Gnutella is the name of an application and communications protocol that is used for Internet file sharing. More specifically, it uses peer-to-peer file sharing similar to the way Napster handles these connections. Most users share MP3 files with other users – unfortunately, often illegally obtained files. Regardless of the source of files, Gnutella operates a little differently from Napster, in that it does not rely on a central enterprise maintaining the service.
Technipages Explains Gnutella
Not being run via a central server means that the program is less vulnerable to lawsuits and complaints from outside sources. These outside sources are most often copyright holders, publishing firms and even the Recording Industry Association of America, the RIAA. Sharing illegally obtained or copied files certainly violates usage terms and even copyright law, however, as networks formed through Gnutella form and disband at a moment’s notice, based on the users and without central coordination, there is little copyright holders can do.
There are, however, also negative sides to it – Gnutella is relatively inefficient, and its protocols don’t manage to maintain speeds when network traffic increases. Searching for files and exchanging them slows down considerably, and overall performance suffers. Despite this, many users still favour it over Napster as its decentralised nature provides advantages to the users in terms of anonymity and safety. Gnutella has millions of users and actually made history in that it was the first decentralised peer-to-peer network to emerge on the market.
After first being made available in 2000, it is still in use. There are, of course, competing programs as well, such as Napster, LimeWire, and also utorrent and several others. Peaking around 2007, Gnutella held around 40% of the market share when it came to p2p file sharing.
Common Uses of Gnutella
- Gnutella is similar to LimeWire and Napster in that it allows peer to peer file sharing.
- Once the world’s most popular p2p sharing system, Gnutella is decentralised, making it superior to services like Napster.
- Despite its popularity, Gnutella has several shortcomings, particularly in relation to providing and maintaining services at decent speeds.
Common Misuses of Gnutella
- Gnutella is part of the open-source project GNU.