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Today in P2P 135

Hylton Jolliffe writes "I wanted to alert you to an article by research Marc Eisenstadt that digs deep into BitTorrent, its potential and limitations and its implications for podcasting, filesharing and more."
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Today in P2P

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  • Don't make him [corante.com] angry.
  • or has his site down already?

    was it worth the read? is there a mirror?

    • Damn you, Slashdot. You win this time.

      I think we broke mysql...
    • wow, you're quicker than I am. Your comment wasn't there when I started typing mine (see below).

      Anyway, I tried again and I got it to load halfway at least. Nothing useful though, just the title image and a couple links to elsewhere on corante.com
    • Not particularly. I got the impression from reading it that the author was just plugging eXeem. There's more there, but I got the impression that the point of the article was to plug eXeem.
  • Seems this didn't load for me. Has it been slashdotted already? Impressive, nice work guys. And girls. Or maybe my internet connection sucks.
    • Has anyone got a link for a torrent of the article? ;-)
      • Re:/.ed already? (Score:5, Informative)

        by jacobcaz ( 91509 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:39PM (#11349145) Homepage
        GET REAL
        January 11, 2005
        BitTorrent, eXeem, Meta-Torrent, Podcasting: "What? So What?"
        Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

        SUMMARY: The index that facilitates the sharing of files on a large scale is also the Achilles heel of peer-to-peer file-sharing, because it is vulnerable to litigation and closure. So what happens if the index is itself distributed? I try to get my head around the latest in peer-to-peer file sharing, and explain a bit about what I've learned, including the fact that BitTorrent's power rests in its 'swarm' distribution model, but not necessarily in your end-user download speed. What has this got to do with podcasting? (Answer: invisible P2P plumbing helps the podcasting wheel go round).

        [Warning: lengthy article follows].

        First, some history
        (skip ahead to the next section if you're already bored with the Napster, Gnutella, KaZaa, and BitTorrent saga).

        Napster opened our eyes to the power of distributed file sharing on a massive scale. But it was closed down by lawsuits to stop it from listing copyrighted works for which the owners would naturally have preferred to collect royalties (there are thousands of commentaries on the pros and cons of such royalties, but that's not the focus of this posting). Successive generations of tools such as Gnutella, KaZaa, and now BitTorrent have created their own buzz, their own massive followings, their own headaches, and their own solutions to others' headaches. Here's my rundown of the 'big ideas' (and the people behind them):

        Napster (Shawn Fanning): This was the Mother of big-time peer-to-peer (P2P) file transfers, i.e. my computer directly to yours, with a central server to maintain lists of who had what in order to initiate the transactions. It had a pretty decent user interface, plus the rapid growth, novelty, excitement and publicity that ensured plenty of good content. Those central server lists, leading to mass free trading of copyrighted material, also led it to be shut down.

        Gnutella (Justin Frankel and Tom Pepper, creators of WinAmp): This was an open-source protocol that linked autonomous 'nodes' (users of the network) to other nodes, thereby eliminating the need for a central server list. Searching reliability varies, however, because it is subject to outages according to the connection/disconnection of individual users along the way.

        KaZaa (Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who later created Skype): This technology built on a proprietary protocol called 'FastTrack', conceptually an extension to Gnutella, that deployed distributed 'supernode' search indices whose IP addresses were built in to the software, and which avoided the problems of (i) Napster's centralized lists and (ii) Gnutella's over-distributed nodes suffering outages and weakening the search. The prevalence of built-in 'adware' and the distribution of 'junk files' that masqueraded as originals were two of the weaknesses of the (still) wildly popular KaZaa.

        BitTorrent (Bram Cohen): This was the next 'creative leap' in the P2P world, based on the following insight: distributing large files in fragments among large numbers of users, and requiring every downloader to be a partial uploader (of these fragments), enables the 'best of breed' of swarming behaviour -- as a file becomes more popular, so it becomes easier to download, rather than harder (as is the case with traditional file distribution)! A good overview explanation and a helpful analogy are provided in this excerpt from Brian Dessent's BitTorrent FAQ and Guide:

        BitTorrent is a protocol designed for transferring files. It is peer-to-peer in nature, as users connect to each other directly to send and receive portions of the file. However, there is a central server (called a tracker) which coordinates the action of all such peers. The tracker only manages connections, it does not have any knowledge of the contents of the files being distributed, and therefore a large number of users can be supported with relatively limited tracker bandwidth. The key philosophy
    • Maybe his server should be on a distributed network of machines.

