Q

Why are IPv6's IP addresses in hexadecimal formatting?

Why would IPv6 use hexadecimal formatting if it's so user unfriendly, and what sort of workarounds are there to make IP addressing easier? Find out in this expert answer.

I've been on the Internet since 1987. I have a degree in CS specializing in HCI. About 6-8 months ago I tried working with IPv6 and found that, much to my dismay, IPv6 IP addresses are in hex format! That is so user unfriendly! Please tell me it's going to have real numbers?
So here's the story: The developers found that a 128 bit address was the most user unfriendly thing in itself anyway; whether it was in decimal or hexadecimal didn't really make a difference. But because processors are faster in processing hexadecimal, they chose this over decimal.

The user friendliness comes from using domain name system (DNS) to do name-to-address mapping. So all you need to remember is a name, not even numbers.

But if you are the kind of person who can remember 128 bit decimal addresses for all routers and servers in a network (as some network engineers do in the IPv4 world), you will have to tell me how you do it.

This was first published in March 2008

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