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Robert Cringely shows blatant ignorance of networking

Normally I don't get too worked up when someone makes a complete fool out of himself on networking issues but when a well known pundit like Robert Cringely of PBS writes an article that's filled with errors from beginning to finish about IPv6, I have to call it like I see it. Here are some of the more blatant errors.
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Written by George Ou on

Normally I don't get too worked up when someone makes a complete fool out of himself on networking issues but when a well known pundit like Robert Cringely of PBS writes an article that's filled with errors from beginning to finish about IPv6, I have to call it like I see it. Here are some of the more blatant errors.

Robert Cringely: As things stand right now, something over 30 percent of Internet packet traffic is illicit, either spam email or attacks of various sorts. As such, a passive unprotected Windows system on the net can be infected with some kind of pathological code in a median time of minutes. Converting to IPv6 addressing would be a chance to at least get a finger into that leak.

Robert, combating spam has nothing to do with IPv6. The SenderID specification MIGHT have a chance at slowing spam down by giving us a proof positive way of white listing domains though it's a long way from adoption. Yahoo's DomainKeys standard would go a step further to give us domain-level nonrepudiation on sent email which allows us to easily prove that a certain domain sent spam based on the DomainKeys digital signature. Both technologies offer white listing enhancements but can't do anything about senders that don't use sender authentication or senders that rapidly switch email accounts and domains. Neither technology has anything to do with IPv6 and would work on IPv4 or IPv6.

Robert Cringely: There is also a very large market for being able to encrypt net traffic. IPv6 puts that where it belongs, down in the lower layers of the protocol stack. Right now we really have to put encryption in the top of the stack at the application layer.

Robert, I think you're trying to refer to IPSEC. IPSEC works on IPv4 and IPv6. It is simply not true that we "really have to put encryption in the top of the stack at the application layer." You're not even close on this since even SSLVPN works below the Application Layer.

Robert Cringely: Instead, we should look for inspiration to the source of our most recent motivation to move to IPv6 — China. In the current addressing scheme, China received a very small number of IP addresses, and this was causing them a lot of difficulty. If they stayed with the existing system it would have resulted in a nasty network kludge. So they made a national decision to implement IPv6 and put in a good network design. With IPv6 China has the address space they need and it is working well for them. Of course, the rest of the world is still on the old system and to communicate with China an address translation is needed. This is becoming a pain. Countries who want to do lots of business with China or who want to do lots of business through the Internet (India) are now seriously looking at their own IPv6 plans.

First of all, the dire predictions of IPv4 running out simply ignore reality. Second, the Chinese government can mandate a lot of things but actually implementing them is a whole different ball game. During the cultural revolution of the 60s, the Communist government mandated that everyone will produce steel in their back yards and how did that turn out? All this talk about China's IPv6 plans is mostly referring to the Internet facing IP addresses; getting Internal LANs working on IPv6 is a whole different ball game.

Printers don't support IPv6. DNS and DHCP infrastructure would have to be upgraded to support IPv6. Operating Systems will need to be upgraded. The worst part of IPv6 is that you have to simultaneously support IPv4 on every part of the infrastructure and on every host. But if China did manage to migrate just their Internet connectivity to IPv6 in five years and I'll believe it when I see it, what makes you think they can't do business with countries using IPv4?

Robert Cringely: And what is happening in the USA? Well we have Net Neutrality. We have a telco rebuilding a national monopoly. We have Cisco and Microsoft working together on Network Admission Control (NAC). I can see a time in the near future when they'll try to charge me for every PC in my house. While China is building a national resource, our government is letting companies turn the public Internet into an expensive private toll road.

This falls under the mindless and ignorant trolling category. Net Neutrality is a nice concept, but it's the proposed legislation running under the banner of Net Neutrality that is the problem. Net Neutrality legislation attempts to ban the sale of Quality of Service. The real problem is people like you who know absolutely nothing about networking trying to legislate network engineering.

As for your comments on NAC, you're sounding like a crackpot conspiracy theorist lunatic. NAC has absolutely nothing to do with charging for every PC in your house, it is an optional technology for corporate LANs. There is no secret plan to put an 802.1x NAC capable switch on to your home network. If anything, moving away from NAT and on to IPv6 would allow ISPs to see how many devices you have in the home and potentially charge you for every device on your home. As it stands now, the ISP can only see the single IPv4 address on your personal router.

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