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RFC 0856

Network Working Group                                          J. Postel
Request for Comments: 856                                    J. Reynolds
                                                                     ISI
Obsoletes: NIC 15389                                            May 1983

                       TELNET BINARY TRANSMISSION


This RFC specifies a standard for the ARPA Internet community.  Hosts on
the ARPA Internet are expected to adopt and implement this standard.

1.  Command Name and Code

   TRANSMIT-BINARY      0

2.  Command Meanings

   IAC WILL TRANSMIT-BINARY

      The sender of this command REQUESTS permission to begin
      transmitting, or confirms that it will now begin transmitting
      characters which are to be interpreted as 8 bits of binary data by
      the receiver of the data.

   IAC WON'T TRANSMIT-BINARY

      If the connection is already being operated in binary transmission
      mode, the sender of this command DEMANDS to begin transmitting
      data characters which are to be interpreted as standard NVT ASCII
      characters by the receiver of the data.  If the connection is not
      already being operated in binary transmission mode, the sender of
      this command REFUSES to begin transmitting characters which are to
      be interpreted as binary characters by the receiver of the data
      (i.e., the sender of the data demands to continue transmitting
      characters in its present mode).

      A connection is being operated in binary transmission mode only
      when one party has requested it and the other has acknowledged it.

   IAC DO TRANSMIT-BINARY

      The sender of this command REQUESTS that the sender of the data
      start transmitting, or confirms that the sender of data is
      expected to transmit, characters which are to be interpreted as 8
      bits of binary data (i.e., by the party sending this command).

   IAC DON'T TRANSMIT-BINARY

      If the connection is already being operated in binary transmission
      mode, the sender of this command DEMANDS that the sender of the
      data start transmitting characters which are to be interpreted as


Postel & Reynolds                                               [Page 1]

RFC 856 May 1983 standard NVT ASCII characters by the receiver of the data (i.e., the party sending this command). If the connection is not already being operated in binary transmission mode, the sender of this command DEMANDS that the sender of data continue transmitting characters which are to be interpreted in the present mode. A connection is being operated in binary transmission mode only when one party has requested it and the other has acknowledged it. 3. Default WON'T TRANSMIT-BINARY DON'T TRANSMIT-BINARY The connection is not operated in binary mode. 4. Motivation for the Option It is sometimes useful to have available a binary transmission path within TELNET without having to utilize one of the more efficient, higher level protocols providing binary transmission (such as the File Transfer Protocol). The use of the IAC prefix within the basic TELNET protocol provides the option of binary transmission in a natural way, requiring only the addition of a mechanism by which the parties involved can agree to INTERPRET the characters transmitted over a TELNET connection as binary data. 5. Description of the Option With the binary transmission option in effect, the receiver should interpret characters received from the transmitter which are not preceded with IAC as 8 bit binary data, with the exception of IAC followed by IAC which stands for the 8 bit binary data with the decimal value 255. IAC followed by an effective TELNET command (plus any additional characters required to complete the command) is still the command even with the binary transmission option in effect. IAC followed by a character which is not a defined TELNET command has the same meaning as IAC followed by NOP, although an IAC followed by an undefined command should not normally be sent in this mode. 6. Implementation Suggestions It is foreseen that implementations of the binary transmission option will choose to refuse some other options (such as the EBCDIC transmission option) while the binary transmission option is in Postel & Reynolds [Page 2]
RFC 856 May 1983 effect. However, if a pair of hosts can understand being in binary transmission mode simultaneous with being in, for example, echo mode, then it is all right if they negotiate that combination. It should be mentioned that the meanings of WON'T and DON'T are dependent upon whether the connection is presently being operated in binary mode or not. Consider a connection operating in, say, EBCDIC mode which involves a system which has chosen not to implement any knowledge of the binary command. If this system were to receive a DO TRANSMIT-BINARY, it would not recognize the TRANSMIT-BINARY option and therefore would return a WON'T TRANSMIT-BINARY. If the default for the WON'T TRANSMIT-BINARY were always NVT ASCII, the sender of the DO TRANSMIT-BINARY would expect the recipient to have switched to NVT ASCII, whereas the receiver of the DO TRANSMIT-BINARY would not make this interpretation. Thus, we have the rule that when a connection is not presently operating in binary mode, the default (i.e., the interpretation of WON'T and DON'T) is to continue operating in the current mode, whether that is NVT ASCII, EBCDIC, or some other mode. This rule, however, is not applied once a connection is operating in a binary mode (as agreed to by both ends); this would require each end of the connection to maintain a stack, containing all of the encoding-method transitions which had previously occurred on the connection, in order to properly interpret a WON'T or DON'T. Thus, a WON'T or DON'T received after the connection is operating in binary mode causes the encoding method to revert to NVT ASCII. It should be remembered that a TELNET connection is a two way communication channel. The binary transmission mode must be negotiated separately for each direction of data flow, if that is desired. Implementation of the binary transmission option, as is the case with implementations of all other TELNET options, must follow the loop preventing rules given in the General Considerations section of the TELNET Protocol Specification. Consider now some issues of binary transmission both to and from both a process and a terminal: a. Binary transmission from a terminal. The implementer of the binary transmission option should consider how (or whether) a terminal transmitting over a TELNET connection with binary transmission in effect is allowed to generate all eight bit characters, ignoring parity considerations, etc., on input from the terminal. Postel & Reynolds [Page 3]
RFC 856 May 1983 b. Binary transmission to a process. The implementer of the binary transmission option should consider how (or whether) all characters are passed to a process receiving over a connection with binary transmission in effect. As an example of the possible problem, TOPS-20 intercepts certain characters (e.g., ETX, the terminal control-C) at monitor level and does not pass them to the process. c. Binary transmission from a process. The implementer of the binary transmission option should consider how (or whether) a process transmitting over a connection with binary transmission in effect is allowed to send all eight bit characters with no characters intercepted by the monitor and changed to other characters. An example of such a conversion may be found in the TOPS-20 system where certain non-printing characters are normally converted to a Circumflex (up-arrow) followed by a printing character. d. Binary transmission to a terminal. The implementer of the binary transmission option should consider how (or whether) all characters received over a connection with binary transmission in effect are sent to a local terminal. At issue may be the addition of timing characters normally inserted locally, parity calculations, and any normal code conversion. Postel & Reynolds [Page 4]



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