Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Testing IPv6 Connectivity

You may have heard our old friend IPv4, the protocol that handles most of the data moving across the Internet and its 4.3 billion addresses are now depleted (for more information see, Wikipedia "IPv4 address exhaustion").

Is this the end of the Internet? The answer is no, but it will force us to move to the next generation of the Internet protocol known as IPv6 sooner then later.

Recently I started playing with IPv6 on my Windows 7 client, behind my router.  After doing some research I discovered that every modern operating systems should support IPv6.  Although how its enabled will vary between operating systems.  For example Windows 7 has IPv6 enabled by default, and so do other OS.

When I bought my router one of the requirements was that it supported IPv6.  I enable the IPv6 auto-detect feature on my router to see what would happen, and discovered that my ISP supported a IPv6 transition technology called "6to4 Tunnel".

There are a few different IPv6 transition technologies, the "6to4 Tunnel" is able to encapsulate IPv6 packets within IPv4.  Basically what it is does is take one type of network data (e.g. IPv6) and translate to another type of network data (e.g. IPv4).

Soon after that feature was enabled on the router my OS and browser started to access IPv6 web sites, such as

Find out your IPv6 readiness

The site  runs a series of IPv4 and IPv6 browser, connectivity, and DNS tests against your computer and connection to find out if you're IPv6 ready.

IPv6 Checklist

Below is a checklist of items that you have to have in order to use IPv6 on your computer and network.

  • An operating System that supports IPv6 
    • Windows Vista and above, and most current versions of Linux and Mac OS X).
  • A router appliance (commercial or consumer) that supports IPv6.
    • Most modern routers  support IPv6, older models may require firmware update if available (check hardware manufacture's web site for more information).
  • An ISP with IPv6 protocol and DNS support.
    • IPv6 readiness will vary between companies.  Contact your ISP to find out the type of IPv6 support they offer.
    • If you're ISP doesn't support IPv6 you can use an IPv6 Tunnel Broker like Hurricane Electric to allow your computer to access the IPv6 Internet.

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