Alan DeKok aland at
Tue Nov 13 19:02:02 CET 2018

On Nov 13, 2018, at 11:45 AM, <adrian.p.smith at> <adrian.p.smith at> wrote:
> RFC ( says string, but dictionary says octets.
> Is there any reason?

  I had an argument with the IETF 20 years ago, and lost.  That might not happen now. :)

  The original RADIUS RFC (2038 and 2138) used "string" for both printable and binary attributes.  I suggested that this was wrong.  I converted the FreeRADIUS dictionaries to use "string" for printable attributes, and "octets" for binary ones.  That made sense to me.

  The RADIUS working group listened enough to fix it, but they chose to call printable attributes "text", and binary ones "string" (RFC 2865).

  20 years on, I still think it was the wrong decision.

  All complaints aside, the names of the data types don't matter.  They could be called "a", "b", and "c" with no loss of functionality.  The names have no more meaning than the attribute names.  The FreeRADIUS attribute names are *generally* the same as the RFCs, but they're sometimes different.  Especially for vendor attributes.

  The "man" page for the dictionaries documents what the data types are, and what they mean.  Nothing else really matters.

  Alan DeKok.

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