Network Working Group A.M. Matsumoto
Internet-Draft J.K. Kato
Intended status: Standards Track T.F. Fujisaki
Expires: September 15, 2011 NTT
March 14, 2011

Update to RFC 3484 Default Address Selection for IPv6


RFC 3484 describes algorithms for source address selection and for destination address selection. The algorithms specify default behavior for all Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) implementations. This document specifies a set of updates that modify the algorithms and provide fixes for the identified issues.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The IPv6 addressing architecture [RFC4291] allows multiple unicast addresses to be assigned to interfaces. Because of this IPv6 implementations need to handle multiple possible source and destination addresses when initiating communication. RFC 3484 [RFC3484] specifies the default algorithms, common across all implementations, for selecting source and destination addresses so that it is easier to predict the address selection behavior.

Since RFC 3484 was published, some issues have been identified with the algorithm specified there. The issues are related to the longest match algorithm used in Rule 9 of Destination address selection breaking DNS round-robin techniques, and prioritization of poor IPv6 connectivity using transition mechanisms over native IPv4 connectivity.

There have also been some significant changes to the IPv6 addressing architecture that require changes in the RFC 3484 policy table. Such changes include the deprecation of site-local unicast addresses [RFC3879] and the IPv4-compatible IPv6 addresses, the introduction of Unique Local Addresses [RFC4193] etc.

This document specifies a set of updates that modify the algorithms and provide fixes for the identified issues.

2. Specification

2.1. Changes related to the default policy table

The default policy table is defined in RFC 3484 Section 2.1 as follows:

      Prefix        Precedence Label
      ::1/128               50     0
      ::/0                  40     1
      2002::/16             30     2
      ::/96                 20     3
      ::ffff:0:0/96         10     4

The changes that should be included into the default policy table are those rules that are universally useful and do no harm in every reasonable network environment. The changes we should consider for the default policy table are listed in this sub-section.

The policy table is defined to be configurable. If the local site policy needs to be different changes can be put into the policy table manually or by using the auto-configuration mechanism proposed as a DHCP option [I-D.ietf-6man-addr-select-opt].

2.1.1. ULAs in the policy table

RFC 5220 [RFC5220] Section 2.1.4, 2.2.2, and 2.2.3 describes address selection problems related to ULAs [RFC4193]. These problems can be solved by either changing the scope of ULAs to site-local, or by adding an entry to the default policy table entry that has its own label for ULAs.

ULAs has been specified with a global scope because the reachability of the ULAs was intended to be restricted by the routing system. Since a ULA will not be exposed outside of its reachability domain, if a ULA is available as a candidate destination address, it can be expected to be reachable. In fact, such ULA to ULA communication is often desired (in particular in sites where ULAs are intended to provide stable addresses when the global prefix may be changing) and thus needs to be prioritized.

Therefore, the scope of ULA should be kept global, and prioritization of ULA to ULA communication should be implemented in the policy table, by assigning a specific label for ULAs using fc00::/7.

2.1.2. Teredo in the policy table

Teredo [RFC4380] is defined and has been assigned 2001::/32. This address block should be assigned its own label in the policy table. Teredo's priority should be less than or equal to 6to4, considering its characteristic of being a transitional tunnel mechanism. Windows already implements this.

2.1.3. Deprecated addresses in the policy table

IPv4-compatible IPv6 addresses are deprecated [RFC4291]. IPv6 site-local unicast addresses are deprecated [RFC3879]. Moreover, the 6bone testing address has also been phased out[RFC3701]. The issue is how we treat these outdated addresses.

2.1.4. Renewed default policy table

After applying these updates, the default policy table becomes:

      Prefix        Precedence Label
      ::1/128               60     0
      fc00::/7              50     1
      ::/0                  40     2
      ::ffff:0:0/96         30     3
      2002::/16             20     4
      2001::/32             10     5
      ::/96                  1    10 
      fec::/16               1    11
      3ffe::/16              1    12

2.2. The longest matching rule

This issue is related to a problem with the longest matching rule, as reported by Dave Thaler. It is a malfunction of the DNS round-robin technique. It is common for both IPv4 and IPv6.

When a destination address DA, DB, and the source address of DA Source(DA) are on the same subnet and Source(DA) == Source(DB), DNS round robin load-balancing cannot function. By considering prefix lengths that are longer than the subnet prefix, this rule establishes preference between addresses that have no substantive differences between them. The rule functions as an arbitrary tie-breaker between the hosts in a round robin, causing a given host to always prefer a given member of the round robin.

