1.5 On-Line IETF Information

The Internet Engineering Task Force maintains up-to-date, on-line information on all of its activities. The following sub-sections contain:
  • Instructions on how to access IETF information via the WWW, FTP, and e-mail;
  • A description of the contents of several FTP directories;
  • A description of the different formats of proceedings available; and,
  • Instructions on how to subscribe to the two major IETF mailing lists.

Electronic Access

Web Access

IETF-related information is available via the World Wide Web.

FTP Access

The IETF information described below is available by anonymous FTP from several sites.

The Internet-Drafts on these machines are stored in UNIX compressed form.

To retrieve this information, FTP to one of the above sites, log in with username anonymous and your e-mail address as the password. When logged in, change to the desired directory (using the cd command), and retrieve the desired files (using the get command).

E-mail Access

Internet-Drafts, and other IETF material, are available by mail server from ftp.ietf.org. To retrieve a file, mail a request to mailserv@ftp.ietf.org with a subject of anything you want. In the body, put one or more commands of the form:

FILE /ietf/1wg-summary.txt
FILE /internet-drafts/1id-abstracts.txt
FILE /iesg/iesg.92-11-10
PATH jdoe@somedomain.edu

Where PATH lists the e-mail address where the response should be sent. If you have the mpack utility or a MIME-compliant mail reader, you may want to use the additional command: ENCODING mime

This command results in the information being returned in a MIME message.

Directory Contents

The IETF Directory (ftp.ietf.org/ietf/)

Below is a list of the files available in the IETF directory and a short synopsis of what each file contains.

Files prefixed with a 0 contain information about meetings.
Files prefixed with a 1 contain general information about the IETF.

Sub-Directories of (ftp.ietf.org/ietf/)

Working groups have individual directories under /ietf, named by their acronym, for charters and minutes (e.g., the /ietf/snmpv2 directory contains the charter and minutes for the SNMPv2 Working Group).

Area reports and Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) session minutes are grouped into directories by meeting. The directory names are of the form yymmm (e.g., the /ietf/92mar directory contains the area summaries and BOF minutes for the March 1992 meeting).

The Internet-Drafts Directory (ftp.ietf.org/internet-drafts/)

The Internet-Drafts directory contains draft documents that may eventually be submitted to the IESG and/or RFC Editor to be considered for publication as RFCs. Internet-Drafts have no formal status at all, and should be considered fluid documents that may change or be deleted at any time. They are indexed in the file 1id-abstracts.txt in the Internet-Drafts directory. Comments on the documents should be addressed to the author whose e-mail address is listed in the document.

  • 1id-abstracts.txt: This file lists the current Internet-Drafts, their titles, pathnames, authors, dates of publication, and abstracts.
  • 1id-index.txt: This file contains an abbreviated listing of Internet-Drafts (the document title, filename, and posting date).

For more information on writing and submitting an Internet-Draft, see the "Guidelines to Authors of Internet-Drafts" document (1id-guidelines.txt in the /ietf directory).

The IESG Directory (ftp.ietf.org/iesg/)

The IESG directory contains the minutes of IESG meetings. The minutes of IESG meetings are contained in files named with the pattern iesg.yy-mm-dd (e.g., the /iesg/iesg.92-11-10 file contains the minutes of the IESG meeting held on 10 November 1992).


For each IETF meeting, a set of proceedings is published that contains area reports, charters of active working groups, minutes from working group and BOF sessions, and material from plenary presentations. The proceedings are published in CD-ROM and on-line formats. The CD-ROM version is available for a price of US$25. Hard copy versions of the proceedings are no longer printed, however volumes between the 29th - 55th IETF are available to attendees for a price of US$120.

On-line proceedings are available to everyone via:

  • World Wide Web (see above)
  • Anonymous FTP from ftp.ietf.org

Mailing Lists

Much of the daily work of the IETF is conducted on electronic mailing lists. There are mailing lists for each of the working groups, as well as an IETF general discussion list and an IETF announcement list. Mail on the working group mailing lists is expected to be technically relevant to the working groups supported by that list.

The IETF announcement list is a "moderated" mailing list that receives the following types of messages:

  • Meeting logistics,
  • Agendas for working group and BOF sessions at IETF meetings,
  • Working group actions,
  • Internet-Draft announcements,
  • IESG last calls,
  • IESG protocol and document actions, and
  • RFC announcements.

To join the announcement list, send a request to: ietf-announce-request@ietf.org with the word subscribe in the subject line.

The IETF discussion list is open, and therefore has a wide range of topics. To join the IETF general discussion list, send a request to: ietf-request@ietf.org with the word subscribe in the subject line.

An archive of mail sent to the IETF lists is available via anonymous the Web from

To join most other Internet mailing lists, send a request to the associated "-request" address (e.g., to join the list@listhost list, send a message to list-request@listhost). Never send a subscription message to the list itself.

General inquiries about the IETF should be sent to ietf-info@ietf.org