Thursday, March 8, 2018

IPv6 Printer Support: Finally getting there

by Craig Miller

I recently replaced my printer with a Brother laser printer. I was pleasantly surprised with the level of IPv6 support. Although the printer includes WLAN support, I already had an ethernet cable in place, and it was a snap to connect to the network.

The UI designers of printers long ago realized that the small 20 character display is too limited to provide useful information, and instead there are options to print out full pages of info, including the Network Info. On this, I could not only see the usual IPv4 info, but also the SLAAC address that the printer had picked up.

Typing in the SLAAC address only once

Armed with the SLAAC address, I updated my local DNS server, since I really only wanted to type the IPv6 address once. Once that task was done, it was a snap to log into the printer's management web page over IPv6 using the DNS name.

IPv6 info

Of course, IPv6 support isn't perfect. There is no DHCPv6 support, and the IP Filtering feature is still  IPv4-only. So the next step for Brother is feature parity, but it is a good start.

Investigating IPv6 Printer Services

Even without feature parity, a quick scan by nmap reveals that the printing services are also available over IPv6.

Starting Nmap 6.40 ( ) at 2018-03-05 09:16 PST
Nmap scan report for (2001:470:ebbd:0:3e2a:f4ff:fe37:dac4)
Host is up (0.010s latency).
Not shown: 995 closed ports
80/tcp   open  http
443/tcp  open  https
515/tcp  open  printer
631/tcp  open  ipp
9100/tcp open  jetdirect

Printing from an IPv6-only network

And I was able to successfully print to the Brother printer which sits on my dual-stack network from my IPv6-only network. Kudos to Brother.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Writing IPv6 Apps: Python Webserver

by Craig Miller

Moving to IPv6 starts at home. Applications have to speak IPv6 as well as the network. The good news is that there is lots of software available which already supports IPv6. Unfortunately, there is much more that doesn't.

For example, a Python-based webserver. Certainly not ready for a production network, but handy as a learning tool about how easy it can be to support IPv6 in your application.

Why Python? Python is a wonderful programming language, and getting only better with version 3. There are libraries for most needs, including one which serves up the web. And it runs just about anywhere that Python runs (Windows, Linux, BSD, Mac, Pi, ODROID, etc)

Python module SimpleHTTPServer

The python module SimpleHTTPServer supports IPv4 out of the box with the simple command:
python -m SimpleHTTPServer
However it does not support IPv6. There is no one-line equivalent to support IPv6, so a small script is required.

Looking at the code

The ipv6-httpd script is a short script supporting both IPv4 and IPv6. Looking at the following sections:
  1. Initialization of the HTTPServer object (from SimpleHTTPServer library)
  2. Class creation (of HTTPServerV6) to support IPv6
As with all Python scripts, the details roll backwards from the bottom. Initialization occurs in main
def main():
    global server
    server = HTTPServerV6(('::', listen_port), MyHandler)
    print('Listening on port:' + str(listen_port) + '\nPress ^C to quit')

The IPv6 part

In order to support IPv6, we use a bit of object oriented inheritance trickery to modify the default of an existing class HTTPServer
class HTTPServerV6(HTTPServer):
    address_family = socket.AF_INET6
This creates a new class (which is used in our server ) with the address_family set to AF_INET6 (aka IPv6). This two-line change to the script transforms an IPv4-only script into an application that also supports IPv6.

Running the code

Now that we have a server which supports both IPv4 and IPv6, all we need to do is cd to the directory we wish to share, and start the server
$ cd public/
$ ~/bin/ 
Listening on port:8080
Press ^C to quit
2001:db8:ebbd:0:4d18:71cd:b814:9508 - - [09/Jul/2017 11:49:41] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 -
^CCaught SIGINT, dying

The webserver log is sent to standard out (stdout), and can be redirected to a file if desired. In the above example, an IPv6 client ..:9508 requests an index, then the server is terminated with a ^C.
Want to server from a different directory? Stop the server, cd to another directory, and restart the server, it will now serve files from the new current working directory (cwd) location.

Security (or lack there of)

This example is a personal webserver, designed to be started and stopped whenever you need it. It is NOT a production quality webserver that you should put on the internet. However it shows that supporting IPv6 doesn't have to be a hardship.

Adding IPv6 Support to your App

As you can see, it doesn't have to be difficult to add IPv6 to your apps, you just need to give it some thought when planning your App. By adding IPv6, you will future proof your App by being ready for the future of the Internet.