      You know, kinda like bittorrent [bittorrent.com]?

  • Legal uses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jacobcaz ( 91509 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:37PM (#11349115) Homepage
    Just a few days ago I used BT for the first time to download a Knoppix 3.7 ISO. I was trying to download from the various mirrors, but the speed I was getting was terrible - around 2.9KBps.

    I grabbed BT for Win2000 and installed it in about 7 minutes, then I hit the torrent link for Knoppix. I was downloading the ISO at around 36KBps (about the limit of my DSL connection).

    Since I was heading to bed while it downloaded, I left BT up that night and the next day while I was at work to help other people out.

    I had seen BT as a place to snag nothing but rips of movies, and I've stayed away. The legal-usese BT community needs to do a better job of promoting the positive and allowable uses of BT and P2P sharing tools. They have a way to negative stigma right now.

    • Re:Legal uses (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have downloaded over a hundred gigs of music (every single file of that is LEGAL)

      I have uploaded 200 gigs of that same music.

      http://bt.etree.org

      it is a wonderful site with a range of music.

      I am not alone in that usage either. people who download pirated material generally dont come to that level (most bittorrent copyright infrigning material is not upwards of 1-5 gigs either, except dvd images)
      • Re:Legal uses (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jobugeek ( 466084 )
        The only problem with bt.etree.org is unless you are a Phish or Grateful Dead fan, the selection of music is very limited. I've looked many times and seen very little else.
        • Well, it was my first time to the site, and down at the bottom they have a link that says "Hide Grateful Dead and Phish" which is kind of nice. That does get rid of a lot of stuff though, and can't say I'm crazy about most of the other stuff they've got, but it is a nice effort.
    • downloading the ISO at around 36KBps (about the limit of my DSL connection).

      That's about the poorest excuse for a DSL for a Downloads SLowly connection I've ever heard of.

        • That's about the poorest excuse for a DSL for a Downloads SLowly connection I've ever heard of.
        I live at pretty much the limit of my telco's ability to provide a quality DSL connection and I only get about 384Kb/s total throughput.

        You're not the only one who thinks it sucks.

    • Re:Legal uses (Score:5, Informative)

      by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:49PM (#11349251)
      Just a suggestion - try 'ABC', as in 'Yet Another Bittorrent Client'. It is a far better Win32 client than is the official python client.

      That being said, I agree that Bittorrent needs to be publicized more for its clearly legal uses. I won't say that all multimedia downloading is illegal copyright infringement, but even under the assumption that it is, Bittorrent is still the single best way I know of for widespread legal distribution of large files.
      • Re:Legal uses (Score:2, Insightful)

        by daeg ( 828071 )
        On that same topic, Azureus [sourceforge.net] is also a quite capable BT client. Far better than the official Python client, especially from an ease-of-use GUI standpoint. Has the ease of use most of us want, but also those power-user style options if you need/want them.

        Quite impressive, and extremely responsive for being written in Java. Never crashed, eiter.
        • I'll seed your recommendation. :) I switched to it after trying the stock BT client a bit. I've only been trying it for a week (Slackware distro and Iron Chef Strawberry), but no complaints.
      • Bittorrent needs to be publicized more for its clearly legal uses.

        I've looked into this, but with Suprnova gone, what's a good reliable tracker for general legit distribution? One problem is that a lot of trackers, especially those using the bytemonsoon code, won't take any torrent submission that doesn't have an entry on NFOrce.nl [google.com], and the NFOrce FAQ [nforce.nl] says that it posts only releases by "legit release group[s]", offering no advice to people outside the so-called "scene" other than the cryptic "pre your

      • Nah, Azureus is more my speed, and when I think of a multi-network client that supports BitTorrent, Shareaza comes to mind.
    • Re:Legal uses (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:51PM (#11349276) Homepage
      Totally agree. However, even the non-legit uses will probably eventually become legit. Like VCRs did after Sony was vindicated by the court decision against the MPAA which found that there were more legal uses for video tapes than illegal uses, or at least enough to justify their existence in the consumer market. Once the MPAA had to embrace it, they stopped fighting the VCR, and--miracle of miracles--the rental market padded their wallets quite nicely.

