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Network Working Group 17 November 1971 Request for Comments #265 Abbay Bhushan, MIT NIC 781 Bob Braden, UCLA Categories D.4, D.5, and D.7 Will Crowther, BBN Eric Narslem, Rand Obsoletes: 172 John Heafner, Rand Alex McKenzie, BBH John Melvin, SRI Bob Sundberg, Harvard Dick Watson, SRI Jim White, UOSB THE FILE TRANSFER PROTOCOL This Paper is a revision of RF 172, Mic 6794. The changes to RFC 172 are given below. The protocol is then restated for your ocnvenience. CHANGES TO RFC 172 1) Two new file transfer requests have been added. These are 2) The op code assignements in control transactions have been changed to include the above requests. 3) Two new error codes indicating 'incorrect or missing indentifier' and 'file already exists' have been added. New error code assignements reflect this change. 4) Editorial changes to clarify specifications. [Page 1]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971


The file transfer protocol (FTP) is a userlevel procotocol for file transfer between host computers (including terminal IMPs), on the ARPA computer network (ARPANET). The primary function of FTP is to facilitate transfer of files between hosts and to allow convenient use of storage and file handling capabilities of remote hosts. FTP uses the Data Transfer Protocol described in RFC 264 to achieve transfer of data. This paper assumes knowledge of RFC 264. The objectives of FTP are to promote sharing of files (computer programs and/or data) encourage implicit (without explicit login) use of computers, and shield the user from variations in file and storage systems of different hosts. These objetives are achieved by specifying a standard file transfer socket and initial connection protocol for implicit use, and using standard conventions for file transfer and related operations.


A file is considered here to be an ordered set of arbitrary length, consisting of computer data (including programs). Files are uniquely identified in a system by their pathnames. A pathname is (loosely) defined to be the data string which must be input to the file system by a network user in order to identify a file. Pathname usually contains device and/or directory names, and file name. FTP specifications provide standard file system commands, but do not provide standard naming convention at this time. Each user must follow the naming convention of the file system be wishing to use. FTP may be extended later to include standard conventions of pathname structures. A file may or may not have access control associated with it The access controls designate users access privileges. In absence of access controls, files cannot be protected from accidental or unauthorized usage. It is the prerogative of a serving file system to provide protection, and selective access. FTP provides identifier and password mechanisms for exchange of access control information. it should however ve noted, that for file sharing, it is necessary that a user be allowed (subject to access controls) to access files not created by him. FTP does not restrict the nature of information in files. For example, a file could contain ASCII text, binary data, computer program, or any other information. A provision for indicating data structure (type and byte size) exists in FTP to aid in parsing, interpretation, and storage of data. [Page 2]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 To facilitate impliict usage, a serving file transfer process my be a disowned "demon" process which "listens" to an agreed-upon socket, and follows the standard initial connection protocol for establishing a fill-duplex connection. It should be noted that FTP my also be used directly by logging into a remote host, and arranging for file transfer over specific sockets. FTP is readily extendable, in that additional commands and data types may be defined by those agreeing to implement them. Implementation of a subset of commands is specifically permitted, and an initial subset for implementation is recommended. (*)The protocol may also be extended to enable remote execution of programs, but no standard procedure is suggested. For transferring data, FTP uses the data transfer protocol specified in RFC 264. As the data transfer protool does not specify the manner in which it is to be used by FTP, implementation may vary at different host sites. Hosts not wishing to separate data transfer and file transfer functions, should take particular care in conforming to the data transfer protocol specifications of RFC 264. It should be noted that FTP specifications do not require knowledge of transfer modes used by data transfer protocol. However, as file transfer protocol requires the transfer of more than a single control transaction over the same connection, it is essential that hosts be able to send control transactions in either 'transparent block' (type B9) or 'descriptor and counts' (type BA) modes. (Type BS, the indefinite bit stream mode is not suitable as it limits transfer to single transactions.). The use of data transfer aborts (type B6) is neither required, nor defined in FTP. FTP has its own error terminate wich may be used to abort a file transfer request. FTP also does not define to structure of files, and there are no conventions on the use of group, record and unit separators. (*)A file separator however, indicates the end of a file. It is strongly recommended that default options be provided in implementation to facilitate use of file transfer service. For example, the main file directora on disk, a pool directory, user directory of diretory last accessed could serve as standard pathname defaults. Default mechanisms are convenient, as the user doesn't have to specify the complete pathname each time ve wishes to use the file transfer service. No standard default procedures are specified by FTP. -------------------------------- (*) This initial subset represents control functions necessary for [Page 3]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 basic file transfer and "mail" operations, and some elementary file manipulation operations. There is no attempt to provide a data management or complete file management cpability. (*) It is possible that wi may, at a later date, assign meaning to these information separators within FTP.


