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TCP/IP Guide by Charles M. Kozierok

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DHCP Message Format

When DHCP was created, its developers had a bit of an issue related to how exactly they should structure DHCP messages. BOOTP was already widely used, and maintaining compatibility between DHCP and BOOTP was an important goal. This meant that DHCP's designers needed to continue using the existing BOOTP message format. However, DHCP has more functionality than BOOTP, and this means that it can hold more information than can easily fit in the limited BOOTP message format.

This apparent contradiction was resolved in two ways:

  • The existing BOOTP message format was maintained for basic functionality, but DHCP clients and servers were programmed to use the BOOTP message fields in slightly different ways.

  • The BOOTP vendor extensions ...

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