Hitchhikers guide to the Internet
RFC 1118

Document Type RFC - Informational (September 1989; No errata)
Author Edward Krol 
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                            E. Krol
Request for Comments: 1118                 University of Illinois Urbana
                                                          September 1989

                 The Hitchhikers Guide to the Internet

Status of this Memo

   This RFC is being distributed to members of the Internet community in
   order to make available some "hints" which will allow new network
   participants to understand how the direction of the Internet is set,
   how to acquire online information and how to be a good Internet
   neighbor.  While the information discussed may not be relevant to the
   research problems of the Internet, it may be interesting to a number
   of researchers and implementors.  No standards are defined or
   specified in this memo.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


   The hitchhikers guide to the Internet is a very unevenly edited memo
   and contains many passages which simply seemed to its editors like a
   good idea at the time.  It is an indispensable companion to all those
   who are keen to make sense of life in an infinitely complex and
   confusing Internet, for although it cannot hope to be useful or
   informative on all matters, it does make the reassuring claim that
   where it is inaccurate, it is at least definitively inaccurate.  In
   cases of major discrepancy it is always reality that's got it wrong.
   And remember, DON'T PANIC.  (Apologies to Douglas Adams.)

Purpose and Audience

   This document assumes that one is familiar with the workings of a
   non-connected simple IP network (e.g., a few 4.3 BSD systems on an
   Ethernet not connected to anywhere else).  Appendix A contains
   remedial information to get one to this point.  Its purpose is to get
   that person, familiar with a simple net, versed in the "oral
   tradition" of the Internet to the point that that net can be
   connected to the Internet with little danger to either.  It is not a
   tutorial, it consists of pointers to other places, literature, and
   hints which are not normally documented.  Since the Internet is a
   dynamic environment, changes to this document will be made regularly.
   The author welcomes comments and suggestions.  This is especially
   true of terms for the glossary (definitions are not necessary).

Krol                                                            [Page 1]
RFC 1118         The Hitchhikers Guide to the Internet    September 1989

What is the Internet?

   In the beginning there was the ARPANET, a wide area experimental
   network connecting hosts and terminal servers together.  Procedures
   were set up to regulate the allocation of addresses and to create
   voluntary standards for the network.  As local area networks became
   more pervasive, many hosts became gateways to local networks.  A
   network layer to allow the interoperation of these networks was
   developed and called Internet Protocol (IP).  Over time other groups
   created long haul IP based networks (NASA, NSF, states...).  These
   nets, too, interoperate because of IP.  The collection of all of
   these interoperating networks is the Internet.

   A few groups provide much of the information services on the
   Internet.  Information Sciences Institute (ISI) does much of the
   standardization and allocation work of the Internet acting as the
   Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).  SRI International
   provides the principal information services for the Internet by
   operating the Network Information Center (NIC).  In fact, after you
   are connected to the Internet most of the information in this
   document can be retrieved from the SRI-NIC.  Bolt Beranek and Newman
   (BBN) provides information services for CSNET (the CIC) and NSFNET
   (the NNSC), and Merit provides information services for NSFNET (the

Operating the Internet

   Each network, be it the ARPANET, NSFNET or a regional network, has
   its own operations center.  The ARPANET is run by BBN, Inc. under
   contract from DCA (on behalf of DARPA).  Their facility is called the
   Network Operations Center or NOC.  Merit, Inc. operates NSFNET from
   yet another and completely seperate NOC.  It goes on to the regionals
   having similar facilities to monitor and keep watch over the goings
   on of their portion of the Internet.  In addition, they all should
   have some knowledge of what is happening to the Internet in total.
   If a problem comes up, it is suggested that a campus network liaison
   should contact the network operator to which he is directly
   connected.  That is, if you are connected to a regional network
   (which is gatewayed to the NSFNET, which is connected to the
   ARPANET...) and have a problem, you should contact your regional
   network operations center.


   The internal workings of the Internet are defined by a set of
   documents called RFCs (Request for Comments).  The general process
   for creating an RFC is for someone wanting something formalized to
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