inetd program should be run at boot time by /etc/rc. It then listens for connections on certain internet sockets. When a connection is found on one of its sockets, it decides what service the socket corresponds to, and invokes a program to service the request. The server program is invoked with the service socket as its standard input, output and error descriptors. After the program is finished, inetd continues to listen on the socket (except in some cases which will be described below). Essentially, inetd allows running one daemon to invoke several others, reducing load on the system.
There are two types of services that inetd can start: standard and TCPMUX. A standard service has a well-known port assigned to it; it may be a service that implements an official Internet standard or is a BSD-specific service. As described in RFC 1078, TCPMUX services are nonstandard services that do not have a well-known port assigned to them. They are invoked from inetd when a program connects to the “tcpmux” well-known port and specifies the service name. This feature is useful for adding locally-developed servers.