I maintain this teapot:

A web-connected teapot, located at

It returns a 418 error when it is pinged, and it is pinged regularly by people arriving from the relevant Wikipedia page. (For those interested, and there appear to be a few of you, the relevent story is here)

It sits on a shelf in my office in the Computer Science department of a university and the support guys were kind enough to give it a dedicated IP address some years ago.

My contract is coming to an end in the next few weeks and it's occurred to me that I'm going to have to do something with the teapot. I'd like to take it home but I have no clue how to explain to my home broadband supplier that I want a dedicated IP address coming to my house so that people can ping a teapot.

Is there a reasonable way of having a server on a shelf in my house that people can ping via an IP address? What search terms can I use to find a solution to this problem?

  • A teapot? Why don't you use an automated tea maker instead?
    – gparyani
    Aug 25, 2014 at 16:10
  • 2
    So how did you solve it?
    – SQB
    Mar 3, 2017 at 12:55

8 Answers 8


"explain to my home broadband supplier that I want a dedicated IP address coming to my house so that people can ping a teapot" just not reference the teapot... they could think you're crazy!

By the way: just tell them you want a static ip address.

Please Note that in many countries, many ISP don't sell static IPs to consumer-class customers (but asking them is free!). If they don't want to give you one, you can create a DynamicDNS account to allow people to reach the teapot using a hostname (e.g.: myteapot.dyndns.org).

  • 1
    I have used dyndns for years, and that is the most logical solution. Instead of a fixed numerical IP address, you end up with a fixed alphanumerical address. These days, you find them at www.dyn.com - create an account, configure your router to point to the address, and every time your IP address is changed by the ISP, the DNS lookup will resolve it.
    – Floris
    Aug 14, 2014 at 18:06
  • 22
    Unfortunately, Dyn -- formerly DynDNS -- no longer have a free offering, which was one of their major benefits for casual home users with no particular uptime requirements other than convenience. I've used No-IP for a while, and -- modulo the Microsoft incident -- haven't had an issue. I recently shifted my DNS hosting over to the free DNS service at he.net, and now update my addresses directly, avoiding the need to hop via a dynamic provider. (Of course, you have to have your own domain for this and be comfortable configuring the nameserver settings etc.) Aug 14, 2014 at 19:34
  • 7
    Or you could use DuckDNS. It is free. (It works with donations.)
    – YtvwlD
    Aug 15, 2014 at 9:55
  • 2
    What about No-IP?. I use them and they are free, and are good for light use.
    – George
    Aug 15, 2014 at 22:32
  • 4
    Don't forget FreeDNS - freedns.afraid.org Aug 17, 2014 at 15:02

The word might just be "IPv6". It's entirely reasonable for a teapot to have an IPv6 address. The design of IPv6 allows you to have a whole subnet of IPv6 addresses for all devices in your home.

  • 1
    Many home isp's don't yet offer native ip v.6 yet, but you can get a free 4to6 tunnel at tunnelbroker.net that will still let you use this option.
    – 0xDAFACADE
    Aug 14, 2014 at 14:24
  • 9
    @0xDAFACADE I know those names are confusing, but we need to be accurate when using them, because otherwise people will read something using the wrong name and get even more confused. There is no such thing as a 4to6 tunnel. What HE is offering at tunnelbroker.net is called 6in4 tunnels.
    – kasperd
    Aug 14, 2014 at 22:06
  • 1
    @kasperd You are absolutely correct, my mistake. Good catch.
    – 0xDAFACADE
    Aug 14, 2014 at 22:29
  • For the UK home ISP's can't offer IPv6 directly last time I checked (a couple of years ago), something to do with the way BT's backbone is implemented. So it would be tunnel only. Aug 15, 2014 at 11:55
  • 1
    @JamesSnell Ah, sorry, I did not read your comment properly to see that it was based on old info. Actually I am with A&A and I believe BT got ipv6 at around the same time the exchange switched to fibre to the cabinet. I assume they replaced some bit of infrastructure. Note however I am in a major city so perhaps it is different for those further out. Thanks for your clear reply.
    – Vality
    Aug 15, 2014 at 23:06

Does it have to be an IP address? The reason I ask is that it would be much easier (and cheaper) to use a domain to access it.

Doing this, you could maintain the same internet connection you have now at home, and use a service like dyn.com or noip.com to keep your domain (htcpcp.com maybe?) pointing to your home internet's dynamic IP. That way, when your modem reboots or your ISP changes the IP address you have, the domain will update to point to that.

The other option would be to call up your ISP and just tell them you want a static IP address. Some ISPs will charge you around $5/month for this service, while others will require you to upgrade to a business connection before allowing you to do this.

If you have any other questions let me know!


