Yesterday’s trip down memory lane with the Gopher protocol got me thinking about all the other protocols I used to use, and those that I continue to use on a regular basis. There’s little doubt that hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is one of the most widely used protocols on the Internet today. But there are a host of other protocols used every day! Let’s look at a few of my current favorites, and some that have gone the way of the Dodo bird.
Before I get started, I think we should break out protocols that one uses intentionally, and those ancillary protocols that get used in the normal execution of your other protocols. For example, every time I visit a web page I intentionally use the HTTP protocol. But unless I’m manually keying in IP addresses, there’s an awful lot of DNS traffic taking place, too. I don’t intentionally use the DNS protocol: it happens behind the scenes as I’m using my web browser. So with that out of the way, here are the protocols I intentionally choose to use on a regular basis:
No surprise here. I write for CrunchGear, so I use HTTP (TCP port 80) to access the WordPress back-end to compose stories. I visit product web pages. I watch videos at YouTube and Hulu. I compose email at GMail. HTTP is the king of protocols.
As a systems administrator, I use the Secure Shell protocol (TCP port 22) daily to access the variety of Linux systems I maintain. Whether for my day job, or my personal web server, I’d be dead in the water without SSH. I also use SSH as a SOCKS proxy so that I can access a variety of resources using my home IP address. This is particularly useful when I’m using an untrusted wireless network: the link from my laptop to my proxy server is encrypted, shielding my traffic from anyone snooping that wireless network.
I use Internet Relay Chat to communicate and collaborate on a number of projects. It’s also a terrific way to get ad hoc support on open source programs that I use. I’m usually idling in one or two channels. I prefer IRC over IM, usually, but can’t really give a good explanation as to why.
As a Linux user, I use the X Window protocol all the time. Sometimes it’s to display applications running on my local machine; and sometimes it’s to display applications running from one of the server I maintain.
Some of the lesser used, but still important, protocols I use include
But these are all modern — or at least currently utilized — protocols. What about the stuff from yesteryear? As I mentioned in my Gopher post yesterday, I started using the Internet by way of a SLIP, and later PPP, connection. Prior to accessing the Internet, I was using Bulletin Board Systems, which had their own suite of protocols:
So how about you? What protocols do you use regularly? Which protocols from days of yore do you miss?