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Advances in Decentralized Peer Networks 140

Posted by michael
from the more-systems-slip-through-your-fingers dept.
PureFiction writes "Peer networks are gaining some attention these days given advances in much more decentralized search architectures and swarming distribution networks. Research has indicated that these decentralized networks are resistant to legal and technological attacks. The continued proliferation of broadband and wireless networking will ensure pervasive deployment of distributed peer networking infrastructure that will drive significant innovations in personal and community digital communications services."
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Advances in Decentralized Peer Networks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:56PM (#4828259)
    that every word couldn't be a hyperlink.

    Chicago, what?
  • by ryepup (522994) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:01PM (#4828279) Homepage
    But I wish he had posted a link or something.
  • 15... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Offtopic, but...

    15 links on a story!! And it's not a Slashback... now I see why my stories never make it...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I guess it would've paid off to listen more in algorithms class. Next thing you know, someone's going to put one of these NP circuits in P, just so music trading can be made easier/more efficient.
  • That's what I thought when I saw all those links.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:06PM (#4828296)
    "Research has indicated that these decentralized networks are resistant to legal and technological attacks. The continued proliferation of broadband and wireless networking will ensure pervasive deployment of distributed peer networking infrastructure that will drive significant innovations in personal and community digital communications services."

    So what P2P networks are resistent to "last mile" control tactics? Port blocking. Speed limiting. Quotas. Remember control of P2P has one thing in common with security. It doesn't have to be perfect. It simply has to be innconvient enough that people give up and go away.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So what P2P networks are resistent to "last mile" control tactics? Port blocking. Speed limiting. Quotas. Remember control of P2P has one thing in common with security. It doesn't have to be perfect. It simply has to be innconvient enough that people give up and go away.


      I see a few things wrong with this suggestion:

      1. Port blocking: would quickly alienate ISP customers. I would change ISPs in a flash if mine blocked any port. Restricts way more than just P2P, and most apps allow the user to specify whatever port they want anyway.

      2. Speed limiting: already done on most ISPs. If it was done any more than it is, it wouldn't be broadband.

      3. Quotas: also already done on some ISPs, including mine. Once again, set this too low, and you've removed all point of having broadband.

      As far as I'm concerned, P2P is the next paradigm. If someone wants to control the use of P2P, they are going to have to come up with something better than that. Another tactic that could be suggested is packet filtering based on content, but this won't work either, because it would require way more processing power than ISPs would be willing to pay for.
    • by znaps (470170)
      So when I'm walking around a mall in the near future with my PDA and WiFi card set to Ad-Hoc mode with an SSID of "WAREZMP3Z", someone is going to prevent people from connecting to and downloading software from me by using port blocking and speed limiting. How?

      Forget about last mile, the term doesn't get used when you're using ad hoc, decentralized peer to peer software.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        " So when I'm walking around a mall in the near future with my PDA and WiFi card set to Ad-Hoc mode with an SSID of "WAREZMP3Z", someone is going to prevent people from connecting to and downloading software from me by using port blocking and speed limiting. How?"

        Think about it. Most WiFi nodes are hanging off of a broadband connection (when was the last time you seen one on dialup?). If one is fortunate the connection isn't limited like residential runs i.e. Business T1's, or a community circuit. However one is depending on two things in that case. One unlocked nodes, and no one noticing (or caring) that people are using those node(s). Popularity could drive some to put limits in place to keep the network sane.

        "Forget about last mile, the term doesn't get used when you're using ad hoc, decentralized peer to peer software."

        As long as that software depends on a physical infrastructure there's always a weak point.
        Also as I pointed out it doesn't "need" to be perfect. just inconvient enough to persuade the majority not to do it.

        Note as well that I haven't even invoked any legal means to this discussion, which could introduce their own difficulties.
    • I've thought about this one a lot. Port blocking and other targeted attacks on P2P wont work (they can always be circumvented in a variety of ways), but it is still possible to attack the usage of bandwidth itself - and I believe this is what they will do.

      The feds are both for sale and beholden to the news outlets; a double whammy. The major media guys own them. The FCC is dismantling all of the "competition" parts of the TA96, and allowing telecoms and media megamergers right and left. I'm already reading about bandwidth "shortages" that don't exist; the writing is on the wall. The broadband suppliers (especially cable, who are generally owned outright by the media giants, i.e. Time Warner) are publicly floating ideas to end broadband as we know it. In other words, no more unlimited bandwidth; instead, quotas, caps, and per-traffic charges.

      May sound crazy, but it's already happened in Canada and Australia ("test markets"); it could start here in as soon as the next 12 months. The only wildcard are the telcos, who "need to come on board" with content control rather than salivate over the potential flood of customers to DSL if cable gets crippled and/or suffers a massive traffic-based price increase. Then again, as the telcos consolidate, it gets easier and easier to "play ball" with a smaller and smaller boardroom full of people, and this is the boardroom at its best: in engineering the switch to bit-based-pricing, we're talking about price-fixing on a massive, even global scale. And who doesn't want to make lots and lots of money?

      There are complications, though, in that there are a number of legitimate uses for bandwidth on or near the scale that P2P uses it. Video games, for instance, and especially the new class of broadband-only games, would be destroyed by such a move - and there are billions at stake in that industry alone. So if the collateral damage to other wealthy players is high enough, we might have some hope.

