Bonjour, Zeroconf, Rendezvous – Why three names for the same thing ?

I’ve been researching Bonjour networking as used by Apple for Airplay and AirPrint technologies. Bonjour allows for auto configuration and auto discovery of network services and devices. Apple iPad and iPhones will be part of the corporate network in the near future and people will want to use the AirPlay feature for screen displays and AirPrint for printing – you will need to know what it is.
Apple bonjour logo
This book is a great reference and, since Apple iPad and iPhones will be part of the corporate network in the near future and people will want to use the AirPlay feature for screen displays and AirPrint for printing:

OReilly – Zero Configuration Networking: The Definitive Guide

I found this section to be valuable in explaining the different names for the same technology (which make it hard to find information when searching).

Zeroconf’s Many Names tweet

The seeds of Zeroconf were planted in some postings by Stuart Cheshire on the Net-Thinkers mailing list in 1997. This led to the IETF holding two “Birds of a Feather” (BOF) sessions at the March and July 1999 IETF meetings on the subject of “Networking in the Small” (NITS), co-chaired by Stuart Cheshire and Peter Ford. tweet

Out of the NITS BOF meetings, the Zero Configuration Networking (Zeroconf) Working Group was formed in September 1999. tweet

In May 2002, Apple announced its trademark “Rendezvous” for the Zeroconf technologies, a little like the way Apple uses its trademark “AirPort” for IEEE 802.11 wireless networking. tweet

Unfortunately for Apple, another company also had a networking product by the name of “Rendezvous,” and in April 2005, Apple announced the new Apple name for the Zeroconf technologies: “Bonjour.” Other third-party products can also carry the Bonjour name and logo. Apple doesn’t charge any money to license the name and logo; the products just have to pass Apple’s Bonjour Conformance Test to verify that they do in fact implement the specifications properly. tweet

Meanwhile, other open source implementations of the Zeroconf technologies have also been created, including Howl and Avahi. tweet

The terms “Bonjour” and “Zeroconf” are often used interchangeably, but as a general rule, this book uses the term “Zeroconf” when referring to the technology in general and “Bonjour” when referring to it in an Apple-specific context. For example, iChat on Mac OS X doesn’t have a “Zeroconf” window; it has a “Bonjour” window (it says “Bonjour” at the top of the window). tweet

So that has cleared that up then. Bonjour = Rendezvouz = Zeroconf = Avahi.

Good thing we have standards. I like choosing from my favourite.

About Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count.

He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus

You can contact Greg via the site contact page.

  • Ben Story

    I look forward to seeing your pithy commentary on how to let Zeroconf play nicely in corporate networks.

  • Zdw

    Also Multicast DNS (mdns) which is probably the most accurate of all the buzzwords… 

  • Guest

    the bonjour licence for windows is very restrictive:
    - apple demands two samples of each Licensee Product.
    - apple demands a quarterly report stating the number of distributed Software.

    (big brother is watching you)
    - apple can terminate the agreement upon thirty days, without cause.

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