RFC 438 FTP server-server interaction

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Network Working Group                                          B. Thomas
Request for Comments: 438                                    B. Clements
NIC: 13770                                                     BBN-TENEX
References:  354,385,414,418                             15 January 1973

                     FTP Server-Server Interaction

   The current ARPANET File Transfer Protocol as specified by RFC 354
   and updated by RFC's 385, 414 and 418 allows for "third host"
   participation but does not specify a mechanism by which the process
   at the third site may be the FTP server at that site.  This RFC
   suggests a simple extension to FTP which would allow an FTP user
   process at one site to arrange for FTP server processes at other
   sites to act cooperatively on its behalf.

   Such server-server cooperation may appear to be of limited utility.
   Consider, however, the requirements placed on FTP by a Resource
   Sharing Executive (RSEXEC) program -  a command language interpreter
   which extends the range of a user's commands beyond the boundaries of
   the user's local system.  Among its services such as RSEXEC could
   provide its users with a network-wide file system, perhaps allowing,
   in certain contexts, the use of partially qualified pathnames which
   omit site specification.  Consider, for example the response of the
   RSEXEC to the user command:


   for the case in which the two files are at different sites (PROG1.PL1
   at SITE1, PROG2.PL1 at SITE2) neither of which is the user's site.  A
   straightforward way for the RSEXEC to "perform" the APPEND would be
   to establish FTP control connections to the FTP servers at SITE1 and
   at SITE2, instruct the server at SITE1 to

      RETR PROG1.PL1

   using data connection C and instruct the server at SITE2 to

      APPE PROG2.PL1

   using the same data connection C.

   Unfortunately, at present there is no way within FTP to arrange for
   such server-server cooperation.  This is due primarily to the lack of
   symmetry in the way that FTP treats the ends of data connections
   during connection establishment.  It specifies one end to be the
   "server" end, the other to be the "user" end and specifies different
   means for establishing the connections from the two ends.

Thomas, et. al.                                                 [Page 1]

RFC 438              FTP Server-Server Interaction          January 1973

   FTP could be modified to support server-server interaction by:

      1. making the establishment of data connections symmetric, or;

      2. providing a mechanism for instructing a server to establish its
         end of a data connection as if it were a user.

   The second alternative probably requires fewer changes to the
   existing protocol.

   The following proposed extension to FTP uses the second method.   It
   involves the addition of a single new command (LSTN) and minor
   modifications to several existing commands (SOCK, APPE, RETR, STOR):

   a. The LSTN (Listen) command requests the FTP server to allocate a
      socket for use as a data connection.  To establish the
      corresponding data connection the server is to "listen" on the
      socket allocated when an appropriate transfer command is given.

      syntax: LSTN <direction> CRLF

         where <direction> is either "S" for send or "R" for receive.

      The server responds to LSTN by:

         1. refusing to allocate such a socket, or:

         2. sending the user the number of the socket allocated (the 255
            FTP server data socket reply could be used for this

   b. Receipt of an appropriate STOR, RETR or APPE command following a
      successful LSTN command causes the server to "listen" for an RFC
      for the socket allocated.   Data transfer may proceed after the
      server receives an RFC for the socket and responds with a matching
      RFC.   Once established, a data connection corresponding to a
      successful LSTN command has the same duration as one established
      in the usual way.

   c. The user may insure the security of his data transfer by using the
      SOCK command to instruct the server to accept an RFC for the
      listening socket only if it is from a specified host and socket.

   d. The SOCK command is modified in two ways:

Thomas, et. al.                                                 [Page 2]

RFC 438              FTP Server-Server Interaction          January 1973

      1. On success the reply must be the 255 FTP server data socket
         reply; that is, the 255 reply can not be deferred until receipt
         of a data transfer command.  (This is to allow the user to
         transmit the server's response to the program at the third
         site; see the example below.)

      2. After a LSTN command the SOCK command is to be interpreted by
         the server as specification of the acceptable RFC for
         subsequent data transfer command that use the allocated socket.

   With this extension to FTP, the RSEXEC program could accomplish the
   APPEND in the example above as follows:

        to SITE1:                       to SITE2:

           .                                .
           .                                .
           .                                .

   1.                                   LSTN R CRLF
                                        (let X = socket

        (let Y = socket in 255
         reply from SITE1)

   3.                                   SOCK SITE1,Y CRLF

   4.  RETR PROG1.PL1                   APPE PROG2.Pl1 CRLF

          .                                 .
          .                                 .
          .                                 .

   In closing it is appropriate to note that an experimental RSEXEC
   program of the sort suggested above has been operational on TENEXs
   for about 8 months.  It currently uses a private, resource sharing
   protocol (RSP) that includes file transfer operations.  RSP supports
   server-server cooperation; in RSP data connections are established in
   a symmetric way (alternative 1 above).

         [ This RFC was put into machine readable form for entry ]
         [ into the online RFC archives by Mirsad Todorovac 5/98 ]

Thomas, et. al.                                                 [Page 3]

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