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IPv6 Autoconfiguration vs. DHCP Network Configuration

IPv6 or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol service provides network configuration for all connected hosts. It contains necessary information like gateway address for the network or the netmask. To effectively use available addresses, leases control the length of time of address usage.


IPv6 is a stateless autoconfiguration, i.e., direct plug-and-play operation, described in detail in RFC 2462. No independent server or source required to connect to a network. The hardware network interfaces and routers directly determine the correct address. The IPv6 protocol includes configuration integrated into the Internet protocol directly to configure a host.

IPv6 Addressing

IPv6 is gradually replacing the older IPv4 version, although fully compatible with systems still using IPv4. It expands the number of possible IP addresses by using 128-bits, using eight 16-bit segments representing a unique hexadecimal number, each separated by a colon. The first 64 bits used for the network address and the host segment  or interface address expands to a 64-bit address allowing addressing for a far more significant number of systems. The interface ID is an Extended Unique Identifier (EUI-64) generated from a network device's Media Access Control (MAC) address. With the address space expansion, it also provides greater control over transmission at the address level.

An IP address also referred to as a host address. It supports 2 to the power 128 hosts, i.e., billion of a billion host. Supports stateless autoconfiguration of hosts, bypassing the need for DHCP to configure such addresses. Addresses generated directly using the MAC (Media Access Control) hardware interface of an interface.

Address Types

Addressing is controlled by the format prefix as the first field of the IP address. Three primary IPv6 addresses:

Unicast: used for a packet sent to a single destination. Three significant kinds of network addresses are global, link-local, and site-local, indicated by their format prefix.

Multicast: used for a packet sent to more than one destination. It have format prefix of FF (8 bits) with flag and scope fields to indicate multicast group as permanent or temporary and whether local or global in scope.

Anycast: used to broadcast packet to a range of destinations

Loopback Address: 0:0:0:0:0:0:0:1
The sequence of zeros in adjacent fields represented by a shorthand symbol consists of double colon (::)
Loopback Address in Shorthand ::1

Kernel Configuration Support

Device Drivers -> Networking Support -> Networking Options -> The IPv6 Protocol

Next Page: IPv6 Advantages

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