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Configuring IPv6

My ISP (Comcast) natively supports IPv6, so I recently went on a mission to make my local network fully support it, too. In the process I learned a few things, so I thought I'd share. Tunneling and router configuration are out of scope for this document, which only addresses basic configuration of IPv6 on Windows hosts. 

Powershell v4 is used throughout this guide. There are other ways to do these things but I have chosen Powershell for these examples ... as a matter of personal taste I guess.  PSv4 is native to Windows 8.1; if you are running a lesser version of WIndows you can get PSv4 here.


First, test that you have basic IP connectivity by running the following commands:
  • Get-NetIPConfiguration
  • Clear-DnsClientCache
  • Test-Connection 8.8.8.8
  • Test-Connection www.google.com
 
Here we see the results you are aiming for:
  • The NIC has proper IPv4 and v6 addresses.
  • Default gateways exist for both v4 and v6.
  • There are both v4 and v6 DNS servers configured.
  • Test-connection returns good results by IP and by name.

 

If you are not getting good results from the above tests, verify settings:

Is IPv6 enabled on your active NIC?
  • Check with this command:
    • Get-NetAdapterBinding -DisplayName *6*
  • If the result (for your preferred NIC) is False, then you can enable IPv6 with this command:
    • Set-NetAdapterBinding -Name yourNICname -DisplayName *6* -Enabled $true
  • Here's an example:

Does your preferred NIC have properly configured IPv6 address and gateway?
  • Fix router announcements.
    • Procedure for this will be specific to your router.
  • Or configure the settings locally on your PC:
    • New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceIndex 12 -IPAddress 2601:8:b800:25b::12 -PrefixLength 64 -DefaultGateway 2601:8:b800:25b::1
  • To remove an IP address you have set in this way:
    • Remove-NetIPAddress -IPAddress 2601:8:b800:25b::12
  • To remove the default gateway added in the above New-NetIPAddress command:
    • Remove-NetRoute -NextHop 2601:8:b800:25b::1
Does your preferred NIC have proper DNS Server configuration?

  • Fix router announcement and/or DHCPv6.
    • Procedure for this will be specific to your router.
    • See the section"IPv6 autoconfiguration, DNS, and Windows" below.
  • Or configure the settings locally on your PC:
    • Set-DnsClientServerAddress -InterfaceIndex 12 -ServerAddresses ("2601:8:b800:25b::3","2601:8:b800:25b::2")
  • To remove these and return to the settings handed out via NDP or DHCPv6:
    • Set-DnsClientServerAddress -InterfaceIndex 12 -ResetServerAddresses

 

 

IPv6 autoconfiguration, DNS, and Windows

 

There are a number of details involved with IPv6, but I'll try to make it simple. To reliably exchange data with other hosts on your LAN and on the internet, a computer really only needs four bits of configuration data. Here's a table showing these, and their typical sources. In this table, NDP means Neighbor Discovery Protocol.

 

Item

Example

Source 1

Source 2

Source 3

Link-Local IPv6 address

Fe80:0c:29:ff:fe:0c:47:d5

Created by OS independently

none

none

Routable IPv6 address

2601:8:b800:25b::3

Created by OS, using NDP

DHCPv6

Manual Config

Gateway IPv6 address

fe80::4e5e:cff:fe91:60f7

NDP

none

Manual Config

DNS Server's IPv6 address

2001:4860:4860::8888

NDP*

DHCPv6

Manual Config

 

A few other key points: 

  • Link-Local IPv6 address
    • Is built and tested for uniqueness by the OS.
    • You should never have to configure one yourself.
    • Always starts with the reserved fe80:: prefix.
    • A link-local address is all you actually need to talk to other hosts on your LAN.
  • Routable IPv6 address
    • Necessary to talk to hosts outside your LAN (the internet!).
    • Should be within a subnet assigned to you by your ISP.
  • Gateway IPv6 address
    • Should be a link-local address obtained from the router, via Router Announcement (RA).
    • Optionally you can configure one yourself, but if you have to, something else is broken.
    • Cannot come from DHCPv6.
  • DNS Server's IPv6 address
    • Necessary for name resolution. Example: resolving "www.google.com" to its IPv6 address of 2607:f8b0:400a:802::1010
    • Windows can't "hear" DNS Server IPv6 address when delivered via Router Advertisements (RAs) via NDP.

 

Did you catch that last bit? Windows hosts cannot receive DNS Server config information via RFC 6106 compliant RAs - a process sometimes called RDNSS. (Some citations: 1, 2, 3.)

 

Because of this, you'll have to find another way to configure IPv6 DNS on your Windows hosts. There are a few options here:

  1.  Configure DNS on all Windows hosts manually.
    1. Which is fine if you only have a couple of them, but rapidly gets annoying if you have more.
  2. Have your router send the "M" flag in its RA's, and run a DHCPv6 server which assigns IPv6 addresses and DNS configuration data.
    1. The M flag is actually configured within "Neighbor Discovery Protocol" (NDP).
    2. It stands for "Managed" and there are some advantages to using this approach:
      1. Like with DHCPv4, you can decide exactly which addresses will be used. Autoconfigured v6 addresses tend to be pretty random.
      2. Your DHCPv6 server maintains a list of all address leases, giving you a better view on how many hosts there are on your network. And an easier way to discover them all.
      3. DHCP reservations.
      4. DHCP in general is familiar to those of us who have been administering networks.
  3. Have your router send the "O" flag in its RA's, and run a DHCPv6 server which is only responsible for providing DNS configuration data.
    1. The "O" stands for "Optional Configuration" and basically it means your IPv6 hosts will auto-configure their addresses via NDP, but they'll also ask DHCPv6 for any additional config parameters they may need ... DNS being an important one.
    2. Benefits:
    1. Simpler configuration.
    2. Less chance of DHCP-related problems such as exhausted scopes.

 

 

Some reference links:

IPv6 Autoconfiguration in Windows Vista

Microsoft's Christopher Palmer answers a question about RFC 6106 compatibility

IPv6 Support in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 (by John Howie of WindowsITPro)

Christopher Palmer: "No version of Windows supports RFC 6106" 

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