Connecting to the v6 world from afar

It turns out that proposing IPv6 as a “solution” for various networking problems in the Cloud and Container, read ‘Docker’, spaces opens a small Pandora’s Box of questions. This article is the first in a series discussing pragmatic IPv6 issues along side multiple environments using it. The goal of exploring IPv6 in these articles is to solve, or provide possible solutions, to problems.

Motivations

A while ago I took it upon myself to add my home “lab” environment to the public IPv6 network. IPv6 is coming, and it behooves any technologist to gain practical experience. While IPv6 is just the next version after IPv4, there are sharp edges and I certainly found a few. Unfortunately, I let the v6 portion of my network acquire some bit-rot over time and then found myself needing to resurrect the project. Additionally, there were some problems I had encountered and never fully tackled — time to reset and start fresh. There are certainly a couple of learning curves to operating an IPv6 network, it is a bit more than just the next version of IP.

Lately I have been repeatedly working with different virtualized compute environments: OpenStack Nova, Amazon Web Services, and Docker are all in the list. A recurring theme in interconnecting nodes is to apply a liberal use of NAT. NAT is not a solution, NAT is, in my opinion, a plague. NAT was created as a response to the depleting IPv4 address space and it seems to have devolved into a hammer and we now have a generation of software developers that only see nails.

The solution, in the truly abstract sense, is IPv6, and NAT was the hack. So, one day recently it dawns on me when looking at yet another Docker networking project, “flatten the network, it should be flat, and adopt the protocol that was, and is the solution: IPv6”.

Following this reasoning, with the help of the team I work with, we set out to build a reusable environment with not only IPv6 support, but specifically the ability to run an IPv6 only environment. Very quickly after defining this goal, it became obvious that connectivity between test environments, and for that matter, into the public IPv6 Internet would be highly desirable. And there we are: “how do we connect private, and possibly isolated behind NAT, networks to the public IPv6 Internet?”

There are many, many, articles written about the mechanics of connecting to the IPv6 Internet. What I was unsuccessful in finding is a description of how such connections worked, if it was possible to transition NAT, and what the possible issues in NAT traversal might be. The information is out there, but not in a distilled form; I will attempt to provide such a distillation here.

IPv6 Primers

(Note: this section really belongs in a separate article as a preface to my IPv6 series; don’t be surprised if it moves.)

All software, and almost all networking people I talk to are aware of IPv6 and have a mental model of what IPv6 is. It generally goes something along the lines of, “it’s IPv4 with longer addresses”. The slightly more astute will also add that this requires a new record type in DNS, the AAAA record. This is all true, however “the devil is in the details”, and v6 is no exception. The following sections elaborate a few of the subtle, but important “details” worth noting when beginning work with IPv6.

Prefix Length - Subnetting

The concept of subnetting, or splitting an address into two sections, the ‘network’ and ‘host’ address, remains the same; the implementation differs. In IPv4 addresses blocks were initially classified as Class ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’[*] and later we moved to CIDR (“Classless Inter-Domain Routing“) where the boundary between network and host was any bit boundary in the 32 bit space of the IPv4 address. Often a “larger” block, CIDR boundary to the left, more significant bits, would be handed to an organization and they would define a new CIDR bit location within the host space and subdivide the network, aka “subnetting”.

IPv6 uses the same concept, however the boundary between network and host sections of the address is fixed. An IPv6 address is 128 bits and the lower 64 are the host segment. This leaves 64 bits of network address. Unlike configuring IPv4 network interfaces where the “netmask” must be specified, an IPv6 configuration does not need to specify the netmask, it is always 64 bits.

Subdividing IPv6 address space does still happen, it happens above the first 64 bits in the address. For instance the IPv4 address to IPv6 network mapping specifies that each IPv4 address is associated with an IPv6 network that can be further subdivided. The v4 to v6 mapping provides a “/48” network for each v4 address meaning that each 6to4 network has 65536 subnets or 16 remaining bits to subnet in the 64 bit network portion of and IPv6 address, (48 + 16 = 64).

