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Napster Alternative

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I’ve been playing with a new software package. You may be familiar with
Napster, the software that lets
you share MP3 files with other people. The concept behind Napster is that
there is a central server that maintains a database of MP3 files that
are on Napster user’s computers. Using Napster, you can search that database
for music which you then download directly from other user’s computers.

The music industry is
trying to put a stop
to Napster. They say that it facilitates music
piracy. Corporations and universities
are also trying to stop
Napster use because lots of users transferring
large music files has begun to cause network performance problems. Some
people suspect that the music industry has put pressure on universities
to shut down Napster use, and that network performance is just an excuse.

Corporations, universities, and--ultimately--governments can shut down
Napster use by stopping network traffic that uses the ports, protocols,
and addresses of the Napster service. Doing so is a relatively simple
task and has proven effective at stopping Napster use at several universities.

Enough of the history lesson.

What I’ve been playing with is Gnutella.
Gnutella also allows users to share MP3s--and other files--with each other.
The difference between Gnutella and Napster (and Napster copycats like
CuteMX) is that Gnutella doesn’t use
a central server. I connect my Gnutella client to a few people, who are
connected to a few more people, who are connected to a few more people,
ad nauseum. It is just one giant web of interconnected computers, with
each computer acting as a server. Since there is no central server, there
is no server that universities can deny access to.

The Gnutella client can also connect over any port you choose. This makes
it even more difficult for somebody to shut it down. Kind of like those
garage remotes that change codes every time they are used to keep people
from stealing your code.

The other thing that makes it difficult for somebody to stop Gnutella
is that Gnutella is not owned by anyone. The code was developed by the
guys that developed WinAmp and
released under the Gnu Public License as an open source project. That
means the software is owned by and maintained by the public. And even
the recording industry can’t sue everyone on Earth.


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