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Open Source Napster: Gnutella 187

Luminescent writes "Nullsoft, in their new company, "Gnullsoft", just released an open source Napster clone. It does mp3s, movies, and any other format you could want. " More details: Gnutella is currently at version .48. Presently, they are finishing the version on-hand and will be doing a release at 1, along with the source, which is *not* currently availible. In addition to releasing the source at version 1, they will be releasing the client for other OSes. Presently, it's a Windows-only thing. Despite all of these drawbacks, this is an interesting move from WinAmp->Netscape->AOL->Time-Warner. Or whatever they are today.
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Open Source Napster: Gnutella

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If the issue is bandwidth, then limit bandwidth. It doesn't really matter if someone is running Napter or clones, hosting a port site, doing broadcast-quality videoconferencing or anything else. If an individual user is using too much bandwidth, then either throttle them or charge them, on a content-neutral basis. Why is this so hard to understand?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    if it's an open server then this is great.
    If it's just a client, then ho-hum.
    more choice in clients is great, but i hate it when people don't release the code "early and often"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The unfunny way: all colleges need to do is to make the use of napstar like services a condition of expulsion. Then they don't need to frantically monitor a technical non-solution, they just sit back and expel those students that just naturally come to their attention. In short, the technical solution is so impossible as to be funny, the legal solution is so simple as to be scary.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    they closed the open beta program because they where slashdotted
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I like CuteMX [] myself. It not only shares all files, but has streaming video/audio and a built in web browser. They have a ton of cool features that these other apps lack. I would trust the makers of CuteFTP to come develop something awsome, rather than some of these other startup wannabes. Slashdot Rules!!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Take a look at: It's one of the best damn web servers out there! Most people don't give it the time of day because it has "AOL" in its name, but it really is a very solid server! Of course, there is always:
  • by Anonymous Coward [] rd//gnu.html []

    the program looks pretty nice btw.... nice and simple UI, but I'm sure that gnullsoft will fix that pretty soon :)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think a lot of hysteria is going around here... paranoia and what not. The idea behind napster is a very powerfull one, but it hasn't been implemented properly - limit only on MP3s, and obviously the majority will be illegal MP3s. That's not the issue. Gnutella - a chocolate spread - proper name! The list of hosts spreads kinda like chocolate on bread does, so it's a very proper name. This aside, just imagine for a moment what it's power TRULLY IS - if the kiddies could move aside. Imagine the HR department of a company selecting Gnutella do search for Resumes of all those who know Perl and Apache and live in a certain area? Yeah? Think deeper? Scientists looking for scientific papers can now use Gnutella within their "neighbourhood" to search.... Doctors...... heck.... why not a US-Wide Police Gnutella group? The *PROPER* usage of software is mostly overused. I mean, an Intranet is great and all, but why not bypass it. Why not use gnutella as a "search engine" for the entire WEB itself, instead of basing yourself and limiting to yahoo or another little dinky engine? Imagine if every website knew about every other website. Can you use Web-BGP? :o)....This folks, this is really something the Gnutella folks are working on, and if properly used, could potentially save all of us a lot of otherwise wasted time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is a cooler project called Yo!nk where you download movies, music, software, etc. This is new and works over the IRC networks, with clients communicating in XML. I just downloaded The Matrix in DVD (VOB) format. Download it -
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This has some really interesting ramifications over the lawsuit against Napster, no?

    Gnullsoft->Nullsoft->AOL->Time-Warner->Music Co.

    Aren't there some music companies owned by Time-Warner that are involved in the lawsuit against Napster? What does this mean? Doesn't that make it illegal (or whatever) to sue Napster?

    You have to wonder..
  • The last fifteen years have produced no Brian Wilsons, John Lennons, Luc Bressons or Orson Welles.

    *sigh* The nostalgic fallacy lies in forgetting the crap of the past, so that it looks like times were better.

    In any era, it's possible to point to the good stuff of a previous one and say that things have gone to hell.

    When I lived in Austin, it was a truism that the city's golden age had ended just moments before you got there.

    In twenty years, people will complain that that era is crap, since it has produced no Becks, John Zorns, Quentin Tarantinos or Tim Robbins.

    And look at it this way: the past fifteen have produced no Paper Lace, Bay City Rollers, Roger Cormans, or William Shatners, either.
  • At last, I might be able to find a ROM of PONG for N64!

    You can do that now: Pong for N64 []

  • The 'Dead allow copies of their live performances to be freely made and distributed.
  • I don't think the Time-Warner end of that empire has heard about this... I doubt they'd approve of widespread profanity and blatantly encouraging folks to pirate MP3s :-)
  • Never mind. The profanity wouldn't bother them a bit. :-)
  • On crunchy toast or crepe with sliced bananas. That's good eatin'

    Is it just me, or do most free software projects have much cooler names than commercial products?
  • problem with just using SMB is that it's Windows-specific. A cross-platform solution is preferable.

    (Yes, I know about SAMBA...but then you've still got the Mac users out in the cold, and anyone who doesn't have SAMBA on their Unix boxen)

    And this way you have the flexibility to go off-campus for those times where the local network doesn't have what you're looking for (details of this I'm not sure on since the site was /.ed by time I got to it).
  • I got about the same lack of response. I'm guessing it might be, because I'm behind a Firewall here. If anyone knows any troubleshooting tips on the program, I'd guess that this is as good a venue as anywhere, since the official pages, are a bit sparse (and understandably tho. This is the "bleeding edge", using a .x release.)
  • After downloading Gnutella, launch it. It should automatically connect to the primary host to obtain some other servants to connect to, and will keep you connected long enough to connect some servants to you before disconnecting you

    There you go. Block the primary host and you shut the whole thing out: It's what Northwestern University did: they blocked * from resolving, meaning that you couldn't connect to get the 'optimal server'. The downloads would've gone through if they were to ever begin, because they're not blocking ports, just name resolution. The same thing, methinks, could be done with this program too.

    So in other words, sign up now before they get blocked, eh?

    Sounds quite similar to iMesh. I guess if enough of these things start up (Audiogalaxy Satellite, CuteMX, Abes, etc.) organizations will have too much trouble shutting them down and it will all be open again.