A quick note on terminology. In IPv4 the term ‘subnet mask’, or ‘netmask’ is used when describing the bit boundary between network and host address segments. In IPv6 a new term has evolved, “prefix length”, sometimes abbreviated, “prefixlen”. The prefix length is meant to describe the number of bits that are fixed in an allocated block of IPv6 addresses. This is similar, but subtly different than a netmask. The netmask in IPv6 is always /64. If I am given a network block with prefix length /48 (48 bits) then I have 16 bits, or 65536 discrete networks I can allocate from. If I am given a prefix length of /64 then I have exactly one IPv6 network and can not subdivide it.

[*]There were additional Classes, ‘D’ and ‘E’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classful_network#Introduction_of_address_classes

Tunneling - RFC-4213

RFC 4213 specifies, “IPv4 compatibility mechanisms that can be implemented by IPv6 hosts and routers.” The document specifically details a method for transporting IPv6 packets across an IPv4 only network — tunneling. The RFC does not exclude other methods, however the method in RFC 4213 is trivially simple and in wide use on the public (IPv4) Internet.

To me, at least, the obvious way to tunnel v6 packets through a v4 network is to simply wrap the v6 packet in a v4 packet and send it to the other end of the tunnel. This is exactly what RFC 4213 details:

                         +-------------+
                         |    IPv4     |
                         |   Header    |
+-------------+          +-------------+
|    IPv6     |          |    IPv6     |
|   Header    |          |   Header    |
+-------------+          +-------------+
|  Transport  |          |  Transport  |
|   Layer     |   ===>   |   Layer     |
|   Header    |          |   Header    |
+-------------+          +-------------+
|             |          |             |
~    Data     ~          ~    Data     ~
|             |          |             |
+-------------+          +-------------+

       Encapsulating IPv6 in IPv4

The IPv6 packet is unmodified and an IPv4 header is prepended — simple. The source and destination v4 addresses are the tunnel endpoints. The IP protocol number is 41. All remaining fields in the IPv4 header are calculated using the IPv6 packet as the v4 payload.

There is virtually no ‘protocol’ between the two tunnel endpoints; no handshake is required with this method. Each endpoint is configured to know the IPv4 address of the other and encapsulates any IPv6 packet it is handed. The tunnel endpoint is treated as a virtual interface and can be used in routing configurations like any other interface.

IPv4 NAT Ramifications

Can an RFC 4213 tunnel be established with one endpoint behind IPv4 NAT? Based on RFC 4213’s specification there are no barriers. In practice: yes, RFC 4213 tunnel endpoints can live behind a NAT’ing device.

How does RFC 4213 tunneling work when one endpoint is behind a tunnel? First, the remote endpoint must be configured with the exposed, or post-NAT’ed, or public IPv4 address; this allows inbound packets to be properly delivered to the NAT device. Second, the local, NAT’ed endpoint should be configured with the proper remote IPv4 address and the hidden, private, IPv4 address of the tunnel device. As the packet transitions the NAT device the private IPv4 address will be rewritten to the public address and forwarded. When the packet arrives at the remote endpoint it will present as if it had come from the NAT device.

The NAT device must be configured such that it either remembers state, or has bi-directional NAT. If the NAT device is keeping state then a packet from behind the NAT device must be sent before the NAT device will know where to deliver remote packets to behind the NAT device. Also, if keeping state, it is possible for the NAT device to forget the private endpoint if the tunnel is idle for longer than the timeout on state. Bi-directional NAT configurations will not suffer from these problems. If no state is kept and bi-directional NAT is not utilized then remote packets will be dropped at the NAT device and the tunnel will not function properly.

Additionally, the NAT device must support NAT translation of IPv4 protocol 41 packets. It has been reported that some consumer grade “home firewalls” are configured by default to drop such packets. Numerous other articles advise checking such devices to ensure they are configured to pass this traffic. I have not discovered any citations of devices that would not, and could not pass IPv4 protocol 41 traffic — they could exist.

Small Details - What problems can occur

The ideal model of simply wrapping a v6 packet with a v4 header and sending it on its merry way is great, but the astute reader will begin to identify a few problems with this simplistic strategy. In fact, there are a few details worth mentioning. In general, however, if the transit network and tunnel endpoints are reasonably well behaved then the RFC 4213 tunnel performs well.

