Saturday Morning Thoughts

It’s been a little more than a week since I posted the first of what was supposed to be a small series on internet routing using OpenBSD. Then my Amazon refurbed PC tasked as a router gave up the ghost. While I wait on the replacement and starting completely from scratch, I figured that I would regale you with my thoughts on the way the internet is run.

Way back in the middle of 1990s when the internet was a burgeoning thing and being sold as a great democratization of computer use, it was far more open a playground with freedom to experiment, publish, and have a wealth of information at our finger tips. Then big corporate got its dirty little mitts on it and the internet just isn’t the same. Now that it is largely corporate controlled, the internet has become more of a walled garden than an open playground.

Well that much being said, I was vaguely curious about the possibility of registering my own gTLD or Generic Top Level Domain. Basically this means I would own whatever dot blank that I wanted. So I looked into what it would take to register .wan. When I saw what the fees were and no guarantees that it would be even approved despite paying the fees, I laughed; to the tune of more than a quarter of a million dollars. Hold on while I write that check!

I guess this was just too funny to make me angry but the whole idea is to keep anybody but the rich from really enjoying what the internet has to offer and experimenting with it. This is why if you want IP addresses that are similar to 192.0.2.1 you have to pay big dollars to an internet service provider and you end up really only renting them. For the non-tech folks out there that are reading this, IP addresses that follow the pattern I previously mentioned are called IPv4.

Well, IPv4 has the inherent limitation of a maximum of approximately 4.29 billion addresses. This makes them a scarce (now completely depleted) commodity. Capitalism loves scarcity and commodity even more because it commands high dollars. Well, the good engineers out there with pure objective interest in the internet and its growth, came up with something called IPv6. IPv6 has vastly more addresses than there are atoms on the earth; well into the quintillions. An example might look like this: 2001:abcd:c0de:cc1e:cafe:beef:ba1ee:0001.

The MBAs of the world collectively gasped when they learned of IPv6 and were in full-on fire prevention mode as their source of rarity, the IPv4 address scheme, could go away. So corporate engineers pushed for something called CGNAT or carrier grade NAT. This essentially a way of prolonging the use of IPv4 for some years to come. The technicalities of this are beyond the scope of the blog post, but the point is that, had IPv6 been adopted, we would all have our own unique presence on the internet – an IPv6 address scheme for each of us to use.

I get even more of a laugh when I find out how much it costs to get an IPv6 because it’s ridiculously cheap to the point of divine comedy. Want an IPv6 allocation for free? Go to the Hurricane Electric TunnelBroker and claim your very own. Of course, you need some technical prowess to be able to make use of it but you can still get it!

All this got me thinking in how I can subvert the ridiculous barriers to entry in the gTLD space, and from a technical stand point, it’s surprisingly easy to do. The hard part is getting everybody out there to accept it. That’ll be a challenge for another day I suppose.


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