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IPv6, as you’re probably aware by now, is the successor to the current Internet Protocol (IPv4). Developed in the 1990s, it provides more address-space, and has little bonuses like more efficient routing, and small, but measurably improved performance. With IPv4 largely having run out of address-space (earlier this year), and ISPs charging ever-increasing rates for their remaining stocks of IPv4 addresses, there’s a small, but increasing number of systems that are only accessible through IPv6, and a much larger pool that are available through both.

As a major consumer of IPv4 addresses, the question of whether the Lab has any plans to add IPv6 support to Second Life is an interesting question – and one that has been being asked since 2004. However, Lab’s answers take some interpretation at times.

The actual answer goes like this “we don’t (yet) have any plans for IPv6 development to share.”

Now that’s a funny sort of turn of phrase, but one which turns up reasonably often. Read literally, it means “no comment”, but it can have two other meanings depending on what question you asked, since the Lab usually says “no comment” by actually saying that.

For example, if I’d asked “What are the Lab’s plans …” then this answer would usually mean “We have plans, but we’re not ready to say anything about those plans yet.” In the past, I’ve gotten that response as little as 20 hours before the public announcement of those plans.

On the other hand, if I asked “Does the Lab have plans …” then this answer usually means “No, we don’t actually have plans.” It’s a subtle distinction that you get used to over time, by matching questions to answers to eventual actions (I use a spreadsheet for keeping track of all of this).

In this case, I asked the latter form – so the probable answer here is that the Lab is still aware that it is an issue but that no, there aren’t any plans to step up to IPv6, and that – likely – nobody is actually looking into it.

While every operating system that’s had a release in the last ten years has native IPv6 support (including those used by the Second Life servers), not having application-level support would seem to put the Lab at least one to two years out from being ready to make the leap.

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