The following sections provide a light covering of each topic. Complete details can be found in RFC 4213.

MTU

In the perfectly behaved case, IPv6 will use path MTU discovery and properly determine the MTU. The RFC 4213 endpoint will advertise an MTU that is the MTU of the IPv4 transit network minus the size of the IPv4 header. Everything will just work.

RFC 4213 recommends a more conservative approach however. The RFC recommends, but does not require, advertising a static MTU of 1280. This is the minimum allowable size of an IPv6 packet.

ICMP and Tunnel Errors

There are two categories of errors for which ICMP messages can exist. ICMPv6 errors can originate on the far side of the tunnel, and ICMPv4 errors can occur inside of the tunnel.

ICMPv6 errors are trivial to handle. The ICMPv6 packet should transition the tunnel, in reverse, just like any other IPv6 traffic. End to end ICMPv6 functions normally and simply sees the tunnel as a single data link in the IPv6 network.

ICMPv4 errors in the tunnel pose a more complicated issue. RFC 4213 states, in short, that where meaningful ICMPv6 responses can be composed, they should, and be forwarded to the IPv6 sender. If ICMPv4 errors occur where there is no meaningful way to alert the IPv6 sender then the packet and ICMPv4 response should simply be dropped; both IPv4 and IPv6 are connectionless with no guarantee of delivery.

Hop Limit

As stated in RFC 4213, “IPv6-over-IPv4 tunnels are modeled as a ‘single-hop’ from the IPv6 perspective.” The encapsulated IPv6 packet does not have its hop limit decremented while transiting the IPv4 network and only the IPv4 TTL is manipulated in transit. The IPv6 packet’s hop limit is decremented by the tunnel endpoint as if the IPv4 transit network is a single hop.

RFC-4213 Methods

The common name for basic RFC-4213 tunneling is “6in4“. Utilizing the techniques described above, manually configuring tunnel endpoints would be described as 6in4.

6to4

The “6to4” method builds on 6in4 by providing automated configuration. Tunneling is accomplished according to RFC-4213 and configuration details are prescribed in RFC-3056 and RFC-3068. In short, RFC-3056 reserves 2002::/16 for statically mapping IPv4 addresses to IPv6 networks and RFC-3068 specifies an IPv4 Anycast address to be used as a tunnel endpoint.

The 2002::/16 IPv6 prefix is used to map public IPv4 addresses into an IPv6 network address. The mapping is accomplished by concatenating 2002: with the 32 bit IPv4 address to form a /48 prefix length network for each IPv4 address. The result is depicted as such:

2002:[IPv4 Addr]::/48

This pattern leaves 16 bits in the network portion of each IPv6 network for subnetting.

The addition of an IPv4 Anycast address, defined in RFC-3068, to be used for tunneling completes the automation of configuration in the 6to4 scheme. The address is 192.88.99.1. Routers sending 6to4 traffic into the public Internet send to 192.88.99.1 and in reverse, routers send 2002::/48 traffic to the embedded IPv4 address. No explicit configuration of the 6to4 tunnel is needed.

There has been some criticism of 6to4 tunneling. Two items I will call out are:

  • No support for tunnel endpoints behind NAT.
  • Non deterministic network routing, (and latency), because of Anycast usage.

Additional criticisms have been levied against the 6to4 scheme, including additional RFC’s (RFC-6343, RFC-3964).

In general, and with the availability of free 6in4 tunnel brokers, discussed later, it is my recommendation to avoid the use of 6to4 with out specific reasons for choosing it.

Teredo - RFC-4380

For completeness, it is worth mentioning that Teredo is an additional method of connecting to the public IPv6 network through a tunnel. Teredo is NOT an RFC-4213 based method. Teredo uses UDP for encapsulation and does not tunnel networks, but only single IPv6 hosts. Teredo does allow transitioning NAT. Using Teredo was popularized by its inclusion in Microsoft Windows; many Windows users are connected to IPv6 networks and are not even aware of it. There is also a Linux/xxxBSD, open source client named Miredo.

