Bootstrap Protocol

Bootstrap Protocol

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Bootstrap Protocol, often shortened to BOOTP, is a computer networking protocol used in Internet Protocol (IP) networks to automatically assign an IP address to network devices from a configuration server. The server maintains a list of IP addresses and their associated devices.

When a computer connects to a network, it sends a BOOTP request to the server. This request includes the device’s media access control (MAC) address. The BOOTP server responds with the appropriate IP address for the device, and other network information like the default gateway, and the subnet mask.

BOOTP was originally designed for bootstrapping (i.e., starting up) diskless workstations. These are computers without hard drives that needed network access to load their operating system from a network location.

While BOOTP has largely been replaced by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) in many applications, the two are closely related. DHCP extends BOOTP and maintains some backward compatibility. In fact, BOOTP remains in use and is still a viable protocol in some network environments.

One key difference between BOOTP and DHCP is that BOOTP requires manual configuration of each device’s information on the server. DHCP, on the other hand, allows for dynamic and automatic allocation of network addresses and configurations to new devices. This makes DHCP more flexible and suitable for larger networks.

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