1. Data Transfer

FTP uses the Data Transfer Protocol (described in RFC 264) for transferring data and/or control transaction. Both data and control transactions are communicated over the same connection.

2. Data Transactions

Data transactions represent the data contained in a file. There is no data type or byte size information contained in data transactions. The structure of data communicated via control transactions. A file may be transferred as one or more data transactions. The protocol neither specifies nor impose any limitations on the structure (record, group, etc) or length of file. Such limitations may however be imposed by a serving host. the end of a file may be indicated by a file separator (as defined in data transfer protocol). In the special case of indefinite bit-stream transfer mode (Type B0), the end of file is indicated by closing connection. In particular, a serving or usin host should not send the ETX, or other end of file character, unless such a character is part of the data in file (i.e. not provided by system).

3. Control Transactions

The control transactions may be typified as requests, identifiers, and terminates. A request fulfillment sequence begins with a request and ends with receipt of data (followed by end-of-File) or a terminate. The user side initiates the connections as well as the request. The server side "listens" and complies with the request.

3A. Op Codes

The first information (i.e., not descriptor) byte or control transactions indicates the control function. This byte is referred to as "opcode". A standard set of opcodes are defined below. The operations are discussed in Section 2B.2. [Page 4]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 Implementation of a workable subset (*) of opcodes is specifically permitted. Additional standard opcodes may be assigned later. Opcodes hex 5A (octal 100) through hex FF (octal 377) are for experimental use. Op Code Operation Hex Octal 00 000 Set data type identifier 01 001 Retrieve Request 02 002 Create request (write file; error ir file already exits) 03 003 Store request (write file; replace if file already exists) 04 004 Append request (add to existing file; error if file does not exist) 05 005 Append_with_create request (add to file; create if file does not exist) 06 006 Delete request (delete file) 07 007 Rename_from request (change file name) 08 010 Rename_to request (the new file name) 09 011 List request (list information) 0A 012 Username identifier (for access control) 0B 013 Password identifier (for access control) 0C 014 Error of unsuccessful terminate 0D 015 Acknowledge or successful terminate 0E 016 through through Reserved for standard assignment 4F 077 5A 100 through through Assigned for experimental use FF 377 [Page 5]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 ------------------------------------ (*) A workable subset is any request, plus terminates. Indentifiers may be required in addition for usin "protected" file systems.

