Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Monday, December 12, 2005

  One escape from the silo - ipv6

Doc Searls has written extensively about Saving the Net. I've been trying to think constructively about that for weeks now.

The best technical solution is to migrate the infrastructure to ipv6. All of it. Starting 10 years ago. If there is any one place where I can blame myself and the other techies for the current faults of the Net, is that we didn't insist on the ipv6 upgrade before the internet boom took place. Today, going to ipv6 is much harder than it should be, and the artificial scarcities of ipv4 are causing all sorts of market distortions that need not be.

Americans, especially, keep saying we don't need ipv6. Well, that's because America doesn't - we've hogged all the early allocations so that we have a majority of the address space when in reality we have 1/10 the potential users. ([ed: How... American!]). I'm an American who has had to go through no less than 3 private subnets to maintain what should be a public website in China - the contortions you have to go through outside of the US to get a public IP address are unbelievable, and unecessary.

Ipv6 can spread freedom for all, not just for those of us in the US who merely whine about being stuck with a dynamic IP address, but the world. We Americans would get a static IP address, too, vastly simplifying all sorts of services, from home web servers to personal voip and pbx systems, to home based... well... anything.

I have had an ipv6 tunnel, off and on, these past 10 years. The code is ready. Most Linuxes come out of the box with ipv6 enabled. Macs and PCs aren't far behind. The effort required to run Ipv6 is minimal.

What's lacking is the will, especially in old internet companies that used to take technological leadership, like MCI - and those that should be taking technological leadership - like google, and for that matter, slashdot. As one clued poster on slashdot remarks: It wasn't the companies that took the lead in hooking up the original Internet. No, prior to 1994, it was people like you and me. And people like you and me are going to have to be the ones to lead the way towards ipv6 adoption.

The Net wouldn't be what it is today if tens of thousands of sysadmins hadn't seen the utility of interconnecting their networks. They dragged cables across co-located floors, connected friends up via pitifully slow modems, and otherwise busted their asses, ignoring their managers, their gfs, and the constraints of their businesses, to make this giant ideal of networking system, ipv4, the Internet - Cyberspace, as I've long preferred to call it - "just work".

They did it - I did it (my first Internet connection was to a machine named sir-alan based somewhere in Maryland) - we did it - because the utility of a universal network is a win for everybody. We got connected because we loved the Net - or we were annoyed that they couldn't uucp a file to a friend - or send email - or for any of a variety of reasons, generally the least of which was getting paid.

I periodically bug my providers (comcast and sbc) about when the heck I can get a real ipv6 address. The answer used to be: "Huh?". More recently the answer has been silence, or "not yet". Instead, I get my free ipv6 tunnel through Hurricane Electric, and spend many an enjoyable hour listening to virgin radio's ipv6 ogg stream.

My house has run dual stack for two years.

The more people that ask for ipv6, the more likely we are to get it. The more people that go ahead and just implement it, the more likely the net will become ever more free.

If you want to help save the net, bug your provider for ipv6 today.

If you want to ensure the Net remains a free place for ideas and services - you - yes you, dear reader, must also take action. Implement IPv6 at home, and at work. Turn on ipv6, get a ipv6 tunnel, if you want one (you don't need one, ipv6 over ipv4 just works these days - you just have to turn it on!) and publish your AAAA records! Don't ask for permission. Just. Do. It.

You that are new to the Net now - now's your chance to show your mettle. The Ideal of the Net is collapsing under your weight.

Think not of what the Net can do for you, but of what you can do for the Net!
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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