Network Working Group                                         J. Gargano
Request for Comments: 1834                                      K. Weiss
Category: Informational                  University of California, Davis
                                                             August 1995

              Whois and Network Information Lookup Service

Status of this Memo

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

I.  Introduction

   As currently defined, NICNAME/WHOIS [HARR85] service is a TCP
   transaction based query/response server, running on a few specific
   central machines, that provides netwide directory service to Internet
   users.  The Network Information Center (NIC) maintains the central
   NICNAME database and server, defined in RFC 954, providing online
   look-up of individuals, network organizations, key host machines, and
   other information of interest to users of the Internet.  The
   usefulness of this service has lead to the development of other
   distributed directory information servers and information retrieval
   tools and it is anticipated more will be created.  Many sites now
   maintain local directory servers with information about individuals,
   departments and services at that specific site.

   Typically these directory servers are network accessible.  Local
   development of these services has resulted in wide variations in the
   type of data stored, access methods, search schemes, and user
   interfaces.  The purpose of the Whois and Network Information Lookup
   Service Working Group (WNILS) is to expand and define the standard
   for WHOIS types of services, to resolve issues associated with the
   variations in access and provide a consistent and predictable service
   across the network.  This memo describes new features for WHOIS to
   meet these goals.

II.  Architecture

   The WHOIS service should be provided in a client/server model.  There
   are no restrictions on the design of the client, provided it is
   capable of passing queries to the server in the proper format, and
   capturing the server's response in some useful format.  Existing
   WHOIS specifications call for clients to display responses in human-
   readable form.  This more general proposal does not impose that

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RFC 1834                 Whois++ Lookup Service              August 1995


   This paper acknowledges the existence of many distributed information
   servers, and anticipates the creation of many more. To help users
   locate WHOIS servers, each server should have a nameserver entry in
   the form "whois.domain", i.e.

III.  Client Design and Behavior

   The client provides the user interface to the WHOIS system and a
   mechanism for query generation and display of the response.  The
   client is responsible for providing support for paging of long output
   from the server.  All clients must provide this service.  The server
   will not include any special characters, or make any efforts to
   control output to a screen.

   Special search criteria may be specified by the use of keywords or
   special characters, some of which are defined in RFC 954.  Clients
   should be designed to make support for quoted strings unnecessary.

IV.  Server Design and Behavior

   The server should return the same information in response to a given
   query consistently, regardless of the client software or the hardware
   used to originate the query. Queries should be evaluated on a case-
   insensitive basis. Spaces should not be considered in searches.  A
   search for "La Russo" should return both "LaRusso" and "La Russo" as

   There are three types of data records supported in this proposal:
   records for people, hosts, and domains.

   Individual records

   Name                    Name of the individual          required

   Organization            Name of the organization        required

   Organization-type       Type of organization            optional
                           (university, commercial research)

   Work-telephone          Work telephone number           optional

   Fax-telephone           Fax telephone number            optional

   Work-address            Work postal address             optional

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RFC 1834                 Whois++ Lookup Service              August 1995

   Title                   Working title or position       optional
                           within an organization

   Department              Department                      optional

   Email-address           Email address in RFC 822        optional
                           format for this individual

   Handle                  A unique identifier for this    required
                           record on the local server

   Last-record-update      Date this record was last       required

   Home-telephone          Home telephone number           optional

   Home-address            Home postal address             optional

   Host records

   Hostname                Full domain name                required
   IPAddress               Address                         required
   Sysadmin-name           System administrator name       optional
   Sysadmin-phone          System administrator telephone  optional
   Sysadmin-address        System administrator address    optional
   Sysadmin-email          System admin. e-mail address    optional
   Machine-type            Type of machine                 optional
   OS                      Operating system                optional
   MX                      Mail exchanger                  optional
   Last-update             Last update                     optional
   Info                    Location of additional          optional
                           information (i.e. anonymous FTP)

   Domain records

   Domain-name             Domain name registered with     required
                           the Network Information Center

   Network-address         Network address associated      required
                           with this domain name

   Admin-name              Name of the Administrative      required
                           Contact for this domain

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RFC 1834                 Whois++ Lookup Service              August 1995

   Admin-address           Postal address of the           required
                           Admintistrative Contact for
                           this domain

   Admin-telephone         Telephone number of the         required
                           Admintistrative Contact for
                           this domain

   Admin-email             Electronic mail address in      required
                           RFC 1822 format for the
                           Administrative Contact for
                           this domain

   Tech-name               Name of the Technical Contact   required
                           for this domain

   Tech-address            Postal address of the           required
                           Administrative Contact
                           for this domain

