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Global IPv4 address drought: Seriously, we're done now. We're done

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Nope. It's going to take a much more user friendly IPV7 before anyone makes any serious moves.

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Childcatcher

"Nope."

King Cnut a hero of yours, Mr Summers?

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Very misunderstood I hear. If you actually read into his intentions.

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You mean IPv8

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Anonymous Coward

"Canute. What a loser. Can't even hold back the sea. It's just water. We're going to be so tough on the sea. Canute was too soft. Sad."

Donaeld The Unready - pretty off-topic but worth sharing :)

Oh, and also completely missed the point Cnut was supposedly making, it is Donaeld the Unready, after all ..

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Actually IPv5 would have done it; just add an extra octet.

Okay; it's a bit more complicated than that but I think everyone would have understood it, got behind it, and embraced it more readily than IPv6.

They could have extended the first octet to be 16-bit and most people would have hardly noticed any change, just discovered 256.x.x.x to 65535.x.x.x had sprung into existence. Yes, things would have had to change to support that, but probably not half as much as they have had to in adding IPv6 support.

And maybe they could have added a trailing octet or two, used that like a TCP/IP port to specify a local device on the LAN if included, with a 0 default if not.

It's not perfect, but I would expect everyone who understands IPv4 reading this can understand the proposal while I suspect most haven't a clue when it comes to IPv6. The problem with IPv6 is it attempts to do more than just solve the shortage of IPv4 addresses; KISS.

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Everyone would have understood it but since it would break everything anyway, the implementation would progress only slightly faster. Low-level networking code would definitely not need to change as much, but higher level stuff would need to change pretty much the same: there the main burden stems from having to support two different address types at all.

And finally, most people whining here about IPv6 would whine here about such solution equally loudly and call it a stupid half-measure. I welcome your downvotes, bloody hypocrites.

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Actually IPv5 would have done it; just add an extra octet.

I'm afraid that once you change the length of an address it doesn't really matter if you change it by "just a little bit". The TCP/IP networking API requires a raw address when making a connection so any change in address format is an API change with all that stems therefrom.

It also means that old hardware/software that isn't upgraded will never be able to communicate with new systems that have only new-format addresses.

I have been skeptical about IPv6 for (literally) decades now, but the issues of migration have nothing intrinsically to do with the number of octets in an IPv6 address. Indeed I'd say it was the continual rethinking and tweaking of IPv6 by people who thought they had a slightly better idea that has just kept the can being kicked down the road.

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I'd have had IP6 as just IPv4 with an extra two octets for an increase in the network space to

Ip4+2 = 272,781,427,081,216 addresses. This is up from IPv4's address space:-

Ipv4 =............. 4,162,314,256 addresses.

Moving from 4 billion addresses plus change to two hundred seventy-two trillion, seven hundred eighty-one billion plus change addresses would convincingly solve the space problems as you could increase the size of the world population by a factor of a hundred and give every one of those people a hundred addresses and still have some 231 trillion addresses spare. The only realistic way you'd end up using that lot is individually assigning addresses to nanobots.

Everybody carries their existing IPv4 knowledge across. There's no opposition from entire generations of admins as the changes are almost cosmetic.

But no, that would be too simple. Let's give everybody an unrequested and unwanted nightmare requiring retraining entire leigons of people who weren't ever actually trained in IPv4 but who have learnt it over the last forty odd years on the job. These same people are expected to push through IPv6 purchase requests for absurdly over expensive firewalls and ancillery equipment against incredibly bitter opposition from finance and management precisely to obselete their skillsets for absolutely no gain to them.

Yet for some reason people act surprised that the IPv6 rollout is moving at the speed of a kneecapped sloth. I'm not, personally.

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Part of the problem is routing. With 128 bits to work with instead of 48 allows you to provide more than enough bits for physical routing to match up and seriously simplify your routing tables, which was one big concern as IPv4 started getting crowded and the routing got all messed up. Now two 90. addresses didn't necessarily go to the same geographic region, for example. This is important as routing tables started getting SO big that stuff started breaking.

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Devil

IPV6...

It's the Esperanto of the Interwebs!

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Anonymous Coward

What would have been nice would be if the v6 header had been designed such that an IPv4 router which got an IPv6 packet could at least have processed it enough to route it to some catchall proxy system. That could have been based on some IPv4-alike address fragment, perhaps by making IPv6 addresses out of a fixed IPv4 part + a v6 extension. Such a catchall system would have a dual-stack that could then fully process the IPv6 address. In that way IPv6 systems that found themselves connected through v4 networks could still communicate, albeit inefficiently via a proxy. Instead we need tunnels, special configs, etc.

