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Page last modified Thursday, 09-Jun-2011 20:11:35 BST

World IPv6 Day LogoWorld IPv6 Day has been and gone, and Frankie and Elmo are back to two meals a day!

On the 8th June 2011, the Internet Society along with many of the 'Internet giants', took part in 'World IPv6 Day' - a first-of-its-kind event in the history of the Internet that enabled a large scale test of the 'new Internet protocol', IPv6. The event saw a mass enabling of IPv6 by those participating (content providers, transit providers, ISPs and end users) in order to give the protocol a run for its money to see what worked, and of course what didn't!

What was my contribution to this unique event? Well, in addition to taking part in a user trial of native IPv6 connectivity provided by my ISP (Plusnet) I also opened up control of my cat feeder - the world's first to support IPv6 - to anyone that cared to give my cats a treat. Anyone, that is, that had IPv6 connectivity of course... ;-)

Why? Good question... I could say it was to help demonstrate in a practical way how more and more devices are being hooked up to the Internet in such numbers that the dwindling pool of IPv4 addresses simply cannot hope to accomodate them, or that how such devices can be connected with relative ease given the lack of NAT configuration, port forwarding, etc. However, truth be told, it was mainly just a bit of fun...

So, how did it go? Well, very well in fact. Our cats thought Christmas had come early so it was a real success in their eyes, and they still don't know what IPv6 is! But that's the point - IPv6 is an enabler, something that operates behind the scenes, and shouldn't be the concern of the typical end user (admittedly cats probably don't fit that profile... yet).

Was/is IPv6 worth it then? Well, put it this way: Prior to the 8th June the cat feeder would, typically, feed the cats twice in 24hrs... On World IPv6 Day they were fed 168 times from all over the world by those with IPv6 so a quick calculation reveals that IPv6 is 84 times better than IPv4. Fact. ;-) The amount of IPv6 seen worldwide accounted for 0.04% of overall traffic on that day and, accordingly, there were 1000's of 'read only' visitors to the catfeeder coming in over IPv4 but we've got to start somewhere so all-in-all the day was quite a success!

NewtonNet is IPv6-enabled!

... but unfortunately you are not


This assumption is based on the fact that you are to be coming from - an IPv4 address.
(this could actually be the address of a web-proxy you are using, knowingly or otherwise, however the end result is effectively the same)

The bulk of NewtonNet's Internet-facing services, such as the web hosting and mail server, are hosted on my server 'Targur' which is colocated in the Telehouse North datacentre in London and with it being the main hub of the UK's Internet it enjoys native IPv4 and IPv6 100Mbps full-duplex connectivity.

However, the rest of NewtonNet, including my other server 'Rugrat', my cat feeder and everything else, sits on my home LAN 
on the end of a standard ADSL connection provided by Plusnet. Unfortunately, like the vast majority of other ISPs, at the time of writing (March 2008) they only provide native IPv4 connectivity and so in order to have IPv6 connectivity I am having to tunnel IPv6 inside IPv4.

Update 29/05/2011: Just in time for World IPv6 Day my ISP (Plusnet), have started a trial providing native IPv6 connectivity, and I'm on it!!! So far it is working extremely well with not too many hiccups. It's not clear at this stage how long the trial will last for so for the time being I will keep the rest of this page up in case tunneling is still your only option...

Tunneling all sounds wonderfully simple, and once it up and running it is however the behind-the-scnes reality is rather more complex...

From around 2007 I used to the services and software from SixXS - an IPv6 Tunnel Broker project based in Switzerland. They have written a utility called AICCU (Automatic IPv6 Connectivity Client Utility) which automatically configures tunnels using TIC (Tunnel Information & Control Protocol) between end-users and an IPv6 Tunner Server, otherwise known as a PoP (Point of Presence). I tunnel my IPv6 traffic to a PoP in London operated by Goscomb Technologies. The PoP has connections to both the 'IPv4 Internet' and 'IPv6 Internet' and is able to pass traffic between the two. The tunnelling method itself can take on one of many forms, however given my circumstances of using private (RFC1918) IP addresses behind a NAT gateway to a single dynamic public IP address I am using the AYIYA ('Anything In Anything') protocol to create an IPv6-in-IPv4 tunnel - this basically wraps ups my IPv6 packets as the payload inside UDP running over IPv4. You can read the Internet-Draft describing exactly how it does this here.

I say used to, but since upgrading my ISP-supplied router to a Cisco 837, which supports '6-in-4' tunneling, I have switched to using a tunnel from Hurricane Electric's Tunnel Broker service. The principle is similar to that of AYIYA however my end-point is now on the router instead of my server (which the graphic below still shows is the case) which is a fundamental requirement as their tunnels do not work through NAT (or, to be fair, they don't unless the NAT gateway can pass 'Protocol 41' (
RFC 2529) which mine, and many others, don't).

Once the tunnel is established, my server (or router) then announces a /64 prefix to the NewtonNet LAN using the router advertisements thus allowing IPv6-enabled clients to create their own globally-unique addresses using stateless autoconfiguration. If details of IPv6-enabled DNS resolvers are also required by clients (which they would need if you want to go fully IPv6 i.e. not send your DNS queries over IPv4) then a DHCPv6 service is also required (or the use of static configuration).

Told you it was a bit complicated! They do however say a picture speaks a thousand words so here goes...

NewtonNet IPv6 Connectivity

All clear now ?! ;-)

(Incidentally, yes, that is an IPv6-enabled Cat Feeder - see here for further details!)

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