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Category: Internet

OMG: Hop-by-Hop Path MTU Discovery

Straight from the “Bad Ideas Never Die” (see also RFC 1925 Rule 11) department: Geoff Huston described a proposal to use hop-by-hop IPv6 extension headers to implement Path MTU Discovery. In his words:

It is a rare situation when you can create an outcome from two somewhat broken technologies where the outcome is not also broken.

IETF should put rules in place similar to the ones used by the patent office (Thou Shalt Not Patent Perpetual Motion Machine), but unfortunately we’re way past that point. Back to Geoff:

It appears that the IETF has decided that volume is far easier to achieve than quality. These days, what the IETF is generating as RFCs is pretty much what the IETF accused the OSI folk of producing back then: Nothing more than voluminous paperware about vapourware!

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Telephone System Is a Bad Example of Hierarchical Addresses

Networking engineers proposing strict hierarchical addressing scheme as a solution to global BGP table explosion often cite the international telephone system numbering plan (E.164) as a perfect example of an addressing plan that uses hierarchy to minimize routing table sizes. Even more, widespread mobile roaming and local number portability indicate that we could solve IP mobility and multihoming if only insert-your-favorite-opinion-here.

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Worth Reading: Higher Levels of Address Aggregation

Every now and then someone tells me how much better the global Internet would be if only we were using recursive layers (RINA) and hierarchical addresses. I always answer “that’s a business problem, not a technical one, and you cannot solve business problems by throwing technology at them”, but of course that has never persuaded anyone who hasn’t been running a large-enough business for long enough.

Geoff Huston is doing a much better job in the March 2022 ISP Column – read the Higher Levels of Address Aggregation, and if you still need more technical details, there’s 30+ pages of RFC 4984.

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Podcast: Ironing Out the BGP Ruffles

After the (in)famous October 2021 Facebook outage, Corey Quinn invited me for another Screaming in the Cloud chat, this time focusing on what went wrong (hint: it wasn’t DNS or BGP).

We also touched on VAX/VMS history, how early CCIE lab exams worked, how BGP started, why there are only 13 root name servers (not really), and the transition from networking being pure magic to becoming a commodity. Hope you’ll enjoy our chat as much as I did.

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Why Does Internet Keep Breaking?

James Miles sent me a long list of really good questions along the lines of “why do we see so many Internet-related outages lately and is it due to BGP and DNS creaking of old age”. He started with:

Over the last few years there are more “high profile” incidents relating to Internet connectivity. I raise the question, why?

The most obvious reason: Internet became mission-critical infrastructure and well-publicized incidents attract eyeballs.

Ignoring the click baits, the underlying root cause is in many cases the race to the bottom. Large service providers brought that onto themselves when they thought they could undersell the early ISPs and compensate their losses with voice calls (only to discover that voice-over-Internet works too well).

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Worth Reading: Rethinking Internet Backbone Architectures

Johan Gustawsson wrote a lengthy blog post describing Telia’s approach to next-generation Internet backbone architecture… and it’s so refreshing seeing someone bringing to life what some of us have been preaching for ages:

  • Simplify the network;
  • Stop cramming ever-more-complex services into the network;
  • Bloated major vendor NPUs implementing every magic ever envisioned are overpriced – platforms like Broadcom Jericho2 are good enough for most use cases.
  • Return from large chassis-based stupidities to network-centric high availability.

I don’t know enough about optics to have an opinion on what they did there, but it looks as good as the routing part. It would be great to hear your opinion on the topic – write a comment.

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Worth Reading: Internet of Trash

I love the recent Internet of Trash article by Geoff Huston, in particular this bit:

“Move fast and break things” is not a tenable paradigm for this industry today, if it ever was. In the light of our experience with the outcomes of an industry that became fixated on pumping out minimally viable product, it’s a paradigm that heads towards what we would conventionally label as criminal negligence.

Of course it’s not just the Internet-of-Trash. Whole IT is filled with examples of startups and “venerable” companies doing the same thing and boasting about their disruptiveness. Now go and read the whole article ;)

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How Important is BGP RPKI?

Corey Quinn mentioned me in a tweet linking to AWS announcement that they are the biggest user of BGP RPKI (by the size of signed address space) worldwide. Good for them – I’m sure it got their marketing excited. It’s also trivial to do once you have the infrastructure in place. Just saying…

On a more serious front: how important is RPKI and what misuses can it stop?

If you’ve never heard of RPKI, the AWS blog post is not too bad, Nick Matthews wrote a “look grandma, this is how it works” version in 280-character installments, and you should definitely spend some time exploring MANRS resources. Here’s a short version for differently-attentive ;))

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Worth Reading: Protocol Options Rusted Shut

A long while ago I found a great article explaining TLS 1.3 and its migration woes on CloudFlare blog. While I would strongly recommend you read it just to get familiar with TLS 1.3, the real fun starts when the author discusses migration problems, kludges you have to use trying to fix them, less-than-compliant implementations breaking those kludges, and options that were supposed to be dynamic, but turn out to be static (rusted shut) due to middleboxes that implemented protocols as-seen-in-the-wild not as-described-in-RFCs.

Change a few TLAs and you could be reading about TCP, IP stack, IPv6, BGP… I addressed those aspects in the ossification and centralization part of Upcoming Internet Challenges webinar.

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Worth Reading: Emerging Communications Technologies

Every few years someone within the ITU-T (the standard organization that mattered when we were still dealing with phones, virtual circuits and modems) realizes how obsolete they are and tries to hijack and/or fork the Internet protocol development. Their latest attempt is the “New IP” framework, and Geoff Huston did a great job completely tearing that stupidity apart in his May 2020 ISP column. My favorite quote:

It’s really not up to some crusty international committee to dictate future consumer preferences. Time and time again these committees with their lofty titles, such as “the Focus Group on Technologies for Network 2030” have been distinguished by their innate ability to see their considered prognostications comprehensively contradicted by reality! Their forebears in similar committees missed computer mainframes, then they failed to see the personal computer revolution, and were then totally surprised by the smartphone.

Enjoy!

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Interesting: Measuring End-to-End Latency in Web Browser

CloudFlare launched yet another service: transfer speed- and latency measurements done from a web browser. While it’s pretty obvious how you could measure transfer speed (start an asynchronous transfer, register for the JavaScript onreadystatechange event to notice out when it has completed, and compute the transfer rate), measuring latency seems like a bit of black magic. After all, you can’t do a ping from a web browser, can you?

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