Should IPv6 Have A Different Name?

A footnote to our earlier discussion on why IPv6 hasn’t been widely adopted: the numbering of the newer version is clearly designed to suggest that it’s an improved successor to IPv4. But is that name actually logical and helpful?

Dice picture from Shutterstock

During her keynote speech earlier earlier this week, Intel fellow and networking pioneer Radia Perlman (no big fan of IP as a standard generally) argued that the name was misleading. “IPv6 is not a new version of IPv4,” she said. “It is a new protocol.”

Perlman also pointed out that the version number was not actually utilised in a sensible way by IPv4. The version number is reported as part of a TCP/IP packet, but systems won’t drop packets that are sent with a version number that doesn’t match their implementation.

Perlman agreed with Geoff Huston’s conclusion that we’re not going to see a rapid shift to the newer format. “We’ve made IPv4 easier to live with, and the longer we live with it, the harder it gets to convert.”

Lifehacker’s World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. This week, I’m in Canberra for, paying particular attention to the systems administration mini-conference and sessions on virtualisation and best practice.

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