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.
There are two web clients: a general purpose RWhois client, and a client that follows and expands referrals to legacy WHOIS servers.
Other material (e.g., older versions of the software) can be found by accessing the main download directory itself.
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.