    (Or, in Napster, IMHO, an easier solution would be to use IP addresses, or a list of different hosts that could issue optimal servers?)


  • Well, I have to say that is different--for everything after the initial login. Which is very good --- that way you can always get in somehow if you can get to anyone else who's already in. Marvelous. Wish I'd downloaded a copy before they took 'em down.

    And who says gopher is vital anymore? Not to say I have anything against it, but I can't think of anybody on the campus who uses it, student-wise. I can't speak for the instructors.

    Then again, what university is in business for the students?

  • Damn it, you beat me to the punchline! I was going to write the same exact title too. :)

    Mmmmm, chocalate hazelnut spread. Us coders need a steady stream of Mountain Dew and chocolate goodies.


    --Ivan, weenie NT4 user: bite me!

  • hoowah. alright, it's been awhile since i've woken up to find the webservers on fire from a slashdotting. as a result, i've had to close the beta group.
    It's a shame that the typical denizen around here can't(or won't) read the slashboxes, they would have seen this. As a result, it gets posted to slashdot, and ruins it for the rest of us. I can only hope the same ignorance prevails when it is ready to rock.
  • You've missed the point entirely -- it's a conflict of interest because of the topic of the lawsuit: Contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.

    Time-Warner/AOL/Winamp/NullSoft/GNullSoft cannot sue Company X for doing Y, and do Y themselves at the same time. Nullsoft is owned indirectly by Time-Warner, and is, therefore, indirectly involved in the suit against Napster.

    And just to dispel any retort about the separation of Nullsoft and GNullsoft -- read the bottom of the webpage: "This stuff ©2000 Nullsoft, Inc, a subsidiary of America Online, Inc.".
  • Sexy product name makes you hungry with cravings for chocolaty love

    See, that's the kind of thing you don't see on most commercial product's pages.

    "Logic . . . merely enables one to be wrong with authority"
  • You're absolutely wrong. I don't know about theory, but at the college I go to (UC Berkeley) our bandwidth was capped because of, well, too much bandwidth usage, and this bandwidth usage was by Napster. From late Fall semester 99 to Early February 2000, the number of new ethernet accounts went up a small percentage. However, the dorms were overloading the entire university's bandwidth by February, so the cause is something other than "normal internet usage." Firewalling/banning Napster has to do with extreme bandwidth usage, not copyrights.
  • there's no technical reason for Napster to distribute mp3's only. reading the first few bytes of any binary would tell you the magic "cookie" necessary for determining the file type.

    as for useability... well, many people use Napster regardless of whether it has some quality control system. i agree that it would be cool, though, to have that functionality. by performing some simple crc, the Napster server could probe different user databases for identical files. This way they could implement some necessary load balancing.

    as for poor quality data... well, that should be a parameter of the particular data file. mpg is encoded with its dimensions, frame rate, etc in its frame header which is easy to extract. they already have similar mechanisms in place for mp3's, the bitrate, frequency, etc. that's all straightforward stuff that i'm sure they know about.
  • MP3 player for $20 million or whatever, I'll write free software all day too :)
  • There's another one of those nice IDs in the gnutella.ini that we've come to love from Microsoft etc. This one's called clientid128. I just hope that they left out my MAC address this time. Anyone from Gnullsoft want to clear this up ?
  • Napster should be pretty annoying to Nullsoft/Winamp/AOL... many people now use it for listening the stuff they downloaded with it. I think this may have scared AOL, and what could be a better way than killing the Official Napster than making a better Open-Sourced clone?
    Is that an example of Open Source used as a commercial weapon??
  • The stopped the availability of downloads due to the /. effect
  • One student who sees fit to use napster will consume the bandwidth of ten web surfers/telnet users/email users. But the consequences of this network use are felt equally by all users. We have a classic tragedy of the commons. Users overuse a shared resource because there is no feedback mechanism.

    Admins have to do something because otherwise napster users will cripple their networks. Blocking napster seems like a good way to go to me.

    Heavy network use for piracy has always been against acceptable use at universities and this is just a very consistent and logical continuation of that correct policy. University networks are a shared and scarce resource. I like pirated mp3s as much as the next person but a university network is the wrong place for it.
    Gnullsoft is the open source, freeware extension of all the cool crap Justin and Tom want to do.
    Justin and Tom work for Nullsoft, makers of Winamp and SHOUTcast. See? AOL *CAN* bring you good things!

    If you like abuse, you can email tom:

    We'll see how Gerald Levin likes this when he starts to see all his precious IP float free on the Net, using a program a couple of his employees built and GPLed!

    ba-bu-ba-ba-baaa, da-da-dum. Re-boot the ser-ver.
    ba-bu-ba-ba-baaa, da-da-dum. Re-boot the ser-ver.
  • Yes, I too got a good chuckle over that. Then I started formulating ways in which college sysadmins would restrict access anyway. Granted, I'm not a sysadmin, I know nothing about sysadmining, but I got into college, right?

    Okay, AFAICT with this you can escape the dangers of having specific IPs blocked, specific ports blocked, specific hosts blocked, etc. So much so that sysadmins would pretty much have to block access to the entire freakin' net to stop it all.

    Why do people assume they won't do this? Bad publicity for the college? News flash: all publicity is good publicity in the long run. Even horrible, life-ending publicity will be good for the institution five, ten years down the line. People will forget the cause and nature of the bad publicity and only remember that there was publicity at all. It's hard for people to remain upset for long periods of time. Even if a college eliminated network access to the internet, within a few years everyone would forget about it. Especially if they were not the only college that did it. Trust me on this one.

    Oh, boo hoo, they've taken my access to the internet away. Well, maybe, maybe not. Maybe they just double their modem pool and make everyone dial in. Maybe, like was the case not so long ago, you would have to specifically request network access, and then would be strictly monitored for so-called abuses.

    Or maybe they don't take away network access at all. Maybe they just put insane restrictions on it. Here at USC [], the solution was to place restrictions on bandwidth []. But those restrictions are still fairly liberal. Who is to say that a college couldn't place a restriciton of, say 10 MB total network traffic per ethernet port ber 24 hour period? Exceed it, and your ethernet port is automatically shut down for, say, 72 hours as punishment. Light web browsing, checking your email, etc., wouldn't be impeded, but it sure would make trading files (any type of file, be it mp3s, warez, whatever) extraordinarily difficult.

