What you Need to Know About IP Addresses on World IPv6 Day

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Today, June 8, 2011 is world IPv6 day. This IPv6 day is been organized by Internet society world over to test the IPv6 i.e. Internet Protocol Version 6. World IPv6 day has been organized to test the internet readiness for IPv6 as well as an awareness campaign to let the whole world know about this and be ready for the same. Big players like Google, Yahoo and Facebook among 300+ others are participating in this and ensuring availability of entrances to their sites through IPv6 on this day. This will help to know about any technical issues and glitches, any configuration and software problems that may prevent access to internet through this new IPv6 protocol.

understanding-IP-addresses-on-world-IPv6-day-8june2011

Understanding IP Addresses, IPv4 and IPv6

Till now we have been using what is called as IPv4 address or Internet Protocol version 4 address which is of 32 bits length. This allowed to have around 4 billion IP addresses. However, the internet has grown many folds with addition of millions of new sites, computers, servers during last few years. It is still increasing at even higher rate owing to popularity of internet. This has made all the possible IP address in version 4 format to get exhausted soon which actually means there can not be any more addition of new websites and computers possible anywhere in the world. To counter this problem and to ensure there is an uninterrupted supply of IP addresses, IPv4 is being upgraded to IPv6. IPv6 will be of 128 bit long which will make possible to have around 340 undecillion more unique sequences possible in the new system. FYI, 340 undecillion is equal to 3.4 times 10 to the power of 38 which can be written as 340 followed by 36 more zeroes. This is expected to bring almost inexhaustible supply of IP address.

One can also understand this with reference to telephone numbers design. You all know that few years back we had 6 digits telephone numbers (or may be even lesser if we could go more in past). But 6 digits number couldn’t accommodate the ever growing telephone subscribers and soon it got exhausted. As a result, the telephone numbers were upgraded from 6 to 7 digits and then to 8 digits so that all the new and old subscribers can be accommodated without any interruption of services. This made even the old subscriber to include additional 2 digits in their existing numbers as well. What a unique telephone number is used to identify a  telephone on the communication network, a unique IP address is to identify a computer on internet.

How you can participate in World IPv6 day testing

Even if your ISP doesn’t support IPv6 as yet, you can still test it via Hurricane Electric’s IPv6 tunnelling service. This is a free service which will enable you to fetch and test IPv6 websites even if you have still not upgraded to IPv6 from IPv4.

  • Visit http://ipv6.he.net/ and register.
  • Configure port 41 and ensure your firewall doesn’t block pings (Test at http://www.whatsmyip.org/ports/, to confirm port 41 is open).
  • Visit http://tunnelbroker.net, login and click “Create Regular Tunnel link” link. Enter your public IP address in “IPv4 Endpoint” text field and Submit.
  • Check for the confirmation message to ensure everything is ok.
  • Click “Tunnel Details” button
  • On the page that opens, select your OS from the list in “Example OS Configurations”.
  • Follow the instructions to configure your computer with IPv6.
  • Once all the above has been completed OK, you can proceed to test your connection by visiting some of the IPv6 sites.

Hope, I have been able to simplify the concept of IP address, relevance of world IPv6 day and how you can yourself have an experience of configuring and testing IPv6 sites.

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