By limiting the calculation of common prefixes to a maximum length equal to the length of the subnet prefix of the source address, rule 9 can continue to favor hosts that are nearby in the network hierarchy without arbitrarily sorting addresses within a given network. This modification could be written as follows:

Rule 9: Use longest matching prefix.

When DA and DB belong to the same address family (both are IPv6 or both are IPv4): If CommonPrefixLen(DA & Netmask(Source(DA)), Source(DA)) > CommonPrefixLen(DB & Netmask(Source(DB)), Source(DB)), then prefer DA. Similarly, if CommonPrefixLen(DA & Netmask(Source(DA)), Source(DA)) < CommonPrefixLen(DB & Netmask(Source(DB)), Source(DB)), then prefer DB.

2.3. Utilize next-hop for source address selection

RFC 3484 source address selection rule 5 states that the address that is attached to the outgoing interface should be preferred as the source address. This rule is reasonable considering the prevalence of Ingress Filtering described in BCP 38 [RFC2827]. This is because an upstream network provider usually assumes it receives those packets from customers that will use the delegated addresses as their source addresses.

This rule, however, is not effective in an environment such as described in RFC 5220 Section 2.1.1, where a host has multiple upstream routers on the same link and has addresses delegated from each upstream on single interface.

So, a new rule 5.1 that utilizes next-hop information for source address selection is inserted just after the rule 5.

Rule 5.1: Use an address assigned by the selected next-hop.

If SA is assigned by the selected next-hop that will be used to send to D and SB is assigned by a different next-hop, then prefer SA. Similarly, if SB is assigned by the next-hop that will be used to send to D and SA is assigned by a different next-hop, then prefer SB.

2.4. Private IPv4 address scope

When a packet goes through a NAT, its source or destination address can get replaced with another address with a different scope. It follows that the result of the source address selection algorithm may be different when the original address is replaced with the NATed address.

The algorithm currently specified in RFC 3484 is based on the assumption that a source address with a small scope cannot reach a destination address with a larger scope. This assumption does not hold if private IPv4 addresses and a NAT are used to reach public IPv4 addresses.

Due to this assumption, in the presence of both NATed private IPv4 address and transitional addresses (like 6to4 and Teredo), the host will choose the transitional IPv6 address to access dual-stack peers [I-D.denis-v6ops-nat-addrsel]. Choosing transitional IPv6 connectivity over native IPv4 connectivity is not desirable.

This issue can be fixed by changing the address scope of private IPv4 addresses to global. Such a change has already been implemented in some OSes.

2.5. Deprecation of site-local unicast address

RFC 3484 contains a few "site-local unicast" and "fec::" descriptions. It's better to remove examples related to site-local unicast address, or change examples to use ULAs. Points that need to be re-written are:

3. Security Considerations

No security risk is found that degrades RFC 3484.

4. IANA Considerations

An address type number for the policy table may have to be assigned by IANA.

5. References

5.1. Normative References

[RFC1794] Brisco, T., "DNS Support for Load Balancing", RFC 1794, April 1995.
[RFC1918] Rekhter, Y., Moskowitz, R., Karrenberg, D., Groot, G. and E. Lear, "Address Allocation for Private Internets", BCP 5, RFC 1918, February 1996.
[RFC3484] Draves, R., "Default Address Selection for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)", RFC 3484, February 2003.
[RFC3701] Fink, R. and R. Hinden, "6bone (IPv6 Testing Address Allocation) Phaseout", RFC 3701, March 2004.
[RFC3879] Huitema, C. and B. Carpenter, "Deprecating Site Local Addresses", RFC 3879, September 2004.
[RFC4193] Hinden, R. and B. Haberman, "Unique Local IPv6 Unicast Addresses", RFC 4193, October 2005.
[RFC4291] Hinden, R. and S. Deering, "IP Version 6 Addressing Architecture", RFC 4291, February 2006.
[RFC4380] Huitema, C., "Teredo: Tunneling IPv6 over UDP through Network Address Translations (NATs)", RFC 4380, February 2006.
[RFC5220] Matsumoto, A., Fujisaki, T., Hiromi, R. and K. Kanayama, "Problem Statement for Default Address Selection in Multi-Prefix Environments: Operational Issues of RFC 3484 Default Rules", RFC 5220, July 2008.

