Книга: Distributed operating systems

2.1.4.The Transport Layer

2.1.4.The Transport Layer

Packets can be lost on the way from the sender to the receiver. Although some applications can handle their own error recovery, others prefer a reliable connection. The job of the transport layer is to provide this service. The idea is that the session layer should be able to deliver a message to the transport layer with the expectation that it will be delivered without loss.

Upon receiving a message from the session layer, the transport layer breaks it into pieces small enough for each to fit in a single packet, assigns each one a sequence number, and then sends them all. The discussion in the transport layer header concerns which packets have been sent, which have been received, how many more the receiver has room to accept, and similar topics.

Reliable transport connections (which by definition are connection-oriented) can be built on top of either X.25 or IP. In the former case all the packets will arrive in the correct sequence (if they arrive at all), but in the latter case it is possible for one packet to take a different route and arrive earlier than the packet sent before it. It is up to the transport layer software to put everything back in order to maintain the illusion that a transport connection is like a big tube — you put messages into it and they come out undamaged and in the same order in which they went in.

The official ISO transport protocol has five variants, known as TP0 through TP4. The differences relate to error handling and the ability to send several transport connections over a single X.25 connection. The choice of which one to use depends on the properties of the underlying network layer.

The DoD transport protocol is called TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and is described in detail in (Comer, 1991). It is similar to TP4. The combination TCP/IP is widely used at universities and on most UNIX systems. The DoD protocol suite also supports a connectionless transport protocol called UDP(universal Datagram Protocol), which is essentially just IP with some minor additions. User programs that do not need a connection-oriented protocol normally use UDP.

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