Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
F.2.2 Protocol Walk-Through

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F.2.2 Protocol Walk-Through

F.2.2 Protocol Walk-Through

Dealing with changes in topology: [ROUTE:3], page 11

An implementation of RIP MUST provide a means for timing out routes. Since messages are occasionally lost, implementations MUST NOT invalidate a route based on a single missed update.

Implementations MUST by default wait six times the update interval before invalidating a route. A router MAY have configuration options to alter this value.


It is important to routing stability that all routers in a RIP autonomous system use similar timeout value for invalidating routes, and therefore it is important that an implementation default to the timeout value specified in the RIP specification. However, that timeout value is too conservative in environments where packet loss is reasonably rare. In such an environment, a network manager may wish to be able to decrease the timeout period to promote faster recovery from failures.


There is a very simple mechanism that a router may use to meet the requirement to invalidate routes promptly after they time out. Whenever the router scans the routing table to see if any routes have timed out, it also notes the age of the least recently updated route that has not yet timed out. Subtracting this age from the timeout period gives the amount of time until the router again needs to scan the table for timed out routes.

Split Horizon: [ROUTE:3], page 14-15

An implementation of RIP MUST implement split horizon, a scheme used for avoiding problems caused by including routes in updates sent to the router from which they were learned.

An implementation of RIP SHOULD implement Split horizon with poisoned reverse, a variant of split horizon that includes routes learned from a router sent to that router, but sets their metric to infinity. Because of the routing overhead that may be incurred by implementing split horizon with poisoned reverse, implementations MAY include an option to select whether poisoned reverse is in effect. An implementation SHOULD limit the time in which it sends reverse routes at an infinite metric.


Each of the following algorithms can be used to limit the time for which poisoned reverse is applied to a route. The first algorithm is more complex but does a more thorough job of limiting poisoned reverse to only those cases where it is necessary.

The goal of both algorithms is to ensure that poison reverse is done for any destination whose route has changed in the last Route Lifetime (typically 180 seconds), unless it can be sure that the previous route used the same output interface. The Route Lifetime is used because that is the amount of time RIP will keep around an old route before declaring it stale.

The time intervals (and derived variables) used in the following algorithms are as follows:

Tu Update Timer; the number of seconds between RIP updates. This typically defaults to 30 seconds.
Rl The Route Lifetime, in seconds. This is the amount of time that a route is presumed to be good, without requiring an update. This typically defaults to 180 seconds.
Ul The Update Loss; the number of consecutive updates that have to be lost or fail to mention a route before RIP deletes the route. Ul is calculated to be (Rl/Tu)+1. The +1 is to account for the fact that the first time the ifcounter is decremented will be less than Tu seconds after it is initialized. Typically, Ul will be 7: (180/30)+1.
In The value to set ifcounter to when a destination is newly learned. This value is Ul-4, where the 4 is RIP's garbage collection timer/30

The first algorithm is:

  • Associated with each destination is a counter, called the ifcounter below. Poison reverse is done for any route whose destination's ifcounter is greater than zero.

  • After a regular (not triggered or in response to a request) update is sent, all the non-zero ifcounters are decremented by one.

  • When a route to a destination is created, its ifcounter is set as follows:

    • If the new route is superseding a valid route, and the old route used a different (logical) output interface, then the ifcounter is set to Ul.

    • If the new route is superseding a stale route, and the old route used a different (logical) output interface, then the ifcounter is set to MAX(0, Ul - INT(seconds that the route has been stale/Ut).

    • If there was no previous route to the destination, the ifcounter is set to In.

    • Otherwise, the ifcounter is set to zero

  • RIP also maintains a timer, called the resettimer below. Poison reverse is done on all routes whenever resettimer has not expired (regardless of the ifcounter values).

  • When RIP is started, restarted, reset, or otherwise has its routing table cleared, it sets the resettimer to go off in Rl seconds.

The second algorithm is identical to the first except that:

  • The rules which set the ifcounter to non-zero values are changed to always set it to Rl/Tu, and

  • The resettimer is eliminated.

Triggered updates: [ROUTE:3], page 15-16; page 29

Triggered updates (also called flash updates) are a mechanism for immediately notifying a router's neighbors when the router adds or deletes routes or changes their metrics. A router MUST send a triggered update when routes are deleted or their metrics are increased. A router MAY send a triggered update when routes are added or their metrics decreased.

Since triggered updates can cause excessive routing overhead, implementations MUST use the following mechanism to limit the frequency of triggered updates:

  1. When a router sends a triggered update, it sets a timer to a random time between one and five seconds in the future. The router must not generate additional triggered updates before this timer expires.

  2. If the router would generate a triggered update during this interval it sets a flag indicating that a triggered update is desired. The router also logs the desired triggered update.

  3. When the triggered update timer expires, the router checks the triggered update flag. If the flag is set then the router sends a single triggered update which includes all the changes that were logged. The router then clears the flag and, since a triggered update was sent, restarts this algorithm.

  4. The flag is also cleared whenever a regular update is sent.

Triggered updates SHOULD include all routes that have changed since the most recent regular (non-triggered) update. Triggered updates MUST NOT include routes that have not changed since the most recent regular update.

Sending all routes, whether they have changed recently or not, is unacceptable in triggered updates because the tremendous size of many Internet routing tables could otherwise result in considerable bandwidth being wasted on triggered updates.

Use of UDP: [ROUTE:3], page 18-19.

RIP packets sent to an IP broadcast address SHOULD have their initial TTL set to one.

Note that to comply with Section [6.1] of this memo, a router SHOULD use UDP checksums in RIP packets that it originates, MUST discard RIP packets received with invalid UDP checksums, but MUST NOT discard received RIP packets simply because they do not contain UDP checksums.

Addressing Considerations: [ROUTE:3], page 22

A RIP implementation SHOULD support host routes. If it does not, it MUST (as described on page 27 of [ROUTE:3]) ignore host routes in received updates. A router MAY log ignored hosts routes.

The special address is used to describe a default route. A default route is used as the route of last resort (i.e., when a route to the specific net does not exist in the routing table). The router MUST be able to create a RIP entry for the address

Input Processing - Response: [ROUTE:3], page 26

When processing an update, the following validity checks MUST be performed:


Some networks, media, and interfaces allow a sending node to receive packets that it broadcasts. A router must not accept its own packets as valid routing updates and process them. The last requirement prevents a router from accepting its own routing updates and processing them (on the assumption that they were sent by some other router on the network).

An implementation MUST NOT replace an existing route if the metric received is equal to the existing metric except in accordance with the following heuristic.

An implementation MAY choose to implement the following heuristic to deal with the above situation. Normally, it is useless to change the route to a network from one router to another if both are advertised at the same metric. However, the route being advertised by one of the routers may be in the process of timing out. Instead of waiting for the route to timeout, the new route can be used after a specified amount of time has elapsed. If this heuristic is implemented, it MUST wait at least halfway to the expiration point before the new route is installed.

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Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
F.2.2 Protocol Walk-Through