    Just some thoughts. People who post challenges like gnullsoft has done should be prepared for people to take them up on it.

  • You are absolutely right. (moderate it up). It's funny to realise that 'music/files/warez' are subsidized by the universities. What i don't understand, though, is that you can live on 512 MiB per month ;-)

  • ...organizations will have too much trouble shutting them down and it will all be open again.

    Instead they stop trying to quietly save their bandwidth and prevent people from breaking the law (which is the prototypical use of these types of services) and instead just send the police to their doors. Let's get real here, the universities and businesses aren't here to hide your actions or to cover your back or to support your decision to break the law. I guess some people really want to weed themselves out of the gene pool.
  • A good network administrator (one that actually works for the people who pay his salary as opposed to people who abuse the network he's supposed to administrate) will attempt a simple technological solution. If that fails he won't go nicely ask them to stop, he'll send the police over to haul the asshole away, take his computers, etc.
  • In one of the previous "stories" about slashdot someone posted a link to their network graphs. If everybody used all the bandwidth they could all the time (which is what you are effectively saying) then there would be no way to tell when napster was banned. Yet that fellows traffic graphs had a real difference showing.
  • Specifying appropriate use of bandwidth have absolutely nothing to do with identifying packets. Bandwidth capping is not so reasonable in a lot of cases. Sometimes a valid use would require 75% of the bandwidth, othertimes it's certainly pointless to reserve that bandwidth and force others who also have valid uses to modem speeds. It's most definitely not wrong or stupid or anything else to prevent abuses and track down violators. I cheer the universities that have sent students up the river for violations.
  • If university students want to only use the local network, why wouldn't regular window shares work? I mean, we have a WINS server on campus that keeps track of all the computer names. And we can search for files in everyone's computers.

    I would think a better client for search smb shares would be better for our situation. Workgroups are broken down to residence halls and many people share their files that way, with and w/o passwords.
  • Lots of bands allow live performances to be copied freely. Widespread Panic and String Cheese Incident come to mind... and most tapers new to the field dont use analog media anymore, they us DAT tapes and drives.
  • I wonder if they're going to get sued by a European chocolate hazelnut spread manufacturer over this for copyright infringement (over the name)?
  • doesn't Linux have Mac networking support? do a SMB to Mac bridge,
    NT server has Services for Mac, Bridge SMB and Mac.
  • In particular, executable files and similar things, like shell scripts and Word documents could be used to disseminate viruses. The 'instant mirror' ability sharing community software creates does present one solution to the slashdot effect, though.

    Also, is there anything like ID3 tags for image files?
  • That's right. Unless Napster is grossly inefficient, there's no reason why it would take up any more than an irc client and an ftp server. Why don't they ban other obvious web hogs? Graphical web browsers? AllAdvantage-type software? Remote X sessions? MUDs and MMORPGs? Everquest isn't 'real work'.

    A better reason for net admins to ban Napster is simply that they can't handle it all and need to cut something, anything, but at that point there should be enough tuition money to buy more gear.
  • Well, Napster reports the MP3's length in seconds as well as its bitrate, so it knows which files are probably MP3s. I don't know if it filters files based on this info though.

    So maybe there's a group of people out there trading zips with an extra mp3 header, using strange filenames so people can't find them as easily. But I haven't run across them.

  • How do your college know when you are using it. It is not visible on most networks.
  • Actually - for what it's worth - and despite the
    sound of the names Ferrero and Nutella, the name
    and the product are German.
  • Amen about the network admin part...
    Any of you ever got creative enough to try filling a "0" in for the only allow X connections option? It turns off file serving completely.
    It does bug you on startup, granted, but it's not hard to tell it to continue disabling the file server...

  • Definitely. I used to run a BBS, and was forced to shut it down when everyone kept asking why we didn't have Internet access (I wasn't bringing in enough money to justify a T1 at the time). The Net became a necessity, and we all scattered, to IRC, message boards, and the like. AOL tried to emulate a BBS, but it has grown too large - there is no real sense of community on AOL, except within message boards and chat rooms, which can be found on the Net anyways. Having a Napster-like client with builtin chat and file transfers sounds like a highspeed new-school BBS to me!
  • Agreed. Tried it to my localhost, and finally got two gnutellaNet entries (myself , and myself serving). Still, when I did a search for what I knew was out there on my little network, didn't quite get what I wanted to get... instead, got ZERO.

    Well, looks like you actually have to build a database... have to have at least one person, then build off what they have, maybe?

    The documentation is very poor... Says "Clicking ping will auto-list other members in the GnutellaNet network." Well, I don't see no Ping button... closest I see is Update, and it doesn't do what it should.

    Dunno. Guess this is what I get for being an alpha tester.

  • this is strange that gnullsoft is owned by nullsoft, and nullsoft is owned by time warner.

    time warner is represented by the RIAA who is sueing napster.

    it doesnt make any sense???

    "The importance of using technology in the right way has never been more clear." []
  • A distributed search engine?
    Still, it will be interesting to see how this pans out. Part of the "problem" with the net is the depth of the information. How do you restrict and focus your search? One nice thing about napster being MP3 only is that it's more foolproof (You can make anything foolproof, just not damned fool proof). If I do a search and forget to type the extension I don't have to wait for it to finish the first search before starting a second. What happens if I do a search for "sex" in Gnutella and forget to type .mp3 or .txt etc and I have to wait 5 minutes for it to finish before I can see that I goofed. Some would charge that that's what I get for being an idiot, but in many cases you can overwhelm the user with power if you don't plan and think through your gui and program right beforehand.
  • 0/TECH/ptech/03/15/gnutella/index.html []

    AOL killed the project, in large part due to the slashdot effect. Great job. Assholes.


  • Gnapster [] supports opennap servers and their multiple media types, and is already available for Linux. Blessed Debian users can just `apt-get install gnapster' to try it out.

    I only use it for music, myself. Have never tried the alternate media types nor an opennap server.

  • The thing is. Metering only hampers people doing legitimate work. Plus, it requires hardware that many higher-edu people dont have. (thank god the people here do.)
  • The point is not QoS.

