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RITA -- The Reliable Internetwork Troubleshooting Agent
RFC 2321

Document Type RFC - Informational (April 1998)
Author Andrew Bressen
Last updated 2024-03-05
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RFC 2321
Network Working Group                                         A. Bressen
Request for Comments: 2321                      Cohesive Network Systems
Category: Informational                                     1 April 1998

        RITA -- The Reliable Internetwork Troubleshooting Agent

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.


   A Description of the usage of Nondeterministic Troubleshooting and
   Diagnostic Methodologies as applied to today's complex
   nondeterministic networks and environments.

1. Introduction

   Increasingly, IETF efforts have been devoted to aiding network
   management, troubleshooting, and diagnosis. Results have included
   SNMP, cflowd, and RMON, and ongoing projects at the time of this
   writing include Universal Logging Protocol and Distributed
   Management.  These tools work well within the horizon of
   deterministic situations in which the configuration of the network or
   relevant components is known or can be relatively easily determined.
   They do not well address many problems that are related to the
   complex internetworks we have today, such as:

     o  Networks where the root bridge for a world-wide bridged
        network is suboptimally located, such as under the desk of a
        secretary who kicks off her shoes when she arrives in the
     o  Networks where a hub is located adjacent to a monitor that
        emits disruptive RF when displaying certain graphics.
     o  Networks where an ISP and several of their customers use
        network internally and do not hide RIP broadcasts from
        one another.
     o  Networks where gateways are data-sensitive
     o  Networks where vendors inadvertently ship units with
        duplicate MAC addresses to the same end-user or where all users
        have a tool for changing MAC addresses.

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RFC 2321                          RITA                      1 April 1998

   In this document we introduce a new hardware-based tool for diagnosis
   and repair of network related hardware and software problems. This
   tool is best suited to addressing nondeterministic problems such as
   those described above. This tool has broad areas of application at
   all levels of the OSI model; in addition to uses in the physical,
   network, transport and application layers, it has been used to
   successfully address problems at the political and religious layers
   as well. RITA, the Reliable Internet Troubleshooting Agent, was
   developed initially at The Leftbank Operation (now known as Cohesive
   Network Systems, New England Division) based on a hardware platform
   supplied by Archie McPhee (Reference [1]). A typical RITA unit is
   depicted in Figure 1.

         comb      neck             body                    feet
          |         |                |                       |
          v         v                V                       V
           ,^/'/,           ,______________________.         ,
         i'  '  /          /                       =========<-
        / <o>   `---------/                        \         `
      .;__.  ,__,--------.                         /         ,
         / ,/ vv          \                        =========<-
        '-'                `-----------------------'         `
         ^     ^                                     ^
         |     |                                     |
        beak  wattles                               legs

                                 Figure 1.

2. Specification

   A typical RITA is 51.25 cm long and yellow-orange in color.  Either
   natural or artificial substances may be used for construction.  RITA
   has very flexible characteristics, and thus can interoperate within
   fairly broad parameters.  Unlike most other tools described in
   forthcoming RFC's, RITA does not require any IANA namespace
   management.  It is not anticipated that versions will be
   incompatible, thus no versioning field is present. Interoperability
   testing may be conducted at a future meeting of the IETF.

3. Diagnostic Usage:

   RITA may be applied in two diagnostic fashions, however only one of
   these methods, described below in 3.1, has been refined to a state
   such that we feel comfortable publishing the methodology.

Bressen                      Informational                      [Page 2]
RFC 2321                          RITA                      1 April 1998

   3.1   The first method provides a broad-spectrum evaluation of
   quality of the entity tested, and is thus known as the BS eval test.
   This method can be used with great success on both deterministic and
   non-deterministic problems.  Testing is performed by placing the RITA
   unit on top of a suspect piece of hardware, or, in the case of
   software, placing the unit on a packaged copy of the program, or hard
   copy of the source code.

