O'Reilly Network Weekly
Open Source Roundtable
Sponsored by IBM developerWorks
Free Riding on Gnutella
Does Gnutella suffer from a tragedy of the digital commons? Eytan Adar and Bernardo A. Huberman of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) analyzed user traffic on Gnutella and discovered "a significant amount of free riding in the system." Nearly half the files shared came from just 1 percent of hosts -- which suggests something closer to a traditional client-server model, rather than a peer-to-peer system. It also suggests that this particular application is not as immune to legal repercussions as users might boast. When millions of users are trading copyrighted materials, it's quixotic to imagine bringing the community to court. But could it be feasible to target the high-volume servers?
We talked with Eytan and asked him to explain what they were looking for, what they found, and how Gnutella might be improved to overcome the shortcomings they've identified.
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