Chapter 8. Gnutella

Gene Kan, Gnutella and GoneSilent.com

When forced to assume [self-government], we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had entered little into our former education. We established, however, some, although not all its important principles.

Thomas Jefferson, 1824

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

George Bernard Shaw

Gnutella is among the first of many decentralized technologies that will reshape the Internet and reshape the way we think about network applications. The traditional knee-jerk reaction to create a hierarchical client/server system for any kind of networked application is being rethought. Decentralized technologies harbor many desirable qualities, and Gnutella is a point of proof that such technologies, while young, are viable.

It is possible that Gnutella has walked the Earth before. Certainly many of the concepts it uses — even the unconventional ones—were pioneered long ago. It’s tricky to determine what’s brand-new and what’s not, but this is for certain: Gnutella is the successful combination of many technologies and concepts at the right time.

Gnutella in a gnutshell

Gnutella is a citizen of two different worlds. In the popular consciousness, Gnutella is a peer-to-peer, techno-chic alternative to Napster, the popular Internet music swapping service. To those who look past the Napster association, Gnutella is a landscape-altering technology in and of itself. Gnutella turned every academically correct notion ...

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