July 14, 2010

615 words 3 mins read

IPv6: Backwater hick to bleeding edge – in a weekend?!

So last week, I didn’t know a whole lot about IPv6 (backwater hick — slow and behind the times).  After spending a long weekend delving into the world of it, I find out that I’m basically on the bleeding edge already… and that makes me sad.  How can I go from not even having used IPv6 to the bleeding edge in a few days? As it turns out, there isn’t much of a distance to go.

I define the “bleeding edge” as being so far advanced that most of what you’re normally used to is broken because the support isn’t there yet.  From what I’ve learned in my, admittedly, limited IPv6 experience things are mostly broken.  Best I can tell, it isn’t a matter of my lack of knowledge, it just is simply that IPv6 support “isn’t there” for the end user.  That is really quite scary and sad considering that we’re approximately

1 year from IPv4 address exhaustion.  Let me run down a few of the ways/services that are not ready for home use:

DHCPv6 — Right now, many clients don’t not support DHCPv6.  The MacBook Air I have? Running the latest OS X 10.6?  Nope, a client isn’t even included.  Supposedly most everyone does support stateless address auto-configuration, but that is not a true solution, not like DHCP.

Anti-Virus — Not only does Symantec Endpoint Protection not support IPv6 — it actually completely totally and utterly <a href="http://ipv6wiki.net/wiki/Symantec_Endpoint_Protection” title=”[ipv6] Symantec Endpoint Protection>blocks it.  I spent longer than I should have trying to figure out why my Windows 7 machines refused to do any IPv6 at all.  That is why I had to pull out the Mac in the first place.  Finding out that SEP was the cause of my IPv6 troubles really pisses me off because this is not the first time SEP has massively screwed up their networking code.  WPA2 anyone?  Fail.

DNS — I’m not talking about support for AAAA records, I’m talking about client access to a native IPv6 servers.  No support from Google DNS or OpenDNS.  There are nearly 700 votes on OpenDNS’s ideabank service requesting IPv6 support, putting it in the top 10 of requests.  Still no word on an ETA.  I’ve hunted high and low, and I could only find 2 IPv6-native DNS servers.  Additionally, OS X’s mDNSresponder is not IPv6 friendly — if you run Dual-Stack and it gets an IPv4 address response first? It throws out the IPv6 response.  Fortunately Windows 7 favors 6 over 4.

Cloud Hosting — This might seem like an odd addition, but many websites (big and small) host some of their content on services like Amazon CloudFront.  I found out first hand, when I attempted to visit Pastebin.ca on IPv6 only, that CloudFront does not support IPv6.  None of the Amazon Web Services support IPv6.  Then there is Akamai, the single biggest content distribution network, which also does not support IPv6.  I found that one out when trying to visit gogo6 a site about “IPv6 products, community and services”.  Ironic.  In both cases, that makes the IPv6-only web rather ugly.

This is nowhere near a complete list of services and software that just don’t play well within the IPv6 sandbox, but it is a start.  The sad part is, these 4 items are more than enough to turn off basically anyone from going to IPv6.  Sure, the techies will figure a way around the DHCP issues, the DNS is workable with only 2 services, but nothing can fix a website that simply doesn’t work.  In the end, there is no drive for business to support IPv6 because no consumers use it, as it is such a pain in the butt.