Xerox Network Systems

Xerox Network Systems

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Xerox Network Systems (XNS) was a suite of protocols and networking technologies developed by Xerox Corporation in the 1980s. It was designed to provide communication and networking capabilities for Xerox computers and workstations. Here are some key aspects of Xerox Network Systems:

  1. Protocol Suite: XNS consisted of a set of protocols that supported various layers of the networking stack, including network interface, internetworking, transport, and application layers. The key protocols included Ethernet for the network interface, Internet Datagram Protocol (IDP) for internetworking, and Courier for the transport layer.
  2. Datagram Delivery: XNS used a datagram-based communication model, similar to the Internet Protocol (IP), where data was divided into discrete packets called datagrams. Each datagram contained the source and destination addresses, enabling the delivery of packets across the network.
  3. Addressing: XNS utilized a hierarchical addressing scheme. Each XNS network had a network address, and each device connected to the network had a unique host address within that network. The combination of the network address and host address formed the XNS address.
  4. Routing: XNS employed a routing protocol called Routing Information Protocol (RIP), which allowed routers to exchange information about network topology and select optimal paths for packet forwarding. RIP enabled dynamic routing and adaptation to changes in the network.
  5. File Transfer: XNS provided file transfer capabilities through protocols like the File Access Listener (FAL) and File Transfer Access and Management (FTAM). These protocols facilitated remote file access and management between XNS-connected systems.
  6. Distributed Naming Service: XNS included a distributed naming service called Clearinghouse, which provided a directory of resources and their corresponding XNS addresses. Clearinghouse allowed users to locate and access services across the XNS network.
  7. Application Support: XNS offered support for various applications and services, including electronic mail, remote procedure calls (RPC), and network printing.

While Xerox Network Systems was primarily used within the Xerox community, it influenced the development of networking protocols and technologies, including the Internet Protocol suite. Many concepts and principles from XNS were incorporated into subsequent networking standards, contributing to the evolution of modern computer networks.

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