Browse Prior Art Database

Coherent File Distribution Protocol (RFC1235) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000002050D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-11
Document File: 12 page(s) / 16K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

J. Ioannidis: AUTHOR [+1]

Related Documents

10.17487/RFC1235: DOI


This memo describes the Coherent File Distribution Protocol (CFDP). This is an Experimental Protocol for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 12% of the total text.

Network Working Group J. Ioannidis Request for Comments: 1235 G. Maguire, Jr. Columbia University Department of Computer Science June 1991

The Coherent File Distribution Protocol

Status of this Memo

This memo describes the Coherent File Distribution Protocol (CFDP). This is an Experimental Protocol for the Internet community. Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested. Please refer to the current edition of the "IAB Official Protocol Standards" for the standardization state and status of this protocol. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


The Coherent File Distribution Protocol (CFDP) has been designed to speed up one-to-many file transfer operations that exhibit traffic coherence on media with broadcast capability. Examples of such coherent file transfers are identical diskless workstations booting simultaneously, software upgrades being distributed to more than one machines at a site, a certain "object" (bitmap, graph, plain text, etc.) that is being discussed in a real-time electronic conference or class being sent to all participants, and so on.

In all these cases, we have a limited number of servers, usually only one, and <n> clients (where <n> can be large) that are being sent the same file. If these files are sent via multiple one-to-one transfers, the load on both the server and the network is greatly increased, as the same data are sent <n> times.

We propose a file distribution protocol that takes advantage of the broadcast nature of the communications medium (e.g., fiber, ethernet, packet radio) to drastically reduce the time needed for file transfer and the impact on the file server and the network. While this protocol was developed to allow the simultaneous booting of diskless workstations over our experimental packet-radio network, it can be used in any situation where coherent transfers take place.

CFDP was originally designed as a back-end protocol; a front-end interface (to convert file names and requests for them to file handles) is still needed, but a number of existing protocols can be adapted to use with CFDP. Two such reference applications have been developed; one is for diskless booting of workstations, a simplified

Ioannidis & Maguire, Jr. [Page 1]

RFC 1235 CFDP June 1991

BOOTP [3] daemon (which we call sbootpd) and a simple, TFTP-like front end (which we call vtftp). In addition, our CFDP server has been extended to provide this front-end interface. We do not consider this front-end part of the CFDP protocol, however, we present it in this document to provide a complete example.

The two clients and the CFDP server are available as reference implementations for anonymous ftp from the site CS.COLUMBIA.EDU ( in directory pub/cfdp/. Also, a companion document ("BOOTP extensions to support CFDP") lists the "vendor extensions" for BOOTP (a-la RFC-1084 [4]) that apply here.


CFDP is implemented as a protocol on top of UDP [5], but it can be implemented on top of any protocol...