    QoS cant save the fact that the new traffic pattern would have cost this certain higher education instution lots and lots of money and affecting my tuition bills.
  • If colleges are losing bandwidth to Napster, it's their own fault. Routers support QoS routing, allowing them to give preference to whatever traffic they like.

    Just set up your router to give preference to DNS and mail, then outgoing web traffic, then telnet/ssh, then everything else. That way, you allow the people using the bandwidth for "serious academic pursuits" to do what they're supposed to, but then utilize the rest of the bandwidth for the things that make students into humans.

    I'm sick of people complaining about Napster traffic slowing down their Internet traffic, when it doesn't need to be that way.
  • IANAL.

    I don't think that law should even be applied to Napster (and as far as I know, it never was).
    The law only comes into affect, IIRC, when some sort of certain content is eliminated based on some criteria of content itself, not how it is encoded.

    Phone system. They qualify as a common carrier because they don't take any say over what people send over the lines (for the most part, anyway). There are certain things it would be illegal to send over the phone lines: if you are a US citizen, voice data saying you are planning on killing the President, I think, would be illegal, or maybe using a modem to send a stolen data to someone. The legality is determined based on the content itself.

    However, they do limit the *format* of what is transmitted. You can only send analog signal over the phone lines (to live in a simple world anyway, ignoring anything but simple analog phones for the sake of argument); you couldn't transmit raw ethernet frames over the phone. You can, however, modulate anything you wish to transmit over this line using a modem. So you could be sending voice data about killing the President, a song by your favorite artist in mp3, fax data containing top secret stolen documents, etc over this line, all eventualy encoded in some manner over the analog carrier.
    The same thing here applies to Napster. Napster only limits the format of what is transmitted (ie MP3), but doesn't care what you use mp3 to encode. It could be music--it might not be. You easily come up with a way to encode html content in an mp3, or image data in an mp3, much in the same way that you could encode arbitrary data in a gif file Granted, it isn't the best encoding format, but it would work.

    Now if Napster started eliminating stolen music from the stream of transmitions, then I think they would not be a common carrier, because they would be eliminating content based on the content itself, not on the encoding.

    I think the confusion here stems from the fact that almost everyone uses mp3 to encode audio, specifically because the scheme is optimized for lossy audio compression. But they are by no means limited to only audio data, it would just probably suck for anything but.

    Another example would be an online discussion forum, like Slashdot (which as far as I know, would qualify as a common carrier since no posts are deleted, only ranked). Slashdot limits the form of what can be transmitted to simplistic html. I can't directly post, say, raw image data. But I could uuencode the data, and post it (granted it would be moderated down because it looks like line noise).

    But then again, this is all ramblings about the spirit of the law, not the law itself. There could be loopholes. Don't bet money on any of this.
  • the client and server will be open.
  • new company 'gnullsoft'

    If there in a new company, does this mean that there no longer owned by AOL? like, that they sold there company, and then jumped ship or somthing? Or did AOL just rename them for some reason (And refocus them on Open source software, It would seem). Does anyone know what's actualy going on?
  • Hey, did I mention that Hotline Client AND Server 1.8 was released yesterday? Go get it a []. The client is free but the server isn't, unfortunately. Needs a unlock code. Read about it all at [].

    Hotline not only supports filesharing (TIP: Search ALL online servers for files at []), but also chat, messaging and news boards (like ICQ Active Lists in fact). If you are into warez, hotline also has it advantages which I won't talk about here ;). I get most of my stuff from Hotline servers nowadays.

    The sad news is that Hotline is only for Mac OS and Win32. Haven't tried it with WINE though.

  • I thought the FSF had a patent on prepending a 'G' on everything.

  • Doesn't iMesh already do this?

  • > Everything is free.

    Nothing is ever free. Digital media reduce prices close to the marginal cost of delivery, never free. The only thing supporting napster is that the clients don't have to pay for their internet connection (or don't realize that they do).

    Here in NZ, it costs me US$0.17 per megabyte of traffic internationally. Does that mean I don't download anything? Nope, because I have prepaid 512megs/month. Do I use napster? Nope, because I can't afford the traffic charges.

    If universities started putting metered internet connections in the dorms, and made students pay for the traffic they are generating, then we might find out what the true values of the music/files/warez are. As it stands we have no idea because the distribution of the music is subsidized.

    Jason Pollock
  • Does this mean that it doesn't bother you to steal something a ton of music, a plain and obvious crime.

    Ah, but the MP3s I found were all things I already owned in another format. (This was 1997 when encoding an MP3 on the fastest machine available to me at the time, a PowerBook 3400, was painfully slow, but I did have lan-speed internet access.) That's still legal.

    Yet you have do a doubletake when another criminal is chased down and made to face his actions.

    In my mind, Adam and his family are right, and Hotline Communications is wrong. Yes, he was naive, but I still think it's wrong.

  • Okay, here's what you do:

    You have to be linked to at least one other person in the Gnutella network. Then, you use their list of other people in the network, and so on. This thing expands exponentially. Thing is, you need to get on first.

    How? IRC to Efnet (#gnutella), and do a /dns on someone there (hopefully, they're running gnutella). Then, you add that IP to your list (under the GnutellaNet tab, type in the number, and click add). Then, click on Get More. You're in the Net.

    (Remember to share your directory(s) as well!)

  • The system administrators have a valid point about Napster causing large amounts of traffic.

    As long as you allow everyone unrestricted bandwidth, you'll run into QoS issues. Whining about Napster hogging bandwidth is like the Department of Transportation complaining about there being so much traffic. You either make more room, or limit the flow of data. The solution is not for sysadmins to become the secret police of the network, closing ports and banning software. For every countermeasure taken, someone will find a new way to circumvent it.

    I personally use a cable modem at home, and have noticed that though each download gets limited to between 40 and 60k/sec throughput, I can have multiple downloads totalling at least 500k/sec. In the case of college dorm networks, a per-user connection cap should be implemented. I think the real issue is the same one many start-up ISPs run into: they just didn't plan enough bandwidth for everyone. You can't cut corners and expect to have a decent network. If QoS is really an issue to you, you should spend the money to get the bandwidth you need.