      Perhaps the discontent of millions of citizens would be a factor too, if this were still a democracy in more than name.
    • Won't be long before people have to change ISP as often as they change P2P clients. With no P2P system owner to sue the target just moves closer to the user. Many ISPs will sooner block systems and reveal user details than face the wrath of the RIAA and MPAA.
    • Gnutella servents can already get around port blocking - they can use random ports every time if the user enables the option (there's a field in gnet pong packets for the port number). As for getting past content screening, there's a simple solution: diffie-hellman key exchange before _any_ other network conversation, followed by data encrypted using the symmetric cypher du jour. ISPs _can't_ know what data is being transferred without executing a man in the middle attack. Since this has to be done at the beginning of the connection, the ISP has to modify the very first data sent by its customer, the ISP has two options:

      1. Not know what data is being transferred.
      2. Block or mutilate all traffic it can't identify.

      If it decides it really doesn't want to know what's being said, great. It's none of their business. If it decides to block any traffic it can't identify, it will face customer backlash. Users may not be aware and active enough to fight monthly transfer caps, but they sure do complain when they can't connect. If it tries to execute man in the middle attacks, it will succeed if the traffic is p2p, but it can't know ahead of time whether or not that will happen. If it tries to snoop an arbitrary new connection that turns out to carry p2p data, the ISP will be able to see the data that's being transferred. If that connection ends up being something non-p2p, the first part of the connection will be garbled beyond recognition and the connection attempt will fail.

      Of course, there's nothing you can do about transfer rate caps and monthly quotas, but if that becomes a problem it's really your own fault. If you not only continue to elect representatives that voted for deregulation and caused the gross lack of broadband competition we have today (or even allow them to be elected by not telling everyone you know how owned they are by special interests), but also stay with companies that implement monthly data tranfer caps, you really have nobody to blame but yourself.

      You can make a difference. Being a vocal, informed advocate works. A polite but firm letter containing the word "constituent" works better. The same letter but with money works best. Enough money virtually guarantees you'll be heard and obeyed.

      For the record, I turned 18 after the last election (but I put my voter registration card in the mail the day after my birthday), and I'm switching from Cox (max 2GB down per day or 30GB down per month, whichever is lower/max 1 GB up per day or 7.5 GB up per month, whichever is lower [Yes. They _just_ implemented this in my area.]) to DSL (no transfer limits, but mind-bogglingly incompetent tech support).
  • when I read this, the first thing that came to mind was overnet. So long kazaa, so long morpheus.

    See you on Overnet ;)
    • agreed, but that interface isnt going to convert a lot of people quickly.
    • Just like its predecessor, eDonkey, Overnet for some reason is not very well known. I know eDonkey has issues with connections to servers (which Overnet addresses) etc, but most people I spoke to simply had never heard about it. And for Overnet to be successful with its server-less structure, it has to become very well known and used by a lot of people. And I do hope this becomes the case.
      • sites like www.sharereactor.com and www.jigle.com are doing a lot to help this. A quick browse of those sites, and experiencing d/l a popular file from the network, and you'll realise they are actually quite popular, esp amongst people that actually share. Its design also means less leeches, so for every person on the network, equals about 100 or something like Kazaa.
      • yes what you said is very true, sharereactor has said that it will support overnet and they are linking files released on overnet, so is filenexus. Other sites like: http://www.wic-net.org are back which are dedicated to overnet.

        I know there are several german sites as well that support overnet.

        The nice thing about apps like overnet and edonkey are that you are forced to upload, meaning everyone gives a little back. My downloads have been so quick on overnet that I'm maxing out my line speed just downloading a couple of files. Much better then what edonkey ever was or will be.
  • Beowulf cluster of decentralized P2P networks acting as a beowulf cluster of decentralized P2P networks...
  • by nweaver (113078) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:10PM (#4828315) Homepage

    As a security person, I hate these peer to peer applications: there are so many worm strategies which can exploit these, creating fast and stealthy attacks.

    As such, if I was in charge of corporate security administration, I'd ban them completely. At the universities, I'd packet-shape-them into a much lower priority.

    Unfortunatly, they are growing considerably more stealthy as a result of these legal attacks and the effects of packet-shapers. This may be a good thing for those who want their 1337 WAR3Z, D00D!!, but is rather unfortunate for those who want to create secure systems.

    • i agree totally, the sad thing is Peer-Peer is the open door for newbie types who have no other way to get music or software. i cannot lie, i rarely pay for software or music, but i have NEVER used a Peer-Peer to get it. i wish this would all end, it brings alot of unwanted attention to the scene, before napster..I used good ole IRC to find FTP sites to get my music...now every one has access. peer-peer, a sad thing indeed.
    • Not to be cynical, but could you describe such an attack? I understand how a P2P network could be utilized in the distribution of the worm, but how would that be in any way worse than an Outlook worm? Or are you talking about the ability of a worm to coordinate using a P2P network?

      As for P2P in general, it may be a way for those who are only after, as you say "1337 WAR3Z", to get their fix, but the research being done in this area has significant potential to help eliminate censorship and centralized information control. The question becomes is the price worth it?
      • Why are P2P networks such a security nightmare? Because they can support very fast worms, very stealthy worms, and/or very easy to write worms.

        1: Given a "client->server" vulnerability (one that can be exploited by the initial initiator of communication), you can write a very fast topological worm. Probably ~1 minute to infect all on-nodes of a monoculture peer to peer network.

        2: Given a "server->client" vulnerability (one that can be exploited by the responder to information requests), you can write a probably fast contageon worm. Best guess is probably ~1 day to ~1 week to infect everything, but very, VERY stealthy.

