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RFC 777 - Internet Control Message Protocol


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Network Working Group                                          J. Postel
Request for Comments: 777                                            ISI
                                                              April 1981
Updates:  IENs 109, 128
Updates:  RFC  760

                   Internet Control Message Protocol

Introduction

   The Internet Protocol (IP) [1] is used for host-to-host datagram
   service in a system of interconnected networks called the
   Catenet [2].  The network connecting devices are called Gateways.
   These gateways communicate between themselves for control purposes
   via a Gateway to Gateway Protocol (GGP) [3,4].  Occasionally a
   gateway or destination host will communicate with a source host, for
   example, to report an error in datagram processing.  For such
   purposes this protocol, the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP),
   is used.  ICMP, uses the basic support of IP as if it were a higher
   level protocol, however, ICMP is actually an integral part of IP, and
   must be implemented by every IP module.

   ICMP messages are sent in several situations:  for example, when a
   datagram cannot reach its destination, when the gateway does not have
   the buffering capacity to forward a datagram, and when the gateway
   can direct the host to send traffic on a shorter route.

   The Internet Protocol is not designed to be absolutely reliable.  The
   purpose of these control messages is to provide feedback about
   problems in the communication environment, not to make IP reliable.
   There are still no guarantees that a datagram will be delivered or a
   control message will be returned.  Some datagrams may still be
   undelivered without any report of their loss.  The higher level
   protocols that use IP must implement their own reliability procedures
   if reliable communication is required.

   The ICMP messages typically report errors in the processing of
   datagrams, to avoid the infinite regress of messages about messages
   etc., no ICMP messages are sent about ICMP messages.

Message Formats

   ICMP messages are sent using the basic IP header.  The first octet of
   the data portion of the datagram is a ICMP type field; the value of
   this field determines the format of the remaining data.  Any field
   labeled "unused" is reserved for later extensions and must be zero
   when sent, but receivers should not check these fields.  Unless
   otherwise noted under the individual format descriptions, the values
   of the internet header fields are as follows:

                                                                [Page 1]

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RFC 777

   Version

      4

   IHL

      Internet header length in 32-bit words.

   Type of Service

      0

   Total Length

      Length of internet header and data in octets.

   Identification, Flags, Fragment Offset

      Used in fragmentation, see [1].

   Time to Live

      Time to live in seconds; as this field is decremented at each
      machine in which the datagram is processed, the value in this
      field should be at least as great as the number of gateways which
      this datagram will traverse.

   Protocol

      ICMP = 1

   Header Checksum

      The 16 bit one's complement of the one's complement sum of all 16
      bit words in the header.  For computing the checksum, the checksum
      field should be zero.  This checksum may be replaced in the
      future.

   Source Address

      The address of the gateway or host that composes the ICMP message.
      Unless otherwise noted, this can be any of a gateway's addresses.

   Destination Address

      The address of the gateway or host to which the message should be
      sent.

[Page 2]                                                                

April 1981                                                              
RFC 777

Destination Unreachable Message

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Type      |     Code      |           unused              |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |      Internet Header + 64 bits of Original Data Datagram      |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

   IP Fields:

   Destination Address

      The source network and address from the original datagram's data.

   ICMP Fields:

   Type

      3

   Code

      0 = net unreachable;

      1 = host unreachable;

      2 = protocol unreachable;

      3 = port unreachable;

      4 = fragmentation needed and DF set.

   Internet Header + 64 bits of Data Datagram

      The internet header plus the first 64 bits of the original
      datagram's data.  This data is used by the host to match the
      message to the appropriate process.  If a higher level protocol
      uses port numbers, they are assumed to be in the first 64 data
      bits of the original datagram's data.

   Description

      If, according to the information in the gateway's routing tables,
      the network specified in the internet destination field of a
      datagram is unreachable, e.g., the distance to the network is
      infinity, the gateway sends a destination unreachable message to

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RFC 777

      the internet source host of the datagram.  In addition, in some
      networks, the gateway may be able to determine if the internet
      destination host is unreachable.  Gateways in these networks may
      send destination unreachable messages to the source host when the
      destination host is unreachable.