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It's true that the effort to implement IPv4+1 or IPv4+2 would be of a similar order to implementing IPv6. But the problem with IPv6 isn't how long it takes to write the code for it. It's the fact that no-one wants to use it.

Maybe someone could write up an RFC for IPv4+2 and we all just start implementing it in our open source projects, and see how long it takes to overtake IPv6.

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"What would have been nice would be if the v6 header had been designed such that an IPv4 router which got an IPv6 packet could at least have processed it enough to route it to some catchall proxy system."

Well, actually, it was designed in such a way. Maybe not by intent, but...

The first four bits of an IP packet are the version number. Most IPv4 packets begin with an ASCII capital E, hex 45, meaning IPv4, header has 5*4=20 octets. ALL IPv6 packets begin with hex 6X (X=0-F).

So you could design your router to forward all IP packets that begin 6X to a specific machine. Or Teredo them, or something.

And IPv6 uses a different ethertype to help avoid version compatibility issues.

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"to route it to some catchall proxy system."

This is now feasible at a reasonable cost, ie. due to advances in hardware it would be possible to incorporate this functionality into the DSL/router/firewall box, particularly given that the typical home user probably won't access more than a few thousand different IP addresses in their lifetime.

However, the use of proxy servers and gateways seems to have fallen out of favour.

Also I think people are over reacting, IPv4/v6 Internet access only really becomes an issue when websites turn off IPv4 access and/or ISPs also stop supporting IPv4 and thus people have IPv4 systems that need to talk to an IPv6 world. I suggest we are decades away from an IPv6 only world.

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"give every one of those people a hundred addresses and still have some 231 trillion addresses spare."

That's only true if you keep away from structuring those numbers.

As soon as you (e.g.) start incorporating MAC addresses into the IP address (just to pick a completely random example...!) then the number of available addresses starts to shrink rather quickly.-

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Re:It's the Esperanto of the Interwebs!

If only ...

Esperanto actually makes life simpler.

But you have to overcome a century of FUD (large amounts of it French in origin for reasons having to do with Charlemagne and the diplomatic service) to discover that. Stalin was reportedly terrified of it. A language that could be picked up to fluency in a matter of weeks? Ban this filth now!

If IPV6 had had the same basic blueprint it would probably have a decent user base by now - like Esperanto, which the last time I looked was one of the 200 most spoken languages in the world. I'd bet more people are on X25 than IPV6 today (said grinning).

Certainly the story of Esperanto versus Volapuk in the early 1900s is the sort of story the IPV6 architects wish they could claim with respect to IPV4.

Nope, I'm not an active Esperantist. I see the point, can speak a few measly words, but I have no real interest. It's much easier to just speak English loudly and slowly.

And I'm not using IPV6 either. I'm waiting for IPXP.

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Trollface

"The only realistic way ... assigning addresses to nanobots."

"The only realistic way you'd end up using that lot is individually assigning addresses to nanobots."

Would that be the nanobot of things or the Internet of nanobots?

Shirly you'd never have enough address space for both at once (unless we move to IPv9)?

Enquiring minds etc etc ...

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"Also I think people are over reacting, IPv4/v6 Internet access only really becomes an issue when websites turn off IPv4 access ..."

For existing web-sites, that may be true. Do you have some reason for believing that we've hit "peak website" and that new sites are going to be a rarity from now on? To me, it seems more likely that at some point in the fairly near future the "next great thing" will just happen to be IPv6 only because that's all the founders could get hold of when they were a start-up.

"...and/or ISPs also stop supporting IPv4..."

New ISPs will face the same problem. (At least, I hope they do. God help us if we have actually hit "peak ISP" and are stuck with the current lot.)

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Anonymous Coward

So you could design your router

And there's the problem. Any solution which begins with "redesign your IPv4 system" will fail. Any compatible approach needs to work with IPv4 kit as it is now. If you have to change it you might as well replace it with something that talks IPv6, and the problem just comes back.

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Happy

The only realistic way you'd end up using that lot is individually assigning addresses to nanobots.

https://xkcd.com/865/

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Re: IPV6...

It's the Klingon of the Interwebs!

FTFY

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Anonymous Coward

> I'd have had IP6 as just IPv4 with an extra two octets for an increase in the network space

Well, that's more or less what you've got.