        3: No vulnerability at all, a "bait worm" which is simply a smarter version of Gnuman or similar such nasties.

    • Unfortunatly, they are growing considerably more stealthy as a result of these legal attacks and the effects of packet-shapers. This may be a good thing for those who want their 1337 WAR3Z, D00D!!, but is rather unfortunate for those who want to create secure systems.

      Sure, but there's a flipside: the technical attacks by the RIAA et al. may also have the effect of making the networks a little bit more robust in security terms. A poorly secured p2p technology will tend to quickly become a well-secured p2p technology after a few targeted attacks.

      In any case, p2p ain't the only app with these problems. It's just the one we consider least "necessary".

  • by t0qer (230538) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:12PM (#4828325) Homepage Journal
    I'm not trying to troll here. Since napster all i've ever seen P2P used for is piracy of music, applications, pretty much whatever you wanted.

    I am that pot calling the kettle black. I am your average joe user. I have kazaa and routinely use it for downloading music. Yes I am a criminal. As are %99.9999 of all other P2P users.

    I understand the benifits of P2P, each client acting as a server and bonding the collective bandwidth of all the clients together. Yes I know it can be used for free speech, and I know for legitimate file distribution it can't be beat. That's just it though, it's never going to be legitimate without some type of DRM.

    I downloaded doom3 alpha (Sorry Carmack, it kicks ass though :) I saw no less than 100 users sharing the file. Nobody is supposed to have it but I do. Thanks to the decentralized nature of P2P there's no accountability. Websites that were hosting the file got a nasty attorney letter though.

    Here is my slashdottish geek comment. P2P creators need to start focusing on making their clients good for legitimate uses. For example, I think it would kick ass if the distro's started using P2P for their distro's, or a P2P based web server/browser. Anything to turn it from a black to a white sheep.

    *Note to mods
    Sorry I don't mean to be Mr. Obvious here, but I just feel any future P2P doesn't stand a chance if it doesn't have a legitimate foundation to stand on. The RIAA & MPAA has already proven what a great team of legal sharks they have and can overcome any technological advancements made in P2P

    my 2 cents
    • by PureFiction (10256) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:26PM (#4828380)
      If you had clicked through a few of the links you would have come across BitTorrent [bitconjurer.org] which is currently running a widescale distribution of the latest RedHat release ISO images using a decentralized swarming distribution network.

      For a limited picture of what future decentralized peer networks can accomplish [cubicmetercrystal.com] you need only use your imagination.

      This is still relatively new technology with a lot of room for growth and extensible uses.
      • I know bittorrent's RH8 iso share all too well. I spent a good hour with the author (Hi Bram) learning how to set myself up as a seed node for the first RH8 disk while in #bittorrent on irc.openprojects.net.

        Going back to MY point.. For every 1 legitimate use of P2P there's 100 others who would use it to pirate/warez things that don't belong to them. Period! Until P2P can implement DRM, it's shark food to the MPAA and RIAA attorneys.

        Below is proof of what I just said, the link below is to some page with links to a bunch of bittorrent trackers hosting many illeagle files.

        http://www.bstark.pp.se/bittorrent/?s=all

        Maybe it's time open source created some kind of open DRM?
        • Going back to MY point.. For every 1 legitimate use of P2P there's 100 others who would use it to pirate/warez things that don't belong to them. Period! Until P2P can implement DRM, it's shark food to the MPAA and RIAA attorneys.

          You are right. I am subject to two implicit assumptions:

          1. despite attempts to force control over all information, strong encryption and tunnneling (SSH/OpenSSL/HTTPS/etc) will prevent total access to all information.

          2. totatlitarian bootstrap methods for hardware level system verification (aka Palladium / TCPA) will fail in the market place ensuring the continued logetivity of consumer computing equipment of general purpose.

          I am willing to bet my time, efforts, and meager monetary resources on such assertions. I am convinced we will win this conflict of interest concerning the flow of digital information in fully decentralized peer networks.

          But I could be wrong ....
        • Until P2P can implement DRM, it's shark food to the MPAA and RIAA attorneys.

          For companies, or individuals trying to make money with P2P (directly, indirect profit like selling hardware and bandwidth seems to be going well), sure.

          For the rest of us, who cares? Lawyers don't scare me...

          --
          Benjamin Coates
    • by Meridun (120516) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:30PM (#4828400) Homepage
      Well, I have a good example of a quasi-legitimate use for one.

      I'm on WinMX, which I use heavily for the downloading of anime files. In this endeavour, I (and many others on the network) try to follow the rule of not sharing any files that are commercially available in the United States. At the moment, I have probably 40 GB of fansubbed episodes that I share to others, while downloading stuff that I don't yet have.

      The nice thing about this is that the filesharing actually aids some of the US distributors by introducing new series to the US while they are still being shown in Japan (I had translated episodes of Chobits a week after their first viewing!) and helps the US Distributors gauge which series have gotten the most attention and would be good candidates to purchase the rights to.

      As I said, this is quasi-legitimate, since it is still technically a copyright violation; I rationalize that by the fact that it is commerically unavailable and I remove the files when they get licensed. Additionally, I will often buy or rent the series when they come out on DVD, so the producers DO get their money.
    • ok lets lets all sit back and let the RIAA rape us on CD's. I think P2P apps are a good way to force the music industry to reconsider selling CD's for $20 each. Wasn't there some lawsuit about price fixing CD sales and they lost? I remember reading this about 2 months ago or so.

