by Darius Kazemi, September 30 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.

Let's settle this issue

RFC-273 is titled “More on Standard Host Names”. It's authored by Richard Watson of SRI-ARC and dated October 18, 1971.

The technical content

Hooray, we're back to the host name drama! Even though the last few RFCs have been from early 1972, we are now back to mid-October 1971, just six days after RFC-247, the last volley fired in this war, was published. To refresh your memory:

Watson is again representing the Network Information Center and notes that no conclusion has been reached yet. He proposes a new set of considerations for a host naming scheme:

I would like to point out that this is an entirely different set of considerations than the ones he proposed in RFC-237 just a few weeks prior. Those considerations were highly prescriptivist, saying things like a host name should be based on an institutional name rather than a computer name. He has jettisoned these fully and instead embraced this more humanistic set of considerations.

His proposal for a specific format is a hybrid of all suggestions to date, and consists of the following elements, in order:

These three elements make up the “Formal Name”.

And last there is a “Nickname” which he suggests should be chosen “to make life easy for people having to learn them”. The idea is that while plenty of programs only use the Formal Name to connect to hosts, Telnet programs, which are user facing, should also be programmed to accept Nicknames and translate them to Formal Names internally.

Watson says the only reasonable answer to the question of “who picks the names” should be that each host gets to pick their own name. He ends the RFC by imploring readers to “settle this issue as soon as possible, say by November 5”.

How to follow this blog

You can subscribe to this blog's RSS feed or if you're on a federated ActivityPub social network like Mastodon or Pleroma you can search for the user “@365-rfcs@write.as” and follow it there.

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.