Earthlink Plays With IPv6


IPv6 doesn’t get much attention in the US, but is already being widely adopted by companies of all colors and hues in Asia, particularly in broadband-heavy nations like Japan and South Korea. IPv6, which stands for Internet Protocol version six is the next generation protocol and is supposed to replace IPv4, a 20-year-old protocol that has withstood the test of time admirably. However as more and more devices (such as our TiVos and cellphones) get connected to the Internet, we face a likely shortage of IPv4 addresses.

IPv6 has been around for a few years. It uses a new addressing scheme that allows 340 undecillion addresses. That’s 34 followed by 37 zeroes, enough addresses to meet current and future demand for a long, long time…..The Office of Management and Budget has set a June 2008 deadline for federal agencies to switch to the new protocol. (from The Roanoke Times)

In the US, we have not paid much attention to it, so perhaps when a dear friend sent me a link to Earthlink labs, I was pleasantly surprised. What a lovely way to kick off 2006! Earthlink Labs came up with a hack that turns a Linksys WRT54G, wireless access point into an IPv6 appliance/router. More details can be found at: here.

Dewayne Hendricks says he downloaded the firmware upgrade and tried out the hack on a spare WRT54G and was able to download the firmware and get it configured and working in less than thirty minutes. MacOS X works just fine on IPv6 and is quite easy to configure. In other words, this will allow him to “play in both the IPv4 and v6 world from the same network and with the same computer for just the cost of a WRT54G, which is about $50. Pretty neat!”

Update: Actually, Mac OS-X has native support for IPv6 and you can quite easily connect a IPv4 computer to a IPv6 network.


Wes Felter

I think it’s important to understand that, using 6to4, your computer or router can use IPv6 with no support from your ISP. This means that users can start innovating on top of IPv6 NOW.


I mentioned this on Slashdot a while back.

They started out delivering IPv6 through their modem connections quite a while ago. Sadly this hasn’t significantly changed the IPv6 take-up rate. It seems like we’ve all been banging the IPv6 drum for years and years now but to no avail. Aside from expanded address space, IPv6 offers things like security at the protocol level. Think of it like every connection your computer makes is SSL encrypted. This benefit is so enticing that it was back ported to IPv4 in the protocol “IPSec” which is commonly used for VPN connections. There are several other significant features of IPv6 though for some reason nobody here is moving as long as IPv4 is “good enough”. I’ll guess at a reason for that: because IPv4 has a limited address space, people invented NAT so entire networks could hide behind one real Internet IP. This carries with it a degree of security though because those machines aren’t directly addressable. With IPv6, they could be directly addressable, so some might see it as possibly less secure. (though, of course, if you know what you are doing and you keep those hosts firewalled off, you’re fine) I’m with Om here; anything to hasten IPv6 is welcome. My TiVO needs a globally unique address too!

Comments are closed.