      Remember when napster when down? Then scour? What happened? Dozens of new P2P apps started up. For every one they kill 4 will pop up in their place. They can fight P2P forever but they will exist forever. There will always be a way to share.

      IRC... DC... edonkey... etc...
      • IIRC, they didn't lose, they settled out of court knowing they would have lost. Now, I don't know what the case is normally around the world, but how the hell can you set up a legal system so messed up that it allows companies to settle their way out of an antitrust case?! WTF? If you price fix, if you form cartels, if you are using your dominant position in the market to monopolize the market, you go down, you pay damages, you get a big, legal no-no shoved in your face. You don't pay a little money and walk away any more than you settle out of a murder case or a bank robbery.
    • Answer: Instant Messenging!

      Most people think of Gnutella, Kazaa and their similiar P2P application as the ONLY kind of P2P applications.

      There are many other kind of P2P applications in existence, Instant Messenging is one of them. Most use of instant messenging are legitimate.

      • Most IM systems are actually centralized, going only through servers. There are some that can optionally go P2P, though (Yahoo, AIM, IRC & ICQ), usually for things like file sharing that are more efficient via P2P connections than going through their servers.

        Something like IM over a purely P2P system like Gnutella is an interesting idea, but it would be far too easy to peek into conversations and forge messages.
    • by Skyshadow (508) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:32PM (#4828416) Homepage
      Okay, I downloaded the RedHat 8 CDs using gtk-gnutella while all the FTP sites were swamped. Checked the digital sigs and I was on my way. Legit enough for you?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      if the distro's started using P2P for their distro's, or a P2P based web server/browser
      You might be interested in Freenet [freenetproject.org] then. It's peer-to-peer, anonymous, and is quite functional.

      There are "freesites", which are websites within Freenet that anyone can publish, allowing your "P2P web". There are anonymous messaging and file-sharing systems as well. Additionally, I believe there was once work for apt-get over Freenet, but I don't know the status of that...
    • Easy - Freenet (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sanity (1431) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:37PM (#4828443) Homepage Journal
      Freenet is being used, among many other things, to distribute information in China [freenet-china.org] to people who couldn't get it any other way. It is also being used in this country to distribute censored information about the Church of Scientology [xenu.net], and in the UK to distribute information censored under the official secrets act.

      It is early days yet, but at least this demonstrates the type of things it can be useful for.

    • I have an idea for a serverless office. If you have a large enough office you reach a critical mass where the total available storage on all the workstations meets the total needs of the group, yet the individual storage on a particular PC may not meet the needs of the few "power users." Plus, there's the issue of backups (the issue being that they aren't done!).

      Using P2P technology (I'm thinking Freenet [freenetproject.org] may be the best starting point) it should be possible to build a distributed file system with built-in redundancy and access permissions such that every PC shares files with every other PC, yet none are dependent on any one other workstation. Everyone can reach the files they need no matter where they are (ideally they don't even know which files are local and which are remote), nobody can reach files they shouldn't see (e.g., personell records), and every file is backed up somewhere else. If Joe's PC crashes, just plug in another one and Joe's back in business. All of Joe's data is backed up elsewhere on the network, and all the backups on Joe's PC lost in the crash are restored (re-backed up) onto the new PC.

      Feasible? Perhaps, but unfortunately I don't have the time to persue it. Still, if it could work it's an example of legitimate Peer to Peer file sharing.

      • OK, so I'm ignorant of Freenet and don't know its capabilities.

        However, I think you're using the wrong tool for the situation. As much as P2P networks can really help in certain circumstances, servers have their place, too. For one thing, what about security? Do you really want to manage security on numerous machines when you could easily control only a few?

        You're also omitting an offsite backup - a crucial hole in the picture. There is more to backup strategies than merely replacing lost files.

        Don't misunderstand me, I think you're on to something. There may be a legitimate, elegant way to implement P2P in this manner. As a long-time netadmin and sysadmin, I haven't seen it in action, and, like you, I don't have time to be the guinea pig.

    • BitTorrent is getting widely used for recorded live shows [etree.org], with the permission of the copyright holders.

      BitTorrent works great as a content distribution mechanism for anything, but so far the corporate world hasn't noticed it yet, they're very wary of new technology.
    • That's just it though, it's never going to be legitimate without some type of DRM.

      Every tool has legitimate and illegitimate uses. I can butter my bread with this knife, or slit your throat with it. Do we need ARM (analog rights management) to maintain control of it?

      Sorry I don't mean to be Mr. Obvious here, but I just feel any future P2P doesn't stand a chance if it doesn't have a legitimate foundation to stand on.

      It doesn't need a legitimate FOUNDATION, it just needs a SINGLE legitimate use that is valid.

      Yesterday I downloaded some high quality live recordings of Billy Corgan's new band, Zwan. It was in SHN format (lossless compression -- large file sizes) on one of the DC++ P2P network hubs.

      This was completely legal -- Zwan encourages trading of their live recordings.

      The RIAA & MPAA has already proven what a great team of legal sharks they have

      True

      and can overcome any technological advancements made in P2P

      Ummm, false. They definitely have NOT shown that.
    • Further.net, free, LEGAL music trading using a Java P2P client and carrying only legal live recordings of your (or at least MY) favorite bands.
    • Just last night, I decided to try Counterstrike. Haven't played it in ages, just playing Day of Defeat, so I needed the full install.