3B. Syntax and Semantics

3B.1 Data Types

The 'set data type' control transactions indentifies the structure of data (data type and byte size) is succeeding data transactions. The 'set data type' transaction shall contain two more bytes in addition to the opcode byte. The first of these bytes shall convey a data type or code information and the second byte may convey the data byte size, where applicable. this information may be used to define the manner in which data is to be parsed, interpreted, reconfigured or stored. Set data type need be sent only when structure of data is changed from the preceding. Although, a number of data types are defined, specific implementations may handle only limited data types or completely ignore the data type and byte size descriptors. Even if a host process does not "recognize" a data type, it must accept data (i.e., there is no such thing as data type error.) These descriptors are provided only for convenience, and it es not essential that they be used. The standard default is to assume nothing about the information and treat it as a bit stream (binary data, byte size 1)(*)whose interpretation is left to a higher level process, or the user. The following data type codes are currently assigned. Where a byte size is not implicit in data type, it may be provided by the second byte. ----------------------------------- (*) It is, however, possible that this bit stream is treated like ASCII characters in specific instances such as transmitting a file to a line printer. [Page 6]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 Code Implicit Data Type Hex Octal Byte Size 00 000 1 Bit stream (standard default) 01 001 none Binary data bytes 02 002 8 Network ASCII characters 03 003 8 EBCDIC characters 04 004 36 DEC-packed ASCII (five 7-bit characters, 36th bit 1 or 0) 05 005 8 Decimal numbers, net. ASCII 06 006 8 Octal numbers, net. ASCII 07 007 8 Hexadecimal numbers, net. ASCII 08 010 through through Reserved for standard assignemt 4f 077 5A 100 through through Assigned for experimental use FF 377

3B.2 Requests and Identifiers

Retrieve, create, append, append_with_create, delete, rename_from, and rename_to requests must contain a pathname specifying a file, following the opcode in the information field. In the list request a pathname may or may not follow the opcode. If present, the pathname may specify either a file or a directory. A file pathname must uniquely identify a file in the serving host. The syntax of pathnames and identifying information shall conform to serving host conventions, except that standard network ASCII (7-bit ASCII right justified in 8-bit) field with most signifcant bit as zero) shall be used. The store request has a 4-byte (32 bits) 'allocate size' field followed by a pathname specifying a file. 'Allocate size' indicates the number of bits of storage to be allocated to the file. An allocate size of zero indicates that server should use his default. [Page 7]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 Retrieve request achieves the transfer of a copy of file specified in pathname, from serving to using host. the status and contents of file in serving host should be unaffected. Create request causes a file to be created at the serving host as specified in pathname, A copy of the file is transferred from the using to the serving host. If the file specified in pathname already exists at the serving host, an error terminate should be sent by the server. Store request achieves the transfer of copy of file from using to serving host. If file specified in pathname exists on serving hosts, then its contents shall be replaced by the contents of the file being transferred. A new file is created at the serving host if the file specified in pathname does not exist. Append request achieves the transfer of data from using to serving host. The transferred data is appended to file specified in pathname, at serving host. If the specified file does not exist at serving host, an error terminate should be sent by the server. Append with create request achieves the transfer of data from using to serving host. If file specified is pathname exists at serving host, then the transferred data is appended to that file, otherwise the file specified in pathname is created at the serving host. Rename from and rename to requests cause the name of the file specified in pathname of rename_from to be changed to the name specified in pathname of rename_to. A rename_from request must always be followed by a rename_to request. Delete request causes file specified in pathname to be deleted from the serving host. If an extra level of protection is desired such as the query "Do you really wish to delete this file?", it is to be a local implementation option in the using system. Such queries should not be transmitted over network connections. List request causes a list to be sent from the serving to using host. If there is no pathname of if pathname is a directory, the server should send a file directory list. If the pathname specifies a file then server should send current information on the file. Username and password identifiers contain the respective identifying information. Normally, the information will be supplied by the user of the file transfer service. These identifiers will normally be sent at the start of connetion for access control. [Page 8]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971

3B.3 Error and Acknowledge Terminates

The error transactions may have an error code indicated by the second information byte. Transmission of an ASCII error message in subsequent bytes is permitted with all error codes, except that with Hex '0A' error code, ASCII text is required. The errors here relate to file transfer functions only. Data synchronization and related errors in data transfer are to be handled at the DTP level. The following error codes are currently defined: Error Code (2nd descriptor byte) Meaning Hex Octal 00 000 Error condition indicated by computer system (external to protocol) 01 001 Name syntay error 02 002 Access control violation 03 003 Abort (by user) 04 004 Allocate size too big 05 005 Allocate size overflow 06 006 Improper order for transactions 07 007 Opcode not implemented 08 010 File search failed 09 011 Incorrect or missing identifier 0A 012 Error described in text message (ASCII characters follow code) 0B 013 File already exists (in create request) At present, no completion codes are defined for acknowledge, It is assumed that acknowledge refers to the current request being fulfilled.