      If, in the destination host, the IP module cannot deliver the
      datagram  because the indicated protocol module or process port is
      not active, the destination host may send a destination
      unreachable message to the source host.

      Another case is when a datagram must be fragmented to be forwarded
      by a gateway yet the Don't Fragment flag is on.  In this case the
      gateway must discard the datagram and return a destination
      unreachable message.

[Page 4]                                                                

April 1981                                                              
RFC 777

Time Exceeded Message

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Type      |     Code      |           unused              |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |      Internet Header + 64 bits of Original Data Datagram      |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

   IP Fields:

   Destination Address

      The source network and address from the original datagram's data.

   ICMP Fields:

   Type

      11

   Code

      0 = time to live exceeded in transit;

      1 = fragment reassembly time exceeded.

   Internet Header + 64 bits of Data Datagram

      The internet header plus the first 64 bits of the original
      datagram's data.  This data is used by the host to match the
      message to the appropriate process.  If a higher level protocol
      uses port numbers, they are assumed to be in the first 64 data
      bits of the original datagram's data.

   Description

      If the gateway processing a datagram finds the time to live field
      is zero it must discard the datagram.  The gateway may also notify
      the source host via the time exceeded message.

      If a host reassembling a fragmented datagram cannot complete the
      reassembly due to missing fragments within its time limit it
      discards the datagram, and it may send a time exceeded message.

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RFC 777

Parameter Problem Message

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Type      |     Code      |   Parameter   |     unused    |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |      Internet Header + 64 bits of Original Data Datagram      |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

   IP Fields:

   Destination Address

      The source network and address from the original datagram's data.

   ICMP Fields:

   Type

      12

   Code

      0 = problem with option.

   Parameter

      If code = 0, IP option type.

   Internet Header + 64 bits of Data Datagram

      The internet header plus the first 64 bits of the original
      datagram's data.  This data is used by the host to match the
      message to the appropriate process.  If a higher level protocol
      uses port numbers, they are assumed to be in the first 64 data
      bits of the original datagram's data.

   Description

      If the gateway or host processing a datagram finds a problem with
      the header parameters such that it cannot complete processing the
      datagram it must discard the datagram.  One potential source of
      such a problem is an option that is not implemented, or incorrect
      arguments in an option.  The gateway or host may also notify the
      source host via the parameter problem message.

[Page 6]                                                                

April 1981                                                              
RFC 777

Source Quench Message

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Type      |                 unused                        |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |      Internet Header + 64 bits of Original Data Datagram      |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

   IP Fields:

   Destination Address

      The source network and address of the original datagram's data.

   ICMP Fields:

   Type

      4

   Internet Header + 64 bits of Data Datagram

      The internet header plus the first 64 bits of the original
      datagram's data.  This data is used by the host to match the
      message to the appropriate process.  If a higher level protocol
      uses port numbers, they are assumed to be in the first 64 data
      bits of the original datagram's data.

   Description

      A gateway may discard internet datagrams if it does not have the
      buffer space needed to queue the datagrams for output to the next
      network on the route to the destination network.  If a gateway
      discards a datagram, it may send a source quench message to the
      internet source host of the datagram.  A destination host may also
      send a source quench message if datagrams arrive too fast to be
      processed.  The source quench message is a request to the host to
      cut back the rate at which it is sending traffic to the internet
      destination.  The gateway may send a source quench message for
      every message that it discards.  On receipt of a source quench
      message, the source host should cut back the rate at which it is
      sending traffic to the specified destination until it no longer
      receives source quench messages from the gateway.  The source host
      can then gradually increase the rate at which it sends traffic to
      the destination until it again receives source quench messages.

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                                                              April 1981
RFC 777

      The gateway or host may send the source quench message when it
      approaches its capacity limit rather than waiting until the
      capacity is exceeded.  This means that the data datagram which
      triggered the source quench message may be delivered.