Since the stupid IPv6 addressing plan says that every LAN segment (subnet) must be a /64, in order for users to be able to create multiple subnets and route between them they need a bigger space (shorter prefix).

At the moment each user gets a single IPv4 address space and NATs behind it; but in future you'll need a /48 (*) IPv6 prefix. The first three bits are fixed, so IPv6 addresses are effectively 45 bits long.

(*) /48 was the original recommendation. People then realised that that this would quite likely mean IPv6 exhaustion before the end of the century. So instead you can now give your end users a /56, in which case IPv6 addresses are effectively 53 bits long. But it's still stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

> It's true that the effort to implement IPv4+1 or IPv4+2 would be of a similar order to implementing IPv6. But the problem with IPv6 isn't how long it takes to write the code for it. It's the fact that no-one wants to use it.

The problem is that people want to talk to the Internet, and the vast majority of the Internet isn't reachable via IPv6.

So you are forced to have IPv4.

But if you have IPv4, you no longer need IPv6.

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... just add an extra octet

For the N'th time, that simply doesn't work.

IPv4 has no provision for any form whatever of address extension. Adding an extra byte, or an extra bit for that matter, will fail on every single IPv4-only computer, router, etc. There is, mathematically, logically, no way round a new version that is necessarily incompatible on the wire. That's why the *only physically possible solution* is a new packet format. That has a lot of implications, most of which are independent of the design details.

IPv6 just works, these days, as far as domestic, cell phone, or small offices are concerned. Yes, there's work to do for larger enterprise networks, hosting providers, and ISPs. No way out of that, but it's part of the price of doing business these days, or should be.

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some catchall proxy

Routers aren't the problem, they have supported v6 for years. Dual stack ISP backbones are common; tunnel providers will soon be only a memory. You're worrying about problems that were solved ten years ago. The gap today is hosting providers and the like - theregister.co.uk is a good bad example. https://nir.regmedia.co.uk is IPv6, BTW.

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we all just start implementing it

Good luck - you will relive the last 20 years of IPv6 history

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Is 2^48 enough?

If there were truly only 4 billion IPv4 addresses, we'd be f***ked already. But in reality the IPv4 address is essentially combined with the port number (16 bits) through NAT. That gives a theoretical limit of 2^48 addresses, which is: 281,474,976,710,656. Not as many as IPv6, but more than enough. Sure, not all of them could be used, because a server with a static IP address might hog the equivalent of 65k addresses. But there are a lot more client devices out there than servers - mobile devices, IoT modules etc. Basically anything that doesn't need a static IP address to be reached will only use a fraction of a single IPv4 address. And the harder it becomes to get an IPv4 address, the more value there is in reorganizing your network and selling off the majority of the addresses you don't need, and the more creative people will become with efficiency of use of IP addresses and port numbers.

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Bit Boundaries

@Jason Bloomberg

you cant just add an octet, ipv4 addressing lies at a 32 bit boundary, for 16 bit computers it was just 2 cycles, 64 bit its half. you want the addressing scheme to be relatable to a cpu bit boundary for efficient processing.

nothing wrong with ipv6 addressing, its the protocol implementation and designed characteristics that are iffy. the design goals just don't fit with our current requirements. IPv4 didn't either and extensions where added, like nat & pat, to make it work better, ipv6 deliberately set out to prevent nat & pat, instead of building upon it and letting natural selection take care of it.

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"Part of the problem is routing. "

The other part is word length.

IPv4 is 32 bits (unsigned integer). The next logical step is 64 bits and the idea of going to 128bits is to avoid having to do it again before the heat death of the universe.

Bear in mind that IPv4 was a "hacky kludge only intended to last 5 years" until the official Internet Protocol was released. (That turned out to be IPX, which was unroutable, hence keeping IPv4)

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"Also I think people are over reacting"

You haven't lived or spent time in parts of the world where the only way you can get any IPv4 is from behind a couple or three layers of NAT because the ISPs only have a dozen they can hand out.

Yes really. It's worse than it sounds. Not only does it break any 2 way connections, the NAT systems are invariably so overloaded that a 2400bps modem would look speedy by comparison.

