bootpd, bootpgw -- Internet Boot Protocol server/gateway


bootpd [ -i ] [ -s ] [ -t timeout ] [ -D debug_level ] [ -c chdir_path ]
[ bootptab [ dumpfile ] ]

bootpgw [ -i ] [ -s ] [ -t timeout ] [ -D debug_level ] [ -h hop_cnt ]
[ -w wait_tm ] server


bootpd implements an Internet Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) server as defined in RFC 951, RFC 1532, and RFC 1533. bootpgw implements a simple BOOTP gateway which can be used to forward requests and responses between clients on one subnet and a BOOTP server (that is bootpd) on another subnet. While either bootpd or bootpgw will forward BOOTREPLY packets, only bootpgw will forward BOOTREQUEST packets.

One host on each network segment is normally configured to run either bootpd or bootpgw from inetd by including one of the following lines in the file /etc/inetd.conf:

bootps dgram udp wait root /etc/bootpd bootpd bootptab

bootps dgram udp wait root /etc/bootpgw bootpgw server

This mode of operation is referred to as ``inetd mode'' and causes bootpd (or bootpgw) to be started only when a boot request arrives. If it does not receive another packet within fifteen minutes of the last one it received, it will exit to conserve system resources. The -t option controls this timeout (see ``Options'').

It is also possible to run bootpd (or bootpgw) in ``standalone mode'' (without inetd) by simply invoking it from a shell like any other regular command. Standalone mode is particularly useful when bootpd is used with a large configuration database, where the start up delay might otherwise prevent timely response to client requests. (Automatic start up in standalone mode can be done by invoking bootpd from within /etc/tcp, for example.) Standalone mode is less useful for bootpgw which has very little start up delay because it does not read a configuration file.

Either program automatically detects whether it was invoked from inetd or from a shell and automatically selects the appropriate mode. The -s or -i option may be used to force standalone or inetd mode, respectively (see ``Options'').


-t timeout
Specifies the timeout value (in minutes) that a bootpd or bootpgw process will wait for a BOOTP packet before exiting. If no packets are received for timeout minutes, then the program will exit. A timeout value of zero means ``run forever''. In standalone mode, this option is forced to zero.

-D debug_level
Sets the debug_level variable that controls the amount of debugging messages generated. For example, ``-D1'' or ``-D 1'' will set the debugging level to 1. Recognized values are 0, 1, 2, and 3 or greater. Zero generates no messages and 1 to 3 generate increasing amounts of messages. Specifying an integer over 3 has the same result as specifying 3. For compatibility with older versions of bootpd, using lower-case ``d'' (without an argument) will simply increment the debug level by one.

-h hop_cnt
Sets the maximum number of hops allowed for requests; bootpgw increments the hop count of the BOOTREQUEST packet. The packet is dropped if the hop_cnt limit is reached. The default hop_cnt is 4.

-w wait_tm
Sets the minimum number of seconds a client must wait before bootpgw will forward its BOOTREQUEST packet. The default wait_tm value is 3.

-c chdir_path
Sets the current directory used by bootpd while checking the existence and size of client boot files. This option has no effect because this implementation of bootpd does not do this checking. This option is equivalent with -p on some older versions of bootpd.

This option is not recognized by bootpgw.

Force inetd mode. This option is obsolete, but remains for compatibility with older versions of bootpd.

Force standalone mode. This option is obsolete, but remains for compatibility with older versions of bootpd.

Specifies the name of an alternate configuration file from which bootpd loads its database of known clients and client options (bootpd only). The default configuration file is /etc/bootptab.

Specifies the name of the file into which bootpd will dump its internal database when it receives a SIGUSR1 signal (bootpd only).

Specifies the name of a BOOTP server to which bootpgw will forward all BOOTREQUEST packets it receives (bootpgw only).


Both bootpd and bootpgw operate similarly in that both listen for any packets sent to the bootps port and both simply forward any BOOTREPLY packets. They differ in their handling of BOOTREQUEST packets.

When bootpgw is started, it determines the address of a BOOTP server whose name is provided as a command line parameter. When bootpgw receives a BOOTREQUEST packet, it sets the ``gateway address'' and ``hop count'' fields in the packet and forwards the packet to the BOOTP server at the address determined earlier. Requests are forwarded only if they indicate that the client has been waiting for at least three seconds.

When bootpd is started, it reads a configuration file (normally /etc/bootptab) that initializes the internal database of known clients and client options. This internal database is reloaded from the configuration file when bootpd receives a hangup signal (SIGHUP) or when it discovers that the configuration file has changed.

When bootpd receives a BOOTREQUEST packet, it looks for a database entry matching the client request. If the client is known, bootpd composes a BOOTREPLY packet using the database entry found above and sends the reply to the client (possibly using a gateway). If the client is unknown, the request is discarded (with a notice if debug > 0).

The receipt of a SIGUSR1 signal causes bootpd to dump its internal database to the file /usr/adm/syslog or the dumpfile specified as a command line parameter.

During initialization, both programs determine the UDP port numbers to be used by calling getservbyname (see getservent(SLIB)) (which normally uses /etc/services). Two service names (and port numbers) are used:

bootps - BOOTP Server listening port

bootpc - BOOTP Client destination port

If the port numbers cannot be determined using getservbyname, then the values default to bootps=67 and bootpc=68.


Individual host entries must not exceed 1024 characters.


database file read by bootpd

debugging dump file created by bootpd

internet service numbers

current directory typically used by the TFTP server and bootpd

See also

bootpef(ADMN), bootptab(SFF), inetd(ADMN), tftpd(ADMN)

Standards conformance

bootpd is conformant with:

RFC 951, RFC 1532, RFC 1533

© 2003 Caldera International, Inc. All rights reserved.
SCO OpenServer Release 5.0.7 -- 11 February 2003