by July 7, 2000 0 comments

In the wee hours of 26 March 2000,
became the first network from India to be on the 6Bone.
IPv6@BITS aims at building IPv6-related technologies, and educating and
providing support to other organizations–mainly in India–with similar

What, Why, and When: The 3Ws of IPv6
The Internet has grown at a phenomenal pace in the last few
years. It no longer serves just the intelligentsia, but has become a medium as
common as television or radio. According to a recent estimate, there are about
195 million users on the Internet today, as compared to 49.2 million in 1995.
Also, the impending convergence of the computer, communications, and
entertainment industries dictated that the Internet Protocol (IP) had to evolve.

IPv6 was conceived to remedy the problems faced by IPv4. The
present IP (IPv4) address space–for example,–uses a maximum of
12 digits that needs 32 bits in binary. Hence, a maximum of 232 (4,29,49,67,296)
unique addresses can be allotted to computers on the Internet. The current
explosion in the number of machines on the Net means that we’d run out of IP
addresses in a few years from now–and that would mean stagnation or death of
the Internet.

Foreseeing these problems, scientists started working to
develop the Next Generation Internet Protocol (IPng), which matured into what we
know as IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). IPv6 uses a big (128-bit) address
space, and offers other better features over IPv4.

How BIG is big?
The maximum number of unique computers in the IPv6 Internet
is 2128, which is equal to 340,282,366,920,938,463, 463,374,607,431,768,211,456.

You could reject IPv6 with the notion that 2128 can also be
consumed in the decades to come. But before that, you need to comprehend the
massiveness of this number. In a theoretical sense, this is approximately
665,570,793,348,866,943,898,599 addresses per square meter of the surface of
planet Earth. As a small exaggeration, IPv6 can provide addresses to every
molecule on earth. This means that even if the explosion of the network is many,
many times worse than what it is today, we’d still be left with billions and
billions of unused addresses for decades to come.

Organizations worldwide are competing in the race to develop IPv6-capable
applications that use its special features

like security, multicasting, flow-labeling etc. You can also
be a part of this development effort by joining hands with other project teams
or by starting a team yourself.

Useful links

FTP archive

The official site of 6Bone. Contains all HOW-TOs for implementations,
right from scratch.

They give free tunnels for testing purposes, under certain
restrictions. The best way to instantaneously to connect to the 6Bone
without any contacts etc.

Lancaster University’s IPv6 Resource Center

One of the initial players in this game. Contains information on every
aspect of IPv6. Also has good representations of the Whois database
and testing tools.

Whois information

David Kessens’ Website about 6Bone, Whois and HOW-TOs to various
aspects of the Whois database.

RFC database

All Requests for Comments are stored here. The best way to study all
protocols, implementations for all OSs, routers, etc.

Whois search
Contains an extensive list of all OSs, routers, etc, and links to
their implementations.

Setting up an IPv6 router
6Bone is the network of all IPv6-capable routers. To connect
to 6Bone, you need at least the following–an IPv6 capable router or a host
capable of routing; a globally routable IPv4 address; a 6Bone access point,
which is willing to support you; and finally, lots of patience.

Setting up a IPv6-capable machine
The latest versions of most OSs come with IPv6
implementations. So, you can skip this in case your OS is out-of-the-box IPv6
capable. If you don’t understand what we’re talking about here, kindly
continue reading this part.

Before attempting to connect to the 6Bone, you should have
set up your system to support IPv6. The router can either be a hardware router,
or a host which is configured to act as a router.

Some common implementations are:

Linux kernel 2.2.10 onwards supports IPv6. But you still have
to download IPv6-capable applications. Some of them have been distributed in
this month’s CD under GNU General Public License and are also mirrored at

Red Hat Linux 6.2 supports IPv6 out-of-the-box. That is, all
network applications support IPv6 directly. Read the HOW-TOs and install from

Win NT 4 +
Go to
for more
information. Win 2000 is out-of-the-box IPv6-capable.

FreeBSD 4
This is also IPv6 capable. So, all you need is a download

Other OSs
Go to
to check for implementations under other operating systems.

Testing for IPv6 compliance

Testing for IPv6 compliance
Try pinging yourself–ping ::1 (localhost). After starting
other IPv6 services, try talking to them, either as localhost or through other
IPv6 machines on your Ethernet connected directly. Machines should be connected
through UTP hubs/BNC only, that is, without any router or IP-selective device in

Choosing your 6Bone access provider
Once you’ve set up a host with IPv6, the next step is to
find a 6Bone access point closest to you. The easiest way is to go to, get the list of 6Bone access points in your country, and find one
that is the least number of hops from you. Once you’ve found a site, check the
Whois listing to find out the contact person for the site at

Setting up the tunnel
After the site agrees to host you, you have to set up a
tunnel endpoint. You’ll need the following information for that.

  • IPv4 server address: This is the IPv4 address of the
    host site.

  • IPv6 server address: This will be the next hop for all
    your IPv6 packets.

  • Your IPv4 address, which you’ll have to provide to
    your host site.

  • An address prefix: This is the network portion of your
    site. Depending on the size of your prefix, you can subnet it internally.

How does tunneling work at the network level?
Say, wants to connect to 6Bone. They find that is the nearest 6Bone point from the Whois list. So, they
contact and agrees to support them. IPv4 address: IPv4 address: IPv6 address: 3ffe:327f::/32

They set up two tunnel endpoints, one at and another
at also allocates 3ffe:327f:0b00::/48 as the
network prefix for Usually most 6Bone providers keep a separate
address space for allocating tunnels. Let 3ffe:cfff:a111:b111::321 be the IPv6
address at the end and 3ffe:cfff:a111:b111::322 the IPv6
address at the end.

Routing at the server end will have a routing table entry with
3ffe:cfff:a111:b111::322 as the next hop for any packet with network prefix
3ffe:327f:0b00::/48. 3ffe:cfff:a111:b111::322 is accessible through

Routing at the host end
If is the only tunnel from to
6Bone, every IPv6 packet except ones with prefix 3ffe:327f:b00::/48 should be
next hopped to 3ffe:cfff:a111:b111::321.

3ffe:cfff:a111:b111::321 is accessible through

3ffe:327f:b00::/48 packets will be routed locally according
to how allocated its address space.

RIPE Whois database entries
The database is mainly divided into two parts, one for
networks and the other for the people behind them. The network database is used
for routing policies and other useful data for Internet Network Management,
whereas the people database is mainly for contact purposes. You can make an
entry in the database by sending an e-mail to An
acknowledgment is sent back by autodbm in case of success. Otherwise, an error
message is sent back with proper reasons.

The correct format for the entries are available at for quick reference. contains
detailed information on the same. This is a must-study for anyone venturing into

Note that the entry should be in exactly the same format as
in the HOW-TO. Some mail clients try to indent the message. This would result in
improper submission.

C H Balaji ,
Deepak Kameshwaran G
and T V Raghavan

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