So, as zeke kindly pointed out, you can use IPv6 with your Virgin Media connection (and probably with most/all other UK ISPs) by using 6to4 stateless tunnelling, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6to4
I have tried it, it's working, and I'm writing to share the experience and some remarks -- only the "big picture", this is for the technically adventurous users.
Goals and Limitations
With a 6to4 setup, all your computers (Windows, Mac or Linux) will work as hybrid IPv4 + IPv6. IPv4 will work as it is at the moment (a single public IPv4 address with the router, if you have a router). As for IPv6, rejoice!, you will get a whole /64 public subnet, which means 2^64 or almost 18 million million million (18x10^18) public, globally routable IPv6 addresses. Reckon it's enough for your house? 🙂 You don't have to "switch" between IPv4 and IPv6: they work side by side. If you try to access an IPv6-only website, such as http://ipv6.google.com, IPv6 will be used. If you try to access an IPv4-only website, IPv4 will be used. If the website is available as both IPv4 or IPv6, it's the application (eg, web browser) that decides what to do. (It seems that Safari on Mac 10.6.4 prefers IPv6, whereas IE on XP prefers IPv4.) Some IPv4+IPv6 websites will tell you which IP address you're using, so you'll know: eg, http://sixy.ch
Now, let me stress that it will not allow you to access all IPv6 severs/peers in the world, because not all native IPv6 networks out there have access to a 6to4 gateway (2002::/16 route) in order to send data back to you. I don't know the statistics - what's the proportion of servers/peers that won't be reachable via 6to4, September 2010? If you know, please share. Anyway: 6to4 will certainly allow you to have fun with IPv6, but for full connectivity, Virgin Media has to provide it natively -- so don't get lazy and keep hassling them!
Also, the 126.96.36.199 6to4 router I reached, probably physically located somewhere around London (as suggested by traceroute), had an average ping time of 24ms. If that's too high for your games, be warned. It's certainly fine for web browsing and file sharing, though.
You want to have a public IPv4 address for your computer or router (see below). This means you don't want to use a Virgin Hub such as the VMDG280. Instead, you want a regular cable modem that can give you a public IPv4 address via DHCP. It's OK if it's dynamic, but it must be public. Virgin's 255 or 256 modems are fine. (Note: theoretical speculation goes that it may be possible to use 6to4 behind NAT, i.e. behind a Virgin Hub. You'd have to configure your LAN's 6to4 router/computer to use the public/external IPv4 address (and update it if the IPv4 address changes), but I haven't found any specific instructions on how to do it.)
zeke suggested using a router with a DD-WRT firmware (www.dd-wrt.com). That's all very good, but not what I did. Instead, I used a mini computer (nettop) running Linux (prices between 100 and 200 pounds). Any computer and any Linux distribution will do; mine is the Acer Revo R3600 (small, quiet, low power (20 to 30W) to run 24/7) and OpenSuse Linux. I installed it behind the LCD TV in the living room, connected with a HDMI cable and a wireless keyboard/trackpad. Nice for YouTube, BBC iPlayer and other media playing, besides being an IPv4 and IPv6 router and web/ftp/ssh server.
Network interfaces: the mini computer needs to have at least two, one on the "WAN" side (Internet) and the other on the "LAN" side (local). The LAN-side interface could be either WiFi (wireless) or Ethernet (wired). The WAN-side interface is connected exclusively to the cable modem with an Ethernet cable. The LAN-side interface provides access to your other computers. The interfaces (WAN or LAN, wired or wireless) don't have to be built-in: they can be external USB adapters (USB-WiFi or USB-Ethernet). If your LAN interface is WiFi, you have to configure it to work in "master mode", or "access point mode". This will make the mini computer operate as a "wireless router", providing access to other computers. If you find it troublesome to make the WiFi interface operate in master mode, or if the range/speed aren't good enough, you can use wired interfaces for both WAN and LAN, then connect a separate "WiFi access point" box, configured in bridge mode, to the LAN interface.
Your basic Linux setup should enable IPv6 support, routing and IPv4 masquerading (NAT). These are simply checkboxes with OpenSuse (Yast control panel), and probably most distributions. On the WAN interface (towards the cable modem), enable DHCPv4. On the LAN interface, if it's WiFi, you have to seek instructions on configuring it in master mode. If it's wired, no special configurations needed.
The actual 6to4 setup: here I'll take a shortcut and link you to this great guide, "Quick and dirty IPv6 with 6to4": http://backreference.org/2010/06/27/quick-and-dirty-ipv6-with-6to4/ The guide suggests installing radvd, IPv6 Router Advertiser daemon. It's great for IPv6 "autoconfiguration" of computers in your LAN. However, you don't need radvd if you choose to configure IPv6 manually, with static LAN addresses, perhaps for a quick testing. The downside of manual configuration is that you'll have to change the IPv6 addresses of every computer in your LAN when/if your dynamic IPv4 address changes.
Router (mini computer) firewall: iptables6 allows you to configure a firewall with as many rules as you could possibly want. I just disabled it altogether, because that's what I wanted in the first place: a plain IP router for all my devices (VoIP, IP cameras, web servers, P2P, NAS, fridge twitters/messengers...), not an unreachable LAN behind NAT! My Windows machines have the Windows firewall enabled, and that shall do it. Importantly, note that network interfaces are normally configured with multiple IPv6 addresses, at least one of which is "link local", and another one being the global 6to4. If you configure your system or application to only shares files locally to your LAN/house, it can do two things: only accept connections on the link local address, or else, at least check that the source of packets belong to your LAN's global subnet. You don't need private IPv4 addresses to solve the security problem.
