[TUHS] looking for HOSTS.TXT parsers and how is /dev/net/HOSTNAME enabled?

reed at reedmedia.net reed at reedmedia.net
Fri Apr 19 11:54:11 AEST 2019

This email is two parts. I am researching 1970's symbolic name to 
network address mapping routines.

1) I am looking for parsers for ancient (pre mid 1982) HOSTS.TXT. Since 
this is Unix list, for Unix is fine :)

RFC 597 (12 December 1973) says a hostname list will be maintained at 
the NIC with the location to be announced. (Interestingly NIC as in 
FEINLER at NIC is probably a nickname as it is not listed in the host 
status list. I am guessing it is a nickname for SRI-ARC or OFFICE-1.)

RFC 606 (December 1973) says there are different hosts lists, but "now"
there is "the official list of host names". It proposed that it should 
be maintained online in machine-readable form. It proposes a format and 
suggested attributes.

RFC 607 (January 10, 1974) the NIC agrees that NIC maintain a text file 
of hostnames, addresses, and attributes. (It has also been suggested 
separately.) The source is maintained in NLS format with multiple 
attributes. (What is this NLS format?) A program could be written to 
generate a weekly ASCII file. They will write the program and the 
generated file will be at OFFICE-1 (IMP #43?) with pathname of 
<NETINFO>HOSTS.TXT  (It's not Unix. It's TENEX I think. The ">" is the 
directory delimiter, but what is "<"?)

I have found a few copies of a hostname table, like 
https://emaillab.jp/pub/hosts/1974/host_names_1974.pdf and 
https://www.bortzmeyer.org/files/hosts.txt-1982-1.pdf But these don't 
appear to be the machine parseable files as defined in the RFC 608 
format. These are just printed formats. (I have also found many of the 
host status reports.)

Well I cannot find a copy of the HOSTS.TXT file anywhere. I am not 
looking for the RFC 810 (1 March 1982) or later format (which is easily 
may have copies of it (old format is OHOSTS.TXT). But I cannot figure 
out if or where there are individual file downloads there. Any ideas?)

That leads me to my question ... does anyone know where parser code for 
the HOSTS.TXT file is at?

2) I skimmed through some C code (for Unix) for sendmsg, mmdf, srvrftp, 
mailer.c, telnet.c that use /dev/net/ followed by up to 14-character 
hostname. I am trying to find the kernel code or routines that enable 
device driver named with a hostname. Any ideas? (In particular I'd like 
to know how those names map to a remote host's address.)

I am researching 1970's symbolic name to network address mapping 
routines, but the only ones I have found are primitive: Purdue's "modest 
UNIX network" using mx and Berkeley's Berknet (single letter hostnames). 
But both use simple compiled-in name-to-address tables. (The Purdue 
implementation looks interesting as it has some design to connect 
between IMPs too, but I don't see any code for finding IMP numbers via 
names. By the way, their "csh" tool was their "connected shell" to run a 
shell on a remote host. The manual had the list of hostnames in it. See 
the Purdue usenix tape.)


  Jeremy C. Reed

echo 'EhZ[h ^jjf0%%h[[Zc[Z_W$d[j%Xeeai%ZW[ced#]dk#f[d]k_d%' | \
  tr            '#-~'            '\-.-{'

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