If we consider the International Standards Organization's (ISO) Open System Interconnection (OSI) model of network communication [ISO81] [Zimmermann80], the networking facilities described here correspond to a portion of the session layer (layer 3) and all of the transport and network layers (layers 2 and 1, respectively).
The network layer provides possibly imperfect data transport services with minimal addressing structure. Addressing at this level is normally host to host, with implicit or explicit routing optionally supported by the communicating agents.
At the transport layer the notions of reliable transfer, data sequencing, flow control, and service addressing are normally included. Reliability is usually managed by explicit acknowledgement of data delivered. Failure to acknowledge a transfer results in retransmission of the data. Sequencing may be handled by tagging each message handed to the network layer by a sequence number and maintaining state at the endpoints of communication to utilize received sequence numbers in reordering data which arrives out of order.
The session layer facilities may provide forms of addressing which are mapped into formats required by the transport layer, service authentication and client authentication, etc. Various systems also provide services such as data encryption and address and protocol translation.
The following sections begin by describing some of the common
data structures and utility routines, then examine
the internal layering. The contents of each layer
and its interface are considered. Certain of the
interfaces are protocol implementation specific. For
these cases examples have been drawn from the Internet [Cerf78]
protocol family. Later sections cover routing issues,
the design of the raw socket interface and other