Acquisition of a host identifier (id) is the first and foremost network level activity initiated by a machine joining a network. It allows the machine to assume an identity in the network and build higher levels of abstraction that may be integrated with those on other machines. In order that the system may work properly, host id's must satisfy certain properties such as uniqueness.
In recent years, distributed systems consisting of workstations connected by a high speed local area network have become popular. Hosts in such systems interact with one another more frequently and in a manner much more complex than is possible in the long haul network environment. The kernels in such systems are called upon to support various inter-host operations, requiring additional properities for host id's. This paper discusses the implications of these properties with respect to distributed kernel reliability. A new scheme to generate and manage host id's satisfying the various properties is also presented. The scheme is distributed and robust, and works even under network partitioning.
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