by Darius Kazemi, September 26 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.

Simple minded experience

RFC-269 is titled “Some Experience with File Transfer”. It's authored by Howard Brodie of UCLA and dated December 6, 1971.

The technical content

This RFC describes the experience of UCLA programmers with the Simple Minded File System (RFC-122) (SMFS) at UCSB. Specifically they have written a program that sends and receives files from the server at UCSB, essentially a front-end client to the SMFS format. The program is called FXFER—“xfer” is engineering lingo for “transfer” so “fxfer” is presumably short for “file transfer”.

The author seems to acknowledge that the File Transfer Protocol is on its way to being a network-wide protocol, and hopes that his observations as a user of SMFS can inform the development of FTP.

The author approves of the ability in SMFS to specify exactly the size of the chunk of data you are about to request on every individual request that you make. It means you know exactly what to expect every time you ask for data, and it means that one program that needs to work in chunks of size N can simply ask for chunks of that size, and another program that needs variable chunks can change the size on the fly.

He also compares SMFS's “one request, one response” format to FTP where you can send a request and possibly get a whole bunch of responses as a result. He sees the SMFS way as far simpler for control flow.

He approves of UCSB's requirement that passwords be used for all services and would like every server on the network to adopt a password requirement.

His major complaint about SMFS is that there is no functionality to list what files you have access to! If you upload a file and then forget what you named it, that file is gone forever.

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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.