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Factsheet: IPv6

It’s been a long while since we posted a factsheet – a clear guide to a technical subject written in plain English. Today we publish one on a very technical, but very important subject: IPv6.

Internet Protocol version 6 is important for the Internet’s continued expansion for future generations. The number of free address under the existing IPv4 system are rapidly running out. What Internet engineers *do* know, however, is that IPv6 provides a solution by offering a mind-boggling number of IP addresses, that should see us well into the future. The difficulty of course is that this is a technical subject but it requires non-technical people to understand it.

This factsheet on IPv6 is very far from an authoritative text on this matter. It is barely even an introduction. But it is a start and we hope it will get people interested in the issue. Read and enjoy.


    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."