A multitude of websites have been reporting the impending doom of ipv4 exhaustion, which is going to happen soon. All the top level address’ will be gone, but the regional registries will still have stocks of address’ in to 2011. As a user of ipv6, I thought I could share sone thoughts/insights on the events ahead…

Below is a very good video which one of my favourite tech shows, Hak5 made with an IPv6 Consultant, Joe Klein.

My own experience has been straightforward on the set up side of things. We had to purchase an Apple Airport Extreme router however, which is the biggest pain in the transition, the cost. Most home routers do not have proper IPv6 capability, a serious problem. This will cost the Internet Service providers a lot of money in keeping these old routers shielded from the ever increasing IPv6 enabled websites and services - to the point at which a large scale upgrade may well be cheaper, but this is not likely to happen in the short term.

Setup of IPv6

Data Center LAN Cabling The funny thing with IPv6 is that machines self issue address’ and can use them locally if you have an IPv6 capable router, defaulting to IPv4 when going through your NAT to the Internet. So it’s the bridge to your ISP is the issue. Where I set it up, my ISP is small and has no IPv6 support. I emailed them about it, to get no response. It’s probably worth trying again since most ISP’s are running trials now, and you may get a router upgrade if you opt-in now. So I had to set up a tunnel, using the excellent Hurricane Electric. My ISP is slow though (average 1mbps rural wireless) and when the tunnel is set up all traffic defaults to IPv6, it makes it even slower. Tunnels are not ideal because the result will always depend on the quality of connection to your tunnel provider and the overhead that provides. Since IPv6 packets are bigger than IPv4 packets, your going to get a lot more IPv4 packets for the same volume of traffic, the major downside of tunneling. Tunnels are good to get some IPv6 experience, but not much else unless you have a very fast connection. The transition itself will probably look like this:

  • Tunnels are set up, small contained IPv6 networks exist (already happend)
  • IPv6 islands merge, major ISP’s peer and inter-network communication switches to IPv6 (happening now)
  • ISP’s start to use 4to6 tunnels to get to the IPv6 part of the Internet
  • ISP’s switch equipment and use 6to4 tunnels to get to ever decreasing IPv4 Internet
  • Like Usenet, ISPs state there is no demand for IPv4, and drop it to be fully native IPv6

So I’d advise anyone right now who has the patience and the interest to invest time in IPv6, it’s a game-changing technology, not necessarily better but a must to have knowledge of. As I mentioned earlier Hurricane Electric provide free tunnels (you can even set it up on a single computer if your router can’t support IPv6) and free certification to test these skills.