Tunnel Brokers

Tunnel Broker” is the term being used to describe ISP’s who will provide tunnel access to the IPv6 public Internet. There are a number of brokers, and among them, a number that offer free access for tunneling IPv6. The Wikipedia page, “”List of IPv6 tunnel brokers” contains a list.

The two most popular, and well deployed brokers are Hurricane Electric‘s (HE) “IPv6 Tunnel Broker” service and SixXS (Six Access). I chose HE because they appeared to have more written about them and how to connect to their tunnel broker. In hindsight I have concluded that SixXS and HE are on comparable footing. I would recommend starting with one of the two, but believe both are very comparable.

Implementing an HE Tunnel with FreeBSD

In this section I will walk through setting up an IPv6 tunnel using a free account from Hurricane Electric’s (HE) IPv6 Tunnel Broker and a FreeBSD host. I will discuss configuring the FreeBSD host as a router, but the exercise can be completed even if the host is not. This exercise can also be completed using a FreeBSD host behind a NAT’ing firewall. In fact, a FreeBSD VM on VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation, even with 2 layers of NAT, will work.

The steps involved will be:

  1. Acquire an HE Tunnel Broker Account.
  2. Allocate (create) a tunnel at HE.
  3. Configure the FreeBSD host.
  4. Configure basic filter (firewall) rules.

HE Tunnel Broker Account

Go to: https://tunnelbroker.net and select the “Register” button on the upper left section of the page in the login box. Complete the registration form which asks for:

  • An account (user) name
  • Email address
  • First and Last Name
  • optional Company Name
  • Address
  • Phone

You will be emailed your registration and initial password. The email will cite the IP(v4) address you registered from, but you do not need to register from the same location as you will set up the tunnel to.

Save Account Name and Password to your keychain. You are using some sort of keychain software, right? <hint, nudge>

With the registration email, go back to tunnelbroker.net and log in. ‘Username’ is the Account Name you registered with. Once logged in you will be allowed to create up to 5 separate tunnels. Initially tunnels are issued a single IPv6 network, a /64 prefix. There is an option to “assign a /48” to the tunnel which would allocate a prefix with 16 bits or 65536 subnets within it. I have not tried this yet, but will update this article when I do.

At this point you need to know the public IPv4 address that you will use as your endpoint. This could be the public IPv4 address of the FreeBSD host, if it’s publicly attached. If your FreeBSD host is behind NAT then the public IPv4 address is the address you emerge from NAT with. http://ipecho.net is an excellent service if you need to discover your public IP address; it can be used from a command line application like wget or curl, use http://ipecho.net/plain.

Allocate a Tunnel

Once logged in to HE’s Tunnel Broker, on the left side below “Account Menu” is a box titled “User Functions”. Inside User Functions click on “Create Regular Tunnel”. You will be prompted for two pieces of information:

  • IPv4 Endpoint (Your side).
  • Available Tunnel Servers.

Enter the public IPv4 address your FreeBSD host appears on the Internet as, as described above, for the “IPv4 Endpoint”. This is the address that HE’s side of the tunnel will send (tunnel) IPv6 packets bound for you to.

Select the nearest location for the “Available Tunnel Servers”. Note that “nearest” is in a network sense. The astute person will perform ping checks and determine latency if there is any question as to which is closest. I was pleasantly surprised that the physically closest node was the lowest latency - this is often not the my case. Regardless, any of the server endpoints will function properly.

Note that the HE Tunnel Broker web site will let you create, edit, and delete tunnels. It is not necessary to “get it perfect” the first time; it is possible to change the tunnel configuration as well as destroy and recreate.

Click the “Create Tunnel” button and you will be presented with the details of the newly created tunnel. This information includes:

  • Server IPv4 Address — the remote tunnel endpoint.
  • Client IPv4 Address — your public IPv4 address.
  • Server IPv6 Address — the IPv6 address inside the far end of the tunnel.
  • Client IPv6 Address — the IPv6 address inside your end of the tunnel.
  • Routed /64 (IPv6 prefix) — An IPv6 network prefix to use on your end of the tunnel.