      Of course, all the mirrors were dead, full, or obscene wait lines (no, FilePlanet, I won't buy a damn personal server).

      Fired up Kazaa Lite, and had it within ten minutes. Perfectly legal.
    • Piracy defined... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bziman (223162) on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:53PM (#4828684) Homepage Journal
      You don't seem to understand the meaning "piracy". There's nothing illegal about downloading stuff off the Internet. Philosophers may argue what's ethical, but that's irrelevent to legality.

      Piracy would be buying a CD, making copies of it, and selling those copies to people for a profit. In this case, you entered into an agreement with the copyright holder of the CD, and are violating applicable laws.

      When you download something off the Internet, you are under no obligation to be aware of its source, or the license agreements associated with it.

      Even posting copyrighted material on the Internet is not illegal if you have not been explicitely notified that you are in violation of the copyright agreement. The notice on your CD case counts, I believe, if you own the CD.

      So if you download something off the 'Net, you're well within the bounds of legality, and you can retransmit that until the copyright holder asks you to stop.

      American laws are so strange...

      • Re:Piracy defined... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by evilviper (135110)
        If you are aware that such works may be copyrighted, you can be held responsible for downloading it.

        And any piece of copyrighted work can not be redistributed without explicit permission from the author in most cases.

        Then again... pleading ignorance may still make a good defense.
    • by Foresto (127767) on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:58PM (#4828706) Homepage
      Have you ever heard Epiphany Radio? [epiphanycorp.com] It's a shoutcast station [shoutcast.com] I used to listen to, until I ran into a 12 user limit imposed because the broadcasters couldn't afford the bandwidth to support many users. Thanks to peer to peer technology [peercast.org] (the Gnutella protocol), I can once again listen to this station, via their peercast stream. [peercast.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      (Also in answer to previous post "Damn P2P networks: As a security person")

      Before I start: I am putting aside comments like: "P2P for illegal distribution is a market reaction to customer rape, good for diversity ..." and all that for which I mostly agree.

      Legitimate P2P exists and is great. Let's not confuse P2P technologies with "Chaotic Software Propagation" that uses P2P techs.

      So many media business (like music) are so scared of P2P they are doing everything they can to put all P2P users in the same basket, and very successfully I might add.

      Example: a company using P2P technology to help facilitate video-conferencing. Instead of a big server feeding 10.000 employees around the world for the latest CEO news, they peer between employees, using the existing corporate network, and the Internet for big hops around the world.

      A more subtle example: a "Pay Per View" service using digital ID and encryption. They use the entire client base to minimize distribution costs using P2P, but only the customer paying for the digital ID and encryption key (obtain using a direct secured link) can see the movie. Every client watching a movie or listening to a song also receives/sends other data packets (he cannot decrypt) destined to other clients using a P2P concept.

      The thing is you never hear about "legitimate" applications, because it does not get distributed to millions of people sharing anything they can put their hands on, and the RIAA does not make press conferences about these, they call CNN for things like how hard it is getting to sell the same boring product by artist soon to ask for change on the street corner (I am sooooo sad).
    • One legitimate use of p2p methods is as a distribute online backup system within an enterprise. The HiveCache [hivecache.com] system uses under-utilized disk space on desktop PCs within an enterprise intranet to provide an online backup service that does not require an online backup provider (and increases the ROI on storage space you have already paid for as a bonus). Because of the massive replication of data within and enterprise (e.g. every desktop has word.exe and various windows dlls, plus all of the powerpoinit presentations and spreadsheets that are shared among workgroups or attached to email sent out to multiple people within the company) it is possible to realize a significant amount of storage efficiency by only storing enough copies to ensure reliability.


      Users can backup and restore their own files; user self-help for cases of "pilot error" and random system crashes means that IT does not get the "hey, I accidentally deleted my presentation that I have to give to the board in 2 hours, can you help me out?" call that interrupts whatever they were doing. Doing daily/hourly snapshots to an online storage mesh also means that the backup tape monkey does not need to spend time trying to balance backup runs to fit within various backup windows, you can let the distributed system handle the snapshots of current data and use the tape for weekly/monthly offsite archive.


      There are lots of cool and interesting uses for p2p outside of simple content distribution, you just need to look a little harder.


    • If you think about it, technology frequently "gets it's feet wet in dirty water" so to speak.

      Home vcrs allowed people to watch porn in their home as opposed to sleezy theaters.

      The internet allowed users to view....well....porn. Since then, well you know.

      Mp3's in the begining were nearly EXCLUSIVELY used for piracy. Although indie bands and average people were quick to adopt it, for a while the only mp3's on the internet were without permission. Now however there are perfectly legitimate sources of mp3's available.

      If I was old enough to have the required insight, I'm sure this could be applied to lots of technology going back centuries, particularly entertainment technologies.

      -Chris
    • Currently on my hard drive, downloaded via P2P:

      • Boogie Down Productions - By All Means Necessary ... bought this on tape in 4th grade.
      • Dj SS - Black ... bought this on vinyl in '94.
      • Fugees - The Score ... I've bought this album 3 times now - I think it gets "borrowed" by my friends.
      • Shamen - Boss Drum ... bought this one when it came out, lost the cd. i'll probly buy it again someday.
      • Eagles - The Very Best Of, Stevie Wonder - Innervisions, twisted sister - stay hungry ... bought these on tape back in the day.
      • AD&D - Monster Manual 2, Dungeon Master Guide, several dozen adventure modules ... i have these in a box somewhere.
      I've got about 1200 records that I have no intention of ripping when I can just download. I also have have a few hundred CDs. And I kind of like downloading books because I can drop a dozen on the laptop for plane trips and such. Of course, I've downloaded plenty of stuff that I never bought, but the point is that I've done a lot of legal stuff on P2P over the years.
      -dbc
    • Your seing the things from the wrong angle. It isnt the P2P developers that need to develop means for accountability and ways to track down illegitime users. They shall allways exist, and they will allways adapt. The best way for a game/software developer to make a profit from a game/product that can be spread easily over the web, is basing it on the web itself.

