Pseudo Terminals


The telnetd daemon is a server which supports the telnet program. Makes sense huh? Telnet is a terminal program that allows you to work interactively with remote machines, just as if you would with the local machine. When inetd receives a incoming telnet request, it invokes telnetd.

What you then see is no different that if you had logged in locally to that machine (probably). You are presented with a login: prompt, you enter you logname and password. If these are correct, you then are given a shell that you can enter commands starts applications, etc.

The way telnetd works is that it allocates a pseudo-terminal device for you. This pseudo-terminal has the same behavior as a “normal” terminal in that you input commands and see the results on your screen. Internal the pseudo-terminal is broken down into two parts. The master portion is the side that you see. Since your side is the one that is controlling things, your side is the master. The master side accepts input from your telnet program and passes them to telnetd on the remote side. As you might guess, the side that has to listen to the master is the slave. The slave side of the pseudo-terminal serves as stdin, stdout, and stderr for the remote application.


Similar in functionality to telnet is rlogin. The server for rlogin, is rlogind, and like telnetd, is started by inetd. One of the primary differences is that, if configured, rlogind can provided a connection without the normal login procedures.

The functionality of rlogind is very similar to that of telnetd. Pseudo-terminals are allocated and the slave portion becomes the stdin, stdout, and stderr. During login, rlogind uses an authentication procedure called “host equivalence”, which sets up remote machines as being “trusted”. If rlogind on the destination machine authenticates the source machine, the user is automatically logged in. If the authentication fails, the user must go through the normal login procedure. How to set up host equivalence, we’ll get to later.