Network Working Group L. McLaughlin III
Request for Comments: 1132 The Wollongong Group
November 1989 A Standard for the Transmission of 802.2 Packets over IPX Networks
Status of this Memo
This document specifies a standard method of encapsulating 802.2 
packets on networks supporting Novell's Internet Packet Exchange
Protocol  (IPX). It obsoletes earlier documents detailing the
transmission of Internet packets over IPX networks. It differs from
these earlier documents in that it allows for the transmission of
multiple network protocols over IPX and for the transmission of
packets through IPX bridges. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
The goal of this specification is to allow compatible and
interoperable implementations for transmitting Internet packets such
as the Internet Protocol  (IP) and Address Resolution Protocol 
(ARP) as well as the Connectionless-mode Network Protocol  (CLNP)
over IPX networks.
IPX is a proprietary standard developed by Novell derived from
Xerox's Internet Datagram Protocol  (IDP). Defining the
encapsulation of the IEEE 802.2 Data Link Layer Standard over IPX in
terms of yet another 802.X Physical Layer standard allows for the
transmission of IP Datagrams as described in RFC 1042 . This
document will focus on the implementation of that RFC over IPX
In general, this specification allows IPX networks to be used to
support any network protocol which can use the IEEE 802.2 Data Link
More specifically, IPX networks may be used to support IP networks
and subnetworks of any class. By encapsulating IP datagrams within
IPX datagrams and assigning IP numbers to the hosts on a IPX network,
IP-based applications are supported on these hosts. The addition of
an IP Gateway capable of encapsulating IP packets within 802.IPX
datagrams would allow those hosts on an IPX network to communicate
with the Internet.
Maximum Transmission Unit
The maximum data size of a IPX datagram is 546 bytes. As the
combined size of the 802.2 LLC and SNAP headers is 8 bytes, this
results in a Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) of 538 bytes.
The mapping of Internet Protocol addresses to 802.IPX addresses is
done using the Address Resolution Protocol in the same fashion as
with other IEEE 802.X physical addresses. However, the length of an
802.IPX physical address is 10 bytes rather than 2 or 6. This 10
byte physical address consists of the 4 bytes of the IPX network
address followed by the 6 bytes of the IPX node address.
The byte transmission order is "big-endian" .
IPX packets may be broadcast by setting the IPX header Packet Type
field to 0x14, the Destination Network field to the local network
number, the the Destination Node field to 0xffffff, and the Immediate
Address field of the IPX Event Control Block to 0xffffff.
IPX packets may be unicast by setting the IPX header Packet Type
field to 0x04, the Destination Network field and Destination Node
field to those values found by address resolution, and the Immediate
Address field of the IPX Event Control Block to the physical address
of the destination node or the appropriate IPX bridge.
Like most IPX applications, this specification does not use IPX
The IPX socket 0x8060 has been reserved by Novell for the
implementation of this protocol.
The encapsulation of Internet packets within IPX networks has proved
to be quite useful. Because the IPX interface insulates knowledge of
the physical layer from an application, 802.2 over IPX networks work
over any physical medium. A typical IP over IPX packet is shown
N bytes | physical header |
30 bytes | IPX header |
8 bytes | 802.2 header |
usually 20 bytes | IP header |
usually 20 bytes | TCP header |
up to 498 bytes | TCP data |
On workstations supporting an IPX programming interface,
implementation of this specification has proved fairly
straightforward. The only change which was done was to modify the
existing address resolution protocol code to allow for cache entries
larger than the hardware address length. This was done to allow room
for the immediate address of a possible intervening IPX bridge in
addition to the destination node and network addresses to be
associated with a given IP address.
Thus far, no implementations have been attempted on systems which do
not already support an IPX programming interface (e.g., a dedicated
router) though a few implementation details can be noted. First,
obviously any such implementation will have to distinguish IPX
packets from other packets; this process will be media dependent.
Second, note that no unicast packet is ever sent from host1 to host2
without a prior broadcast packet from host2 to host1. Thus, the
immediate address of a possible intervening IPX bridge between host1
and host2 can be learned from the physical header of that prior
broadcast packet. Third, any such implementation will need to
discover the local IPX network number from a Novell bridge or file
server. The mechanisms for doing this exist but documentation for
their use is not commonly available.
 IEEE, "IEEE Standards for Local Area Networks: Logical Link
Control", IEEE, New York, 1985.
 Novell, Inc., "Advanced NetWare V2.1 Internetwork Packet Exchange
Protocol (IPX) with Asynchronous Event Scheduler (AES)", October
 Postel, J., "Internet Protocol", RFC-791, USC/Information
Sciences Institute, September 1981.
 Plummer, D., "An Ethernet Address Resolution Protocol", RFC-826,
 ISO DIS 8473: "Information Processing Systems - Data
Communications - Protocol for Providing the Connectionless-mode
 Xerox Corporation, "Xerox Network Systems Architecture", XNSG
068504, April 1985.
 Postel, J., and J. Reynolds, "A Standard for the Transmission of
IP Datagrams over IEEE 802 Networks", RFC-1042, USC/Information
Sciences Institute, February 1988.
 Cohen, D., "On Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace", Computer, IEEE,
Security issues are not addressed in this memo.
Leo J. McLaughlin III
The Wollongong Group
1129 San Antonio Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
Phone: (415) 962-7100