Ted Timmons (tedt@colubs.com)
Wed, 01 Apr 1998 09:54:30 -0800

Date: Wed, 01 Apr 1998 09:54:30 -0800
To: geeks@shorty.com
From: Ted Timmons <tedt@colubs.com>
Subject: New RFC

>From 2meta.com:

Network Working Group A. Bressen
Request for Comments: 2321 Cohesive Network Systems
Category: Informational 1 April 1998

RITA -- The Reliable Internetwork Troubleshooting Agent

Status of this Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does
not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this
memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998). All Rights Reserved.


A Description of the usage of Nondeterministic Troubleshooting and
Diagnostic Methodologies as applied to today's complex
nondeterministic networks and environments.

1. Introduction

Increasingly, IETF efforts have been devoted to aiding network
management, troubleshooting, and diagnosis. Results have included
SNMP, cflowd, and RMON, and ongoing projects at the time of this
writing include Universal Logging Protocol and Distributed
Management. These tools work well within the horizon of
deterministic situations in which the configuration of the network or
relevant components is known or can be relatively easily determined.
They do not well address many problems that are related to the
complex internetworks we have today, such as:

o Networks where the root bridge for a world-wide bridged
network is suboptimally located, such as under the desk of a
secretary who kicks off her shoes when she arrives in the
o Networks where a hub is located adjacent to a monitor that
emits disruptive RF when displaying certain graphics.
o Networks where an ISP and several of their customers use
network internally and do not hide RIP broadcasts from
one another.
o Networks where gateways are data-sensitive
o Networks where vendors inadvertently ship units with
duplicate MAC addresses to the same end-user or where all users
have a tool for changing MAC addresses.

Bressen Informational [Page 1]

RFC 2321 RITA 1 April 1998

In this document we introduce a new hardware-based tool for diagnosis
and repair of network related hardware and software problems. This
tool is best suited to addressing nondeterministic problems such as
those described above. This tool has broad areas of application at
all levels of the OSI model; in addition to uses in the physical,
network, transport and application layers, it has been used to
successfully address problems at the political and religious layers
as well. RITA, the Reliable Internet Troubleshooting Agent, was
developed initially at The Leftbank Operation (now known as Cohesive
Network Systems, New England Division) based on a hardware platform
supplied by Archie McPhee (Reference [1]). A typical RITA unit is
depicted in Figure 1.

comb neck body feet
| | | |

v v V V
,^/'/, ,______________________. ,
i' ' / / =========<-
/ `---------/ \ `
.;__. ,__,--------. / ,
/ ,/ vv \ =========<-
'-' `-----------------------' `
^ ^ ^
| | |
beak wattles legs

Figure 1.

2. Specification

A typical RITA is 51.25 cm long and yellow-orange in color. Either
natural or artificial substances may be used for construction. RITA
has very flexible characteristics, and thus can interoperate within
fairly broad parameters. Unlike most other tools described in
forthcoming RFC's, RITA does not require any IANA namespace
management. It is not anticipated that versions will be
incompatible, thus no versioning field is present. Interoperability
testing may be conducted at a future meeting of the IETF.

3. Diagnostic Usage:

RITA may be applied in two diagnostic fashions, however only one of
these methods, described below in 3.1, has been refined to a state
such that we feel comfortable publishing the methodology.

Bressen Informational [Page 2]

RFC 2321 RITA 1 April 1998

3.1 The first method provides a broad-spectrum evaluation of
quality of the entity tested, and is thus known as the BS eval test.
This method can be used with great success on both deterministic and
non-deterministic problems. Testing is performed by placing the RITA
unit on top of a suspect piece of hardware, or, in the case of
software, placing the unit on a packaged copy of the program, or hard
copy of the source code.

If the RITA does not get up and fly away, the hardware or software
being tested is misconfigured, fubar, or broken as designed. While
this method does identify all equipment and software as sub-optimal,
Sturgeon's Law (see reference [5]) indicates that at least 90% of
these results are accurate, and it is felt that a maximum 10% false
positive result is within acceptable parameters.