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There Might Be A Hope

On the surface, what you said is true. Upon looking deeper, there are hidden possibilities. A few years ago, we accidentally ventured into studying the IPv4 address pool exhaustion challenge, perhaps due to the curiosity from our telephony background. We now have submitted a proposal, called EzIP (phonetic for Easy IPv4) to IETF:

https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-chen-ati-adaptive-ipv4-address-space-03

EzIP will not only resolve IPv4 address shortage issues, but also largely mitigate cyber security vulnerabilities, plus open up new possibilities for the Internet. These should relieve the urgency to move onto the IPv6. Originally, our efforts were inspired by two regularly updated worldwide statistics:

https://ams-ix.net/technical/statistics/sflow-stats/ether-type

https://stats.labs.apnic.net/ipv6

So, we thought that the initial EzIP targets would be emerging regions and rural areas of developed countries where assignable IPv4 addresses are in short supply. A recent article about the Internet activities provided a surprising new perspective:

https://dyn.com/blog/ipv6-adoption-still-lags-in-federal-agencies/

It concluded that the IPv6 adoption even at US Federal Agencies was moving at "a glacial pace". This seems to imply that the entire market for alternatives to the IPv6 approach, such as the EzIP, is now open. The general public should be equally informed of this kind of choices, instead of being led by the existing industrial interests that have been in deployment for nearly a decade. A current article on this website reported the debates between ITU_T of UN and IETF:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/30/internet_engineers_united_nations_ipv6/

The ITU-T consisting of governments of states representing the citizens / subscribers has no need to get involved, if the Internet is robust and without continued "surprises". The current ITU-T participation in the "political fight" is a good sign for the sake of the consuming public's rights.

Feedback and comments would be greatly appreciated.

Abe (2018-06-25 10:48)

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IPv4 Address Pool Expanded

Hi, Alan:

Our study now indicates that there is practically no more shortage of IPv4 address, let alone going through the trouble to deploy IPv6.

https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-chen-ati-adaptive-ipv4-address-space-03

Since EzIP can multiply each public IPv4 address by 256M (Million) fold without affecting current equipment, this enables over 75% of nations to serve their respective countries starting from just one IPv4 address that is already assigned to that nation. This is in addition to the current Internet services.

Essentially, the CIR (Country-based Internet Registry) model administrating IPv6 proposed by ITU-T a few years ago can now be stealthily implemented under IPv4, even without forming the sixth RIR at all.

With two styles of operation disciplines and conventions, the consumer will have truly two options to choose from.

Thoughts and comments would be much appreciated.

Abe (2018-08-18 22:30)

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IPv6 usage soaring?

The following graph: https://www.google.com/intl/en/ipv6/statistics.html seems to indicate that about 1 in 6 users of Google access it from an IPv6 address.

I was quite surprised by this.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

1 in 6 is a bit low considering how many users are on large ISPs which have enabled ipv6 like Sky and BT.

A home user that does nothing special will be running it without knowing or caring.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

Would that be mainly mobile phone users?

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

1 in 6 is a bit low considering how many users are on large ISPs which have enabled ipv6 like Sky and BT.

I wonder how many users of the ISPs like BT that have now finally started supporting IPv6 are still using routers and other networking equipment that can only handle IPv4?

It's only very recently that IPv6 support has become anything but hard to find in domestic/SOHO networking hardware, and there is a lot of kit out there that is too old to have it.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

> ISPs which have enabled ipv6 like Sky and BT.

Well, BT have recently enabled it for users who have their newest router. Mine is 5 years old, and is unlikely to be replaced any time soo; it says: "IPv6 will be disabled on your BT Home Hub and BT Broadband Network until supported by future services"

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

Many mobile carriers are migrating to ipv6 as private IPs cannot handle the sheer number of smartphones, IoT connecting to their network. These smartphones could indeed making connection to ipv6 ready servers natively.

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Alert

Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

It's only very recently that IPv6 support has become anything but hard to find in domestic/SOHO networking hardware

Nonsense, it's been in there for decades they've just been going out of their way to turn it off. We used to have an ancient hub for adsl in our old apartment that was owned by our company which had been there for years, had full IPv6 support, looked reasonably competent - it was all turned off and you literally couldn't pay BT to enable it. At the latest it was a 2005 model. Latest.

Meanwhile we're on hyperoptic right now, all their gear was probably bought when at least Europe had run out of IPv4 addresses - IPv6 had been a thing in production for years at that stage - and they just inappropriately enabled CGNAT on probably the most competent inet service the country had (emphasis on the *had*) and they keep saying IPv6 "soon". There's no hardware or software issues in play they're just too moronic to enable RAs and call it job done.

