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How does IPv6 compare to IPv4 in its configuration?

Silvia Hagen, our IPv6 expert, talks about the IPv6 address and subnetting, in this Q&A.

I just started reading about IPv6 recently, and I want to know if IPv6 is divided in class with subnet mask as IPv4. I also want to compare IPv4 in its configuration, such as with default gateway, DNS, etc., but I cannot find a way to get all those up. Could you please advise?

The IPv6 address, which is 128 bits, is divided into the prefix and a 64-bit interface identifier. The interface identifier is what we call the host ID in the IPv4 world. The prefix is defined hierarchically. A customer or end user will get his IPv6 address range from its ISP; for an organization, this will usually be a /48 prefix. This leaves 16 bits of prefix space for your subnetting.

I advise you to do some reading on the autoconfiguration mechanisms of IPv6 to learn what you are looking for. You can find this in the specification as well as in the book IPv6 Essentials published by O'Reilly. This book also contains a quick guide to get started on different operating systems such as Windows XP, Linux and Macintosh.

This was last published in October 2006

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