    I also have not had the fortune of living in a dorm with built-in network access, but I'm familiar with networking. As long as your software can distinguish between a computer and a network, you can enforce bandwidth caps. Personally I am amazed that this seemingly obvious and less difficult solution has not been attempted (or at least publicized).

    I am glad to see the proliferation of software like Napster, and the expansion from mp3 to any binary information. I hope development of such software continues despite the unnecessary adversity that is being encountered.

    David Howell
  • Shortly after Pointcast became popular at my company, the Firewall Gods had to kill it because it was swamping our links to the Internet. Now the same thing is happening to Napster. In both cases, it didn't have to, but the protocol design was designed to solve the author's scaling problems, not the users', so it was doomed. And in both cases, if they had worked with HTTP and its caching, they could have avoided most of the problem. Pointcast semi-fixed their problems by developing and selling a caching server, but it was a bandaid on a fundamentally broken protocol. We'll see if Napster and its OpenSource friends can do something similar or better, and other new services like imesh had better get the clue or they'll run into the same problems.

    In the real world, most internet users are in one of two environments

    • Fast LAN or medium-speed WAN behind a firewall with slower outside connection
    • Slow dialup, concentrating large numbers of users to fast internal servers plus an Internet feed that's big but oversubscribed.
    Businesses and universities are in the former model; most ISPs are the latter model, though the DSL and Cable Modem ISPs are somewhere in between. In both cases, http caching is available, and is a valuable tool for keeping most requests on the fast inner network instead of the slow connection to outside.

    Napster was designed so that's servers only handle the databases, not the bulk file transfer, which lets them handle a large number of users with manageable load (and avoid copyright blame, shifting it to the users :-) But what it ignores is the transfer of large numbers of users - which is a serious thing to ignore if you want to have zillions of users using your stuff.

    University users look like business users - typically fast LANs on campus, slower connection to outside, so Napster would be no problem if most students got their MP3s from other students or a caching server at the same school, and only downloaded from outside when nobody at the school has the song they want. How would you design something like this? Here are a few possible approaches:

    • Give the Napster Database more information about where the client and file-sharers are, so it can show you the nearby sharers first, with something more relevant than just ping time. Even a crude measure like "same second-level domain name" helps a lot, because it keeps things in the same university or corporation.
    • Design a Napster Proxy/Cache Server you can install locally, and a way to find nearby servers, so you ask the cache if it's got your song instead of getting it from Napster themselves. This was easier for Pointcast to do, because their sales hook is "we're helping your employees get interesting business news, plus the occasional headline and sports score", as opposed to "we're helping your students pirate MP3s and Warez", but it's a start :-) But it can be minimal modification to the Napster protocols, with the complex work done by the proxy.
    • Design a "distributed proxy", which lets some random user's machine elect itself database cache in its domain or community; requires a mechanism to tell other users where to find it, but it may not be hard, and there could be interesting ways to generalize "community". It's a bti of work, and Napster needs to be sure their business model still works :-)
    • Use HTTP for file transfers, basically making each Napster sharer speak http, maybe on port 80 or 8080 instead of Napster's own protocols as the default. This lets web caches work automagically, though it really benefits if there's a way to get most clients at one university usually use the same few servers for each specific song they download (e.g. sharer-1 shares songs 1,2,3, sharer-2 shares 4,5,6, etc.) to maximize caching.
    • Other things the open source community will think up and code.
    • More flexible choice of port numbers, so Napster can hog ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth, choosing to be Anonymous Cowards rather than good netizens. (Hiding anonymously is fine, but the system still needs to clean up its bandwidth act as much as possible.)
    Remember, only YOU can prevent broadcast storms
  • Finally someone else realizes this!

    Its not sysadmins people.

    I don't think you'd be terribly impressed if your trying to get some actual work done and you can't do anything because some loser two rooms over is busy draining all the network resources in the building to listen to Backstreet Boys.

    The whole point of things like College Networks is that they're there for some kind of actual use, which trading music doesn't really qualify as.

    When something frivolous like Napster is consuming 30% of a connection as big as an OC3, then you know there is a major problem. As an admin, what can you do? Let the network slow to a crawl, buy more bandwidth, or get rid of the single biggest waste of bandwidth on the network?

    So, bearing in mind that you probably don't have a budget big enough to just add bigger lines whenever you want to, what would you do?

    Hence, mass bans of Napster.

    So, now we have people writing programs to try to get around those bans to continue to waste network resources. Don't these people learn, or are they just too selfish to care about anything but how much music they can collect?

    What we'll probably see if this kind of abuse keeps up long enough is metered traffic. Just wait and see... if there is no way to block it, they'll just find a way to start charging you for extra bandwidth being used.

    And then where are we? All because some people have to basically steal network bandwidth so they can have more music.

    Yeah, thats just great.
  • I suspect that many network administrators will resort to limiting the data rates per student (or host), for ALL protocols to some small level.

    There's nothing that the students can really do about that except pay more for more bandwidth.

    So, in the end, each student will probably be back to a 9.6kb line :)
  • So in other words, sign up now before they get blocked, eh?

    Maybe combine it with that "Freenet" idea that was being posted on

  • "If your paying for the access, then you should be able to use it as you wish. "

    Quite wrong... if you're paying for the access, you agreed to pay for the access with restrictions on how you would use it according to the Acceptable Use Policies. If you enter into this agreement with the intent of violating the Acceptable Use Policies, they can cut your connection off. If you try to take them to court (why not? School rules are not laws, LAWS are laws. If a teacher takes your hat, nail them for petty theft. If a student tells you they're going to kick your ass, press assault charges.) they can very easily argue that you made the agreement in bad faith and you'll be left high and dry.

    When you buy something, ANYTHING, you do it as an agreement with the seller. The seller sets conditions. If you don't like those conditions, you don't buy it, its as simple as that. I'd LOVE it if AT&T weren't complete moron jerkoff assholes and would unlimit the upstream of cable modems, but I want that bandwidth even with the restriction so I will buy them if they ever come ot this area (I don't know why I believe them every time they tell me it'll be a month or 2, they've been lying about it for over 3 years). I will not attempt to override this limit, I will not bitch about this limit, I will not claim I was FORCED to accept the limit, because I wasn't. I was presented with a choice and I took it. End of story.

