Hey all! Hope everyone's doing well.
Long techie diatribe follows
suffice it to say all is well if you don't want to read it through.
Way back in the anals of time when the Universe was a formless void... OK, I don't think we need to go back that far, but a little history is sometimes nice :) A lot of this is from memory so I might be a little fuzzy on the specifics but for our purposes it's good enough. Probably most of this you know or have an idea about this all anyway...
Back in the late 70's in the beginning days of the Internet when there were only few users, sites, or computers for that fact the US DOD (Department of Defense) set up what was known as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration). DARPA needed a way to let all the computers and facilities that were doing the research projects talk to each other, and out of that requirement developed the ARPANET and what is now known as IP (Internet Protocol). An IP address was defined as a value 32 bits in length split into 4 octets (whch you're probably all familiar with in the human-readable 'dotted quad' format - 10.2.3.4 for example, instead of the 32 bit value "00001010.00000010.00000011.00000100". Coupled with TCP (Transport Control Protocol), you come to have what most people know as TCP/IP.
Since IP version 4 addresses are only 32 bits long, the entire IPv4 world (which is the largest current deployment) has only ~3.6 billion total addresses available for public use. Probably something that back in the late 70's and early 80's when most of the standards were written didn't seem like it was going to be a problem. However, once you carve the blocks up and allocate them around the world, the Net as we know it is down to 201 million unassigned addresses. Depending on where you are (since these addresses were given out to geographical regions) that number might be less than 100,000. IANA (Internet Assigned Number Authority - the group that gives out IPs to the regions) reported on February 11th 2011 that it had given out the last available block, and on April 15th 2011 the APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Center) reported they gave out the last one in their region.
So, what does one do? For a long time people have been running NAT (Network Address Translation) on their networks to conserve IP space. Most houses with a couple of computers, cable boxes, and smartphones have a pool of addresses that they consume (usually blocks starting with 10.x.x.x or 192.128.x.x), but the cable modem or router converts that address into one public facing IP. That's slowed but has not solved the long-term issue. There are certain devices that require unique public IP addresses (the private blocks people usually use in houses and offices can be duplicated anywhere else without issue as long as there's a NAT box between them), but servers (email servers, web servers, OnDemand TV servers, etc etc etc) require a globally unique public IP for you to be able to reach them.
The long term answer, and the point of this post, is that you need to convert everyone over to the new standard, IPv6. (IPv5 was drafted but never adopted for various reasons, so we skipped from 4 to 6). IPv6 instead of having 32 bit addresses, quadrooples that to 128 bits. This new address size allows for a maximum of 2^120 or 1.33x10^36 unique addresses. That's a huge number. Maybe this will help: It's been computed that there are 1.26x10^34 atoms comprising the Earth and everything on it. 1.33x10^36 IPv6 addresses means that we could assign a globally unique IP address to every atom on the face of the planet. And still have enough left over to IP address 100 more Earths. (from here http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/other...-Head-of-a-Pin-
So, what does that all have to do with us?
Basically just an introduction to why the gnomes have been toiling away in the background and have successfully added IPv6 support to the Mosaic Musings forum and website. Took some code hacking (IPv6 addresses aren't user-friendly, they're all in hexadecimal instead of decimal - 2001:470:896f:1::3 is the Forum's IPv6 address for example) since IPB doesn't support IPv6 in this version, but as the Net moves forward we'll all still be here. For most users the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 won't be noticable. Most computers from Windows XP on have the ability to install IPv6 drivers and go what's called "dual stack" (IPv4 and IPv6 simultaniously). Modern smartphones all have IPv6 capabilities (Verizon Wireless, for example, mandated IPv6 support in their phones a couple of years ago with IPv4 being optional - of course everyone went dual-stack because you still have to deal with home users who are mostly IPv4). Large parts of Asia have been IPv6 only for a while, but ISP's have been running gateways to translate between 4 and 6 for years. So slowly but surely IPv4 will be phased out as users are converted to 6, and another technology will fade into the sunset.
As usual, if anything is strange, doesn't function right, looks wierd, etc etc etc drop me a PM so I can look into it.
Have a nice weekend all and enjoy!