Why IPv4 Inhibits Decentralization


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    Published by Luke Champine

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    IPv4 makes it harder to write decentralized applications. Why? As you'll see, it all comes down to the "address space" or the number of possible addresses. IPv4 addresses are four bytes long (e.g. 127.0.0.1), which means the IPv4 address space contains 2^32 (~4.3 billion) unique addresses. That may sound like a lot, but there are currently over 8 billion Internet-connected devices on the planet, with millions more being added every day! Simply put, IPv4 doesn't have enough addresses to meet our needs. Why didn't its creators foresee this? Well, they probably did, but they never expected us to still be using IPv4 in 2015, nearly 35 years after it was designed. IPv4 was just an internal test of DARPA's networking concepts, with the intent that a future iteration would be used for the public release. But this newfangled "Inter-network" idea escaped from the lab, and as a result our Internet infrastructure is built on unfinished tech. (The longer you study the Internet, the more amazed you'll be that it works at all.)

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