Since it's traditional to start the New Year with New Goals, I decided I'd take another crack at playing with Internet Protocol, Version 6 (or IPv6, as it's known by its close friends). I get my bits via Verizon FiOS (technically, I now get them via Fairpoint FAST, but until a call to the support number doesn't get me a Verizon employee, it's FiOS in my book), and FiOS doesn't natively support IPv6.
Now, you can do a tunneling connection to the IPv6 via a "tunnelbroker", like Hurricane Electric or SixXS, but it requires a broadband router than supports what's called "Protocol 41". Time for a short digression... We talk about TCPIP like it's one word these days, but as any OSI weenie knows, it's really TCP/IP, or more verbosely, Transmission Control Protocol over Internet Protocol. TCP is only one of many types of data packet that IP can handle, the most famous non-TCP packet type being the stateless UDP packet. Each type of packet has its own unique number. One of those types is protocol 41, used to encapsulate IPv6 traffic in IPv4 packets. That's what is sent between the tunnel brokers and you.
As I mentioned before, however, the D-LINK DI-624 router that Verizon provisions is oblivious to protocol 41, so that attempting to tunnel a connection between my Mac Pro and Hurricane Electric failed. And the official policy of their web site is that you can only use the provisioned router to connect to the FiOS drop. Dead-end.
Well, for New Years, I decided to call the FiOS/FAST tech support folks, and make sure that there wasn't some work around. Imagine my surprise when I was told that for "my type of connection", I can use whatever PPPoE-enabled router I desired. So, a quick Googling to find out what the best IPv6-capable routers are, and I'm off to Best Buy to get a D-LINK DIR-615, on sale for $40. Sweet!
I got home and replaced the old DI-624 with the new DIR-615. I took the opportunity to swap out my class-C NAT addressing scheme (192.168.1.X) for the class-A private address spec (10). No, I don't plan to have several billion devices in my house, but it means I can put all the routers and gateways in the 10.0.0 space, all the computers in 10.0.2, and all the appliances (printers, TiVOs, etc) in 10.0.3. The old D-LINK didn't support anything but class C NAT. Yes, I'm such a geek...
The DIR-615 also has better parental controls, is a pre-n WiFi access point, and is a cooler color! Anyway, once I got the basic networking up and running, I tried using the tunneling information that Hurricane Electric provided to set up the tunnel on the router itself. That way, the computers on my home network could be assigned IPv6 addresses by the router, and would be oblivious to the tunnel. Unfortunately #2, the IPv6 native support on the router only works if you have a static IP address, and Verizon/Fairpoint charge a premium for non-dynamic addresses.
Plunging on, I followed the instructions to set up an IPv6 tunnel on my Mac Pro. A few minutes later, I was pinging IPv6 addresses, and the Hurricane Electric certification system had awarded me Explorer status for managing to surf to the IPv6 version of their site. The way IPv6 works on OS X, if a site publishes an IPv6 (AAAA) DNS record as well as an IPv4 version, and there's an IPv6 connection available, OS X will preferentially use the IPv6 address (and fall back to v4 if it fails).
The one step left to do is to put the network configuration commands into my network startup on my Mac, and install something to automatically update my IP address of the Hurricane Electric endpoint when it changes.
For now, I'm enjoying the thrills of visiting the IPv6 version of the Google Home Page, and...and...and... visiting the IPv6 version of the Google Home Page!