      I think we'll eventually see something similar here. A distributed distribution network which (i.e. Blockbuster) subscribers can use to download movies to their set-top boxes. And the network would be made up of those set-top boxes, so BB (or whoever) could cheaply distribute the movies that subscribers are requesting.

      The success of services like Netflix show that people want delivery. Storefront rental operations have stopped growing except in niche markets. The sooner that the industry in general, and companies like Blockbuster in particular give up their attachment to the physical disk/tape, the better they'll do.

      Of course, I like to root for the little guy. Maybe the moment that there's too much competition in the DVD mailer business, Netflix will unveil some secret deal they've worked out with the MPAA and a box they've developed and ship it out to all their customers for free, and it'll contain an embedded BT client for downloading and distributing all the latest cool films...

      • The thing is, it is perfectly reasonable to put artist rewarding *into* p2p clients. The more IPs that download a song, the more the artist (or other owner of the copyrighted work) gets rewarded from user contributions. User download to upload ratios, when trading packets with a peer, are of the formula (YourContribution + X) / (TheirContribution + X), where X is a constant amount of dollars to allow freeloaders to download as well (but slowly) to reduce the motive of them going off and starting their own
      • Totally agree. However, even the non-legit uses will probably eventually become legit. Like VCRs did after Sony was vindicated by the court decision against the MPAA which found that there were more legal uses for video tapes than illegal uses, or at least enough to justify their existence in the consumer market. Once the MPAA had to embrace it, they stopped fighting the VCR, and--miracle of miracles--the rental market padded their wallets quite nicely.

        Peer to Peer is not in any way analogous to a VCR,

        • Peer to Peer is not in any way analogous to a VCR, and I wish idiots would quit using the comparison.

          VCRs and P2P are absolutely analogous. They are not identical, but they don't need to be in order for people to draw parallels.

          Let me spell it out for you: P2P networks are a means of distributing media. Video tapes are a means of distributing media.

          The MPAA fought the video tape many years ago. They lost the fight, decided to embrace it instead, and thereby increased revenues by billions rather tha

    • I had seen BT as a place to snag nothing but rips of movies, and I've stayed away. The legal-usese BT community needs to do a better job of promoting the positive and allowable uses of BT and P2P sharing tools. They have a way to negative stigma right now.

      Well, there are plenty of "legal" uses that are quite popular and widely used. For example, Blizzard distributes all of its patches to World of Warcraft over the BT protocol. If this doesn't show how the community is promoting legal uses of the protoco
  • Article Text (Score:1, Informative)

    by LanMan04 ( 790429 )
    January 11, 2005
    BitTorrent, eXeem, Meta-Torrent, Podcasting: "What? So What?"Email This EntryPrint This Entry
    Posted by Marc Eisenstadt

    SUMMARY: The index that facilitates the sharing of files on a large scale is also the Achilles heel of peer-to-peer file-sharing, because it is vulnerable to litigation and closure. So what happens if the index is itself distributed? I try to get my head around the latest in peer-to-peer file sharing, and explain a bit about what I've learned, including the fact that BitTorr
    • Re:Article Text (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ajs ( 35943 )
      I'm a user of Gnutella, so let me take that angle on the article. Gnutella today does not match his historical factoids. The network is quite robust and also possesses the multi-sourced download capabilities of BitTorrent. However, where BT requires a centralized "tracker", any node in the Gnutella universe can be a "tracker" at any time. This is the result of a protocol extension introduced quite some time ago (long enough that it seems to be widely supported by all of the clients that I connect to) where
    • "Over a 1Megabit-per-second ADSL line (which is actually 1,048,576 bits per second)," Is this right? I thought when you were talking network speeds, 1Mbps ADSL is 1,000,000 bits per second. I thought You only do the 8 bit/byte thing for RAM/Files sizes.
      • That depends on the units of measurement. Its it kiloBITS/sec or kiloBYTES/sec ? Many clients can show either.
      • Nope.

        Whenever you're talking about kilo, mega, giga, etc, in terms of anything having to do with a computer (bits, bytes, words, double words, whatever), you're talking about POWERS OF 2! Always! Anyone who does otherwise is incorrect or misinformed. A megabit is 2^20 bits. People who do it otherwise are like those sleazy bankers that insist there are only 360 days in the "fiscal" calendar.
        • Nope again, it's actually a Yup! Time to correct your article! ;-) "bits in data communications are discrete signal pulses and have historically been counted using the decimal number system". I thought your post looked odd. http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_g c i212541,00.html megabit In data communications, a megabit is a million binary pulses, or 1,000,000 (that is, 106) pulses (or "bits"). It's commonly used for measuring the amount of data that is transferred in a second between tw
  • by revery ( 456516 ) <charles@c[ ].net ['ac2' in gap]> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:40PM (#11349159) Homepage
    So BitTorrent is just about spreading the distribution load across multiple peers and can't speed up my physical connection to the internet.

