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What do you mean it’s not IPv6-compatible?

For those who wonder where I disappeared, I’ve had a bit of an health scare, which is unfortunately common for me during summertime. This time the problem seems to be tied to anxiety, should probably pass once most of the stress related to taxes and work projects deadlines gives up.

Earlier this month we’ve had the IPv6 World Test Day, and things seems to have moved quite a bit since then. Even the Gentoo Infra team had a bit of work to be done to get ready for the test day and to set it up, and if you follow Apple’s software updates you probably know that they “improved IPv6 reliability” with their latest release.

I’m very interested in the IPv6 technology myself, and I’d very much like to rely more on it; unfortunately, as it happens, my hosting provider still hasn’t provided me with IPv6 addresses, nor it seems likely to happen soon. On the other hand, I’ve deployed it at home, even backing off from 6to4 which was my original hope to avoid tunnels (Hurricane Electric is much more reliable, and faster). While I can’t remember an IPv6 address by heart, I can set up proper, visible hostnames for my boxes so that I can compare the logs and not be forced to use NATed addresses all the time.

Now, given that IPv6 is fully deployed in my home network, if a website is set up to use IPv6, then it’ll be using IPv6. It could be a bit of a slow-down when you consider that I use a tunnel to get to the IPv6 network, but generally it seems to behave just as good, possibly because my home network is slow enough by itself. Of course, the website needs to be IPv6-compatible, and not just “IPv6 ready”.

What happens is that a number of websites have enabled IPv6 during the World Test Day, and when they saw that enough users were able to access them just fine, they kept the extra addresses on.. why doing twice the work to turn it off? But that kind of testing sometimes is not just good enough. While the main obstacle to IPv6 support is listening for and responding to IPv6-bound requests, there is code that deals with remote and local host addresses in most applications, including web applications. Validating addresses, applying ACLs, and all these things are due to require knowledge of the addresses it has to deal with, and so many times, they expect dotted-quad IPv4 addresses.

I’m still fighting with one real-world scenario as such. Most of my domains are registered through the French provider OVH who also started providing IPv6-access to their website after the World Day. All the management services work just fine (even though last I checked they didn’t provide a dynamic AAAA record, which is why I had to search for complex alternative approaches which, actually, I’m still keeping up with), as well as the pages detailing their products and services. But when I had to renew one of the domains, it stopped when I was supposed to be redirected to pay (via creditcard), with an internal server error (HTTP 500 Error).

After waiting over the weekend (and a bit, given I was swamped with work), I’ve decided to call to see if it was a known issue: it wasn’t, the system was supposedly working fine, and they suggested me to try a different computer. After testing with Firefox on Windows (no go), I’ve tried the infamous iPad and… it worked. A quick doubt I got was related to the connection protocol, and bingo: it works all fine with IPv4, but fails badly with v6.

This is a very plain example of how just listening for v6 connections is not enough: you need to ensure that the interaction between pieces of the software are still satisfied. In this instance, I can think of two possible reasons why it doesn’t work correctly with IPv6:

  • the system logs all the payment requests separately, and to do so, it assumes the remote host address to be a dotted-quad;
  • since the page redirects to their processing bank’s site, it probably signals it of the incoming request to avoid cross-site forgery, and again it assumes a dotted-quad address.

Whatever the problem, right now they fail to process payments properly, and when I reported it they shut me down twice (first on the phone “oh it’s not our problem, but the bank’s!”), then by mail (“everything should be fine now!” — no it isn’t).. and still they are publishing AAAA records for their website.

If even an European-wide ISP fails this badly at implementing IPv6 on their website (for one critical piece of infrastructure as payment processing is!), I’m afraid that we have very little hope for IPv6 to get deployed worldwide painlessly.

Comments 4
  1. A few months ago (didn’t verify recently) when OVH added IPv6 address to some of their cluster machine names (webhosting) TCP sessions with full packets stopped working for me over Sixxs tunnel, apparently MTU issue as my tunnel had the default small 1280 or so MTU and increasing the MTU of tunnel made things work again (do they filter packet-too-big icmp6?)Probably the usual “user cannot know better than us” thing.

  2. I hope you are feeling better!I’m lucky enough to have an ISP that gives native IPv6, though apparently at half the speed of IPv4! I have also IPv6 enabled my virtual server (via SiXXS), upon which run my customers’ websites.To overcome the DNS issues, I ended up running my own DNS servers that I can, of course, fully control.This is where we come to the problem though. While some enlightened sites and services are running IPv6, if you dare report a problem, its always “Not Supported”.What is the point, if you are not going to fix the problems?!

  3. I’m not a developer and so much of the details you write are way over my head. But I still enjoy reading everything.With this: “I’m afraid that we have very little hope for IPv6 to get deployed worldwide painlessly.”, you really made me chuckle.”Painless Deployment” – is a fantasy phrase that will never happen.Any salesman promising that will be immediately booted out the door.

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