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(also Reverse Address Resolution Protocol)

RARP definition

The Reverse Address Resolution Protocol (RARP) operates at the network layer. It facilitates the acquisition of an Internet Protocol (IP) address using a recognized media access control (MAC) address within a local area network (LAN). RARP is predominantly employed in diskless workstations or devices that do not have a fixed IP address, enabling these devices to request an IP address from a RARP server present on the network.

See also: DHCP

RARP examples

  • Diskless workstations: Workstations without hard drives can use RARP to request an IP address upon booting, enabling them to access network resources.
  • Embedded systems: Devices like sensors or IoT equipment, which lack permanent IP addresses, can use RARP to acquire IP addresses dynamically.


RARP has been largely replaced by more advanced and flexible protocols, such as the Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) and the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). While RARP only provides IP addresses, BOOTP and DHCP offer additional configuration information, including subnet masks, default gateways, and DNS servers. Furthermore, DHCP allows dynamic allocation and management of IP addresses, making it more suitable for large networks.

Pros and cons of RARP


  • Simplifies IP address assignment for diskless workstations and devices without a permanent IP address.
  • Reduces manual configuration effort.


  • Limited functionality compared to BOOTP and DHCP.
  • Lacks scalability for large networks.

Tips for using RARP

  • Consider using DHCP or BOOTP for more advanced functionality and scalability.
  • Ensure that a RARP server is available on the network to provide IP addresses to devices that require them.