by Darius Kazemi, June 11 2019

In 2019 I'm reading one RFC a day in chronological order starting from the very first one. More on this project here. There is a table of contents for all my RFC posts.


RFC-162 is titled “NETBUGGER3”. It's authored by Mark Kampe of the UCLA Network Measurement Center and dated May 22nd, 1971.

The technical content

This brief RFC describes NETBUGGER3: a third-level program that itself is designed to help with debugging and simulating third-level programs and protocols. It can also debug (but not simulate) second-level protocols. The impetus was that UCLA Network Measurement Center wanted to write a program to connect to a program running UCLA's Campus Computing Network, but the CCN's server was not yet implemented and wouldn't be for a few months. The NMC folks still wanted to get work, hence Kampe worked on his “third level debugger-simulator”.

So NETBUGGER3 basically pretends to be the remote server running the program you want. It can also act as an intermediary between you and another remote server, acting as a passthrough and examining and even editing data. It's not that different from using developer tools in a web browser that way.

One convenient thing you can do is log in to UCLA NMC via Telnet, start their copy of NETBUGGER3 up, configure it, and then debug whatever service you like from your own site against their NETBUGGER3 server.


I like writing NETBUGGER3.

I assume it's named after the third-level layer that it is designed to interact on, and perhaps the implication is that one day there could be a NETBUGGER2 or a NETBUGGER4.

It of course makes sense that the Network Measurement Center would be the place to come up with a useful tool for, well, measuring the network. It does not, however, seem to have been used much, as I can't find any subsequent references to it.

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About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm an independent technologist and artist. I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with ActivityPub, including a Node.js reference implementation, an RSS-to-ActivityPub converter, and a fork of Mastodon, called Hometown. You can support my work via my Patreon.