RSHD(8) BSD System Manager's Manual RSHD(8)
rshd — remote shell server
The rshd server is the server for the rcmd(3) routine and, consequently,
for the rsh(1) program. The server provides remote execution facilities
with authentication based on privileged port numbers from trusted hosts.
The rshd server listens for service requests at the port indicated in the
``cmd'' service specification; see services(5). When a service request
is received the following protocol is initiated:
1. The server checks the client's source port. If the port is not in
the range 512-1023, the server aborts the connection.
2. The server reads characters from the socket up to a null (`\0')
byte. The resultant string is interpreted as an ASCII number, base
3. If the number received in step 2 is non-zero, it is interpreted as
the port number of a secondary stream to be used for the stderr. A
second connection is then created to the specified port on the
client's machine. The source port of this second connection is also
in the range 512-1023.
4. The server checks the client's source address and requests the cor‐
responding host name (see gethostbyaddr(3), hosts(5) and named(8)).
If the hostname cannot be determined, the dot-notation representa‐
tion of the host address is used. If the hostname is in the same
domain as the server (according to the last two components of the
domain name), or if the -a option is given, the addresses for the
hostname are requested, verifying that the name and address corre‐
spond. If address verification fails, the connection is aborted
with the message, ``Host address mismatch.''
5. A null terminated user name of at most 16 characters is retrieved on
the initial socket. This user name is interpreted as the user iden‐
tity on the client's machine.
6. A null terminated user name of at most 16 characters is retrieved on
the initial socket. This user name is interpreted as a user iden‐
tity to use on the server's machine.
7. A null terminated command to be passed to a shell is retrieved on
the initial socket. The length of the command is limited by the
upper bound on the size of the system's argument list.
8. Rshd then validates the user using ruserok(3), which uses the file
/etc/hosts.equiv and the .rhosts file found in the user's home
directory. The -l option prevents ruserok(3) from doing any valida‐
tion based on the user's ``.rhosts'' file (unless the user is the
superuser and the -h option is used.) If the -h option is not used,
superuser accounts may not be accessed via this service at all.
The -l option should not be trusted without verifying that it works
as expected with the particular version of libc installed on your
system (and should be tested again after any libc update) because
some versions of libc may not honor the flags used by rshd.
Also note that the design of the .rhosts system is COMPLETELY INSE‐
CURE except on a carefully firewalled private network. Under all
other circumstances, rshd should be disabled entirely.
9. A null byte is returned on the initial socket and the command line
is passed to the normal login shell of the user. The shell inherits
the network connections established by rshd.
Transport-level keepalive messages are enabled unless the -n option is
present. The use of keepalive messages allows sessions to be timed out
if the client crashes or becomes unreachable.
The -L option causes all successful accesses to be logged to syslogd(8)
as auth.info messages and all failed accesses to be logged as
Except for the last one listed below, all diagnostic messages are
returned on the initial socket, after which any network connections are
closed. An error is indicated by a leading byte with a value of 1 (0 is
returned in step 9 above upon successful completion of all the steps
prior to the execution of the login shell).
Locuser too long.
The name of the user on the client's machine is longer than 16
Ruser too long.
The name of the user on the remote machine is longer than 16
Command too long.
The command line passed exceeds the size of the argument list (as
configured into the system).
The chdir command to the home directory failed.
The authentication procedure described above failed, or the user
requested did not exist. (These conditions are intentionally con‐
Can't make pipe.
The pipe needed for the stderr, wasn't created.
Can't fork; try again.
A fork by the server failed.
The user's login shell could not be started. This message is
returned on the connection associated with the stderr, and is not
preceded by a flag byte.
rsh(1), rcmd(3), ruserok(3)
The authentication procedure used here assumes the integrity of each
client machine and the connecting medium. This is insecure, but is use‐
ful in an ``open'' environment.
A facility to allow all data exchanges to be encrypted should be present.
A more extensible protocol (such as Telnet) should be used.
Linux NetKit (0.17) April 20, 1991 Linux NetKit (0.17)