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General Gnutella / Gnutella Network Discussion For general discussion about Gnutella and the Gnutella network.
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Old July 21st, 2004
Gnutella Jewel
Join Date: June 28th, 2003
Posts: 88
swimkid is flying high
Default Gnutella on the Rise (

Gnutella's past can be best compared to an abused farm animal. During its lengthy history, it has gone through torment and anguish rarely seen by any other P2P network. However, it has managed to hang on despite vocal, and often violent, criticism against this network.

Gnutella was the brainchild of Justin Frankin during his days at Nullsoft (a small sub-division of AOL.) This program was released in mid March of 2000, during the glory days of Napster. When news got out of its release, the executives at AOL ordered that the client be removed from the Nullsoft site. However, it was too late, as thousands of copies had already been distributed. Within a day, the program was reverse engineered, and clones began to spring up.

The first clones outside the version .56 group was ToadNode. It was a popular client thanks to having a more mainstream GUI and several network improvements. With Napster being the lead network, a small but workable Gnutella community began to take form.

Gnutella is and was a pioneer in the P2P world because of its decentralized nature. Unlike Napster, it did not require a centralized server to function. However, early versions of the program required a host IP, or gateway IP to enter the network. Gnutella chat rooms on IRC sprung up, which offered IP addresses to those looking to connect.

While Gnutella seemed like a nice alternative to Napster, its limitations became apparent in mid 2001 when this massive network collapsed at the hands of the RIAA. With thousands of individuals looking for a Napster replacement, the Gnutella network simply could not handle the load. It abruptly collapsed, and many left it for dead.

During the brief dark ages after Napster's demise, a renewed presence emerged in the P2P world. The open source, New York based LimeWire and Florida based BearShare would rekindle the Gnutella renaissance and bring this community back from near death.

Over the course of the next several years, Gnutella went through significant growing pains. No Gnutella history would be complete without reference to the "Gnutella2" incident. Frustrated by Gnutella's lack of progress, Michael Stokes, programmer of the popular Shareaza client, broke ranks from the GDF (Gnutella Developers Forum) and started "Gnutella2." Many thought for sure Shareaza would take over Gnutella and become a super-network like eDonkey2000 or FastTrack. However, it now appears that all that Gnutella users needed was patience as years worth of work seems to be coming together.

We spoke with Greg Bildson, COO of LimeWire to discuss Gnutella's recent growth. The combination of an increased positive standing in the P2P world and an improved network crawler have contributed to its recent upsurge. Greg explains:

" We are definitely seeing a pickup in Gnutella and in LimeWire usage. It seems that LimeWire clients are better for the crawl so that seems to help disproportionately. We still seem to be undercounting BearShare's for example by 60K. LimeWire is really getting a lot of positive word of mouth recently.

We have not gone live with this yet but we have the crawl on a new machine that is consistently generating 40K more results as well. Plus, this weekend one of our developers put together a UDP crawl of all LimeWire based clients (version 3.9+) and we get huge numbers just from this. Once we combine the UDP crawl and new TCP crawl, I think you are going to see a much larger network ~ 500K at least.”

In addition, several new features will be coming to LimeWire, including firewall to firewall transfers which should prove to be a first.

“Firewall to firewall transfers are close to getting moved into production. Given that 60% of users are firewalled, we expect that to be a big win and perhaps a first for mainstream P2P networks. We are researching a few usages of UDP to improve the network. Our intention is to improve the download mesh for individual files by using UDP rather than TCP connections. This should have a side effect of making downloads start more quickly as well. UDP works with PushProxies as well so we can save TCP connection attempts there. While redoing some of the download mesh code, we intend to try and get firewalled sources into the mesh in a usable way.

Another goal we have is to make the network more adaptive. We would like the network to continue to work quickly for smaller files but would also like to improve the handling of larger files. This may require a reworking of queuing and communication between uploaders and downloaders of larger files."

While many wish that Gnutella would simply vanish, it appears things may actually be turning around for this veteran network. With applications like iMesh succumbing to the dark side, Gnutella seems to remain committed to furthering the P2P cause.
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