Hostname Server
RFC 953

Document Type RFC - Historic (October 1985; No errata)
Obsoletes RFC 811
Last updated 2013-03-02
Stream Legacy stream
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Network Working Group                               K. Harrenstien (SRI)
Request for Comments: 953                                 M. Stahl (SRI)
Obsoletes:  RFC 811                                     E. Feinler (SRI)
                                                            October 1985

                            HOSTNAME SERVER


   This RFC is the official specification of the Hostname Server
   Protocol.  This edition of the specification includes minor revisions
   to RFC 811 which brings it up to date.  Distribution of this memo is


   The NIC Internet Hostname Server is a TCP-based host information
   program and protocol running on the SRI-NIC machine.  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 function of this particular
   server is to deliver machine-readable name/address information
   describing networks, gateways, hosts, and eventually domains, within
   the internet environment.  As currently implemented, the server
   provides the information outlined in the DoD Internet Host Table
   Specification [See RFC-952].  For a discussion of future developments
   see also RFC-921 concerning the Domain Name System.


   To access this server from a program, establish a TCP connection to
   port 101 (decimal) at the service host, SRI-NIC.ARPA ( or  Send the information request (a single line), and read
   the resulting response.  The connection is closed by the server upon
   completion of the response, so only one request can be made for each


   The name server accepts simple text query requests of the form

      <command key> <argument(s)> [<options>]

   where square brackets ("[]") indicate an optional field.  The command
   key is a keyword indicating the nature of the request.  The defined
   keys are explained below.

   The response, on the other hand, is of the form

      <response key> : <rest of response>

Harrenstien & Stahl & Feinler                                   [Page 1]

RFC 953                                                     October 1985
Hostname Server

   where <response key> is a keyword indicating the nature of the
   response, and the rest of the response is interpreted in the context
   of the key.

   NOTE:  Care should be taken to interpret the nature of the reply
   (e.g, single record or multiple record), so that no confusion about
   the state of the reply results.  An "ALL" request will likely return
   several hundred or more records of all types, whereas "HNAME" or
   "HADDR" will usually return one HOST record.


   The currently defined command keywords are listed below.  NOTE:
   Because the server and the features available will evolve with time,
   the HELP command should be used to obtain the most recent summary of
   implemented features, changes, or new commands.

      Keyword   Response

      HELP      This information.

      VERSION   "VERSION: <string>" where <string> will be different for
                each version of the host table.

      HNAME <hostname>
                One or more matching host table entries.

      HADDR <hostaddr>
                One or more matching host table entries.

      ALL       The entire host table.

      ALL-OLD   The entire host table without domain style names.

      DOMAINS   The entire top-level domain table (domains only).

      ALL-DOM   Both the entire domain table and the host table.

                All known gateways in TENEX/TOPS-20 INTERNET.GATEWAYS

   Remember that the server accepts only a single command line and
   returns only a single response before closing the connection.  HNAME
   and HADDR are useful for looking up a specific host by name or
   address; VERSION can be used by automated processes to see whether a
   "new" version of the host table exists without having to transfer the

Harrenstien & Stahl & Feinler                                   [Page 2]

RFC 953                                                     October 1985
Hostname Server

   whole table.  Note, however, that the returned version string is only
   guaranteed to be unique to each version, and nothing should currently
   be assumed about its format.

   Response Keys:

      ERR       entry not found, nature of error follows
      NET       entry found, rest of entry follows
      GATEWAY   entry found, rest of entry follows
      HOST      entry found, rest of entry follows
      DOMAIN    entry found, rest of entry follows
      BEGIN     followed by multiple entries
      END       done with BEGIN block of entries

   More keywords will be added as new needs are recognized.  A more
   detailed description of the allowed requests/responses follows.

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