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Notes on Teredo (part 1)

Previously I had talked about ISATAP. Today I want to blog about Teredo.

Teredo is another IPv6 transition mechanism. It is meant to be used as a transition strategy of last resort – i.e. only if other mechanisms such as ISATAP and 6to4 (which I haven’t blogged about yet) fail. This is because Teredo needs support from other servers on the Internet to do its work; and also because Teredo doesn’t encapsulate IPv6 packets within IPv4 directly, rather it puts them within UDP packets that are then carried by IPv4 packets. The latter means there’s extra overhead for using Teredo but it has the advantage that Teredo can work through NAT (with the exception of one type of NAT called Symmetric NAT) and so is more likely to work than ISATAP or 6to4.

Unlike ISATAP Teredo is meant for use over the Internet. And unlike 6to4 Teredo does not require a public IPv4 address. Teredo can work over the Internet from hosts with a private IPv4 address behind a NAT.

Before I go into the details of Teredo here’s a quick overview:

  1. If you have a host with private IPv4 address, you need some way of assigning it a global IPv6 address. But how do you do that? 6to4 takes the approach of creating an IPv6 address from the IPv4 address and that works because it requires public IPv4 addresses – which are unique in the first place, resulting in a unique IPv6 address. Teredo doesn’t have that luxury so it needs an IPv6 address generated through some other means.
  2. Here’s what Teredo does. It asks a server on the Internet (called a Teredo Server) for an IPv6 address. The server assigns it an IPv6 whose network prefix has first 32 bits as 2001:0000 and next 32 bits as the IPv4 address of the Teredo Server in hexadecimal. Thus all Teredo clients connecting to that server have the same network prefix.
    1. Say the Teredo Server IPv4 address is 17.23.52.1. You can use the in-built Windows calculator (in Programmer mode) to convert decimal to hex. 17 = 0x11, 23 = 0x17, 52 = 0x34, 1 = 0x1. So 17.23.53.1 in hex would be 1117:3401, resulting in a Teredo network prefix of 2001:0:1117:3401.
  3. The Teredo server also sets the host portion of the IPv6 address. This consists of some flags and random bits followed by the UDP port the client’s request came from along with the public IPv4 address of the NAT box the client is behind. Thus the host portion is also unique – the uniqueness being provided by the random bits as well as the UDP port of the client request, with some level of uniqueness also being provided by the public IPv4 address of the NAT box (though this is not unique among all clients within that same NAT).
  4. This way an IPv4 only host behind a NAT can get for itself a global unicast IPv6 address. The next question is how will it send and receive packets to the IPv6 Internet?
  5. For this Teredo clients need a Teredo Relay (this is usually a separate server, but one could have the Teredo server doubling as a Teredo relay too).
  6. A Teredo relay is a server set up by an ISP or organization that is happy to act as a “relay” between Teredo clients and IPv6 hosts. The relay advertises to the IPv6 Internet that it can route to the Teredo network prefix 2001:0:/32 (note that it advertises the entire Teredo network prefix, not just a specific network like 2001:0:1117:3401/64).
  7. So Teredo clients send IPv6 packets encapsulated in IPv4 to the IPv4 address of the Teredo relay. The relay passes it on to the IPv6 Internet as pure IPv6 packets with the source address set to the global unicast Teredo address of the client.
  8. The relay also receives packets to the Teredo prefix 2001:0:/32 from the IPv6 portion of the Internet and passes it on to the IPv4 clients. It knows which clients to pass these on to so because the host portion of the Teredo client address contains the IPv4 public IPv4 address of the NAT box and UDP port which will be forwarded to the private IPv4 address of the client. So all the relay needs to do is send IPv4 packets (containing IPv6 packets) to this public IPv4 address & UDP port.
    • It’s worth emphasizing here that the Teredo relay does not have an IPv6 routing table entry to the Teredo client. Rather, the packet is sent via IPv4. That’s why a relay is able to broadcast the entire 2001:0/32 and get packets for any Teredo client.
  9. If an IPv6 host on the Internet has both IPv6 and IPv4 addresses it can skip the Teredo relay altogether to send packets to the Teredo client. How? Because when this host receives a packet with source address as that of the Teredo client, it knows from the network prefix that this is a Teredo address, and it knows from the host bits how to contact this client via IPv4. So why go a roundabout way through Teredo relays and such, when it can directly send IPv4 packets (containing IPv6 packets) to the Teredo client? That’s precisely what the host does. This functionality is called Teredo Host Specific Relay – the host acts as its own relay. It does not matter if the IPv4 address of such a host is public or private. The IPv6 address must be a native global unicast address or a 6to4 address (obviously because that’s how it’s reachable on the IPv6 network initially).

This, in a nutshell, is how Teredo works. I think it’s a very cool piece of technology! It’s cool not only in terms of how it allows clients behind NATs to have a global unicast IPv6 address and be able to access the IPv6 Internet, but also in terms of some details I skipped over above like how clients find relays, and how relays punch hole in the firewall/ NAT behind which clients are to enable communication from clients to the IPv6 Internet. Fascinating!

Notes on Teredo (part 1) by rakhesh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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