Is there a reasonable way of having a the server on a shelf in my house that people can ping via an IP addrees?

Yes. See below. I assume by "ping" you really mean "contact using a web-browser" in order to receive an HTTP response code 418.

What are the words I use to google for the solution to this problem?

  • "static ip-address"
  • "port forwarding"
  • "DHCP reservation"

UK SOHO Broadband

Home broadband is typically provided through a router that uses network address translation (NAT) where the internal network uses a private address range (e.g. 192.168.1.) and the external "public" address is dynamically allocated by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Because it is dynamically allocated, it can change from time to time.

Usually, when your home computers are turned on they broadcast a DHCP request asking for an internal IP-address they can use. Usually your router responds and allocates an address from a pool of internal addresses.

The internal addresses typically can't be reached directly but your router uses NAT to translate between internal and external addresses.

Static IP-address

You need to ask for a "static IP-address". This means iyour public IP address will be fixed and can be published for use with your teapot. You won't get to choose the actual address.

Some UK ISPs charge an extra monthly fee for this (e.g. BT) but some do not (e.g. Zen).

Teapot Internal Address

Your Teapot might have a configurable fixed IP-address, in which case you should configure an address within the internal network range used by your router but outside the range handed out by your router - it's DHCP range.

Alternatively you can configure your router to always give the teapot the same internal address.

Port Forwarding

Incoming requests to your router, for teapot service, need to be passed on to the specific internal address of your teapot. You do this using "port forwarding". Some routers may refer to this as "pinholes" or use some other terminalogy.

  • On the item of some UK broadband providers providing static IP addresses, Virgin (formerly Telewest) appears to (in my area at least) allocate static addresses by default. In the 11 years I've lived where I do, I've always had the same IP address.
    – LMS
    Aug 14, 2014 at 22:29
  • @LiamMcSherry I had the same IP address for around 10 years, didn't mean it was static tho, it's changed about 4 times in the last year.
    – Tyson
    Aug 14, 2014 at 23:16
  • Likewise, my Virgin IP address occasionally changes. The one time I noticed exactly when it happened was when they gave me a new cable modem. Basically, they haven't assigned the IP address to you as such, it's just that for their own convenience they issue your modem the same IP address each time it requests one, instead of the lowest available or whatever. Except sometimes they don't, presumably also for their own convenience (or maybe someone dropped a coffee in whatever maintains the lookup table and they started from scratch). Aug 19, 2014 at 10:48

If your ISP isn't using carrier grade nat, you probably already have a pingable, global IP address. Some ISPs block ports, sure, and your IP address may not be static - changing occationally when you disconnect/reconnect. You simply check if you can get a second IP address routed to you (though I have no idea how a consumer grade router would handle this - you may need a commercial grade router) , or just get the teapot its own, cheap, line.

If that's not an option a roundabout way might be to get a VPS with a static ip address elsewhere, and use your firewall to forward all the packets to said teapot. An alternative might be to have a proxy for your teapot handling these things. I suppose this may leave room for a virtual emulated teapot as well.

Finally, considering IP address exhaustion - give it an ipv6 address as MSalters has suggested


The teapot's current IP address appears to be registered to RHUL.

Assuming you're still in the UK, several domestic ISPs include a dedicated/fixed/static IP address as part of their home broadband packages (including in some cases IPv6) and would probably be genuinely delighted to service (serve?) your teapot. For example:

A single board computer should make an adequate home server for the teapot. Consider something like an OLinuXino, or see this helpful page from the Free Software Foundation.

  • If home broadband does not offer a static ip, ask about business class. Some ISPs will offer static ips for an additional cost or as part of the package.
    – Sun
    Aug 21, 2014 at 3:16

If you don't want to change much of anything, rent a virtual server, configure iptables to nat connectivity to whatever port is relevant (guessing 80), configure nat on your border device such that if the source IP is the vps ip and dst port is 80 (in this context), it forwards to the teapot. (Please note you will need to ensure the nat rules are bidirectional)

This way you won't have to give out your home IP and the device will essentially work as-is.


On thing I haven't seen mentioned yet: Does it HAVE to be static? Absolutely? Positively?


You can use a Dynamic DNS service to have your changing home IP address updated. http://dyn.com/dns/ is what I use for my home router, although I'm sure there are plenty other similar services out there. It might be more economical to have pay $25-35 a year... instead of what is more likely going to be ~$10 a month for a static IP address from your provider.

The way DynamicDNS works is that periodically, you check your ip address. If it changes you update the DNS server. My router is setup to do it automatically with DynDns, although they happen to have an application that you can run on a local computer.

This way, you could have people ping teapot.MyDomainName.com and it should just plain work, except for the little bit of time between when your IP address changes and when you update the DNS server (which could be seconds, hours or days depending on setup)

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