Username / Password : Request For Comments

RFC Number : 954

Network Working Group K. Harrenstien (SRI)
Request for Comments: 954 M. Stahl (SRI)
Obsoletes: RFC 812 E. Feinler (SRI)
October 1985



This RFC is the official specification of the NICNAME/WHOIS protocol.
This memo describes the protocol and the service. This is an update
of RFC 812. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


The NICNAME/WHOIS Server is a TCP transaction based query/response
server, running on the SRI-NIC machine ( or, that
provides netwide directory service to internet users. It is one of a
series of internet name services maintained by the DDN Network
Information Center (NIC) at SRI International on behalf of the
Defense Communications Agency (DCA). The server is accessible across
the Internet from user programs running on local hosts, and it
delivers the full name, U.S. mailing address, telephone number, and
network mailbox for DDN users who are registered in the NIC database.

This server, together with the corresponding WHOIS Database can also
deliver online look-up of individuals or their online mailboxes,
network organizations, DDN nodes and associated hosts, and TAC
telephone numbers. The service is designed to be user-friendly and
the information is delivered in human-readable format. DCA strongly
encourages network hosts to provide their users with access to this
network service.


DCA requests that each individual with a directory on an ARPANET or
MILNET host, who is capable of passing traffic across the DoD
Internet, be registered in the NIC WHOIS Database. MILNET TAC users
must be registered in the database. To register, send via electronic
mail to REGISTRAR@SRI-NIC.ARPA your full name, middle initial, U.S.
mailing address (including mail stop and full explanation of
abbreviations and acronyms), ZIP code, telephone (including Autovon
and FTS, if available), and one network mailbox. Contact the DDN
Network Information Center, REGISTRAR@SRI-NIC.ARPA or (800) 235-3155,
for assistance with registration.

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RFC 954 October 1985


To access the NICNAME/WHOIS server:

Connect to the SRI-NIC service host at TCP service port 43

Send a single 'command line', ending with (ASCII CR and

Receive information in response to the command line. The server
closes its connection as soon as the output is finished.


NICNAME is the global name for the user program, although many sites
have chosen to use the more familiar name of 'WHOIS'. There are
versions of the NICNAME user program for TENEX, TOPS-20, and UNIX.
The TENEX and TOPS-20 programs are written in assembly language
(FAIL/MACRO), and the UNIX version is written in C. They are easy to
invoke, taking one argument which is passed directly to the NICNAME
server at SRI-NIC. Contact NIC@SRI-NIC.ARPA for copies of the


A command line is normally a single name specification. Note that
the specification formats will evolve with time; the best way to
obtain the most recent documentation on name specifications is to
give the server a command line consisting of '?' (that is, a
question-mark alone as the name specification). The response from
the NICNAME server will list all possible formats that can be used.
The responses are not currently intended to be machine-readable; the
information is meant to be passed back directly to a human user. The
following three examples illustrate the use of NICNAME as of October


Command line: ?

Please enter a name or a NIC handle, such as 'Smith' or 'SRI-NIC'.
Starting with a period forces a name-only search; starting with
exclamation point forces handle-only. Examples:

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RFC 954 October 1985

Smith [looks for name or handle SMITH]
!SRI-NIC [looks for handle SRI-NIC only]
.Smith, John
[looks for name JOHN SMITH only]

Adding '...' to the argument will match anything from that point,
e.g. 'ZU...' will match ZUL, ZUM, etc.

To search for mailboxes, use one of these forms:

Smith@ [looks for mailboxes with username SMITH]
@Host [looks for mailboxes on HOST]
[Looks for mailboxes with username SMITH on HOST]

To obtain the entire membership list of a group or organization,
or a list of all authorized users of a host, precede the name of
the host or organization by an asterisk, i.e. *SRI-NIC. [CAUTION:
If there are a lot of members, this will take a long time!] You
may use exclamation point and asterisk, or a period and asterisk


Command line: fischer

Fischer, Charles (CF17) fischer@UWISC (608) 262-1204
Fischer, Herman (HF) HFischer@USC-ECLB (818) 902-5139
Fischer, Jeffery H. (JHF1) FISCHER@LL-XN (617) 863-5500
ext 4403 or 4689
Fischer, Kenneth (KF8) SAC.SIUBO@USC-ISIE (402) 294-5161
(AV) 271-5161
Fischer, Marty (MF28) MFISCHER@DCA-EMS (703) 437-2344
Fischer, Michael J. (MJF) FISCHER@YALE (203) 436-0744
Fischer, Nancy C. (NANCY) FISCHER@SRI-NIC (415) 859-2539
Fischer, Richard A. (RAF4) Fisher Richa@LLL-MFE (415) 422-5032

To single out any individual entry, repeat the command using the
argument '!HANDLE' instead of 'NAME', where the handle is in
parentheses following the name.


Command line: !nancy

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RFC 954 October 1985

Fischer, Nancy C. (NANCY) FISCHER@SRI-NIC SRI International
Telecommunication Sciences Center
333 Ravenswood Avenue, EJ289
Menlo Park, California 94025
Phone: (415) 859-2539



1. Harrenstien, K., and White, V., 'NICNAME/WHOIS,' RFC-812, Network
Information Center, SRI International, March 1982.

2. Harrenstien, K., 'NAME/FINGER,' RFC-742, Network Information
Center, SRI International, December 1977.

Harrenstien & Stahl & Feinler [Page 4]

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