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Trivial File Transfer Protocol

ump to: navigation, search Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) is a very simple file transfer protocol, with the functionality of a very basic form of FTP; it was first defined in 1980. Since it was so simple, it was easy to implement in a very small amount of memory, an important consideration at that time. TFTP was therefore useful for booting computers such as routers which did not have any mass storage devices. It is still used to transfer small files between hosts on a network, such as when a remote X Window System terminal or any other thin client boots from a network host or server. TFTP is based in part on the earlier protocol EFTP, which was part of the PUP protocol suite. In the early days of work on the TCP/IP protocol suite, TFTP was often the first protocol implemented on a new host type, because it was so simple. The original versions of TFTP, prior to RFC 1350, displayed a particularly bad protocol flaw, which was named Sorcerer's Apprentice Syndrome (after the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of Fantasia) when it was discovered.

Technical information

Some details of TFTP:
1. It uses UDP (port 69) as its transport protocol (unlike FTP which uses TCP port 21).
2. It cannot list directory contents.
3. It has no authentication or encryption mechanisms.
4. It is used to read files from, or write files to, a remote server.
5. It supports three different transfer modes, "netascii", "octet" and "mail", with the first two corresponding to the "ASCII" and "image" (binary) modes of the FTP protocol; the third is now obsolete and is hardly ever used.
6. It has a file size limit of 32 MB.

Since TFTP utilizes UDP, it has to supply its own transport and session support. Each file transferred via TFTP constitutes an independent exchange. That transfer is performed in lock-step, with only one packet (either a block of data, or an 'acknowledgement') ever in flight on the network at any time. Due to this lack of windowing, TFTP provides low throughput over high latency links.

Due to the lack of security, it is dangerous over the open Internet. Thus, TFTP is generally only used on private, local networks. Option negotiation was later added to the protocol (by RFC 2347), and the options thus negotiated can modify the operation of the protocol slightly (in particular, use of a larger block-size improves the throughput somewhat), but the protocol remains basically the same.

Details of a TFTP session

1. The initiating host A sends an RRQ (read request) or WRQ (write request) packet to host B, containing the filename and transfer mode. 2. B replies with an ACK (acknowledgement) packet, which also serves to inform A of which port on host B the remaining packets should be sent to. 1. The source host sends numbered DATA packets to the destination host, all but the last containing a full-sized block of data. The destination host replies with numbered ACK packets for all DATA packets. 1. The final DATA packet must contain less than a full-sized block of data to signal that it is the last. If the size of the transferred file is an exact multiple of the block-size, the source sends a final DATA packet containing 0 bytes of data.

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