   Tech-telephone          Telephone number of the         required
                           Technical Contact for this

   Tech-email              Electronic mail address in      required
                           RFC 822 format for the
                           Administrative Contact
                           for this domain

   Nameservers             Primary domain nameservers      optional
                           for this domain

   Last-update             Last date this record was       required

Search Options

   A unique handle must be provided for every record in the server
   database to target specific records for display.  For example, if
   there are three individuals named, respectively, A. La  Russo, B.
   LaRusso, and C. Larusso, then a search for "LA RUSSO" would return
   all three as matches.  However, each record would have a unique
   handle, i.e. LARUSSO1, LARUSSO2, and LARUSSO3. A search for any one
   of these handles would return a single match for that particular
   individual.  This is consistent with the RFC 954 query, "whois

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RFC 1834                 Whois++ Lookup Service              August 1995

   Other search options which should be supported are:

   whois smith             exact match on last name

   whois smith,j           exact match on last name, first name
   whois "smith,j"         begins with "J"
   whois j. Smith
   whois "j. Smith"

   whois smith, john       exact match on last and first names
   whois "smith, john"
   whois john Smith
   whois "john Smith"
   whois .john Smith
   whois "smith..."        all last names beginning
   whois smith*            with Smith
   whois begins smith

   whois smith??           all last names beginning with
                           "Smith" and containing up to two
                           letters after "Smith", i.e. "Smith",
                           "Smithy", "Smithey" and "Smithie"

   whois ends smith        all last names ending in "smith"

   whois exact A Martinez  exact match for "A Martinez"

   whois fuzzy paulson     all last names that sound like or
                           are spelled like "Paulson"

   whois first Kazuko      exact match on first name "Kazuko"

   whois first begins Art  all first names beginning with "Art"

   whois first fuzzy Kasuko  all first names that sound like or are
                             spelled like "Kasuko"

   whois  IP address and other information
   whois system on the computer called
                          be served
                                   by a domain name service querytype
                                   (QTYPE) *

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RFC 1834                 Whois++ Lookup Service              August 1995

   whois system hamlet     IP address and other
                           information on the computer called
                           hamlet with the default domain
                           appended.  Could be served by a
                           domain name service querytype
                           (QTYPE) *

   whois       domain name and other
   whois system  information on the computer at
                             specified IP address.  Could be served
                             by a domain name service querytype
                             (QTYPE) PTR.

   whois !ucdavis-dom              site contacts and other
   whois domain        information on the site ucdavis

   If any keywords are specified in the query, the server will complete
   that specific query and return the results, even if 0 matches are
   found.  If no keywords are specified, the server will interpret the
   query based upon the rules above. Optionally, the server may be
   configured so that if a search yields no matches, the query will
   automatically be run again, but with the keyword begin inserted.

   Servers must support multiple levels of detail in response to
   queries.  A query yielding multiple matches should return a short-
   form record for each match. A query yielding a single match should
   return a long-form record. A query yielding no matches should return
   context-sensitive help on expanding the search criteria.

On-line Help

   The client should return a minimal (two line) help message for every
   query sent to the server. That message should identify the database
   being searched and provide instructions for the user to obtain more
   detailed help screens.

   Additional help should be provided in special situations. The server
   should recognize queries that return zero matches, and provide a
   brief help message explaining how to broaden a search.  If a search
   returns more than 50 matches, the server should take two actions.
   First, the user should get a message explaining how to narrow
   searches.  Second, the user should be offered the option of re-
   specifying the search, or receiving all matching responses.  When
   multiple matches are found and returned to the client, the server
   should add a brief help message explaining how to use handles to
   narrow the search to a single record.

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RFC 1834                 Whois++ Lookup Service              August 1995

   If the client queries for "help" or "?" then the server should return
   a complete help file.  The help file should contain information in
   sufficient detail for the user to understand and access all the
   features of WHOIS service.

V.  Extensibility

   This RFC defines a limited set of data records and fields for
   reliable whois queries.   Mechanisms exist for whois clients to
   discover extended data records and query for fields not defined in
   this memo.  It is recommended that Whois clients and servers include
   this functionality to maximize the extensibility and usefulness of
   this service.

VI.  References

   [Harr85] Harrenstein, K., Stahl, M., and E. Feinler, E.,
            "NICNAME/WHOIS", RFC 954, SRI, October 1985.

VII.  Security Considerations

   Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

VIII.  Authors' Addresses

   Joan Gargano
   Information Technology
   Distributed Computing Analysis and Support
   University of California
   Davis, CA   95616


   Ken Weiss
   Information Technology
   Distributed Computing Analysis and Support
   University of California
   Davis, CA   95616


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