The “Routed /64” will not overlap with the IPv6 addresses of your client or server; this is correct. Keep in mind that the tunnel is a separate data link (L2 network) from your routed network, this is why the client/server addresses are, and should be, on a different network.

Tunnel Details Page

There are a few additional items worth noting on the Tunnel Details page. First, note the tabs across the top of the center section: “IPv6 Tunnel”, “Example Configurations”, and “Advanced”. Also note, along the left side that the “Account Menu” and “User Functions” are still available.

On the “IPv6 Tunnel” tab there are three noteworthy items. First, the “Delete” button; use this to return a tunnel you are no longer using. The second is less obvious, but very useful. Clicking on the Client IPv4 address will allow you to edit the value. If you would like to adjust the IPv4 address of your end of the tunnel it can be done with out deleting and recreating the tunnel. Finally, there is a clickable link to “Assign /48” to the tunnel. HE documentation makes reference to “get your own /48 prefix once your tunnel is up”. I have not attempted to assign a /48 yet, but as noted earlier, will update this article when I have.

The “Example Configurations” tab is just that, a place to find examples for various operating systems. Select the tab, and then choose an OS from the drop down. Worth noting, the “FreeBSD >= 4.4” item has an error in it, which was the source of some confusion for me. In the third line that ends with “prefixlen 128”, this final clause, the prefixlen, should removed; the remainder of the line remains the same. I have not experimented with any of the other examples, your mileage may vary.

The “Advanced” tab has a couple of settings. The tunnel MTU can be tuned. An “update key” is provided for interacting with HE’s Tunnel Broker via scripts. Finally, there is a method to update DNS settings associated with your tunnel.

With in the left hand side “Account Menu” the “Main Page” link will take you to the landing page you started at when you logged in. Now that you have allocated a tunnel it will be listed at the bottom of the center panel. Clicking on the link for the tunnel will take you back to the Tunnel Details page.

Configure FreeBSD

For purposes of this example, the following table represents the example details of our tunnel as configured from HE:

Server IPv4 Address 198.51.100.1
Server IPv6 Address 2001:db8:39:222::1/64
Client IPv4 Address 203.0.113.23
Client IPv6 Address 2001:db8:39:222::2/64
Routed /64 2001:db8:4b:222::/64

Also, for purposes of this example, the host will have two interfaces named “em0” and “em1”. Interface “em0” is connected, behind NAT, to the Internet. Interface “em1” is the ‘internal’ network. Note that basic connectivity of the FreeBSD host can be done with just interface “em0”. Only the later part of this example will show how to add a routed IPv6 network which will be attached to interface “em1”.

The configuration of both interfaces starts as follows:

gustafer@fw1> ifconfig -a
em0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        options=9b<RXCSUM,TXCSUM,VLAN_MTU,VLAN_HWTAGGING,VLAN_HWCSUM>
        ether 00:0c:29:4a:b5:20
        inet 10.3.7.146 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 10.3.7.255
        nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
        media: Ethernet autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex>)
        status: active
em1: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        options=9b<RXCSUM,TXCSUM,VLAN_MTU,VLAN_HWTAGGING,VLAN_HWCSUM>
        ether 00:0c:29:4a:b5:2a
        inet 10.100.2.254 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 10.100.2.255
        nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
        media: Ethernet autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex>)
        status: active

Note that neither interface has any IPv6 configuration associated with it at the start. The outward facing, but still behind NAT, interface, “em0” has an IP address of 10.3.7.146. The loopback details were removed for space as they have nothing to add.

FreeBSD uses the gif(4) (generic tunnel interface) device to configure 6in4 tunnels. There are two things that have to be done to configure the tunnel: 1) configure the “gif0” interface, and 2) add a default, IPV6 route.

