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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fourmilab Adds IPv6 Access

No, you're not dreaming—starting today, you can access Fourmilab over the IPv6 Internet protocol as well as the legacy IPv4 protocol. IPv6 remedies the address space exhaustion problems of IPv4 by moving to a 128 bit address space which should alleviate the crisis at least until every elementary particle in the universe requires its own Internet address or the network is extended into the multiverse. An IPv6 address is written as groups of hexadecimal digits separated by colons. Fourmilab's IPv6 address is thus “2a05:d014:d43:3101:c6ee:ea42:3836:6cbf”. If you're a glutton for punishment, you can type in this address, for example in a URL:


(the square brackets in the address are per RFC 2732) but most people will rely upon the Domain Name System (DNS) to look up the addresses. The DNS entries for fourmilab.ch now supply both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, permitting browsers and operating systems to choose whichever is best supported on the platform on which they're running.

Fourmilab's implementation of IPv6 is thanks to Amazon AWS, who host the site, and have rolled out IPv6 support recently to all of their data centres around the world except for those in China. If you, like Fourmilab, use the AWS Linux AMI, the process of upgrading your site to support IPv6 is somewhat tedious but straightforward, and worked the first time. Here is the Amazon guide I followed. If you're interested in adding support for IPv6 to your own AWS Linux AMI site, send me a feedback message and I'll send you my system narrative for the installation process.

Here is a third party evaluation of Fourmilab's support for IPv6. Does your computer and Internet connection support IPv6? Here is a site which will tell you.

As a site which has been on the Internet for more than two decades, Fourmilab has accreted many aliases and hacks in the way people access the site. There are a number of alias domains (for example, “fourmilab.com”) which reach the site, and each needs to be updated to support IPv6. I will be working on this in the days to come.

Posted at February 1, 2017 02:14