      Take Neverwinter Nights, Half-Life and Warcraft III for instance. They are quite desirable products and they are highly pirated over P2P. Yet, there are a quite great deal of costumers, including people that copyed the game and then rushed to buy it.
      Why? Due to a certain ammount of little features:

      1)The existance of a set of product IDs stored in the companies vaults, used to identify each copy-owner when he joins the community. Keygens are can be used to unlock local passwords but in order to obtain a key to play freely on the company servers and access the main game router one must either buy it, or steal it by more physical/direct means.

      2)An embebed utility to make updates painless and effortless.

      3)The game quality, wich alone is good enough to create a vast ammount of loyal fans that will buy the game by the simple fact that it deserves it.

      The lesson is... while there might be a great deal of piracy when it comes to single player or local networks games, the great majority of these games most cool feature stays true: the ability to shape and join the community through embebed tools. Want to protect a product from the influence of the web? Make it web-based itself, being the single-player aspect more like a tutorial before jumping for greater things ;)
    • Furthur [furthurnet.org] is a P2P file sharing network with 100% legimimate content. Currently the network's content (over 4TB) consits of music recordings that have been specifically authorized for free distribution by the artists [furthurnet.org].

      This is the only P2P network I know of where the software's authors are accountable for all the network's contents. Users who share copyrighted works without authorization will be banned.
  • As more people get broadband, you'll be able to get faster downloads from more sources on peer to peer networks. Thank god we have slashdot to point out the obvious.
  • Well... (Score:2, Funny)

    by NilObject (522433)
    Given enough resources, large companies can "pollute" these networks with "garbage" (i.e. corrupted songs etc.) that top people's search lists so that it becomes an intensely frustrating thing to find a full, complete, and good quality file.

    Then again, I have that problem anyways. Blimey!

    • Re:Well... (Score:2, Informative)

      by darkpixel2k (623900)
      Check out http://www.bitzi.com [bitzi.com].
      New programs like Shareaza [shareaza.com] are using 'bitprints [bitzi.com]' of songs to help you find good quality songs verses corrupted ones.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      Given enough resources, large companies can "pollute" these networks with "garbage" (i.e. corrupted songs etc.) that top people's search lists so that it becomes an intensely frustrating thing to find a full, complete, and good quality file.

      Then again, I have that problem anyways. Blimey!

      But if you are searching for legal/obscure files, it doesn't matter, because they won't be targeted by the companies.
      On a side note, can't these large companies be held responsible for all the bandwidth that they cause to be wasted? Or do we run into the same problem we have prosecuting spammers for bandwidth waste?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "But if you are searching for legal/obscure files, it doesn't matter, because they won't be targeted by the companies. On a side note, can't these large companies be held responsible for all the bandwidth that they cause to be wasted? Or do we run into the same problem we have prosecuting spammers for bandwidth waste?"

        Blimey is right. "/."'s have balls alright. Complain about all the bandwidth that spam takes up, but can't make the connection about all the bandwidth taken up by their illegal file sharing.
        Introspection isn't this crowds strong suit apparently.
      • Easy, in that case, install some type of system on the peer to peer so that users can be moderated somehow and then you can avoid those who send out only crap.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Atzanteol (99067) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:49PM (#4828501) Homepage
      ln -s /dev/urandom /usr/share/mp3s/popular-song.mp3
      Download *that*!
      • I have really been tempted to do something like that to people with writable shares...

        cp /dev/urandom /path/to/smb/mounted/share/You\ Shouldn\'t\ Leave\ Your\ Drive\ World\ Writable.sys

        So far, the fear of what the net admins would do to me have spared those poor fools from having their computers filled with random - stuff.

        But don't forget the classics...

        mkdir mp3s
        cd mp3s
        ln -s . Music

        Browse that!

    • Given enough resources, large companies can "pollute" these networks with "garbage" (i.e. corrupted songs etc.) that top people's search lists so that it becomes an intensely frustrating thing to find a full, complete, and good quality file.

      No problem, since real files work and get voted up while fakes get voted down. Before you know it, the files and IP ranges get negative trust metrics.

      • No problem, since real files work and get voted up while fakes get voted down. Before you know it, the files and IP ranges get negative trust metrics.

        Negative trust doesn't work in an anonymous world; you can just get another identifier with a clean record.

        You can also pretend to be a bunch of people and ballot-stuff to mess with the records.

        I don't know if there's a solution...

        --
        Benjamin Coates
  • by NiftyNews (537829) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:15PM (#4828339) Homepage
    Is it just me, or did that mess of links and words look strangely like things I read at work?

    If I wanted to read horrible PC-edited, buzzword-laden, over-link tripe, I would look at the stack of paperwork on my left that is being shunned in favor of reading SlashDot.
  • This submission has no less than 15 links in it! I'm still not sure where the real content is. Worse, what appears to be the main link points to another few line discussion that references yet another article.