The commands below do the following:

  1. Create a pseudo-interface of type gif named ‘gif0’.
gustafer@fw1> sudo ifconfig gif0 create

gustafer@fw1> ifconfig gif0
gif0: flags=8010<POINTOPOINT,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1280
        nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
  1. Configure gif0 as a tunnel, giving the IPv4 addresses of each endpoint; local followed by remote. Note that the actual, NAT’ed, IPv4 address of the ‘em0’ interface is used here; this is necessary so the FreeBSD host knows what interface to listen for protocol 41 (RFC-4213) packets on. The NAT device between the FreeBSD host and the public Internet will do just that, NAT.
gustafer@fw1> sudo ifconfig gif0 tunnel 10.3.7.146 198.51.100.1

gustafer@fw1> ifconfig gif0
gif0: flags=8050<POINTOPOINT,RUNNING,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1280
        tunnel inet 10.3.7.146 --> 198.51.100.1
        nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
  1. Configure the gif0 interface, (inside the tunnel), with IPv6 details. Note that the link local IPv6 address (fe80::…) is automatically added as well.
gustafer@fw1> sudo ifconfig gif0 inet6 2001:db8:39:222::2

gustafer@fw1> ifconfig gif0
gif0: flags=8051<UP,POINTOPOINT,RUNNING,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1280
        tunnel inet 10.3.7.146 --> 198.51.100.1
        inet6 2001:db8:39:222::2 prefixlen 64
        inet6 fe80::20c:29ff:fe4a:b520%gif0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x5
        nd6 options=21<PERFORMNUD,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
  1. Add a default, IPv6 route that points at the far end of the inside of the tunnel. Note here that the link local address (fe80::…) routes to the link, but the two site local addresses (ff01::… and ff02::…) route to the default route; this is normal.
gustafer@fw1> sudo route -n add -inet6 default 2001:db8:39:222::1
add net default: gateway 2001:db8:39:222::1

gustafer@fw1> netstat -rnf inet6
Routing tables

Internet6:
Destination                       Gateway                       Flags      Netif Expire
default                           2001:db8:39:222::1            UGS        gif0
2001:db8:39:222::/64              link#5                        U          gif0
fe80::%gif0/64                    link#5                        U          gif0
ff01::%gif0/32                    2001:db8:39:222::2            U          gif0
ff02::%gif0/32                    2001:db8:39:222::2            U          gif0

To verify the tunnel is up, use ping6 to ping an IPv6 address. ping6 will automatically select AAAA DNS records so choosing any host that you know has AAAA records listed will work; ‘google.com’ works perfectly well:

gustafer@fw1> ping6 -c 1 google.com
PING6(56=40+8+8 bytes) 2001:db8:39:222::2 --> 2607:f8b0:400f:802::200e
16 bytes from 2607:f8b0:400f:802::200e, icmp_seq=0 hlim=53 time=48.120 ms

--- google.com ping6 statistics ---
1 packets transmitted, 1 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/std-dev = 48.120/48.120/48.120/0.000 ms

An additional way to verify your connection is functioning is to use the “IPv6 Portscan” function found in the User Functions section of the HE Tunnel Broker web page. You must be logged in to use this service and it will only allow you to scan addresses that HE allocated to you. If you have simply followed the instructions above the scan should return results, if you are connected. If you have implemented packet filtering then the scan will fail if you are blocking the inbound traffic.

If you are having problems, please look at any NAT devices between your FreeBSD host and the public internet, firewalls. Ensure that IPv4 protocol 41 is not being blocked. As a last resort, tcpdump host 198.51.100.1 will capture traffic to/from the remote tunnel. Tcpdump does a nice job of decoding 6in4 packets.

At this point you have a functioning IPv6 tunnel to the public, IPv6 Internet. The only, (optional), step that remains is to configure the internal network on interface ‘em1’ with the /64 network that HE allocated for your internal use. In this example, I will configure the interface with host address 1, (i.e. …::1). The choice of using ::1 is arbitrary, but common for routers.

gustafer@fw1> sudo ifconfig em1 inet6 2001:db8:4b:222::1

gustafer@fw1> ifconfig em1
em1: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        options=9b<RXCSUM,TXCSUM,VLAN_MTU,VLAN_HWTAGGING,VLAN_HWCSUM>
        ether 00:0c:29:4a:b5:2a
        inet 10.100.2.254 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 10.100.2.255
        inet6 2001:db8:4b:222::1 prefixlen 64
        inet6 fe80::20c:29ff:fe4a:b52a%em1 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x2
        nd6 options=21<PERFORMNUD,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
        media: Ethernet autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex>)
        status: active

