Hyrax - BES PPT

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What is PPT

PPT stands for Point to Point Transport. It is based on TFTP, which stands for Trivial File Transfer Protocol. PPT is a protocol developed for OPeNDAP by Jose Garcia at UCAR and is based on RFC 1350 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TFTP for more information). Our implementation uses strings as tokens, but that is not part of the protocol, you may implement your tokens anyway you want.

PPT started as an implementation of the RFC for TFTP using UDP, then moved to TCP in order to avoid the ACK required for each packet transmitted.

Here is some information about TFTP and how PPT differs:

  • It uses UDP (port 69) as its transport protocol (unlike FTP which uses TCP port 21). - PPT uses tcp.
  • It cannot list directory contents. - PPT does not deal with any commands, it passes those to the next layer up.
  • It has no authentication or encryption mechanisms. - We added that using standard SSL/X509
  • It is used to read files from, or write files to, a remote server. - Same deal, notice that for PPT, files are data objects.
  • It supports three different transfer modes, "netascii", "octet" and "mail", with the first two corresponding to the "ASCII" and "image" (binary) modes of the FTP protocol; the third is now obsolete and is hardly ever used. - PPT uses only tuneable binary buffers.
  • The original protocol has a file size limit of 32 MB, although this was extended when RFC 2347 introduced block-size negotiation in 1998 (allowing a maximum of 4 GB and potentially higher throughput). - No limit on size for PPT.
  • Since TFTP utilizes UDP, it has to supply its own transport and session support. Each file transferred via TFTP constitutes an independent exchange. That transfer is performed in lock-step, with only one packet (either a block of data, or an 'acknowledgement') ever in flight on the network at any time. Due to this lack of windowing, TFTP provides low throughput over high latency links. - Obsolete for PPT.
  • Due to the lack of security, it is dangerous over the open Internet. Thus, TFTP is generally only used on private, local networks. - It used to be that for this reason PPT was behind HTTPS and GridFTP. Now PPT has its own layer of security BUT it can be set up to be run without security BEHIND HTTPS and GridFTP (three tier model)

The BES architecture is a client/server architecture in which a server application sits listening for OPeNDAP requests. These requests can be for OPeNDAP data structures just as the CGI version serves (DAS, DDS, DataDDS, etc...) or it can serve requests for other data formats and other requests. An OPeNDAP client in this architecture connects to an OPeNDAP server via TCP or UNIX sockets. The client sends a message to the server requesting a PPT connection using a simple token. The server responds with a token letting the client know whether the connection is accepted or rejected. Once a connection has been established the client sends OPeNDAP requests to the server.

Requests and responses are chunked. In other words, the request and response buffers first contain information about the size of the chunk being sent/received. When the request or response is completed, a packet with chunk size of zero is sent, signifying the end of the transmission.