    Personally I'd like it if our school networks were run into the ground with Napster, you have no idea how absolutely putrid out network is. NOTHING works on it. No reverse DNS so you can't access about half of the FTP sites out there including huge ones like Through ICQ you can't send messages longer than 450 chars, you can't transfer files, hell until a couple months ago they blocked ICQ completely. Students have done significant research to determine why inTRAnet page grabs of the schools own site from within their network are slower than shit (about 50x slower than going outside to the net), determined the problems, went to the administrators and then were told if they didn't stop looking into how the network worked they would be fired from their campus jobs and all net access would be revoked. Thank gawd I don't live on campus.
  • "Tonight on CNN Technology Report, is the safety and integrity of the Internet at stake? A new report suggests that a form of Electronic Terrorism known as a 'Denial of Service' attack could spell the end for the World Wide Web. We'll speak with the president of a small dotcom startup called 'Guh-Null-Soft', who was recently the victim of what is possibly the single most powerful 'Denial of Service' attack on the Internet today - the mysterious 'Slashdot Effect'"

    (from the "download" page on gnullsoft..)


    DUE TO A COMPLETE ONSLAUGHT OF USAGE FROM GETTING SLASHDOTTED, THE BETA GROUP IS NOW CLOSED. I will be creating a mailing list where we will take 1,000 members for a closed beta group to test the network stability of gnutella before the 1.0 release. Details are forthcoming. The kids are usually hanging out in #gnutella on EfNet IRC if you want to come visit.

    We're a doggamn menace! :)

    .------------ - - -
    | big bad mr. frosty
    `------------ - - -
  • Does anyone else notice the parallels between these file-sharing utilities and the old-school BBSs? The distinction is becoming even more blurred as functionality like chatting is added. It seems that we've realized that the interface provided by the web isn't always what we'd prefer.

    What shall we call these new client/server combinations? For now, I'll simply call them DFSs: distributed file sharers. What benefits to DFSs have over the web from the user's perspective? A few for your consideration:

    • Single user interface to multiple sites
    • Ability to interact with users on all sites, not just the currently viewed one
    Benefits from the administrator's perspective?
    • Easier (?) to maintain
    • No clunky web interface

    What else?

    I recall an incredible sense of community on the old BBSs. Though Slashdot can boast a strong community, I don't think most web sites can. Will DFSs change this? Do you foresee DFSs adding BBS-like features like discussion groups and online games? Are they filling a niche that the web doesn't?

  • The way they're acting is that they never expected to get /.ed..

    The thing is, you release an open-source project, that allows transfer of Mp3s, that comes from a huge congomerate, and is part of Nullsoft...

    How can it NOT get slashdotted?
  • Is that the major reason most univeristies are firewalling off Napster has little to do with bandwidth, and almost everything to do with the lawsuits and threats and extortion coming from the RIAA. Bandwidth usage is, of course, a concern, but I don't see where the bandwidth shaping is a bad thing. University SysAdmins would see it as a blessing... Better than without anyway. Besides, many websites are as demanding on bandwidth, if not more so, than a napster connection. Students are going to download and upload and use all the bandwidth they can get, whether they are using Napster or Gnullsoft or just downloading .wav's, .mp3's and warez. At least this way they won't have to waste so much time & bandwidth looking thru web pages for the files they want. I mean, really, it's just a service, and one not much different than FTP. In a college, pretty much all their bandwidth is in use all the time, Napster or no, and if they are falling short of bandwidth, well, thats one of the many things tuition pays for, and plenty of bandwidth is not just a hallmark, but a REQUIREMENT of any good learning institution. Anyway, the reason I started this post is bandwidth relative... the /. effect strikes again! "DUE TO A COMPLETE ONSLAUGHT OF USAGE FROM GETTING SLASHDOTTED, THE BETA GROUP IS NOW CLOSED. I will be creating a mailing list where we will take 1,000 members for a closed beta group to test the network stability of gnutella before the 1.0 release. Details are forthcoming. The kids are usually hanging out in #gnutella on EfNet IRC if you want to come visit."
  • The first thought that came to mind when reading the specs was that college admins will ban this too. By the time I got to the end of the specs, it was pretty obvious I wasn't the first to have thought of this. But here's my quesrtion...Will college sysadmins WANT to ban this? Working off the (dubious) premise that the sysadmins are only worried about bandwidth hogs, will this "bandwidth shaping" feature prevent The Napster Problem? Yeah, I love napster, but it's kind of annoying when web pages can load faster on my 56K modem at home than here at college.

    So I guess my question is, is this bandwidth shaping for real? If so, how is that possible?

  • Everything is free.

    I wonder if the copyright crimes napster and it's clones are encouraging is going to have any negative effects on the release of media content.

    My guess is it's not. Making movies and music has never been cheaper than it is today. That coupled with the fact that that you don't have to work is the sweat of your face anymore to survive gives people with real creativity the ability to produce god material.

    The big media companies have worked against quality content and instead focused on suplying crap for the masses. The last fifteen years have produced no Brian Wilsons, John Lennons, Luc Bressons or Orson Welles.

    The free software movement has proven these points for software. The big media companies has a much bigger effect on our lives than companies like microsoft has ever had. For some reason pirating music and movies never felt as bad as pirating software. I'm getting incoherent now, best quit
  • Hard to believe that a large company (Time Warner) would allow this type of software out in the open. I figured that there would be a napster clone for other file types, but was sure it would be another upstart. I'd guess this will be squashed by Time Warner before it becomes too popular, or if not squashed modified to try to prevent the free flow of information
  • by Sludge ( 1234 ) <slashdot&tossed,org> on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:12AM (#1203835) Homepage
    This has the potential to succeed where Napster has failed. Napster works with only MP3s, which means Napster's designers have applied content discrimination. The law decrees, and IANAL, that as soon as you discriminate against content posted, that you are responsible for all content posted. If this program is much more general-purpose, it shouldn't be dogged by the same laws that Napster was dogged by.
  • by Bad Mojo ( 12210 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @09:31AM (#1203836) Homepage
    Time Warner now sells bandwidth with it's Cable Modem services and it's consolidaiton with AOL. Bandwidth is not unlike Gasoline. You sell enough SUVs (aka Napster) and you'll have lots more gas sales.