   If the RITA does not get up and fly away, the hardware or software
   being tested is misconfigured, fubar, or broken as designed. While
   this method does identify all equipment and software as sub-optimal,
   Sturgeon's Law (see reference [5]) indicates that at least 90% of
   these results are accurate, and it is felt that a maximum 10% false
   positive result is within acceptable parameters.

   3.2 The second method involves applications of traditional techniques
   of haruspication (see reference [3]) and to date has been practiced
   with much greater success using implements other than RITA. The
   absence of entrails in the RITA unit may contribute to this; future
   design enhancements may address this issue by the addition of
   artificial giblets.

   An alternative approach that has been discarded involved cleromantic
   principles (see reference [3]), and was known as "flipping the bird".

4. Corrective Usage:

   Corrective usage of RITA is most successful in dealing with the most
   difficult class of networking problems: those that seem to exhibit
   sporadic, non-deterministic behavior.

   RITA units enhance normal corrective measures of these problems,
   methods such as rebooting, reseating of components and connectors,
   changing tabs to spaces or vice-versa in configuration files, blaming
   third-party vendors, and use of ballistic implements to effect
   wholesale displacement of systems and software, to at least 100% of
   their normal efficacy.

    Specific Problem Methodologies:

     o  Physical Layer: Wave RITA unit towards malfunctioning
     o  Network Layer: Wave RITA unit towards malfunctioning
     o  Transport Layer: Wave RITA unit towards malfunctioning

Bressen                      Informational                      [Page 3]
RFC 2321                          RITA                      1 April 1998

     o  Application Layer: Strike product vendor representative
        (or programmer, if available) with RITA, preferably on the top
        of the skull, while shouting, "Read The Fine RFC's comma darn
     o  Political Layer: Strike advocates of disruptive or
        obstructive policies with RITA, preferably on the top of the
        skull. In extreme cases insertion of RITA into bodily apertures
        may become necessary. WARNING: subsequent failure to remove RITA
        may cause further problems.
     o  Religious Layer: Strike advocates of disruptive or
        obstructive religions, and their vendor representatives, with
        RITA, preferably on the top of the skull. In extreme cases, the
        RITA may be used as a phlactory, funerary urn, or endcap for
        bus-and-tag cables.

5. Further Work

   A RITA MIB is under development.  This may require adding interface
   technology and hardware to RITA; a prototype is depicted in Figure 2.

         comb      neck             body                    feet
          |         |                |                       |
          v         v                V                       V
           ,^/'/,           ,______________________.         ,
         i'  '  /          /                       =========<-
        / <o>   `---------/                        \_____________m
      .;__.  ,__,--------.                         /         ,
         / ,/ vv          \                        =========<-
        '-'                `-----------------------'         `
         ^     ^                                     ^          ^
         |     |                                     |          |
        beak  wattles                               legs       ethernet

                                 Figure 2.

   There has been to date no investigation of the possible use of RITA
   to implement RFC 1149.

   Additionally, this tool has been used with some success for dealing
   with non-network problems, particularly in the debugging of SCSI bus

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RFC 2321                          RITA                      1 April 1998

6. Security Considerations

   The RITA will only have serious impact on system security facilities
   if it is filled with lead shot. It does however, increase the
   personal security of system administrators; few network toughs are
   willing to face down a sysadmin armed with a RITA and a confident

7. Citations and References

   [1] Postel, J., and J. Reynolds, "Instructions to RFC Authors", RFC
   2223, October 1997.

   [2] McPhee, A.,


   [4] Waitzman, D., "Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers"
   RFC 1149, April 1990.

   [5] Raymond, E. (editor), "The New Hacker's Dictionary" 2nd ed., MIT
   Press, September 1993.  ISBN 0-262-18154-1

8. Acknowledgments

   Initial Development of RITA, Editing, and excellent leather jacket
   provided by Bob Antia, first reading by John "cgull" Hood,
   illustrations done using equipment provided by Elizabeth Goodman and
   Gerry Goodnough.

9. Author's Address

   Andrew K. Bressen
   72 Endicott Street
   Somerville, MA

   Phone: 617-776-2373

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RFC 2321                          RITA                      1 April 1998

10.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

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