For any of our readers who don’t know: The classic Internet Protocol (IPv4) supported around 4 billion IP addresses, but it recently ran out of free addresses. That the addresses would eventually all be used was no surprise. For more than a decade, a replacement called IPv6 has been under development and allows practically unlimited addresses.
Last year there was a one-day trial run called World IPv6 Day. Our own Josh Williams wrote about it here. It was the first major attempt for mainstream websites to enable dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 networking, so that both the “old” and “new” Internet could access the same site. It was intended to bring to the surface any problems, and it went very well – most people never knew it was happening, which was the goal.
This year there’s a much bigger event planned: World IPv6 Launch, and this time IPv6 is meant to stay on. Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Bing, and many other major sites are participating. A big advance over last year’s event is that many ISPs and vendors of home networking gear are also participating. That means it won’t just be a test that classic IPv4 still works for people alongside IPv6, but that for some customers, native IPv6 starts working end to end.
Last year, Josh mused that it would have been most appropriate for the day to be June 6, 6-6, for IPv6 and sixes everywhere. I suspect that wasn’t done because it fell on a Monday in 2011, and there are enough new support complaints backlogged from the weekend without adding IPv6 to the mix! But this year it is on June 6.
We got our own www.endpoint.com website running on IPv6 in time for last year’s World IPv6 Day. A few months ago, we switched on IPv6 for bucardo.org and a few new customer sites as well. For this year’s event we plan to prepare most of our remaining internal infrastructure to be dual-stack and to be ready to enable IPv6 for any customer sites upon request.
What can you do to join in and help free the Internet of its address shortage? Try visiting test-ipv6.com to see how compatible your own current Internet access is. If your ISP doesn’t yet offer IPv6, ask them when they will. Demand drives support. And visit Hurricane Electric’s IPv6 Tunnel Broker to set up a free tunnel from your location to the IPv6 Internet. It’s a very nice service.
Have fun, and if all goes well, the beginning of widespread adoption of IPv6 starts on June 6!