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The Routing Information Protocol (RIP) is a dynamic routing protocol used in local and wide area networks. As such it is classified as an interior gateway protocol (IGP). It uses the distance-vector routing algorithm. It was first defined in RFC 1058 (1988). The protocol has since been extended several times, resulting in RIP Version 2 (RFC 2453). Both versions are still in use today, however, they are considered technically obsoleted by more advanced techniques, Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) and the OSI protocol IS-IS. RIP has also been adapted for use in IPv6 networks, a standard known as RIPng (RIP next generation), published in RFC 2080 (1997).

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The routing algorithm used in RIP, the Bellman-Ford algorithm, was first deployed in a computer network in 1967, as the initial routing algorithm of the ARPANET.

The earliest version of the specific protocol that became RIP was the Gateway Information Protocol, part of the PARC Universal Packet internetworking protocol suite, developed at Xerox Parc. A later version, named the Routing Information Protocol, was part of Xerox Network Systems.

A version of RIP which supported the Internet Protocol (IP) was later included in the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) of the Unix operating system. It was known as the routed daemon. Various other vendors would create their own implementations of the routing protocol. Eventually, RFC 1058 unified the various implementations under a single standard.

Technical details

RIP is a distance-vector routing protocol, which employs the hop count as a routing metric. The hold down time is 180 seconds. RIP prevents routing loops by implementing a limit on the number of hops allowed in a path from the source to a destination. The maximum number of hops allowed for RIP is 15. This hop limit, however, also limits the size of networks that RIP can support. A hop count of 16 is considered an infinite distance and used to deprecate inaccessible, inoperable, or otherwise undesirable routes in the selection process.

Originally each RIP router transmitted full updates every 30 seconds. In the early deployments, routing tables were small enough that the traffic was not significant. As networks grew in size, however, it became evident there could be a massive traffic burst every 30 seconds, even if the routers had been initialized at random times. It was thought, as a result of random initialization, the routing updates would spread out in time, but this was not true in practice. Sally Floyd and Van Jacobson showed in 1994[1] that, without slight randomization of the update timer, the timers synchronized over time and sent their updates at the same time. Modern RIP implementations introduce deliberate variation into the update timer intervals of each router.

RIP implements the split horizon, route poisoning and holddown mechanisms to prevent incorrect routing information from being propagated. These are some of the stability features of RIP. It is also possible to use the so called RIP-MTI algorithm to cope with the count to infinity problem. With its help, it's possible to detect every possible loop with a very small computation effort.

In most current networking environments, RIP is not the preferred choice for routing as its time to converge and scalability are poor compared to EIGRP, OSPF, or IS-IS (the latter two being link-state routing protocols), and (without RIP-MTI) a hop limit severely limits the size of network it can be used in. However, it is easy to configure, because RIP does not require any parameters on a router unlike other protocols.

RIP is implemented on top of the User Datagram Protocol as its transport protocol. It is assigned the reserved port number 520.[2]


There are three versions of the Routing Information Protocol: RIPv1, RIPv2, and RIPng.


RIP version 1

The original specification of RIP, defined in RFC 1058,[3] uses classful routing. The periodic routing updates do not carry subnet information, lacking support for variable length subnet masks (VLSM). This limitation makes it impossible to have different-sized subnets inside of the same network class. In other words, all subnets in a network class must have the same size. There is also no support for router authentication, making RIP vulnerable to various attacks.1

RIP version 2

Due to the deficiencies of the original RIP specification, RIP version 2 (RIPv2) was developed in 1993[4] and last standardized in 1998.[5] It included the ability to carry subnet information, thus supporting Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR). To maintain backward compatibility, the hop count limit of 15 remained. RIPv2 has facilities to fully interoperate with the earlier specification if all Must Be Zero protocol fields in the RIPv1 messages are properly specified. In addition, a compatibility switch feature[5] allows fine-grained interoperability adjustments.

In an effort to avoid unnecessary load on hosts that do not participate in routing, RIPv2 multicasts the entire routing table to all adjacent routers at the address, as opposed to RIPv1 which uses broadcast. Unicast addressing is still allowed for special applications.

(MD5) authentication for RIP was introduced in 1997.[6][7]

RIPv2 is Internet Standard STD-56.

Route tags were also added in RIP version 2. This functionality allows for routes to be distinguished from internal routes to external redistributed routes from EGP protocols.


RIPng (RIP next generation), defined in RFC 2080,[8] is an extension of RIPv2 for support of IPv6, the next generation Internet Protocol. The main differences between RIPv2 and RIPng are:

  • Support of IPv6 networking.
  • While RIPv2 supports RIPv1 updates authentication, RIPng does not. IPv6 routers were, at the time, supposed to use IPsec for authentication.
  • RIPv2 allows attaching arbitrary tags to routes, RIPng does not;
  • RIPv2 encodes the next-hop into each route entries, RIPng requires specific encoding of the next hop for a set of route entries.


  • Without using RIP-MTI, Hop count can not exceed 15, in case if it exceeds it will be considered invalid.
  • Most RIP networks are flat. There is no concept of areas or boundaries in RIP networks.
  • Variable Length Subnet Masks were not supported by RIP version 1.
  • Without using RIP-MTI, RIP has slow convergence and count to infinity problems.


  • routed, included in most BSD Unix systems
  • Routing and Remote Access, a Windows Server feature, contains RIP support.
  • Quagga, a free open source routing software suite based on GNU Zebra.
  • OpenBSD, includes an RIP implementation
  • Cisco IOS, software used in Cisco routers (supports version 1, version 2 and RIPng)

Similar protocols

Cisco's proprietary Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (IGRP) was a somewhat more capable protocol than RIP. It belongs to the same basic family of distance-vector routing protocols. Cisco has ceased support and distribution of IGRP in their router software. It was replaced by the Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP) which is a completely new design. While EIGRP still uses a distance-vector model, it relates to IGRP only in using the same routing metrics.

See also


  1. ^ The Synchronization of Periodic Routing Messages, S. Floyd & V. Jacobson,April 1994
  2. ^ "Port Numbers" (plain text). The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2008-05-25.  
  3. ^ RFC 1058, Routing Information Protocol, C. Hendrik, The Internet Society (June 1988)
  4. ^ RFC 1388, RIP Version 2 - Carrying Additional Information, G. Malkin, The Internet Society (January 1993)
  5. ^ a b RFC 2453, RIP Version 2, G. Malkin, The Internet Society (November 1998)
  6. ^ RFC 2082, RIP-2 MD5 Authentication, F. Baker, R. Atkinson, The Internet Society (January 1997)
  7. ^ RFC 4822, RIPv2 Cryptographic Authentication, R. Atkinson, M. Fanto, The Internet Society (January 2007)
  8. ^ RFC 2080, RIPng for IPv6, G. Malkin, R. Minnear, The Internet Society (January 1997)

Further reading

  • Edward A. Taft, Gateway Information Protocol (revised) (Xerox Parc, Palo Alto, May, 1979)
  • Xerox System Integration Standard - Internet Transport Protocols (Xerox, Stamford, 1981)


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