    Posters, and especially editors, Please don't post/allow submissions that are filled with nothing but links, and links to links. You may think you're providing more information, but most of those links are just noise. This seems to be an emerging trend on slashdot, and I think it's a very bad one.

    Taking a slight tangent for just a moment, sadly, the biggest problem with slashdot is there's never any real discussion (mostly that would involve the editors) about slashdot itself. There's constantly re-posts of material, and poor quality submissions. This needs to be fixed somehow, but can't happen unless the slashdot editors start talking about this problems and not just remain silent.
  • Direct Connect? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why is it that for all these articles about P2P networks, I have never once seen Direct Connect [neo-modus.com] mentioned?

    There is more information (pirated software, movies, games, tv shows, etc) available on those networks than on any other network I have ever seen (except *maybe* napster). Everyone who uses it must share, and essentially must have a fast connection.

    But there's never been a mention of it...

    ?
  • AND FOR THOSE OF YOU IN A HURRY... A- [infoanarchy.org] R- [cubicmetercrystal.com] T- [yahoo.com] I- [neurogrid.net] C- [bitconjurer.org] L- [sourceforge.net]
    E- [sourceforge.net]. -- [eff.org] S- [newscientist.com]
    U- [www.nua.ie] M- [cubicmetercrystal.com] M- [mit.edu]
    A- [jxta.org] R- [personaltelco.net]
    Y- [seattlewireless.net]
  • Research has indicated that these decentralized networks are resistant to legal and technological attacks.

    Sure, but will it play on your Trusty Palladium PC [cam.ac.uk]?

  • by Jack William Bell (84469) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:24PM (#4828374) Homepage Journal
    Totally on-topic co-incidence; just a little while ago I ran into a pointer to the MNET project [sourceforge.net].

    When the Mojo Nation [rootprompt.org] P2P effort ran out of money they released the client code under the GPL [sourceforge.net] (it is in Python). MNET is a stripped-down variant of the code (without the micropayment kruft) delivered as an API with some sample apps, one of which is a file sharing application.

    So, if you know a little Python, you can grab MNET and whip up your own distributed file-sharing network. Cool!
    • Just to inject a bit of reality into your pointer to the mnet work, the public prototype of the MojoNation client was always available as LGPL code (pending a patent application on certain bits of the system which may change the license to something similar to RSAREF eventually; Zooko and I are looking for a legit 503c or similar vehicle that is willing to hold on to a license for non-commercial and non-DMCA-infringing use of the mnet system so that we can avoid this if possible...any takers out there?) Prior to the hibernation of the company we had been working on a commercial p2p backup system based upon the mojonation architecture called HiveCache [hivecache.com], which is now getting prepped for a beta release. Another fork out of the mojonation work was BitTorrent, which started out as an idea Bram had while we were brainstorming new ideas for mojonation at one point (a cool idea which we did not pursue because it really only works for high-demand, massively replicated content).


      Unfortunately, the legal work we did early on when designing the system only prevented people from suing us (the code creators) and it did so by pushing liability off on to the users. That was the closest that one could really get to safety given the structure of the DMCA. Contrary to the widely held fantasy among decentralized p2p systems, "willful blindness" is not a valid defense against DMCA attacks -- something that I think the upcoming Kazaa et al. trial is eventually going to reveal after all of the appeals and other legal wrangling is worked out.


      BTW, the only app that mnet provides is a publish-retrieve shared data system identical to the old mojonation (sans distributed resource management), file sharing is not "one of" the apps for the API, it is the only app.

  • Okay, I guess while a bunch of that is interesting, I'd like to point out that the whole point of the 'Internet' originally was to have a decentralized network of machines, so that in the event that any of them was destroyed or disabled, we'd still be able to keep the network running. Knowing that a decentralized network is more resistant to physical damage is OLD NEWS. We knew that TWENTY YEARS AGO.

    That other stuff is neat, though. :)
  • No beer? (Score:2, Funny)

    by digidave (259925)
    At a quick glance I swear that it looked like the headline read: "Advances in Decentralized Beer Networks"

    I was thinking, "The geeks have really gone too far this time."
  • just post the dictionary and link every word. Is this news?
  • Can't wait! (Score:4, Funny)

    by slothdog (3329) <slothdog@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:16PM (#4828547) Homepage
    Wow, just imagine. Someday everyone will have a P2P network of their very own! Er, wait....
  • by znaps (470170) on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:56PM (#4828696)
    Anybody with knowledge of writing software knows there's going to be now way of stopping peer to peer, at least not technically.

    The only thing the powers that be can do IMHO is to make it illegal to share files and folders on a publicly (free) available network which contain copyrighted data.

    When we get to the point where everyone has a phone/pda with 1 GB of storage and Wifi built this is going to be a real serious problem for the record companies.
  • by mboedick (543717) on Friday December 06, 2002 @06:37PM (#4828983)

    It does not concern me at all that P2P content is currently mostly illegal warez, music, movies and porn. It's an excellent testbed for the ability of the technology to withstand technological and legal attack.

    It does however comfort me that P2P works and is widely deployed. The average person is familiar with it and knows how to use it. If corporations and government ever get too oppressive, P2P is an powerful tool that the people can use to preserve their rights. Current P2P networks could easily be put into this type of service at need.

    I see the net just now starting to realize the ideals that is was founded under. Decentralization, free access to information for all, everyone can easily be both producer and consumer, etc. All trends (wireless, weblogs, P2P) point to this.

