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Today the future of internet begins - and open source is ready


AnnouncementCompanies world-wide start to embrace the new standard for communication on the internet; the Internet Protocol version 6 - also known as IPv6. IPv6 will at some point replace existing IPv4 which have been used to transport our data through the internet for more than 30 years.

The main reason to switch is that IPv4 only allows around 4 billion internet addresses. In order for one device to communicate with another on the internet each of them has to have a unique internet address (IP address). With the number of devices currently on the market - computers, smartphones, smart tvs and set-top boxes - we are already out of addresses. However, clever manipulation allows some devices to share IP addresses with other devices, but this is not an ideal situation. The sharing of addresses makes it difficult for devices to communicate freely on the internet, thus limited functionality.

IPv6 solves the IP address issue simply by introducing a new type of IP address that can handle 3.4e+38 - or 4 billion times 4 billion times 4 billion times 4 billion. It a huge number - difficult for most people to understand. But lets just assume that we will not be running out of IP address ever again.

Today (6/6/12) was been chosen by the Internet Society to mark the launch of IPv6 . IPv6 has been around for many years but the deployment very limited - and mainly used for research within companies and institutions. ISP, hosting providers and other companies on the internet have been repluctant to start offering services on IPv6, primarily because of the investment required both in hardware, software and training.

The Internet Society on the other hand has tried to initiate a movement encouraging ISP, webiste and hardware vendors to take the leap to IPv6 anyway - and thus promote their businesses by using cutting-edge technology.

Another reason why IPv6 has taken such a long time to be accepted is that it is not compatible with IPv4, even though they can exist side by side. But not being compatible means that every piece of software communicating on the internet has to be re-written to support IPv6. Luckily, a lot of software already supports IPv6 - and especially open source software. The communities around each of the open source projects have a natural interest to support new features; and many projects strive to be forerunners in these areas.

On Open Source Alternative we have tagged each open source project that supports IPv6 with an IPv6 tag - making it easy to see and search for software that supports IPv6. A list of all IPv6 enabled open source projects is available here: Open source alternatives with IPv6 support

One of the most important projects is Apache - the open source web server that hosts almost 2/3 of all websites on the internet. Apache is also the web server used by Open Source Alternative to make our website available on both IPv4 and IPv6. The software, however, gets you nowhere, unless your hosting provider also supports IPv6, which is the reason why Osalt switched to Linode VPS for great hosting and IPv6 connectivity to the internet.

On the other end of a connection to an IPv6 webserver is of course an IPv6 web browser. Again, the open source community has the answer in terms of Firefox and Google Chrome.

If you want to explore the new world of IPv6 - either check if you ISP offers IPv6 or visit http://www.tunnelbroker.net/

Finally, you can also just wait, because sooner of later IPv6 will come to you...

Tags: ipv6 hosting internet opensource ip
Published: June 6, 2012

June 7, 2012 Anonymous wrote:
Exactly one year since your last post. I'm glad to see this site isn't dead.

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