5.2. Informative References

[RFC2827] Ferguson, P. and D. Senie, "Network Ingress Filtering: Defeating Denial of Service Attacks which employ IP Source Address Spoofing", BCP 38, RFC 2827, May 2000.
[I-D.denis-v6ops-nat-addrsel] Denis-Courmont, R, "Problems with IPv6 source address selection and IPv4 NATs", Internet-Draft draft-denis-v6ops-nat-addrsel-00, February 2009.
[I-D.ietf-ipv6-ula-central] Hinden, R, "Centrally Assigned Unique Local IPv6 Unicast Addresses", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-ipv6-ula-central-02, June 2007.
[I-D.ietf-6man-addr-select-opt] Matsumoto, A, Fujisaki, T, Kato, J and T Chown, "Distributing Address Selection Policy using DHCPv6", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-6man-addr-select-opt-01, June 2011.
[I-D.ietf-6man-addr-select-considerations] Chown, T and A Matsumoto, "Considerations for IPv6 Address Selection Policy Changes", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-6man-addr-select-considerations-04, October 2011.

Appendix A. Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank to Dave Thaler, Pekka Savola, Remi Denis-Courmont and the members of 6man's address selection design team for their invaluable contributions to this document.

Appendix B. Discussion

Appendix B.1. Centrally assigned ULA

Centrally assigned ULA [I-D.ietf-ipv6-ula-central] is proposed, and assigned fc00::/8. Using the different labels for fc00::/8 and fd00::/8 makes sense if we can assume the same kind of address block is assigned in the same or adjacent network.
However, the way of assignment and network adjancency may not have any relationships.

Appendix B.2. 6to4, Teredo, and IPv4 prioritization

Regarding the prioritization between IPv4 and these transitional mechanisms, their connectivity quality is recently known to be worse than IPv4. These mechiansms are said to be the last resort access to IPv6 resources. The 6to4 should have higher precedence over Teredo, in that 6to4 host to 6to4 host communication runs over IPv4, which can result in a more optimal path, and 6to4 does not need NAT traversal.

Appendix B.3. Deprecated address

These addresses were removed from the current specification. So, they should not be treated differently, especially if we think about future re-use of these address blocks.
Considering the inappropriate use of these address blocks, especially in outdated implementations, and bad effects caused by them, however, they should be labeled differently from the legitimate address blocks.
Or should we keep this entry for the sake of backward compatibility?

Appendix B.4. The longest match rule

RFC 3484 defines that the destination address selection rule 9 should be applied to both IPv4 and IPv6, which spoils the DNS based load balancing technique that is widely used in the IPv4 Internet today.

When two or more destination addresses are acquired from one FQDN, rule 9 states that the longest matching destination and source address pair should be chosen. As stated in RFC 1794, the DNS based load balancing technique is achieved by not re-ordering the destination addresses returned from the DNS server. Rule 9 defines a deterministic rule for re-ordering at hosts, hence the technique of RFC 1794 is not available anymore.

Regarding this problem, there was discussion in the IETF and other places that led to some different options being suggested, as listed below.

Discussion: The possible changes to RFC 3484 are as follows:

Now that IPv6 PI addressing is being assigned by some RIRs, hierachical address assignment is not fully maintained anymore. It seems that the longest matching algorithm may not be worth the adverse effect of disalbing the DNS based load balance technique.

Appendix C. Revision History


Suresh Krishnan's comments were incorporated.
A new source address selection rule that utilizes the next-hop information is included in Section 2.3


Restructured to contain only the actual changes to RFC 3484.


Published as a 6man working group item.


Added acknowledgements.
Added longest matching algorithm malfunction regarding local DNS round robin.
The proposed changes section was restructured.
The issue of 6to4/Teredo and IPv4 prioritization was included.
The issue of deprecated addresses was added.
The renewed default policy table was changed accordingly.


Added the reference to address selection design team's proposal.


The issue of private IPv4 address scope was added.
The issue of ULA address scope was added.
Discussion of longest matching rule was expanded.

Authors' Addresses

Arifumi Matsumoto NTT SI Lab Midori-Cho 3-9-11 Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-8585 Japan Phone: +81 422 59 3334 EMail:
Jun-ya Kato NTT SI Lab Midori-Cho 3-9-11 Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-8585 Japan Phone: +81 422 59 2939 EMail:
Tomohiro Fujisaki NTT PF Lab Midori-Cho 3-9-11 Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-8585 Japan Phone: +81 422 59 7351 EMail: