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Gnutella

A popular peer-to-peer file sharing network on the Internet. Gnutella lets users share files from user machine to user machine without the use of a central directory, which was the original Napster architecture. Numerous client programs, such as LimeWire, Morpheus, BearShare and Mutella, have been developed that incorporate the Gnutella file sharing protocol. For more information, visit www.gnutella.com.

Developed by Nullsoft/AOL
Nullsoft, makers of the popular Winamp software media player, was acquired by AOL in 1999. In 2000, the Nullsoft division released the Gnutella software on the Internet, but AOL quickly pulled the plug the next day. However, licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), Gnutella spread rapidly in that short time, and Gnutella clients emerged soon after. The Gnutella name is a combination of GNU from the license and the chocolate-hazelnut spread Nutella.

How Files Are Shared
Each client in a Gnutella network is also a server, and the term "servent" is the combination of server and client. When starting for the first time, each Gnutella servent requires the IP address of at least one other servent, which it can obtain from a default list of UDP host caches (UHCs) or GWebcaches. UHCs crawl the Internet looking for Gnutella hosts (servents), and GWebcache servers are updated by the Gnutella hosts themselves.

Once a servent contacts another servent, that servent tries to contact the nodes it is aware of, and the request gets forwarded throughout the Gnutella network until the request times out. High-speed, non-firewalled servents can become "ultrapeers," which can connect to 32 other ultrapeers and 30 regular servents. The ultrapeers maintain key words of the files in the servents and forward them only requests for files they are likely to have. See peer-to-peer network.



peer-to-peer network

(1) A network of computers configured to allow certain files and folders to be shared with everyone or with selected users. Peer-to-peer networks are quite common in small offices that do not use a dedicated file server. All client versions of Windows, Mac and Linux can function as nodes in a peer-to-peer network and allow their files to be shared.

Files and folders can be configured to allow network users to copy them, but not alter them in their original location, which is a common safety precaution. However, files and folders can also be assigned a "read/write" status that allows either selected users or all users on the network to change them. See share. See also grid computing.

(2) Using the Internet as the world's largest file sharing network. Originally for music files, and subsequently for videos, this type of sharing was popularized by the famous Napster service as well as Gnutella (www.gnutella.com), Grokster (www.grokster.com), KaZaA (www.kazaa.com) and others. Users upload copyrighted songs to a central server, a group of servers or to selected user computers, and people download the files that are available. Almost every song ever recorded has been uploaded to some music sharing venue.

In 2003, Napster was resurrected into a legitimate service competing with other online music stores such as iTunes (www.itunes.com) and Yahoo Music Jukebox (formerly MusicMatch) (www.musicmatch.com). Although Apple legally sold more than a billion songs from its iTunes music service in 2006, it was estimated that more than 15 billion copyrighted songs were illegally shared or downloaded from websites in that same year.

File sharing systems are architected in different ways as outlined in the following illustrations. See Napster, KaZaA, BitTorrent, dark Web and P2P TV.














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