[Page 8]                                                                

April 1981                                                              
RFC 777

Redirect Message

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Type      |     Code      |            unused             |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |                 Gateway Internet Address                      |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |      Internet Header + 64 bits of Original Data Datagram      |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

   IP Fields:

   Destination Address

      The source network and address of the original datagram's data.

   ICMP Fields:

   Type

      5

   Code

      0 = Redirect datagrams for the Network.

      1 = Redirect datagrams for the Host.

      2 = Redirect datagrams for the Type of Service and Network.

      3 = Redirect datagrams for the Type of Service and Host.

   Gateway Internet Address

      Address of the gateway to which traffic for the network specified
      in the internet destination network field of the original
      datagram's data should be sent.

   Internet Header + 64 bits of Data Datagram

      The internet header plus the first 64 bits of the original
      datagram's data.  This data is used by the host to match the
      message to the appropriate process.  If a higher level protocol
      uses port numbers, they are assumed to be in the first 64 data
      bits of the original datagram's data.

                                                                [Page 9]

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RFC 777

   Description

      The gateway sends a redirect message to a host in the following
      situation.  A gateway, G1, receives an internet datagram from a
      host on a network to which the gateway is attached.  The gateway,
      G1, checks its routing table and obtains the address of the next
      gateway, G2, on the route to the datagram's internet destination
      network, X.  If G2 and the host identified by the internet source
      address of the datagram are on the same network, a redirect
      message is sent to the host.  The redirect message advises the
      host to send its traffic for network X directly to gateway G2 as
      this is a shorter path to the destination.  The gateway forwards
      the original datagram's data to its internet destination.

[Page 10]                                                               

April 1981                                                              
RFC 777

Echo or Echo Reply Message

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Type      |                  unused                       |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Data ...
   +-+-+-+-+-

   IP Fields:

   Addresses

      The address of the source in an echo message will be the
      destination of the echo reply message.  To form an echo reply
      message, the source and destination addresses are simply reversed.

   IP Fields:

   Type

      8 for echo message;

      0 for echo reply message.

   Description

      The data received in the echo message must be returned in the echo
      reply message.

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RFC 777

Timestamp or Timestamp Reply Message

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Type      |                  unused                       |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Originate Timestamp                                       |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Receive Timestamp                                         |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Transmit Timestamp                                        |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

   IP Fields:

   Addresses

      The address of the source in a timestamp message will be the
      destination of the timestamp reply message.  To form a timestamp
      reply message, the source and destination addresses are simply
      reversed.

   IP Fields:

   Type

      13 for timestamp message;

      14 for timestamp reply message.

   Description

      The data received (a timestamp) in the message is returned in the
      reply together with an additional timestamp.  The timestamp is 32
      bits of milliseconds since midnight UT.  One use of these
      timestamps is described by Mills [5].

[Page 12]                                                               

April 1981                                                              
RFC 777

Summary of Message Types

    0  Echo Reply

    3  Destination Unreachable

    4  Source Quench

    5  Redirect

    8  Echo

   11  Time Exceeded

   12  Parameter Problem

   13  Timestamp

   14  Timestamp Reply

                                                               [Page 13]

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RFC 777

References

   [1]   Postel, J., ed., "DOD Standard Internet Protocol", IEN 128,
         RFC 760, USC/Information Sciences Institute, NTIS ADA079730,
         January 1980.  Appears in: Computer Communication Review,
         Special Interest Group on Data Communications, ACM, V.10, N.4,
         October 1980.

   [2]   Cerf, V., "The Catenet Model for Internetworking," Information
         Processing Techniques Office, Defense Advanced Research
         Projects Agency, IEN 48, July 1978.

   [3]   Strazisar, V., "Gateway Routing:  An Implementation
         Specification", IEN 30, Bolt Beranek and Newman, April 1979.

   [4]   Strazisar, V., "How to Build a Gateway", IEN 109, Bolt Beranek
         and Newman, August 1979.

   [5]  Mills, D., "DCNET Internet Clock Service," RFC 778, COMSAT
         Laboratories, April 1981.

 

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