    Bad Mojo
  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:12AM (#1203837) Homepage Journal
    It is like "cruising" down the main drag of a small city. Those doing it complain that they "have the right" to drive anywhere. But what about the rights of the rest of us to drive downtown without running into a wall of cars circling the block?

    I'm not saying that things like Napster should be illegal. I am saying that clogging up a network with Napster when people are trying to do real work is antisocial behavior and should be considered on-par with playing a boom-box at volume ten on the bus, talking loudly on a cell-phone in a supermarket, and otherwise acting like an obnoxious ass.

  • by jblackman ( 72186 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @10:06AM (#1203838) Homepage
    Here's my problem, though: at my school, if you live in a dorm, your one option for Internet access is the school's residential network. No DSL, no cable, and for some reason, it's notoriously hard to get a modem connection.

    Now, I'm paying a pretty fair sum every semester to Housing and Food Services, and part of that is for my network connection. If you have to limit it in some respect, fine, I believe solutions exist. But it's not fair to block access completely when a more equitable solution would be to block each student to, say, 5 k/s of bandwidth during Napster transfers during peak hours, or whatever.

    Napster and its ilk have legitimate uses. No, really, they do. If your solution to their overutilization of bandwidth is shutting them down completely, I can't blame anyone who tries to get around it. Hell, I've tried to get around it. A middle ground exists here, and I'm waiting for someone to stumble onto it.

  • by Plankeye ( 72603 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @09:25AM (#1203839)
    Check this out! (from the download page)


    DUE TO A COMPLETE ONSLAUGHT OF USAGE FROM GETTING SLASHDOTTED, THE BETA GROUP IS NOW CLOSED. I will be creating a mailing list where we will take 1,000 members for a closed beta group to test the network stability of gnutella before the 1.0 release.

    Details are forthcoming. The kids are usually hanging out in #gnutella on EfNet IRC if you want to come visit.


  • by mOdQuArK! ( 87332 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @09:47AM (#1203840)
    Once the Gnutella protocol is published, it should be possible to build a bridge to the Napster namespace - this would facilitate the expansion of both dataspaces really quickly!
  • by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @10:25AM (#1203841)
    I can't wait to have 58% of my university's bandwidth used up by piracy, AGAIN.

    You contradict yourself. If free music becomes as popular as pirated music is now, then you will experience the same bandwidth problems, except this time it will all be legal.

    I remember when I did not autoload images because of bandwidth problems on the internet. Well now the internet has grown up a little and graphics are a small load on the network.

    Sooner or later, music will be chump change compared to movie streaming or whatever comes next. We should hope that the consequence of the extreme bandwidth usage is more bandwidth, rather than the despise of new technology.

  • by Wintermancer ( 134128 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:08AM (#1203842)
    Napster was an interesting proof of concept, in that it allowed for a large peer-to-peer MP3 fileshare.

    Regardless of the outcome of the RIAA lawsuit against Napster, developments such as Gnullsoft's illustrate the "Whack-a-Mole" problem the government and industry face.

    Call it gestalt critical mass. Viral software memes. Slashdot backlash. Whatever.

    Simply stated, you can't keep a good idea down.
  • by oman_ ( 147713 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @07:44AM (#1203843) Homepage
    After first hearing of Napster I was quite impressed with the idea but a little confused as to why its mp3 only. If the gnullsoft version allows other types of files we are going to need some kind of quality control system in order for it to be useable. You could have groups that catalog certain archives.. provide crc's and such. so that you can look up what files you are looking for in a database and search other users machines for them.. and not have to worry about getting poor quality data.
  • There you go. Block the primary host and you shut the whole thing out: It's what Northwestern University did: they blocked * from resolving, meaning that you couldn't connect to get the 'optimal server'. The downloads would've gone through if they were to ever begin, because they're not blocking ports, just name resolution. The same thing, methinks, could be done with this program too.

    Actually good sir, I believe you're mistaken. Gnutella appears to use a peer-to-peer-to-peer network to form its lists. That means all you have to do is link to a friend outside of the university firewall on whatever port you would decide, and all of a sudden you have access to all the hosts that he has, and all the hosts that the people he is linked to has, etc. This expands exponetially, and the only thing colleges could do is block EVERY port except vital ones. (HTTP, FTP, GOPHER, etc.) Heh, I'd like to see them try to pull that off.. They'd have a geek riot on their hands. ;-)

  • This is on their feature list, and obviously, it's the critical feature :-) The others are just marketing candy:
    Sexy product name makes you hungry with cravings for chocolaty love
  • by Merk ( 25521 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:01AM (#1203846) Homepage

    It's great to see a big, AOL subsidiary, that as far as I know has never shown a big interest in producing GPLed software now jumping in and producing something like this.

    But! The concern I have is that the analysis I've seen of the Napster protocol shows that it's a very poorly designed protocol. I wonder if there's any chance gnutella will be able to either support different protocols -- the old Napster protocol and a new better designed one, or help redesign the current protocol.

    Anybody know a good alternative protocol that could be used instead? Anybody care to design one? Does someone want to let these guys know this is a priority?

  • by imac.usr ( 58845 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:57AM (#1203847) Homepage
    Personally, I'd rather support a free, open-sourced cross-platform protocol than one from the company that (depending on how you look at it) screwed a young Adam Hinkley out of his own program.

    Background info is available from this Salon article [] (the second of two parts; the first part gives an overview of Hotline). For the latest news in the case, try here [] or here [].

    Hotline is what got me much of my MP3 collection, but the company's actions caused me to think twice. Napster doesn't present such a moral quandry.

  • by Temporal ( 96070 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @09:45AM (#1203848) Journal

    Oh, that's just f***ing wonderful. I can't wait to have 58% of my university's bandwidth used up by piracy, AGAIN. I just can't wait to be sitting here, wishing I had a modem connection to AOL rather than having the dedicated ethernet connection I have now.

    Look, I listen to mp3's, I own a Rio, I think the RIAA is evil, etc. etc., but I want Napster and everything like it gone!

