Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Browsers Should Shame ISPs for not Providing IPv6

I propose something like in this image, so browsers put some pressure on ISP's and webhosts to adopt ipv6

For years we have heard that the Internet is about to break because the world is running out of ipv4 addresses. Sad, but not true. In my career as a programmer I've seen dirty hacks grow into extremely elaborate systems, despite the fact that they were originally set up to solve only moderately difficult problems. NATting is certainly a dirty hack, and now that ipv4 addresses are running out we're going to see lots of multi-level NAT gateways, which are certainly elaborate systems if they need to provide high availability.

The problem is that these elaborate systems are difficult to maintain, and with each additional change you sink deeper into the quicksand. So even though I believe engineers will be able to work around the problems in ever dirtier ways it would be really good for the Internet if we could throw away the old system and switch to ipv6 en masse.

Who can help us escape from the quicksand that is ipv4? The Government? A plane? Superman? No. Browsers.

The Internet is in a catch-22 situation concerning the ipv6 switch. Consumers don't feel the need to switch as long as they can still use ipv4, and producers don't want to invest in ipv6 while all consumers still support ipv4. We should keep in mind that the general public is completely unaware of this issue. When I tell my fellow programmers that I've set up an ipv6 tunnel at home, they don't say "wow that's amazing, can you help me set one up too?". No, they say "cool story bro", shrug and walk away. In a way that's logical as the end-user gains nothing by the switch, everything worked just fine in the dirty-hack system. The only winners are the Internet engineers. But if this is how programmers who know about the issue respond, then what does the average consumer know about ipv6? Nothing.

Now what does everyone, including the average consumer, use to connect to the Internet? That's right: browsers.

What if your browser displayed a green endorsement like this (I know, I'm not a designer).

And if your ISP (or the server) is stupid:

The information block should also contain a link to a site displaying why ipv6 is good for the Internet. I know that if I were a CEO, I would not like customers to see this on the website of my company.

Good idea? Bad idea? Discuss on HN.