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With the exponential growth of the Internet, a central WHOIS database that provides host and network information of systems connected to the Internet, and electronic mail (email) addresses of the users of those systems has proven to be very inefficient. The sheer size and effort needed to maintain a centralized database necessitates an an alternate, decentralized approach to storing and retrieving this information.

RWhois (Referral Whois) is a Directory Services protocol which extends and enhances the Whois concept in a hierarchical and scalable fashion. It focuses on the distribution of "network objects"--the data representing Internet resources or people--and uses the inherently hierarchical nature of these network objects (domain names, Internet Protocol (IP) networks, email addresses) to more accurately discover the requested information.

RWhois synthesizes concepts from other, established Internet protocols to create a more useful way to find resources across the Internet. The RWhois protocol and architecture derive a great deal of structure from the Domain Name System (DNS) [RFC 1034] and borrow directory service concepts from other directory service efforts, primarily [X.500]. The protocol is also influenced by earlier established Internet protocols, such as the Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) [RFC 821] for response codes.

RWhois was originally proposed in RFC 1714 in November 1994 and later updated (to version 1.5) in RFC 2167 in June 1997.

This Project

The RWhois project is a pilot originally run by the Applied Research department of Verisign Naming and Directory Services and is now maintained by the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN).

The Future

Future work on these concepts is being done in the CRISP working group of the IETF.


Main Downloads

RWhois 1.5 Server Daemon
The source distribution of the RWhois server daemon, ported to many Unix platforms. This version conforms to version 1.5 of the protocol.
Net::RWhois Perl5 client library
A perl5 module implemented rwhois client functions, compatible with rwhois 1.5 and 1.0. Also contains the source for the web rwhois client and a sample command line client.
RWhois 1.5 C client library/command line tool
The source to the RWhois 1.5 (protocol version) C client library and command line tool. This is version 1.6.1 of the C client codebase.

Other Downloads

Other material (e.g., older versions of the software) can be found by accessing the main download directory itself.

The latest version of the software can also be obtained via subversion from the main repository.


RWhois specifications

RWhois 1.5.x Server Documentation


Mailing Lists

The lists described here are all administered using the GNU MailMan mailing list manager.

To see all of the available lists (RWhois, plus others), see the general list information page.

General Discussion:

This list is unmoderated, but posting to the list is restricted to the subscriber list.

Visit the rwhois list archives.