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TCP Extensions Considered Harmful (RFC1263)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000002081D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2000-Sep-12
Document File: 16 page(s) / 51K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

S. O'Malley: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

This RFC comments on recent proposals to extend TCP. It argues that the backward compatible extensions proposed in RFC's 1072 and 1185 should not be pursued, and proposes an alternative way to evolve the Internet protocol suite. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion in the Internet community.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 5% of the total text.

Network Working Group S. O'Malley

Request for Comments: 1263 L. Peterson

University of Arizona

October 1991

TCP EXTENSIONS CONSIDERED HARMFUL

Status of this Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does

not specify an Internet standard. Distribution of this document is

unlimited.

Abstract

This RFC comments on recent proposals to extend TCP. It argues that

the backward compatible extensions proposed in RFC's 1072 and 1185

should not be pursued, and proposes an alternative way to evolve the

Internet protocol suite. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion in

the Internet community.

1. Introduction

The rapid growth of the size, capacity, and complexity of the

Internet has led to the need to change the existing protocol suite.

For example, the maximum TCP window size is no longer sufficient to

efficiently support the high capacity links currently being planned

and constructed. One is then faced with the choice of either leaving

the protocol alone and accepting the fact that TCP will run no faster

on high capacity links than on low capacity links, or changing TCP.

This is not an isolated incident. We have counted at least eight

other proposed changes to TCP (some to be taken more seriously than

others), and the question is not whether to change the protocol

suite, but what is the most cost effective way to change it.

This RFC compares the costs and benefits of three approaches to

making these changes: the creation of new protocols, backward

compatible protocol extensions, and protocol evolution. The next

section introduces these three approaches and enumerates the

strengths and weaknesses of each. The following section describes

how we believe these three approaches are best applied to the many

proposed changes to TCP. Note that we have not written this RFC as an

academic exercise. It is our intent to argue against acceptance of

the various TCP extensions, most notably RFC's 1072 and 1185 [4,5],

by describing a more palatable alternative.

2. Creation vs. Extension vs. Evolution

2.1. Protocol Creation

Protocol creation involves the design, implementation,

standardization, and distribution of an entirely new protocol. In

this context, there are two basic reasons for creating a new

protocol. The first is to replace an old protocol that is so outdated

that it can no longer be effectively extended to perform its original

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