4. Order of transactions

4A. A certain order of transactions must be maintained in

fulfilling file transfer requests. The exact sequence in wich transactions occur depends on the type of request, as described in action 4B. The fullfillment of a request may be aborted anytime by either host, as explained in section 4C.

4B. Identifier transactions (set data type, username, and

password) may be sent by user at any time. The usual order would be a username transaction followed by a password transaction at the start of the connection. No acknowledge is required, or permitted. The identifiers are to be used for default handling, and access control. [Page 9]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 Retrieve and list requests cause cause the transfer of file from server to user. After a complete file has been transferred, the server should indicate end-of-file (by sending CLS or file separator) to complete the request fulfillment sequence, as shown below. Retrieve / List requests -----------------------------> User < File -- Data> Server <----------------------------- End of file indication <----------------------------- Store, create, append, and append_with_create requests cause the transfer of file from user to server. After a complete file has been transferred, the user should send an end-of-file indication. The receipt of the file must be acknowledged by the server, as shown below. Create / Store / Append / Append_with_create requests -----------------------------> User <File --- Data> Server -----------------------------> End of file indication -----------------------------> Acknowledge <----------------------------- Rename_from request must be followed by a rename_to request. The request must be acknowledged as shown below. User Rename_from request Server -----------------------------> Rename_ro request -----------------------------> Acknowledge <----------------------------- The delete request requires the server to acknowledge it, as shown below. [Page 10]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 User Delete Server -----------------------------> Acknowledge <----------------------------- Error transactions my be sent by either host at any time, and these terminate the current request fulfillment sequence.

4C. Aborts. Eithe host may abort a request fulfillment sequence

at any time by sending an error terminate, or by closing the connection (NCP to transmit a CCLS for the connection). CLS is a more drastic type of abort and shall be used when there is a catastrophic failure, or when abort is desired in the middle of a long transaction. The abort indicates to the receiving host that sender of abort wishes to terminate request fulfillment and is now ready to initiate ar fulfill new requests. When CLS is used to abort, the using host will he responsible for reopening connection. The file transfer abort described here is different form data transfer abort which is sent only by the sender of data. The use of the data transfer is not defined in this protocol.

5. Initial Connection, CLS, and Access Control

5A. Socket 3 is the standard preassigned socket number on which

the cooperating file transfer process at the serving host should "listen". (*)The connection establishment will be in accordance with the standard initial connection protocol, (*)establishing a full-duplex connection.

5B. The connection will be broken by trading a CLS between the

NCP's for each of the two connections. Normally, the user will initiate CLS. CLS may also be used by either user or server, to abort a transation in the middle. If CLS is received in the middle of transaction, the current request fulfillment sequence will be aborted. The using host will then reopen connection.

5C. It is recommended that identifier (user name and password)

transactions be sent by user to server, at the start, as this would facilitate default handline and access control for the entire duration of connection. Some service sites may require the indentifier transactions. The identifier transactions do not require or permit an acknowledge, and the user can proceed directly with requests. If the identifier information is incorrect or not received, the server may send an error transaction indicating access control, violation, [Page 11]
File Transfer Protocol RFC 265 17 November 1971 upon subsequent requests. --------------------------------- (*) Socket 1 has been assigned to logger, socket 3 seems a reasonable choice for File Transfer. (*) RFC 165, or any subsequent standard applicable in initial connection to loggers. [ This RFC was put into machine readable form for entry ] [ into the online RFC archives by Gottfried Janik 7/97 ] [Page 12]