All the consumer ISPs are minimally competent when it comes to literally any degree of networking technology is the real issue here.

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LDS
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"it's been in there for decades they've just been going out of their way to turn it off"

No, actually most SOHO devices sold in the past years, especially the cheaper ones, have no IPv6 support - their software was often built without - especially when the underlying OS didn't support IPv6. Another issue is the IPv6 support of any device behind the router.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

IPv6 may have taken ages to start, but for the last three years usage has been roughly doubling each year.

At that rate, another two years gives 4 x 16% = 64% ipv6.

As with any new protocol usage grows slowly initially, then a period of rapid take-up as more clients and servers adopt it followed by a leveling off as it approaches 100% with a few 'hold-outs' and non-compatible systems (the classic S-shaped 'sigmoid' curve).

But on this basis ipv6 may well cross the 50% level in a couple of years or less.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

A home user that does nothing special will be running it without knowing or caring.

I explicitly turned it off - I discovered that most privacy measures are focused on IPv4, and if you're not careful you can actually end up with a permanent IPv6 address as an ID tag, even behind a router. *Not* good.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

I have a very new Plusnet router which I think is basically a rebadged BT one. It says the same thing.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

Interesting that that Google graph linked to by le.zap has a 7 day cycle on the %age - peaks every Saturday, slight slip to Sunday then a drop off through the rest of the week until the following Saturday...

Suggests there's more IPv6 via home providers than commercial internet connections perhaps?

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Facepalm

Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

considering how many users are on large ISPs which have enabled ipv6 like Sky and BT.

But note that other large ISPs, like the BT subsidiary Plusnet, have not yet enabled IPv6. They ran a trial for a while but their recent network upgrade meant withdrawing the gateways that supported IPv6 so now no-one on Plusnet has IPv6.

Progress - they've heard of it :-/

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

"Nonsense, it's been in there for decades they've just been going out of their way to turn it off."

By "going out of their way" I assume you are referring to the common practice of rolling their own build of Linux rather than simply ensuring that suitable drivers are pushed upstream each time they use a new piece of hardware. If they did that, they could all be running one of the maintained and fully-featured distros listed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_router_and_firewall_distributions.

But no. Apparently it is "better" to roll your own, so that the crap support can be used to "tempt" users into buying another router each time they want a software change. Imagine if Patch Tuesday didn't exist and everyone was supposed to fix zero-day holes in Windows by buying a new machine.

Actually, no. Don't give them ideas.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

6 thumbs down - everything I said was 100% true. I didn't know the Trump white house team were such avid readers of the register.

By "going out of their way" I assume you are referring to the common practice of rolling their own build of Linux rather than simply ensuring that suitable drivers are pushed upstream each time they use a new piece of hardware

No I mean that the routers fully support it.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

For the N'th time, that simply doesn't work.

IPv4 has no provision for any form whatever of address extension. Adding an extra byte, or an extra bit for that matter, will fail on every single IPv4-only computer, router, etc. There is, mathematically, logically, no way round a new version that is necessarily incompatible on the wire. That's why the *only physically possible solution* is a new packet format. That has a lot of implications, most of which are independent of the design details.

And for the N'th time, we know that. We also know that:-

1) Nobody besides a handful of academics actually *wants* IPv6 for any other reason than "we've run out of IPv4 addresses" and will only grudgingly deploy it then. This is why the IPv6 deployment is moving so slowly.

2) IPv4 +2 would (while requiring the same implementation changes as with IPv6) actually get done because people could:-

A) Carry over 40 odd years of knowledge on IPv4.

B) Avoid having to relearn network fundamentals from scratch.

C) Avoid the need to learn how to frustrate the "information wants to be free!!!!" design goals of IPv6, making all PC's addressable on the internet, as if you work for a business then you'll probably consider this to be an unwarranted disaster creating security holes that then have to be fixed with additional hardware, firewalls, training, threat awareness and general hassle that nobody has ever asked for or wanted other than a handful of script kiddies.

While the changes are technically speaking of a similar magnitude to do the coding for IPv4+2 to IPv6 the actual IPv4+2 deployment can be done trivially as soon as the coding is done as people want it *because* it requires no retraining or conceptual changes to how anything works.

This avoids insane retraining costs and any reason for user opposition.

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Re: IPv6 usage soaring?

To address (C), if you don't want your information to be free, then don't connect your machines to the Internet, end of. If you MUST as a matter of business, use something robust like a proxy server to get a true degree of separation between inside and out.

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