  • by Bowie J. Poag (16898) on Friday December 06, 2002 @07:14PM (#4829325) Homepage


    "Peer networks *DING!* are gaining some attention these days given advances in much more decentralized *DING!* search architectures *DING!* and swarming *DING!* distribution *DING!* networks. *DING!* Research has indicated *DING!* that these decentralized *DING!* networks *DING!* are resistant *DING!* to legal *DING!* and technological *DING!* attacks. *DING!* The continued proliferation *DING!* of broadband *DING!* and wireless *DING!* networking will ensure pervasive *DING!* deployment *DING!* of distributed *DING!* peer *DING!* networking *DING!* infrastructure *DING!* that will drive significant *DING!* innovations *DING!* in personal *DING!* and community *DING!* digital communications *DING!* services *DING!* ."

    Cheers,
  • Please no 15 link posts! (Score:0, Offtopic) by Vellmont
    This submission has no less than 15 links in it! I'm still not sure where the real content is. Worse, what appears to be the main link points to another few line discussion that references yet another article.

    Posters, and especially editors, Please don't post/allow submissions that are filled with nothing but links, and links to links. You may think you're providing more information, but most of those links are just noise. This seems to be an emerging trend on slashdot, and I think it's a very bad one.

    Taking a slight tangent for just a moment, sadly, the biggest problem with slashdot is there's never any real discussion (mostly that would involve the editors) about slashdot itself. There's constantly re-posts of material, and poor quality submissions. This needs to be fixed somehow, but can't happen unless the slashdot editors start talking about this problems and not just remain silent.

    AC REPLY ""sadly, the biggest problem with slashdot is there's never any real discussion (mostly that would involve the editors) about slashdot itself.""

    the problem lies not just with the editors but with everyone on slashdot (especially whoever happens to be moderating). anytime people (like you) actually comment about slashdot (even when its not a troll and is a cogent point, like yours is), it is moderated down, offtopic, or just ignored (as your post was).

    it's the built-in self-censorship that's the problem. not only does it limit the voices heard loudest on slashdot, but it prevents fixing of the very socially dysfunctional way slashdot works a lot of the time.

    • I second the poster above. May I suggest that the Slashdot editors do some editing for a change.

      Each story should have a clear message, with the main link clear from the story. There should be no more than two supplementary links.
  • With the predominance of wireless open networks, I'm surprised no-one has suggested all hooking up all the wireless nodes together into one giant peer-to-peer network, not just for file transfer, but for Internet as well.

    Get a wireless hub and a wireless card that can call up your neighbours hubs. Then when a request comes through, throw it to your neighbours (hot potato style, ala FIDOnet) until the request comes to a computer that can handle the request (perhaps a machine with a land-line connection).

    No ISP. No last mile. *Everything* is the last mile.

    Probably about 5 years ahead of its time. Need enough wireless saturation to make it work.
  • In Soviet Russia, Peer connects to Peer!
  • It crossed my mind after reading all this and wondering just how hard it would be to make my own p2p client... that the RIAA and MPAA should make their own Kazaa type client and distribute it with new systems... Kindof goes along with This Article [slashdot.org], in a way.

    They already know that people are using the networks to spread their media... why not jump on the bandwagon as Napster kindof tried to do. They could make money on advertising at the least.

    Of course... it *might* be annoying when they program an X10 popup every 45 seconds.
  • by br00tus (528477) on Friday December 06, 2002 @10:40PM (#4830483)
    I have been watching P2P for a while, and I think it is one of the most exciting technologies out there. I have been writing a Gnutella app [sf.net], which will hopefully be in releasable format some day.

    I think one of the most exciting things about P2P is that the costs are borne by the consumer, not the publisher. This holds true with Freenet, and holds true with Gnutella and Kazaa as well. If I have a popular, non-commercial web page, I the publisher have to pay to keep my pages up, and the more popular the pages are, the more I pay. With P2P however, the consumers act as distributors as well, so whether it's an audio file, video, web page or whatnot flowing over Freenet/Kazaa/Gnutella, the cost for me to publish is not there. I like this because it means popular, non-commercial media can spread by virtue of popularity, and the Internet can't be monopolized by people who can control the flow of information simply because they own the printing presses and distribution networks. I also think this is what makes P2P something disdained by the powers that be. The RIAA/MPAA's activities are just the short-term, tactical activities of the people who fund them, I care very little for their rationale and look for what the long-term effects would be if they were fully successful, and it doesn't look good - I don't really care about the supposed morality of their authority or whatnot, I'm only interested in the effects of their actions. Thousands of years ago, the concept of property in this economy of scarcity was created. Recently this concept has been extended to the spectrum, to bits of information flowing between me and a friend's computer with it's economy of non-scarcity, and even to species [usda.gov] themselves. If we do not build a technological foundation that helps put power in the hands of the people (like Gutenberg, Wozniak, and Justin Frankel), accompanied by social movements that protect people from the powers-that-be using law and authority to dominate them, I think we are headed into a dire future.

  • by Jouni (178730) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @03:15AM (#4831485)
    Oh MAN, it will take us HOURS to slashdot these servers down! We should get paid for this stuff.

    Jouni
  • >>> FreeOS is an english-centric name

    Have you all been stuck in email, or have any of you tried
    *pronouncing* that? free-oh-ess? free-ows? fritos? :-)
    -- Mark Eichin

    - this post brought to you by the Automated Last Post Generator...

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