[TUHS] [COFF] Pondering the hosts file

Bakul Shah bakul at iitbombay.org
Fri Mar 12 07:15:54 AEST 2021

As I quoted, the RFC says to refer to the assigned numbers RFC for specific options and acronyms for machine types, operating systems, and protocol/services. A host/network/gateway name has no such restriction. 

> On Mar 11, 2021, at 1:08 PM, Ron Natalie <ron at ronnatalie.com> wrote:
> The "name" in this context the host/network/gateway name such as SRI-NIC.ARPA.    3COM.COM <http://3com.com/> would not have been legal back then.
> Nowhere does it imply that any of the other fields are so restricted.
> ------ Original Message ------
> From: "Bakul Shah" <bakul at iitbombay.org <mailto:bakul at iitbombay.org>>
> To: "Ron Natalie" <ron at ronnatalie.com <mailto:ron at ronnatalie.com>>
> Cc: "The Unix Heritage Society" <tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org <mailto:tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org>>; "Internet History" <internet-history at postel.org <mailto:internet-history at postel.org>>
> Sent: 3/11/2021 4:02:50 PM
> Subject: Re: [TUHS] [COFF] Pondering the hosts file
>> On Mar 11, 2021, at 12:32 PM, Ron Natalie <ron at ronnatalie.com <mailto:ron at ronnatalie.com>> wrote:
>>> Amusingly one day we got an Imagen ethernet-connected laser printer.    Mike Muuss decided the thing should be named BRL-ZAP and since I didn't know what to put down as the machine type, and it did have a 68000 in it, I had Jake put 68000 in the entry in the host table.
>>> The next day I got all kinds of hate mail from other BSD sites who assumed I had intentionally sabotaged the host table.   Apparently, the BSD systems used a YACC grammar to parse the NIC table into the Berkeley one.   The only problem is they got the grammar wrong and assumed the CPU type always began with a letter.    There parse blew up on my "ZAP" host and they assumed that was the desired effect.
>> This is understandable as
>> a) All the "official machine names" in various assigned numbers RFCs start with a letter.
>> b) the BNF syntax for the "host table specification" entries in RFC 952 or 810 are not precise enough.
>> 	<cputype> ::= PDP-11/70 | DEC-1080 | C/30 | CDC-6400...etc.
>> NOTE:  See "Assigned Numbers" for specific options and acronyms
>>          for machine types, operating systems, and protocol/services.
>>          for machine types, operating systems, and protocol/services.
>> c) 68000 was not an official name!
>> :-) :-) :-)
>>> I countered back that using a YACC grammar for this was rediculous.   There was already a real popular file on UNIX that had a bunch of fields separated by colons and commas (/etc/passwd anybody) that it was never necessary to use YACC to parse.
>> Can't argue with that! Though that doesn't mean a handwritten parser wouldn't have complained about 68000.

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