    Don't tell me about the legal uses for napster. That's BS. If you own a CD, you can make your own mp3's from it, and if you want legally free music, you can go to the band's web site and download the music from them. Or, go to, or, or one of the many other free music sites. That's what I do, and all the music I listen to is legally free. And it is damn good, too.

    Furthermore, I really think we should be encouraging the artists who have been so generous as to give us free music. The should be compared to the coders that have givin us free (open source) software. If people realize that there is a lot of really good music on, and start downloading it, then there will only be more in the future. As it is, the incredible amount of pirating going on right now only encourages the RIAA and the government to make more laws to prevent it--laws which we hate. The DMCA, for example. If there wasn't so much damn pirating going on, mabey we would not have it.

    If everyone starts downloading legally free music, the RIAA won't be able to anything about it but say "oh shit", and fade away. The artists will all head towards giving away their music for free. (they can make money in so many other ways--endorsements, concerts, etc.) So, then all our music will be free, just the way we like it. There is no need for Napster clones.

    -Everything has a cause
    -Nothing can cause itself
    -You cannot have an infinite string of causes

  • by tzanger ( 1575 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @07:55AM (#1203849) Homepage

    ... with the author's desire to completely circumvent the administrator's control over their own network. There are technolgies in this software to specifically prevent it from being throttled.

    Yes I'm all for free speech and the freedom of information but at what cost? I can see the entire QoS of dorms and "open" labs to be turned way way way down over this. It would have been much better to have some kind of control app which the network admins could say "300kbps tops during peak times" or something to that effect.

    Mind you I can now also see work being put into firewall software which monitors for large bandwidth useage on an connection basis and, if it exceeds xkbps for y seconds, throttle that IP down or turn them off completely.

    Maybe this isn't such a bad thing after all.

  • by YogSothoth ( 3357 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @07:48AM (#1203850) Homepage
    • Distributed nature of servant makes it pretty damned tough for college administrators to block access to the gnutella service
    • Ability to change the port you listen on makes it even harder for those college administrators to block access
    • Ability to define your own internal network with a single exit point to the rest of the internet makes it almost fucking impossible for college sysadmins to block the free uninhibited transfer of information
    • Am I making myself painfully clear? I thought so.
  • by dieman ( 4814 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:49AM (#1203851) Homepage
    The issue is not the free flow of information.

    The issue is economies of limited data transfer bandwidth in a shared network environment.

    Where I go to school, we have full ATM switched core (or at least thats my understanding). Theres an OC3c to the net, along with a vbns connect (with another oc-12 to vbns coming soon).

    Thing was... napster traffic was using 30% of the bandwidth available. To support this new traffic would have cost millions more on the OC3c connect to the internet. Probally eating out of state and federal funds, alongside higher tuition costs. Just so some bastard can get his/her britney spears music and porn.

    Why should I fund their abusive network saturating connectivity? Why do you turn sysadmins into the enemy when the real enemy is the economics of scarce bandwidth?

    In any case. There will allways be a method to block these products from saturating internet and vbns lines. Why tell people otherwise? If anything, you make it even more of a priority to start blocking SYN traffic unless someone has specifically asked to run services on their machines.

    "Am I making myself painfully clear? I thought so."
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:10AM (#1203852) Homepage Journal
    ADOM was originally released with the caveat that version 1.0 would have source. We're now (after several years) at 0.99gamma16

    Needless to say, the author of that software package felt that he had written himself a loophole, and could take advantage of the good will of the open source community. I don't know about these people, but if the mindset isn't release early, release often, then they don't get it to begin with.
  • by MarkKomus ( 71304 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:04AM (#1203853)
    I wouldn't count Napster's days being numbered anytime soon. The biggest hurdle if some other program were to overtake it, is to get the masses using it. More so then any program since ICQ do I have non computer friends using Napster, who have never heard of Linux, or open source. If Napster continues to work the masses will not move over. The windows client market is still the one that has to be broken into before something will explode to levels Napster has.
  • by Claude Debussy ( 138975 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @08:01AM (#1203854)
    the OpenNap server already has these features and its been available for quite some time now, there is even the flexibility to do porn searching just like the software in this story and iMesh (avi's, mpegs, au, etc). Opennap can be found Here []. here is a list of the available napster clones excluding the one in the story.

    gnap [] -- gnome napster client

    gnome-napster [] -- gnome napster client

    jnap [] -- java napster client

    jnapster [] -- java napster client

    java napster [] -- java napster client

    crapster [] -- BeOS napster client

    gnapster [] -- gnome napster client

    BitchX [] -- IRC chat client with napster plugin

    Knapster [] -- KDE napster client

    BeNapster [] -- BeOS napster client

    Napster for BeOS []

    Napster for MacOSX []

    gtk napster [] -- gtk napster client

    amster [] -- amiga napster client

    iNapster [] -- WWW interface to napster

    BWap [] -- standalone console unix client based on bx-nap plugin for BitchX

    These are all open source and free, and will work with Opennap servers (although most right now probably aren't coded to take advantage of the Pr0n search extensions, yet. Give it some time though.

  • by NullsoftTom ( 162835 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2000 @09:04AM (#1203855)
    hoowah. alright, it's been awhile since i've woken up to find the webservers on fire from a slashdotting. as a result, i've had to close the beta group. there were over 10,000 downloads this morning so far, and we're just not ready to have you all connect to the group pool yet. sorry. i wanted to respond to a few concerns i've seen here with some answers to things that are being misrepresented. first off, gnutella is not a napster clone. there are several major differences, the most important difference that the search hierarchy is not centralized, but instead shared across the network of hosts you end up connecting to. additionally, gnutella does not use the napster network protocol, which seems to be brought up a few times here. lots of folks have mentioned the fact that they're having problems getting on this morning. I've shut down the redirector as well so you can't join the network at the moment, since the beta is closed. You're more than welcome, should you find the app, to join your own private sharing groups (which is, indeed, more the design of the product than this morning's 5,000 host marathon) we want to promote group sharing *within* campuses as well as global sharing. The hope is that local bandwidth will be used and encouraged instead of piping down brittney porn through your poor dorm's overcramped asante 10BT hubs and crisco 2501s. more to come later. thanks for the interest so far!

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken