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Introducing the IPv6 Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol, version 6 (IPv6) was introduced in the Solaris 8 release. This new protocol version evolved from the current IPv4 version, which is also supported in the Solaris 8 Operating Environment. IPv6 adds increased address space and improves Internet functionality by use of a simplified header format, support for authentication and privacy, autoconfiguration of address assignments, and new quality-of-service capabilities. Networking commands in the Solaris 8 release have been amended to include support for both the IPv4 and IPv6 network protocols.

You can enable IPv6 on a system when you install the Solaris 8 software. If you answer yes to enable the IPv6 during the installation process, you do not need to enable IPv6 manually. Describing how to enable IPv6 manually is beyond the scope of this book. Refer to Sun's System Administration Guide, IP Services, for more information.

The IPv6 protocol changes are summarized below.

Expanded Routing and Addressing Capabilities

IPv6 increases the IP address size from 32 bits to 128 bits to support more levels of addressing hierarchy, provide more addressable nodes, and use simpler autoconfiguration of addresses.

A scope field improves the scalability of multicast routing to multicast addresses.

IPv6 supports three types of addresses: unicast, anycast, and multicast. The new anycast address is defined to identify sets of nodes, whereby a packet sent to an anycast address is delivered to one of the nodes. The use of anycast addresses in the IPv6 source route enables nodes to control the path over which their traffic flows.

IPv6 has no broadcast addresses. Multicast addresses are used instead.

Simplified Header Format

Some IPv4 header fields have been dropped or made optional to reduce the common-case processing cost of packet handling. Bandwidth cost of the IPv6 header is kept as low as possible, despite the increased size of the addresses. Even though the IPv6 addresses are four times longer than IPv4 addresses, the IPv6 header is only twice the size of the IPv4 header.

Improved Support for Options

IP header options are encoded to enable more efficient forwarding, less stringent limits on the length of options, and greater flexibility for introducing new options in the future.

Quality-of-Service Capabilities

A new capability enables the labeling of packets belonging to particular traffic flows for which the sender requests special handling, such as nondefault quality of service or real-time service.

Authentication and Privacy Capabilities

IPv6 includes the definition of extensions that provide support for authentication, data integrity, and confidentiality.

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