You know that bug-eyed guy on that stands on the corner by your favorite pizza joint? Yeah, the crazy dude who goes on about alien abductions being an accidental side effect of the JFK consipracy. Turns out he was right! No, not about ET; about the Internet. Earlier this year, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority actually ran out of IPv4 Internet addresses. Don't worry though, the Web's not going to disappear into a black hole. Tomorrow, over 400 organizations are banding together for what they're calling "World IPv6 Day," the first large-scale trial run of IPv4's successor.
The IPv6 protocol's longer address field is set to dramatically increase the number of available IP addresses, but the transition's not expected to be seamless; that's why companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo! Are helping with the dry run. Theoretically, Ars Technica explains, DNS servers for the websites will offer the IPv6 connection first, but if your system can't handle it, the IPv4 version should load instead. In practice, routers and operating systems can sometimes freak out when they're presented with an IPv6 address – hence the need for this trial.
The minds behind World IPv6 Day aren't just interested in smoothing out technical kinks, they also want to raise general awareness. IPv4 isn't completely tapped – a handful of other registries like ARIN still have a few in their pockets. Still, the day's fast approaching that enabling IPv6 dual-stacking will be a necessity, rather than a virtual petrie dish, and World IPv6 day participants don't want to be caught with their pants down.