3.2 The second method involves applications of traditional techniques
of haruspication (see reference [3]) and to date has been practiced
with much greater success using implements other than RITA. The
absence of entrails in the RITA unit may contribute to this; future
design enhancements may address this issue by the addition of
artificial giblets.

An alternative approach that has been discarded involved cleromantic
principles (see reference [3]), and was known as "flipping the bird".

4. Corrective Usage:

Corrective usage of RITA is most successful in dealing with the most
difficult class of networking problems: those that seem to exhibit
sporadic, non-deterministic behavior.

RITA units enhance normal corrective measures of these problems,
methods such as rebooting, reseating of components and connectors,
changing tabs to spaces or vice-versa in configuration files, blaming
third-party vendors, and use of ballistic implements to effect
wholesale displacement of systems and software, to at least 100% of
their normal efficacy.

Specific Problem Methodologies:

o Physical Layer: Wave RITA unit towards malfunctioning
o Network Layer: Wave RITA unit towards malfunctioning
o Transport Layer: Wave RITA unit towards malfunctioning

Bressen Informational [Page 3]

RFC 2321 RITA 1 April 1998

o Application Layer: Strike product vendor representative
(or programmer, if available) with RITA, preferably on the top
of the skull, while shouting, "Read The Fine RFC's comma darn
o Political Layer: Strike advocates of disruptive or
obstructive policies with RITA, preferably on the top of the
skull. In extreme cases insertion of RITA into bodily apertures
may become necessary. WARNING: subsequent failure to remove RITA
may cause further problems.
o Religious Layer: Strike advocates of disruptive or
obstructive religions, and their vendor representatives, with
RITA, preferably on the top of the skull. In extreme cases, the
RITA may be used as a phlactory, funerary urn, or endcap for
bus-and-tag cables.

5. Further Work

A RITA MIB is under development. This may require adding interface
technology and hardware to RITA; a prototype is depicted in Figure 2.

comb neck body feet
| | | |
v v V V
,^/'/, ,______________________. ,
i' ' / / =========<-
/ `---------/ \_____________m
.;__. ,__,--------. / ,
/ ,/ vv \ =========<-
'-' `-----------------------' `
^ ^ ^ ^
| | | |
beak wattles legs ethernet

Figure 2.

There has been to date no investigation of the possible use of RITA
to implement RFC 1149.

Additionally, this tool has been used with some success for dealing
with non-network problems, particularly in the debugging of SCSI bus

Bressen Informational [Page 4]

RFC 2321 RITA 1 April 1998

6. Security Considerations

The RITA will only have serious impact on system security facilities
if it is filled with lead shot. It does however, increase the

personal security of system administrators; few network toughs are
willing to face down a sysadmin armed with a RITA and a confident

7. Citations and References

[1] Postel, J., and J. Reynolds, "Instructions to RFC Authors", RFC
2223, October 1997.

[2] McPhee, A., http://www.mcphee.com

[3] http://www.clix.net/5thworld/no-osphere/3e/manteia.html

[4] Waitzman, D., "Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers"
RFC 1149, April 1990.

[5] Raymond, E. (editor), "The New Hacker's Dictionary" 2nd ed., MIT
Press, September 1993. ISBN 0-262-18154-1

8. Acknowledgments

Initial Development of RITA, Editing, and excellent leather jacket
provided by Bob Antia, first reading by John "cgull" Hood,
illustrations done using equipment provided by Elizabeth Goodman and
Gerry Goodnough.

9. Author's Address

Andrew K. Bressen
72 Endicott Street
Somerville, MA

Phone: 617-776-2373
EMail: bressen@leftbank.com, bressen@cohesive.com, bressen@mirror.to

Bressen Informational [Page 5]

RFC 2321 RITA 1 April 1998

10. Full Copyright Statement

Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998). All Rights Reserved.

This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
included on all such copies and derivative works. However, this
document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

Bressen Informational [Page 6]

-=TED=-    O-    JAPH    tedt@colubs.com     http://www.colubs.com
       It's not hard to meet expenses, they're everywhere. 

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