OF MEMORY (EOM), the end of memory
reserved; START OF DATA (SOD), the beginning of the used portion
of the IDBuff; and END OF DATA (EOD), the end of data in the
IDBuff. The SOM and EOM are constants whereas the SOD and EOD are
variables.

The SODBuff is composed of four buffers for four outbound messages
(less the checksum). The buffers can be freed up to be
overwritten when the message that they contain is acknowledged by
the SLIP on the other side of the line. When a message is in the
SODBuff, it has associated with it a sequence number (which is the
message's sequence number). The Sender Task can reference the
data in the SODBuff and reference acknowledgements via this
sequence number.

When the application has data to be transmitted, it is placed in
the IDBuff by the application using functions from the Manager and
the EOD is incremented. If the data the application wants to send
won't fit in the buffer, no data is written, and the application
can either sleep, or continue to attempt to write data until the




Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 21]



RFC 914 September 1984
Thinwire Protocol


data will fit. The Sender Task calls a Manager function to fill a
message slot in the SODBuff. The Sender Task then sends its
message from the SODBuff.

The Manager also maintains a buffer set for the Receiver Task. The
buffers are similar to those of the Sender Task. There is a
CHECKSUMMED OUTPUT-DATA BUFFER (CODBuff), which is the final
output from SLIP that the higher level protocol may read. The
CODBuff is also controlled by the four parameters START OF MEMORY,
END OF MEMORY, START OF DATA, and END OF DATA (SOM, EOM, SOD, and
EOD).

There is also an inbound circular buffer the analog of the
SODBuff, called the RECEIVER TASK'S INPUT-DATA BUFFER (RIDBuff).

When the UARTian gets data, it places the data in the RIDBuff.
After this, the Receiver Task checksums the data. If the checksum
is good and the Receiver Task opts to acknowledge the message, it
moves the data to the CODBuff, increments EOD, and frees up space
in the RIDBuff. The higher level application can then take data
off on the CODBuff, incrementing SOD as it does so.

STARTING UP AND FINISHING OFF COMMUNICATIONS

The problem is that the SLIP's on either side need to know (and
keep knowing) the sequence number of the other SLIP. The easiest
way to solve most of these problems is to have the SLIP check the
Request to Send and Clear to Send Lines to see if the other SLIP
is active. On startup, or if it has reason to believe the other
side has died, the SLIP assumes: all connections are closed, no
data from any connection has been sent, and both its SEQ and the
SEQ of the other SLIP are zero. To start up a connection, the
instigating SLIP sends a SSNM with its starting sequence number in
it. The receiving SLIP acknowledges this SSNM and replies with
its starting sequence number (combined into one message). Then
the sending SLIP acknowledges the receiving SLIP's starting
sequence number and the transmission commences. This is the three
way handshake taken from TCP, After which data transmission can
begin.












Farber & Delp & Conte [Page 22]




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