IPv6 addresses are confusing

ZeroTier has an interesting and amusing look at IPv6 addresses.

At one time, there were a lot of dire predictions about running out of Internet addresses. It seemed clear that given the number of addresses available with the IPv4 scheme, they would soon all be in use. The increasing use of Network Address Translation (NAT) provided relief, as each single address was then able to provide Internet access to multiple devices behind a router.

However, NAT only delayed the inevitable for IPv4, and IPv6 was planned as its replacement. While there are only four billion IPv4 addresses, IPv6 allows for up to 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses. Which should be plenty, even once the Internet expands to other planets.

Acceptance and deployment of IPv6 has been steady, but there are a few hurdles to overcome. One of those is the IPv6 numbering scheme itself.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the IPv4 scheme, in which any device on the Internet is identified by a sequence of four numbers, like this: 123.456.789.123. A full IPv6 address looks like this: adde:efbe:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001. That’s a lot of digits to remember.

Luckily, the IPv6 developers invented ways to abbreviate IPv6 addresses, so that they typically look more like these:

  • adde:efbe::1
  • 2607:f2f8:a368::2
  • fe80::3cee:cdff:fe30:c27
  • fe80::1
  • 2607:f8b0:4007:809::200e

But while those abbreviated numbers are shorter, they are difficult to understand. The ZeroTier post explains why.

NetworkWorld has a fun and informative infographic that compares IPv4 and IPv6.

About jrivett

Jeff Rivett has worked with and written about computers since the early 1980s. His first computer was an Apple II+, built by his father and heavily customized. Jeff's writing appeared in Computist Magazine in the 1980s, and he created and sold a game utility (Ultimaker 2, reviewed in the December 1983 Washington Apple Pi Journal) to international markets during the same period. Proceeds from writing, software sales, and contract programming gigs paid his way through university, earning him a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) degree at UWO. Jeff went on to work as a programmer, sysadmin, and manager in various industries. There's more on the About page, and on the Jeff Rivett Consulting site.

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