The other day I said I’d make an attempt at vaulting Telecom Ramblings into the IPv6 world. The idea being that it is somewhat hypocritical for someone as technically oriented as me to complain of the slowness of the transition to IPv6 without ever having considered my own part in it or lack thereof. After all, I have a static IPv4 address via which you are reading this right now. Why isn’t this available on IPv6, even the way Google does via ipv6.google.com? What precisely is stopping me? And while we’re at it, just what is it needs to be done? Do any of the journalists writing stuff about IPv4 exhaust and impending doom actually know? As far as I can tell, the important links in the chain are:
- The software that serves the website must be IPv6 compatible and properly configured. (I can handle this part)
- The server it runs on must run a dual IPv4/IPv6 stack, and be assigned both an IPv4 and IPv6 address by the hosting company.
- The DNS server from the hosting company must be configured to map a domain (e.g. ipv6.telecomramblings.com) to the IPv6 address from 2.
- The bandwidth provider the hosting provider uses for connectivity must run an IPv6-enabled network.
- The ISP at the user end must be enabling their users for IPv6 browsing or the user must have some sort of tunneling set up.
- The user must not have too archaic a browser and operating system.
By way of background, when Ramblings outgrew its GoDaddy shared hosting plan last year, I moved everything onto a cloud server at Rackspace Hosting (NYSE:RAX, news, filings). That means I have to configure the operating system from the ground up as well as every piece of software that runs on it. Almost. Which is where I found the roadblock to be when I investigated whether it was running a dual IPv4/IPv6 stack or not, and how to make it do so. Steps 1, 2, and 3 seem to be on my plate or close enough to take a swing, 4 is probably in place, while 5 and 6 aren’t under my control. I can handle 1, but it turns out that 2 and 3 are beyond my reach right now despite running my own server.
It is Rackspace that assigns and configures the IPv4 address for my cloud server’s base configuration and when they did they didn’t configure it with that dual IPv4/IPv6 stack. No problem, right? I’m a software engineer, I can set it up manually if need be. After all, Rackspace is participating in IPv6 day – surely they must have such basics in place like being able to dole out an IPv6 address and configure the DNS to handle them? Actually, no – not for cloud servers, neither automated or manually. Their dashboard offers no way to do this, and when I asked I was told it’s simply not ready yet, ‘maybe this summer’. So Rackspace is working on it, but until they’re done working on it I’m out of luck. So Rackspace can participate in IPv6 day, but those who use their cloud probably can’t given there are a limited number of weeks left and we can’t do much except verify that our software isn’t out of date while we wait.
As far as I can tell, the situation would have been the same if I had stayed with GoDaddy via their VPS or cloud products, and Amazon’s cloud is similarly unready according to my reading. That’s not to say there aren’t hosting providers out there that offer virtual private servers with a dual IPv4/IPv6 stack either by request or even by default, there certainly are. But to use one of them, I’d have to move literally everything – which as I learned last year is a major project with many pitfalls that I’m simply not going to do unless forced to. So for those of us who aren’t internet behemoths like Google and Facebook and lease our servers and bandwidth, we can either twiddle our thumbs or vote with our feet. And with no immediate threat, there’s no compelling reason to do the latter. I mean, I love my Rackspace cloud server in all other ways – I’m just not interested in moving right now.
So now what? Well, I’m not going to move the whole site just to prove a point, but maybe I can put up something somewhere as a test run – so that I’m as ready as I can get on my own. Some small bit of the content provided here made available in parallel to the currently unpopulated IPv6 world. More on that at a later date.
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