12.3. The Services and Protocols Files

The port numbers on which certain “standard” services are offered are defined in the Assigned Numbers RFC. To enable server and client programs to convert service names to these numbers, at least part of the list is kept on each host; it is stored in a file called /etc/services. An entry is made up like this:
service port/protocol   [aliases]

Here, service specifies the service name, port defines the port the service is offered on, and protocol defines which transport protocol is used. Commonly, the latter field is either udp or tcp. It is possible for a service to be offered for more than one protocol, as well as offering different services on the same port as long as the protocols are different. The aliases field allows you to specify alternative names for the same service.

Usually, you don't have to change the services file that comes along with the network software on your Linux system. Nevertheless, we give a small excerpt from that file in Example 12-2.

Example 12-2. A Sample /etc/services File

# The services file:
# well-known services
echo           7/tcp                 # Echo
echo           7/udp                 #
discard        9/tcp  sink null      # Discard
discard        9/udp  sink null      #
daytime       13/tcp                 # Daytime
daytime       13/udp                 #
chargen       19/tcp  ttytst source  # Character Generator
chargen       19/udp  ttytst source  #
ftp-data      20/tcp                 # File Transfer Protocol (Data)
ftp           21/tcp                 # File Transfer Protocol (Control)
telnet        23/tcp                 # Virtual Terminal Protocol
smtp          25/tcp                 # Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
nntp         119/tcp  readnews       # Network News Transfer Protocol
# UNIX services
exec         512/tcp                 # BSD rexecd
biff         512/udp  comsat         # mail notification
login        513/tcp                 # remote login
who          513/udp  whod           # remote who and uptime
shell        514/tcp  cmd            # remote command, no passwd used
syslog       514/udp                 # remote system logging
printer      515/tcp  spooler        # remote print spooling
route        520/udp  router routed  # routing information protocol

Note that the echo service is offered on port 7 for both TCP and UDP, and that port 512 is used for two different services: remote execution (rexec) using TCP, and the COMSAT daemon, which notifies users of new mail, over UDP (see xbiff(1x) ).

Like the services file, the networking library needs a way to translate protocol names—for example, those used in the services file—to protocol numbers understood by the IP layer on other hosts. This is done by looking up the name in the /etc/protocols file. It contains one entry per line, each containing a protocol name, and the associated number. Having to touch this file is even more unlikely than having to meddle with /etc/services. A sample file is given in Example 12-3.

Example 12-3. A Sample /etc/protocols File

# Internet (IP) protocols
ip      0       IP              # internet protocol, pseudo protocol number
icmp    1       ICMP            # internet control message protocol
igmp    2       IGMP            # internet group multicast protocol
tcp     6       TCP             # transmission control protocol
udp     17      UDP             # user datagram protocol
raw     255     RAW             # RAW IP interface