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The Gnetwork Is The Computer - Gnutella
Updated 12.5.2000 Author:
netwebly
unofficial: http://www.gnutella.wego.com

The next generation file-sharing application inspired by Napster's success. Because Gnutella does not rely on a central server in the way services like Napster do, the program theoretically offers users many advantages, not the least of which is anonymity.

The original version of Gnutella, written by programmer Justin Frankel and friends at Nullsoft, was pulled by parent company AOL within hours of being posted on the Net - but not before news of the application hit Slashdot and thousands of copies were downloaded by curious visitors.

Overview
Because Gnutella allows users to communicate independently, it is predicted that the system will be far more difficult to control or shut down than Napster, which could be put out of commission by a single court order targeting its servers.

As of October 2000 use of Gnutella remains limited, for the most part because the people most likely to use it are otherwise occupied downloading files with Napster.

Although a growing group of hard core fans uses the program on a daily basis, Gnutella's user base is relatively small in comparison to the thirty five million or so registered users who had signed up with Napster by October.

This means both the number and variety of files to be found on GnutellaNet at any given time is less than ideal.

The Big If...
There is ample evidence, however to suggest that a court ordered shutdown of Napster might cause a significant migration, enough to turn Gnutella into what the RIAA might call a monster. Clearly, if what advocates say about the network is true, Gnutella will prove very difficult, if not impossible, for the recording industry or other authorities to control. This assumes, however, that the open source team behind Gnutella is capable of ironing out some fairly serious problems that have surfaced over the past months.

For more on these obstacles. See: Are the users next? - The Gnutella Paradox

What It Does...
On paper, Gnutella is considered to be a much more versatile application than earlier file sharing systems like Napster.

Unlike Napster, which limits users to searches for MP3 files, Gnutella allows users to locate almost any type of type over the Internet. Audio files of any format (including MP3), software, video clips and written documents can all be easily transferred using a healthy Gnutella connection.

Technical Knowledge
Configuring Gnutella requires a little more legwork than setting up most applications, as users must manually enter the addresses of servers on the gnutellanet in order to launch the program. With a little practice however, the process becomes second nature as less technically minded users adjust to a complicated vocabulary that can admittedly be confusing to a first timer.

Security
Because no single authority has official control of Gnutella - (the whole point in the minds of the open source programmers working on the various incarnations of the project) - some critics have voiced concerns about security.

Gnutella.Worm
Gnutella users have already had problems with at least one virus specifically designed to corrupt the computers of gnutella users. The gnutella worm , unlike other worms found in the wild recently, does little real damage and is fairly - ahem - easy to remove. If you plan on using Gnutella regularly it is probably a good idea to protect yourself by downloading the appropriate virus definition file. The Symantec anti-virus research center has one they'll let you have for free.

Limitations
Although advocates have argued that Gnutella is in many ways superior to Napster (which was after all Shawn Fanning's first program), recent evidence suggests the system may have many underlying problems.

The Big Picture
The complex legal issues raised by file-sharing applications like Gnutella are by this point common knowledge. If you use gnutella these are issues you should at the very least be aware of. Despite the popularity of file-sharing applications like Gnutella and napster, downloading copyrighted material without permission remains against the law.

http://www.gnutella.wego.com

See Also:

web site reviews

gnutella.wego.com
- review
sourceforge.net - review
zeropaid.com - review

gnutella clones

newtella


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