On March 14, 2000, at 11:31 AM EST, a message was posted on
the underground hacker website Slashdot indicating that AOL’s Nullsoft division
has released an “open-source Napster clone” named Gnutella, capable of
searching for and downloading any kind of computer file.
On March 15, 2000, at 4:25 EST, Wired News
reported that Nullsoft’s distribution of the “file-sharing software tool which
could be even more potent than Napster” had closed down, suggesting that the
reason for this was the potential threat that Gnutella posed to record labels
Warner Music and EMI, which were in the midst of merger talks with AOL.
However, in the time that the software was
available from the Nullsoft site, several thousand downloads took place, and
various third parties soon set to work cloning the Nullsoft version of the
Gnutella program.These clones were all
written to be compatible with the Gnutella protocol established by the Nullsoft
program, and could therefore communicate with each other and with the original
Nullsoft client.As people began to run
these clones as well as unauthorized copies of the original client, a network
of Gnutella-compatible applications grew and began to communicate in the
decentralized manner that the Gnutella protocol specified.
This network, which has grown significantly
over the past year, has come to be known as the Gnutella Network.
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All computers running a program utilizing the Gnutella
protocol are said to be on the Gnutella Network (gNet).
On the World Wide Web, each computer is
connected to only one other computer at a time.
When a user visits Amazon.com, she is not at Yahoo.com.
The two sites are mutually exclusive.
On the Gnutella Network, a user is connected
to several other computers at once.
Information can be received from many sources simultaneously.
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Each computer on the Gnutella Network is connected to a
number of other computers (peers).Each
of these peers is connect to several other computers.
This process continues indefinitely.
If a user is connected to 4 computers, each of which are
connected to 4 other computers, the total number of computers with which the
user is able to communicate with is 4 + 4*4=20.
In this case, the messages only travel 2 “hops” along the
network.The number of “hops” in a
search request is also known as its “time to live” or TTL.
In this case, the user’s TTL is 2.
If we expand the above example to set our
hypothetical user’s TTL to 3, and each computer in the network is connected to
4 new computers, the total number of computers with which she can communicate
with is 4 + 4*4 + 4*4*4 = 84.
Therefore, the number of computers with which the user can communicate
grows exponentially in relation to the increase in TTL of her search
requests. The Gnutella Network, in theory
at least, will be able to reach every computer on the Internet through this
system of connections. For a more
detailed explanation of how the Gnutella Network operates, please see Understanding Peer-to-Peer
Networking and File-Sharing.
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Since there has been a lot of confusion on this point, Lime
Wire LLC would like to be very clear on what Gnutella is not.
Gnutella is not a web site.
It doesn’t contain web sites.
The content that is available on the
Gnutella Network does not come from web sites or from the publishers of
Gnutella-compatible software; it comes from other users running
Gnutella-compatible software on their own computers.
Gnutella is a networking protocol, which defines a manner in which
computers can speak directly to one another in a completely decentralized
fashion.Software publishers such as
Lime Wire LLC have written and distributed programs which are compatible with
the Gnutella protocol, and which therefore allow users to participate in
the Gnutella Network.We invite you to download LimeWire for
yourself and experience all that the Gnutella Network has to offer.
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