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The Bootstrap Protocol is a networking protocol used to by a client for obtaining an IP address from a server. It was originally defined as specification RFC 951 and was designed to replace the Reverse Address Resolution Protocol (RARP), also known as RFC 903. Bootstrap protocol was intended to allow computers to find what they need to function properly after booting up. BOOTP uses a relay agent, which allows packet forwarding from the local network using standard IP routing, allowing one BOOTP server to serve hosts on multiple subnets.
BOOTP was largely replaced by the more efficient Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which has more options and flexibility. However, it has found renewed utility in diskless media center PCs.