    That's why I click on every banner I see that says "click here to increase your download speed". I think of them as the little speed boost arrows you could drive over in Excitebike.

    --

    This is a joke. You have been joked with.

  • Karma whore (Score:2, Informative)

    by narsiman ( 67024 )
    Google cache [64.233.161.104]
  • I OBJECT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:48PM (#11349243)
    I object to the term "podcasting"

    People were doing that WAY before the ipod came about. and people will be doing it way after the ipod is dust. Why do we need to name something people were already doing after a companies product that DIDNT invent it.

    It's like the hype surrounding blogs (woo, a webpage....) except worse because atleast blogging is nominally different (in that it's journal-like) and blogging doesn't have the name of a company embeded in it (I know about blogger.com but they came AFTER blogging).

    It's just so lame it makes me have a fit, when people talk about their "podcasting" it makes me want to ram a fist into their trendiod eyesockets and scream into the gooey mess that's left "People were doing it way before you even heard that flaming useless branded buzzword".

    just had to get that off my chest.
    • I couldn't help but notice that while you object to the term "podcasting" you referred to the practice of recording ones own audio shows as "that" (once) and "it" twice.

      What is more recognizable: "podcasting" or "that/it"?

      What grates on me is what people are arguing about what to call "that/it". Not to mention mods giving a rant from someone scared to show themselves enough of a bump to get around my filter.

      When people start calling it "Anonymous Coward-casting" I'll know where it started.

    • Curry says in his introduction clearly that it isn't a really "new" idea but that the iPod made it more feasable than before.

      Having said that. The name of the Product is iPod not Pod, a "pod" in and on itself is not a product, is it?
    • Well, object all you want, but the word is a pretty good one. It's a lot better than eCasting, iCasting, or netCasting, which is what it would have been called during the Good Old Days.

      Broadcasting + iPods = PodCasting.

  • by burris ( 122191 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:53PM (#11349295)
    BitTorrent requires tracker sites to handle all the partial-fragment-negotiation (think of the madness of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and you get an idea of the cool juggling that a tracker has to do).

    If he knew anything about BT, he would know that the tracker only introduces peers to each other. The tracker only knows which peers are finished and which aren't. Each peer then manages it's own "fragment-negotiation" which is really just downloading the rarest pieces from it's own point of view. There isn't any negotiation at all, really.

    burris
    • Pity. If the trackers were doing that much work, it would be easier to detect nodes that had dropped out. i.e. disconnected from their dynamic IP address and let the next person be DHCP-assigned that address and all those requests on port 688x for days afterwards. It would also be easier to patch a relatively small number of trackers rather than all the downloader installations.

      I didn't think the trackers did a lot of work. The whole point of systems like BT isn't really to improve download speed (it's som

    • ...how BitTorrent is inherently better than, say, eDonkey?

      They seem like much the same things, with the exception that if the guy hosting the .torrent file drops it, that file ceases to be findable till someone else hosts it. Whereas the eDonkey file is findable as long as anyone has any of it shared. This single-point-of-failure seems like a major weakness for BitTorrent, doesn't it?

      (Oh, and the torrents can be sets of files rather than singletons, which is a nice-to-have.)

      So why is it that everyone's
  • Nova (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @12:55PM (#11349315)
    HERE! [schnits.org] is a torrent of torrents from the former Suprnova! Download and spread the word!
  • So big whoop, BitTorrent relies on the trackers and the trackers get shut down sometimes.

    That's what this is for

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4149647.stm [bbc.co.uk]
    • Re:So? (Score:2, Informative)

      by UlfGabe ( 846629 )
      Remember how Exeem is made by Slotnick, who is employed by an unknown suit....! Using exeem you really dont know what you are getting, it could be the *AA's or anything, so dont trust it until the sponsoring partner comes out in the open. ps. exeem is like eMule..... so use eMule/eDonkey -blah-
  • False advertising! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by d_jedi ( 773213 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @01:14PM (#11349545)
    This blog/article does no such thing as the poster suggests of "dig[ging] deep into BitTorrent".

    BTW: WTF is podcasting?
  • by John Macdonald ( 40981 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @01:32PM (#11349763)
    As I visit yet another site to find it slashdotted, I find myself wishing that the basic http protocol included BitTorrent-like capability for basic web pages.


    Then, when a low volume, private site suddenly gets its 15 minutes of fame by being mentioned on Slashdot (or some other well-read news broadcast), it would automatically enlist the horde of new requesting sites to help distribute its content. The rest of the time, both before and after the flash mobbing period, it would just serve its own pages itself in the current manner.


    Since it is hard to predict which sites will be "discovered", it would be necessary for all standard servers and browsers support the http protocol extension, so this can't happen without a lot of coordinated work, I'm afraid. The protocol would have to be extended, web servers modified (Apache would e adaquate for a start), browsers modified (Mozilla/Firefox would be adequate for a start). When server was becoming overloaded it woud start by discarding requests from browsers that did not support the protocol, so that it can build up the initial seeding of helper sites. As long as there was more demand than available helpers, these old incapable browsers would continue to get ignored. Once a large enough group of capable helpers was built up to fully support itself, the group could start accepting requests from incapable browsers. That would provide incentive to upgrade older browsers.

    • > As I visit yet another site to find it slashdotted

      Right now, Slashdot and the people who submit articles can just add .nyud.net:8090 to the URL and make use of the free distributed Coral Cache. [nyu.edu] This whole thing is paid for by the NSF, so you Americans might as well use your tax dollars.

      I'd rather see people using that now, or mirrordot, than holding my breath for an http change that may never come or will require some third party software no one will use like the peercasting client.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All of the neat 'broadcast' stuff that could be happening on the net is being stifled by the 10:1 download:upload formula used by cable and phone internet bit carrying companies.

    As businesses, selling bit toting services and desireous of entering the IP content delivery business, this makes sense. Why should users be able to distribute content for free when they can charge for delivery.

    As it stands now, live music broadcastss are barely possible using a packet synchrounous distributed network. For top qua
  • by vyrus128 ( 747164 ) <gwillen@nerdnet.org> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @01:47PM (#11349956) Homepage
    How about a "Peer2Peer" category for Slashdot? Who's with me? :-)
  • So, anyone using bittorrent over i2p? Is it really anonymous, and is it fast enough to warrant use? How do the speeds compare to the regular 'net and Freenet?
    • I've tried it. The i2p network is small, so the anonymity set is only around 150 people or so, and bittorrent over i2p is slow. Faster than freenet, since I've never gotten freenet to work right, but *far* slower than over plain old internet.

      It's just not ready for use yet. Looks promising, but it's not there yet.
  • Suprised no one has caught this:

    "...by research Marc..."

    Shouldn't that be:

    "...by researcher Marc..."

    Ah, grammar and its many uses.
  • This "article" summerizes slashdot postings.
  • FACT: At some point in any file distribution protocol on the Internet a 'client' has been directed to a 'server' (peers, whatever) for a piece of information. The 'client' asks for this info and the 'server' provides it.

    If the info being transfered is copyrighted then it is not legal for the 'client' to ask for and accept this info nor it is it legal for the 'server' to respond to these requests. If both the 'client' and 'server' are coroporating then this transfer will happen just fine.

    If however eit

  • Especially in the past few months, "decentralizing BitTorrent" has become a really hot topic where everybody wants to share his idea of getting rid of the annoyance of a tracker. It surprises me that most people - even many developers of BitTorrent compatible software whom I know and respect - seem to overlook the fact that BitTorrent's "centralized structure" is there for a reason.

    The reason is called _control_.

    First let me repeat what Bram uses to emphasize on every opportunity: BitTorrent is not a _fil
    • You are 100% right about DISTRIBUTIOn! BT is a perfect (as of today) way to distribute independent films. Wait for the next Blair Witch to start on BT... If I wasn't the lazy bum I am, I'd set up one of those tracker sites for independent films myself....
  • Sharemail fell into vaporware hell not long after that post; Email these days isn't very good for sending text messages, never mind binary attachments, what with all the spam ruining it.

    RSS ended up being the ideal medium for this, instead of email. It uses DNS rather than crypto for authenticating sources, but that's usually good enough.

    Signed torrent files can get pretty large for large payloads, as well, making them not only easy to block, but many email services would block them if they were too large

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