Bootstrap Protocol


The Bootstrap Protocol, often referred to as BOOTP, is a networking protocol used by a client to obtain an IP address from a configuration server. This procedure is carried out on the client’s startup, which is how it gets its name, ‘bootstrapping’. Besides assigning an IP address, BOOTP can also provide the network mask, default gateway, and the address of a server the system needs to boot from.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Bootstrap Protocol” is:Boot – /buːt/Strap – /stræp/Protocol – /ˈproʊ.tə.kɑːl/

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Bootstrap Protocol, also known as BOOTP, is a networking protocol mainly used by a client to obtain an IP address from network servers.</li> <li>Besides IP address, the information-client can retrieve additional configuration information, such as subnet mask, default gateway, and the address for a TFTP server, through BOOTP.</li> <li>Unlike DHCP, BOOTP does not include a lease mechanism, which means the allocation of IP addresses is done manually by an administrator, and these addresses remain consistent. </li></ol>


The Bootstrap Protocol, commonly known as BOOTP, is a crucial element in the realm of computer networking, as it offers a mechanism for a computer to acquire essential networking configuration settings automatically upon startup. It’s a client-server protocol that is primarily used in Host Configuration and Diskless Workstations. BOOTP stands out for its capability to facilitate network booting of computers without a hard drive. It simplifies the task of managing the network as administrators can dynamically assign IP addresses and avoid the manual configuration of each machine in a large network. It also interacts with other key protocols like DHCP and TCP/IP, offering flexibility and enhancing overall network efficiency.


The Bootstrap Protocol, also known as BOOTP, serves a crucial purpose in the realm of networking. It is a computer networking protocol used in Internet Protocol (IP) networks to automatically assign an IP address to network devices from a configuration server. The primary utility for such a protocol comes into play when internet devices are connecting to a network. BOOTP is specially designed to handle this, facilitating a seamless connection.In simple terms, BOOTP helps computers to get configured without requiring any permanent IP configuration information stored on them. The protocol allows a computer to discover its own IP address, the address of a BOOTP server on the network, and a file to be loaded into memory to boot the system. These features help in the seamless booting of diskless workstations as well as the remote configuration and set-up of computers or systems. By automating these processes, BOOTP simplifies the task of managing network devices.


1. Computer Network Booting:Bootstrap Protocol, often abbreviated as BOOTP, is instrumental in the process of network booting. This process involves loading an operating system onto a computer from a network rather than a local disk. This is particularly useful in a computer lab or an office setup, where multiple computers can be booted up from a single server, thus reducing the need to manually install and update the operating system on every single computer. This technology is frequently used in educational institutions or business corporations, allowing more efficient management of multiple computer systems.2. Internet of Things (IoT) Devices:IoT devices like smart doors, lights or home security systems often operate using the Bootstrap Protocol. When these devices connect to the network, they need to obtain an IP address and other network information to communicate effectively. Utilizing the Bootstrap Protocol, these devices can receive the necessary information when they boot, enabling them to connect and share data over networks. 3. Telecom Industry:The telecom industry heavily relies on BOOTP in provisioning software to devices. Devices such as VoIP phones, mobile hotspots, and cable modems receive their firmware and configuration data from a central server through the Bootstrap Protocol. This helps the service provider to efficiently manage its network and deliver consistent quality and connectivity to its users.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is Bootstrap Protocol?A: Bootstrap Protocol, also known as BOOTP, is an internet protocol that enables a diskless workstation to discover its own IP address and find the IP address of a server.Q: How does Bootstrap protocol work?A: BOOTP works by assigning from a server to a client (which is typically a workstation or other device) an IP address that ensures the client can be reached by a transmission control protocol (TCP). Q: What is the main use of Bootstrap Protocol?A: The primary use of BOOTP is to allow diskless workstations to utilize network services, including file transfer for loading operating systems or other software.Q: Is Bootstrap Protocol still in use today?A: While BOOTP has largely been replaced by newer protocols, notably DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), it’s still in use in some networks tailored to support BOOTP.Q: How does BOOTP differ from DHCP?A: DHCP is based on BOOTP and maintains some backward compatibility. The main difference is that DHCP can offer more than just basic IP address and gateway configuration, like DNS servers, and can automatically allocate IP addresses from a pool.Q: Is there any security risks associated with BOOTP?A: Since BOOTP doesn’t have any built-in security features, it can be susceptible to multiple security attacks, such as password theft, denial of service and IP spoofing.Q: How can BOOTP be used in a network router?A: Network routers can be configured to act as BOOTP Relay agents. These Relay agents forward BOOTP client requests from a local network to remote BOOTP servers, then forward server responses back to the client.Q: Can BOOTP assign an IP address permanently to a client?A: No, BOOTP does not support permanent IP address allocation. Address assignment is either manual (a network administrator manually configures network parameters) or automatic (parameters don’t change with each IP address renewal). Q: Do I need specific hardware to implement BOOTP?A: No, BOOTP is a protocol and works independently of the specific type of hardware used in the network. Any device that supports the protocol can use BOOTP.Q: What is the purpose of the BOOTP Relay Agent?A: BOOTP Relay Agent helps in sending the BOOTP packets across different networks which is normally not possible as BOOTP uses Broadcast IP Address which cannot be routed across networks.

Related Technology Terms

  • DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol)
  • IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)
  • UDP (User Datagram Protocol)
  • Network Bootstrap Program
  • Subnet Mask

Sources for More Information

Table of Contents