Bootstrap Protocol

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The Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) is a computer networking protocol used in Internet Protocol networks to automatically assign an IP address to network devices from a configuration server. The BOOTP was originally defined in RFC 951.

When a computer that is connected to a network is powered up and boots its operating system, the system software broadcasts BOOTP messages onto the network to request an IP address assignment. A BOOTP configuration server assigns an IP address based on the request from a pool of addresses configured by an administrator.

BOOTP is implemented using the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) as transport protocol, port number 67 is used by the (DHCP) server to receive client requests and port number 68 is used by the client to receive (DHCP) server responses. BOOTP operates only on IPv4 networks.

Historically, BOOTP has also been used for Unix-like diskless workstations to obtain the network location of their boot image, in addition to the IP address assignment. Enterprises used it to roll out a pre-configured client (e.g., Windows) installation to newly installed PCs.

Originally requiring the use of a boot floppy disk to establish the initial network connection, manufacturers of network cards later embedded the protocol in the BIOS of the interface cards as well as system boards with on-board network adapters, thus allowing direct network booting.

While some parts of BOOTP have been effectively superseded by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which adds the feature of leases, parts of BOOTP are used to provide service to the DHCP protocol. DHCP servers also provide the legacy BOOTP functionality.


The BOOTP was first defined in September 1985 in RFC 951 as a replacement for the Reverse Address Resolution Protocol RARP, published in RFC 903 in June 1984. The primary motivation for replacing RARP with BOOTP is that RARP was a link layer protocol. This made implementation difficult on many server platforms, and required that a server be present on each individual IP subnet. BOOTP introduced the innovation of relay agents, which forwarded BOOTP packets from the local network using standard IP routing, so that one central BOOTP server could serve hosts on many subnets.[1]

IETF standards documentation

RFC # Title Date Obsolete and Update Information
RFC 3942 Reclassifying Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol version 4 (DHCPv4) Options Nov-04 Updates RFC 2132
RFC 2132 DHCP Options and BOOTP Vendor Extensions Mar-97 Obsoletes RFC 1533, Updated by RFC 3442, RFC 3942, RFC 4361, RFC 4833, RFC 5494
RFC 1542 Clarifications and Extensions for the Bootstrap Protocol Oct-93 Obsoletes RFC 1532, Updates RFC 951
RFC 1534 Interoperation Between DHCP and BOOTP Oct-93  
RFC 1533 DHCP Options and BOOTP Vendor Extensions Oct-93 Obsoletes RFC 1497, RFC 1395, RFC 1084, RFC 1048, Obsoleted by RFC 2132
RFC 1532 Clarifications and Extensions for the Bootstrap Protocol Oct-93 Obsoleted by RFC 1542, Updates RFC 951
RFC 1497 BOOTP Vendor Information Extensions Aug-93 Obsoletes RFC 1395, RFC 1084, RFC 1048, Obsoleted by RFC 1533, Updates RFC 951
RFC 1395 BOOTP Vendor Information Extensions Jan-93 Obsoletes RFC 1084, RFC 1048, Obsoleted by RFC 1497, RFC 1533, Updates RFC 951
RFC 1084 BOOTP vendor information extensions Dec-88 Obsoletes RFC 1048, Obsoleted by RFC 1395, RFC 1497, RFC 1533
RFC 1048 BOOTP vendor information extensions Feb-88 Obsoleted by RFC 1084, RFC 1395, RFC 1497, RFC 1533
RFC 951 Bootstrap Protocol Sep-85 Updated by RFC 1395, RFC 1497, RFC 1532, RFC 1542, RFC 5494

See also


  1. ^ Bill Croft; John Gilmore (September 1985). "RFC 951 - Bootstrap Protocol". Network Working Group. 

External links

  • BOOTP Sequence Diagram (PDF)
  • Multicast BOOTP for configuring a network device from a workstation
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