The Internet includes a great variety of host and gateway systems, each implementing many protocols and protocol layers, and some of these contain bugs and mis-features in their Internet protocol software. As a result of complexity, diversity, and distribution of function, the diagnosis of user problems is often very difficult.
Problem diagnosis will be aided if host implementations include a carefully designed facility for logging erroneous or "strange" protocol events. It is important to include as much diagnostic information as possible when an error is logged. In particular, it is often useful to record the header(s) of a packet that caused an error. However, care must be taken to ensure that error logging does not consume prohibitive amounts of resources or otherwise interfere with the operation of the host.
There is a tendency for abnormal but harmless protocol events to overflow error logging files; this can be avoided by using a "circular" log, or by enabling logging only while diagnosing a known failure. It may be useful to filter and count duplicate successive messages. One strategy that seems to work well is: (1) always count abnormalities and make such counts accessible through the management protocol (see Section 6.3); and (2) allow the logging of a great variety of events to be selectively enabled. For example, it might useful to be able to "log everything" or to "log everything for host X".
Note that different managements may have differing policies about the amount of error logging that they want normally enabled in a host. Some will say, "if it doesn't hurt me, I don't want to know about it", while others will want to take a more watchful and aggressive attitude about detecting and removing protocol abnormalities.