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I am building a hobby service that can host user's containerized applications on request. These must be publicly accessible. After some googling I came to conclusion that there is no way around having to own a range of IP addresses that I can assign to individual hosted applications. However, it seems that getting a range of addresses is both too hard and expensive and probably impossible for an individual (I do not want to create a company just for a hobby service).

What is the easiest way to obtain a range of IPv4 or IPv6 addresses as an individual?

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IP addresses can be either directly assigned by a RIR or allocated by the provider who provides internet connectivity. Precise policies vary by RIR but generally for a direct allocation you need to demonstrate that you have a need for provider independent addresses and are not just pointlessly bloating global routing tables. The easiest way to do that is to demonstrate intent to get connectivity from multiple providers.

I think it my be possible with at least some RIRs for an individual to apply for resources but frankly if you find the idea of setting up a company scary then owning IP blocks is probablly not for you.

Current routing policy is that the smallest IPv4 block that can be routed on the public internet is a /24, while the smallest IPv6 block that can be routed on the public internet is a /48.

IPv4 addreses are in short supply, it is no longer possible to get new allocations from a RIR in normal circumstances, it is still possible to purchase a block on the open market and get it transferred. Expect substantial costs if going down this route though,hilco streambank list their most recent /24 sale at $11,776.00 and you still have all the fees to the RIR on top of that.

Similarly you can expect increasing reluctance and/or increasingly high rental prices for large IPv4 allocations from hosting providers.

IPv6 is in much more plentiful supply, but still a large proportion of clients can't access it directly.

The bottom line is if you are not charging for these containers, then giving each one it's own IPv4 address is likely to be prohibitively expensive. Exactly what the best way to work around this is will depend on what services the containers are running. For http and any service that runs over TLS with SNI you can use a reverse proxy. Other services may require different provisions.

When dealing with VM or dedicated hosting providers and IPv6, it's also worth noting that there are two ways they can assign IPv6 addreses to you. By default most of them will assign the addreses to the network on which your external interface sits, that is fine if you are just running applications directly on multiple addreses but becomes more of a pain if you are hosting VMs or containers. There are ways to work around it with "proxy NDP" but what you really want for VMs or Containers is a "routed" IPv6 block where the provider treats your server as a router which routes between their network and the internal network of your VM/container host.

I would thus suggest asking about routed IPv6 blocks before signing up for a server with a hosting provider.

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IPv4 addresses have run out and can only be obtained on the free market, often at a premium. Make sure you obtain at least a /24 block as that is the smallest range that can be advertised via BGP.

IPv6 address blocks can be obtained from the RIR or LIR for your location. You can likely start at your RIR and work downwards from there:

  • The African Network Information Center (AFRINIC) serves Africa: https://www.afrinic.net/
  • The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) serves Antarctica, Canada, parts of the Caribbean, and the United States: https://www.arin.net/
  • The Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) serves East Asia, Oceania, South Asia, and Southeast Asia: https://www.apnic.net/
  • The Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Centre (LACNIC) serves most of the Caribbean and all of Latin America: https://www.lacnic.net/
  • The Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) serves Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and West Asia: https://www.ripe.net/

Table courtesy of Wikipedia

You'll also need to acquire one or more ISPs that advertise your address block through their network. If you peer yourself at some Internet exchange point you'll also need to get your own ASN for BGP (also from RIR).

Alternatively, you should consider using provider-supplied addresses in connection with DNS. That'll be considerably less expensive.

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Yup, you rent them from a service provider at the hosting service where you run the servers for your project/service.

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