Docker containers with IPv6 behind NAT


In production IPv6 should always be used without NAT. Only use IPv6 and NAT for testing purposes. There is no valid reason to use IPv6 with NAT in any production environment.

IPv6 and NAT

IPv6 is designed to remove the need for NAT and that is a very, very good thing. NAT breaks Peer-to-Peer connections and that is exactly what is one of the great things of IPv6. Every device on the internet gets it’s own public IP-Address again.

Docker and IPv6

Support for IPv6 in Docker has been there for a while now. It is disabled by default however. The documentation describes on how to enable it.

I wanted to enable IPv6 on my Docker setup on my laptop running Ubuntu, but as my laptop is a mobile device the IPv6 prefix I have changes when I move to a different location. IPv6 Prefix Delegation isn’t available at every IPv6-enabled location either, so I wanted to figure out if I could enable IPv6 in my Docker setup locally and use NAT to have my containers reach the internet over IPv6.

At home I have IPv6 via ZeelandNet and at the office we have a VDSL connection from XS4All. When I’m on a remote location I enable our OpenVPN tunnel which has IPv6 enabled. This way I always have IPv6 available.

The Docker documentation shows that enabling IPv6 is very easy. I modified the systemd service file of docker and added a fixed IPv6 CIDR:

ExecStart=/usr/bin/dockerd --ipv6 --fixed-cidr-v6="fd00::/64" -H fd://

fd00::/64 is a Site-Local IPv6 subnet (deprecated) which can be safely used.

I then added a NAT rule into ip6tables so that it would NAT for me:

sudo ip6tables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s fd00::/64 -j MASQUERADE


My Docker containers now get a IPv6 Address as can be seen below:

root@da80cf3d8532:~# ip -6 a
1: lo:  mtu 65536 state UNKNOWN qlen 1
    inet6 ::1/128 scope host 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
15: eth0@if16:  mtu 1500 state UP 
    inet6 fd00::242:ac11:2/64 scope global nodad 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 fe80::42:acff:fe11:2/64 scope link 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

In this case the address is fd00::242:ac11:2 which as assigned by Docker.

Since my laptop has IPv6 I can now ping from my Docker container.

root@da80cf3d8532:~# ping6 -c 3 -n
PING (2a00:f10:101:0:46e:c2ff:fe00:93): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 2a00:f10:101:0:46e:c2ff:fe00:93: icmp_seq=0 ttl=61 time=14.368 ms
64 bytes from 2a00:f10:101:0:46e:c2ff:fe00:93: icmp_seq=1 ttl=61 time=16.132 ms
64 bytes from 2a00:f10:101:0:46e:c2ff:fe00:93: icmp_seq=2 ttl=61 time=15.790 ms
--- ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 14.368/15.430/16.132/0.764 ms

Again, this should ONLY be used for testing purposes. For production IPv6 Prefix Delegation is the route to go down.