By default FreeBSD does not automatically enable forwarding, or routing, of packets. IPv6 forwarding is enabled separately from IPv4 and you may need to enable it: sysctl net.inet6.ip6.forwarding=1

A final note: the example above configured IPv6 tunneling manually using the command line. Most installations will want to set such configuration to happen at boot. The rc.conf(5) file supports configuration parameters for everything accomplished above, manually.

Firewall Rules

Connecting to the public IPv6 network is no different than connecting to the public IPv4 network — you need to protect your host(s) by blocking undesired, incoming traffic. However, connecting via IPv6 does not require NAT — all of your hosts have public address. The solution to this problem is also the same, regardless of IPv4 or IPv6: block all traffic that does not initiate from within your network. This is a simplified solution, but a good starting point. If you know enough to start thinking, “but I need to allow X, Y, and Z”, then you know enough to go beyond the simple explanation that follows.

Filtering does not change from IPv4 to IPv6, but filtering rules do. Most filter rules either explicitly, or implicitly declare the datagram protocol (v4 vs. v6). In FreeBSD’s PF the clause ‘inet’ states IPv4; the clause ‘inet6’ specifies IPv6.

As a starting point, the following snippet from /etc/pf.conf will block all traffic not originating from behind your FreeBSD host while allowing traffic initiated from your network to work bidirectionally. This is a very common starting point for firewall rules, specifically crafted for IPv6:

block in on gif0
pass out on gif0 inet6 keep state

Additionally, if you already have filtering enabled, you may need to allow 6in4 (protocol 41) traffic in. This is accomplished with the pf.conf clause:

pass in on em0 inet proto 41 from 198.51.100.1 to 10.3.7.146
pass out on em0 inet proto 41 from 10.3.7.146 to 198.51.100.1

Alternative Firewall Technologies

There are a plethora of alternatives to FreeBSD that can be used to construct an IPv6 tunneling router. In fact, I suspect FreeBSD may not be the number one ranked popular choice, likely loosing out to Linux. FreeBSD is my preference, and I find the semantics of its networking tools to be more readable than most, which is why I chose it for this example.

I will specifically address two alternative below. In pursuing the HE example configurations I noted all of the popular operating systems, including all of the BSD’s, Linux, Windows, and Mac. I also noted OpenWRT, a popular open source alternative firmware load for many consumer grade “home firewall” products.

PFSense

PFSense is an open source project implementing a Firewall. It is based on FreeBSD and comes with a web interface. Its intention is to be an appliance, not an operating system. It can be loaded on a very wide verity of hardware ranging from an old PC up to enterprise grade, custom(ish) hardware sold by PFSense.

PFSense is built on top of FreeBSD and as such supports all of the networking abilities of FreeBSD. Additionally, the web interface has explicit configuration for configuring 6in4 tunnels. If an appliance like device is more to your liking, or better suites your requirements, I would encourage you to consider using PFSense as an alternative to ‘plain’ FreeBSD.

The HE Tunnel Broker example configurations include PFSense as a choice. The example simply links to the PFSense web page describing the process for configuring HE’s tunnels. The PFSense community provide good support for the HE Tunnel Broker.

Linux?

But what about Linux? All of the above can be accomplished using Linux. HE’s TunnelBroker site provides specifics for Linux, along with a number of additional operating systems. This article will not cover Linux — sorry.

Conclusion

6in4 Tunneling based on RFC-4213 is both a simple, and an effective method for connecting IPv6 networks across IPv4, including NAT. There are multiple IPv6 tunnel brokers offering free, and hassle free, tunnels using 6in4. Modern, open source operating systems have good support for 6in4. There are open source “firewall” appliances using these operating systems and providing simple 6in4 configuration. Join the IPv6 network today, there’s no reason to wait. Better yet, start using IPv6 to solve network problems induced by using IPv4.


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