Of course, all this trouble (configuring a mini computer or installing DD-WRT) would have been avoided if Virgin Media supported IPv6 natively and provided customers with IPv6 routers/hubs/modems.
hi guys, very good that there's a discussion about IPv6 on this board!
i'm in ipv6 discussion groups on linked. my whole home network is using ipv6 for years. my last bit was the firewall a couple months ago. so i'm ready...
by reading back in the posts i'm shocked about the answer from vigin media, it's a typical we know it all better answer; "we have enough ipv4 addresses" ha what a laugh. it's not about heaving enough ipv4 addresses but the know how and experiance they will need in a very short time. well they can hire me if they can pay me 🙂 anyway they (vigin) will very soon get there lesson.
when living in belgium i had ipv6 working via tunnelling, that was back in 2003! so let's hoop that those uk isp guys are getting their a&^% moving soon, otherwise the world will simply passing by.
Just a quick comment about 6to4. It was/is a really useful tranition mechanism. As already pointed out a native IPv6 connection is preferable whether possible.
However there is one major limition. Because the tunnels are brittle, with no guarantee of latency or bandwidth, its generally considered to be less reliable than IPv4. Because of this the newer IPv6 compatible Operating Systems, with the exception of Mac OSx, will prefer a native IPv4 connection to a 6to4 connection. When connecting to an IPv6 only host, such as ipv6.google.com, this does not matter, as there is no IPv4 to fall back on. However a pure dual stack domain, such as heise.de, will result in a IPv4 connection.
Those with an interest in IPv6 may have heard about Googles whitelisting system. Unless your DNS servers are registered with Google, they will not serve you quad AAAA records (the IPv6 address records) for their domains (apart from the afore mention IPv6 specfic ones). The reason for this is 'brokeness' that they have observed for users who connect over IPv6. The majority of this brokeness appears to be due to 6to4.
So play with 6to4, but be aware of some of the limitations, and make a fuss demanding IPv6. Another telco in France, deployed 6rd, a tunnelled version of IPv6, and made it available to all their customers within 5 weeks. They had a advantage with the managed kit they provide to their subscribers, but you have to ask why Virgin are not able to do something similar, especially when you consider many of the routers they provide can be flash with open-wrt, and Comcast in the US's 6rd trial is using a modifed open-wrt for their 6rd.
First of all lets set the record straight with regards to IPv6. All customers with a standard knowledge of the Internet, are aware IPv4 is due to be phased out but not completely and is being replaced with IPv6. Some customers, granted not all of them... They tend to think changing over from IPv4 to IPv6 is basically a simple and straightforward process. When in fact, it's more complexed than you think. I'm not going to bore users to death with the facts because you are all intelligent enough to understand the difference between IPv4 and IPv6.
To set the record straight and stop some customers granted not all... With handbags at the ready...? World IPv6 is due for changeover on June 8th 2011, as you can appreciate and understand this is one of the biggest changes to the Internet since the birth of the Internet. Google and Facebook are committed and IPv6 will run on their main website for a period of 24 hours. Will IPv4 be phased out completely on the change over...? No it will not but will be phased out eventually, lets put this into perspective for a moment.
The modern Internet is built around IPv4 and provides 4.3 million addresses which is running out, and it's running out faster than first anticipated. Within the next 2 years. When I say run out, I basically mean it will run dry in the next two years. Some of you may be thinking "Hang on a moment... 2 years is miles away no problem plenty of time to make changes."
No ISP is going to commit and state categorically they are going to make changes, when it changes over they will make the necessary changes and inform their customers on how, what and when this will affect their clientèle. When it comes it will be changed, until then they will continue to state the normal basic answer.
"We do not have any plans at the moment, as this is a new technology it has to be tested before any changes are made. We will inform our customers when the time comes."
DO NOT Panic IPv4 will not be shut off on June 8th 2011, some people are saying it's going to turned off and millions of people will have no Internet access. IPv4 will be phased out gradually over a two year period until the well dries up completely.
Does this answer your questions
Thankfully my Cable/Router manufactures have updated their firmware to support IPv6 as not all manufactures are going to update their firmware and will force customers buy new Cable/Routers which I just think is just being inane and forcing customers to purchase a new Cable/Router
Well I don't know about IPV4 being "shut off" over a couple of years. Personally I can't see it happening that quickly, because there is far too much vested interest in, and far too much existing infrastructure on IPV4 for it to happen. I personally think we are going have 4 and 6 running side-by-side for quite a number of years. Granted, there will come time when any new public Internet service will have only an IPV6 address, and every ISP and their clients will have to deal with that. That is what worries me slightly, because there seems to be no sign of preparation for that event at many ISPs, and certainly not Virgin.
When Virgin say "we have enough IP addresses in reserve" (meaning IPV4 addresses) it only addresses (sorry about the pun) half the problem, in my opinion, because it does not provide any easy means for Virgin's clients to access any new IPV6-only services. Unless, that is, they are planning on providing bidirectional IPV4-to-6 transit of some sort within their own network, and transparently to IPV4-only clients.
(For anyone who is interested, my own home network is fully IPV6-enabled. I have an IPV6-in-IPV4 tunnel set up on my Cisco router to Hurricane Electric, who have allocated me a /48 IPV6 prefix. It works great, although the latency to any IPV6 address seems quite high, for reasons which are not clear to me at the moment).