Thursday, 21 October 2010

Sticking to IPv4

Well, I am slightly surprised at the views of some people, one of which was a comment on my "Kick starting IPv6" post. Some people want to stick with IPv4!

Perhaps this is just resistance to change or being devil's advocate or trolling. I am not sure.

The reasons for sticking with IPv4 also made no sense - they appeared to be around wanting some basic fire-walling, which applies as much to IPv6 as to IPv4, rather than actually saying there was any problem with IPv6 as such.

Basically, IPv4 runs out. Running out comes in several stages, starting with IANA running out in a few months, the RIRs, then in various degrees ISPs running out.

So there will be no end of bodges and multiple layers of NAT and web sites on odd ports. Things will get less reliable on IPv4. Eventually you will get to the stage that web sites and other "services" start to work better on IPv6 or have less quirks or restrictions, and eventually some will simply "only be available on IPv6". Mapping systems to allow IPv4 users access IPv6 will be a similar level of bodge with limitations.

So sticking with IPv4 is not ultimately an option. Its like sticking with dial-up or sticking with analogue TV. Eventually you have to change, or put up with failing and inferior services.


  1. I'd switch to IPv6 right now, but I'd still need my IPv4 address for the 99% of the internet that right now still uses it.

    Now I know it's the "right thing" to do, and when I need a new router I'll get one that can support it - but as an end user, where's the benefit? What could I do tomorrow with that shiny new IPv6 router than I can't do today with my old IPv4 one?

    Convince me there's an actual *usage* argument rather than just the principle, and I'll order my RouterBOARD in the morning, and call support for my IPv6 allocation :)

  2. You are right, you can wait until you need to access something that is only available on IPv6.

    And I expect a lot of people will be like that, which means we will have years of bodge after bodge turning IPv4 in to a mapping NATting hell that "mostly works" instead of using IP the way it was designed and avoiding the problems.

    Even now we see totally unnecessary use of RC1918 and mapping addresses in use that just cause problems. A recent job I was doing would have been simple if not for this.

    But I suppose at the end of the day, someone with a clue how it all works will always have a good consultancy career.

  3. The real question is, what will that IPv6-only thing be? Even your Google plan would only really affect my hosting company, not me personally. And I'd still need some sort of IPv4 thunk to surf the "old" net, and log into the MMO of the week...

  4. When the time comes, I can imagine allot of consumer routers will have an external IPv6 address, but everything behind the router will still be IPv4.

    Actually that wouldn't make any sense, as the devices behind the network which are IPv4, will be trying to communicate onto the internet with IPv4, it wouldn't work.

    All I can say is that it is going to be a painful transition for businesses and consumers, which is why no one is keen to move.

  5. I broadly agree, I just expect the bodging broken phase to be far longer and more broken.

  6. What might help is if someone like BT makes its home / business hubs IPv6 enabled - at that point they can market it (perhaps as Internet HD as suggested previously!), and other ISPs will have to start doing it to keep customers happy (as even if they don't understand what it is, if BT has it but their ISP doesn't then...)

  7. Kevin said "When the time comes, I can imagine allot of consumer routers will have an external IPv6 address, but everything behind the router will still be IPv4."

    I hadn't thought of that. Replace IPv4 NAT with cross-protocol NAT. Way, way worse so the obvious choice for consumer electronics. Eeek!

  8. On the subject of IPv6 - does anybody have a recommendation for a good book, for someone who pretty much understands IPv4 to a fairly detailed level, gets the basics of IPv6 but wants to become an expert in it?

  9. Alex if you find a good book, please let me know, as I would also like to know.

  10. Kevin said "When the time comes, I can imagine allot of consumer routers will have an external IPv6 address, but everything behind the router will still be IPv4."

    In my experience the problem is the opposite. Modern PC operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux) will do IPv6 out the box. IPv6 is less common in other devices, but does exist, e.g. iPhone when on Wi-Fi, Snom VoIP phones, HP networked printers. However, low-end routers (i.e. not Cisco) that will do native IPv6 over DSL are more-or-less non-existent.

  11. Support for IPv6 can be added to systems as old as windows 95 or NT maybe even older. I think all the big ISPs should add support for it, even if its disabled.

    Think about it this way, they must distribute millions or ADSL routers each year, so when it is eventually required they could post out a letter with idiot proof instructions on how to enable it (Or maybe even remotely enable it), that way they have completed a massive silent roll out of hardware to end users ready for when they core networks and websites and services are ready for it.

    Even though this dosent cover most of the infrastructure that needs work on it, the most difficult part of it is complete, as joe average on the street likely has no idea what IPv6 or even IPv4 is, and even if they have heard of it they probably don't give a crap about it.

  12. Also I just googled ipv6 isp and the first result was a forum thread where AAISP was the first suggested isp to use.

  13. Check the following links for a starter to read about IPv6 issues:

    IPv6 was designed by committee. It aims to fix things that aren't broken. It addresses problems that do not exist.

    The problem was: IPv4 space is running out. The solution IPv6 offers is: throw away the Internet as we know it and replace it with a new one. In the process rendering all existing networking hardware and software obsolete. THAT is what the uptake is so slow. People do not like throwing their old equipment away and spending days learning a new protocol and reconfiguring their network setup. Why do you think digital radio has such a slow takeup? And that does not even involve reconfiguration.

    There are many solutions to the problem of IPv4 addresses running out without throwing aout the baby with the bathwater. For example, putting all ISP customers with dynamic IPs behind an ISP NAT. That would also improve vastly Internet security. Customer who need a fixed IP address or inbound addressing could pay their ISP for such an option.