Bootstrap Protocol In Networking


Networking is defined as the act of making contact and exchanging information with other people, groups and institutions to develop mutually beneficial relationships, or to access and share information between computers.

Networking, also known as computer networking, is the practice of transporting and exchanging data between nodes over a shared medium in an information system. Networking comprises not only the design, construction and use of a network, but also the management, maintenance and operation of the network infrastructure, software and policies.

Computer networking enables devices and endpoints to be connected to each other on a local area network (LAN) or to a larger network, such as the internet or a private wide area network (WAN). This is an essential function for service providers, businesses and consumers worldwide to share resources, use or offer services, and communicate. Networking facilitates everything from telephone calls to text messaging to streaming video to the internet of things (IoT).

The level of skill required to operate a network directly correlates to the complexity of a given network. For example, a large enterprise may have thousands of nodes and rigorous security requirements, such as end to end encryption, requiring specialized network administrators to oversee the network.

At the other end of the spectrum, a layperson may set up and perform basic troubleshooting for a home Wi-Fi network with a short instruction manual. Both examples constitute computer networking.


A computer network is a group of computers that use a set of common communication protocols over digital interconnections for the purpose of sharing resources located on or provided by the network nodes.


The Bootstrap Protocol is a computer networking protocol used in Internet Protocol networks to automatically assign an IP address to network devices from a configuration server. The BOOTP was originally defined in RFC 951

The Bootstrap Protocol is a networking protocol used to by a client for obtaining an IP address from a server. It was originally defined as specification RFC 951 and was designed to replace the Reverse Address Resolution Protocol (RARP), also known as RFC 903. Bootstrap protocol was intended to allow computers to find what they need to function properly after booting up. BOOTP uses a relay agent, which allows packet forwarding from the local network using standard IP routing, allowing one BOOTP server to serve hosts on multiple subnets.

BOOTP was largely replaced by the more efficient Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which has more options and flexibility. However, it has found renewed utility in diskless media center PCs.


When a BOOTP client is started, it has no IP address, so it broadcasts a message containing its MAC address onto the network. This message is called a “BOOTP request,” and it is picked up by the BOOTP server, which replies to the client with the following information that the client needs:

  • The client’s IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway address
  • The IP address and host name of the BOOTP server
  • The IP address of the server that has the boot image, which the client needs to load its operating system

When the client receives this information from the BOOTP server, it configures and initializes its TCP/IP protocol stack, and then connects to the server on which the boot image is shared. The client loads the boot image and uses this information to load and start its operating system.

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) was developed as an extension of BOOTP. BOOTP is defined in Request for Comments (RFC) 951 and 1084.

What is difference between bootp and DHCP?

The major difference between BOOTP and DHCP is that BOOTP support static configuration of the IP addresses while DHCP supports dynamic configuration. It means that DHCP automatically assigns and obtain the IP addresses from the computer connected to the internet and also have some additional features.

Difference Between BOOTP and DHCP


The BOOTP and DHCP protocols are used for obtaining the IP address of the host along with the bootstrap information. The working of both protocols is different in some manner. DHCP protocol is the extended version of the BOOTP protocol.

The major difference between BOOTP and DHCP is that BOOTP support static configuration of the IP addresses while DHCP supports dynamic configuration. It means that DHCP automatically assigns and obtain the IP addresses from the computer connected to the internet and also have some additional features.

Content: BOOTP Vs DHCP

Comparison Chart

AutoconfigurationNot possible only supports manual configuration.It automatically obtains and assigns IP addresses.
Temporary IP addressingNot providedProvided for a limited amount of time.
CompatibilityNot compatible with DHCP clients.Interoperable with the BOOTP clients.
Mobile machinesIP Configuration and information access are not possible.Supports mobility of machines.
Error occuranceMannual configuration is prone to errors.Autoconfiguration is immune to errors.
UsageProvides the information to the diskless computer or workstation.It requires disks to store and forward the information.


One of the advantages of BOOTP over RARP AND DHCP is that the client and server are application-layer processes. As in other application-layer processes, a client can be in one network and the server in another, separated by several other networks. However, there is one problem that must be solved. The BOOTP request is broadcast because the client does not know the IP address of the server. A broadcast IP datagram cannot pass through any router. To solve the problem, there is a need for an intermediary. One of the hosts (or a router that can be configured to operate at the application layer) can be used as a relay. The host in this case is called a relay agent. The relay agent knows the unicast address of a BOOTP server. When it receives this type of packet, it encapsulates the message in a unicast datagram and sends the request to the BOOTP server. The packet, carrying a unicast destination address, is routed by any router and reaches the BOOTP server. The BOOTP server knows the message comes from a relay agent because one of the fields in the request message defines the IP address of the relay agent. The relay agent, after receiving the reply, sends it to the BOOTP client

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