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Friday, March 19, 2010

RARP : Reverse Address Resolution Protocol

- RARP (Reverse Address Resolution Protocol) is a protocol by which a physical machine in a local area network can request to learn its IP address from a gateway server's Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) table or cache.
- A reverse address resolution protocol (RARP) is used for disk less computers to determine their IP address using the network. The RARP message format is very similar to the ARP format.
- When a new machine is set up, its RARP client program requests from the RARP server on the router to be sent its IP address.
- The RARP server will return the IP address to the machine which can store it for future use assuming that the entry has been put in the router table.
- RARP is available for Ethernet, Fiber Distributed-Data Interface, and Token Ring LANs.
- The 'operation' field in the RARP packet is used to differentiate between a RARP request and a RARP reply packet.
- Since a RARP request packet is a broadcast packet, it is received by all the hosts in the network. But only a RARP server processes a RARP request packet, all the other hosts discard the packet.
- The RARP reply packet is not broadcast, it is sent directly to the host, which sent the RARP request.

When a RARP server receives a RARP request packet, it performs the following steps:
- The MAC address in the request packet is looked up in the configuration file and
mapped to the corresponding IP address.
- If the mapping is not found, the packet is discarded.
- If the mapping is found, a RARP reply packet is generated with the MAC and IP
address. This packet is sent to the host, which originated the RARP request.

When a host receives a RARP reply packet, it gets its IP address from the packet and completes the booting process.

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