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Peer to Peer Roundup

Written by Gordon Fecyk, 6/11/2005

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE! Pan-Am Internet Services did not obtain any unlicensed material from the networks these applications connected to.

There. With that B.S. out of the way, I present to you the Anti-Windows Catalog's second no-holds-barred Product Roundup. This little rant seeks to answer the ultimate question among broadband Internet users today:

How can I get free music without being hassled by The Man or by spyware makers? um, I meant: How can I practice safe computing while participating in this exciting new era of democratic information sharing?

There's no pretty way to say it. So, I'll just keep going.

If you want avoid unwanted software or booby-trapped files, you need to practice safe computing.

If you want to protect yourself from unwanted software, booby-trapped files and whatnot, you need to practice safe computing. Web browsers and media players can't cause damage, exploited or not, when running with limited user accounts on Windows.

FIRST, THE BAD NEWS. Not one peer to peer application passed. Hardly surprising, actually, given that most developers of these things are more interested in selling your eyeballs to their sponsors. They don't have a budget for quality assurance, so why should they care?

Now, the good news. With a little work, two of the seven products featured here will behave nicely. The only real problem is an administrator has to move some program shortcuts around, something that the developers' installers can fix.

It's also hardly surprising to find that these "marginally failing" products are Java applications, as Java is a system designed for locked-down environments.

All of these applications are available for free, if you're prepared to tolerate a barrage of advertising. The prices listed are the developers' suggested registration fees for the "pro" versions, which remove the advertising.

  • Bearshare 5.0 by Free Peers, Incoroprated: $39.48/year subscription, Fail.
  • Gnucleus 2.1 by The GNU Project, free, Fail.
  • KaZaA 3.0 by Sharman Networks Limited, $29.95, Fail.
  • Limewire 4.8.1 by Lime Wire LLC, $18.88, Marginal Fail.
  • Morpheus 4.9.2 by StreamCast Networks Incorporated, $19.95, Fail.
  • Phex 2.4.2 by Gregor Koukkoullis and The GNU Project, donations accepted, Marginal Fail.
  • Xolox 2.0 by Xolox, t-shirts for sale (otherwise free), Didn't even make the starting gate.

Gregor Koukkoullis and The GNU Project... Sounds like a great name for a garage band, doesn't it?

OKAY, SERIOUSLY. Gregor's Gnutella client is one of your two best bets for peer to peer sharing. If he and his crew can just fix the installer, and use the firewall tester that Limewire incorporates in their installer, they'd have a product I'd recommend to anyone. Well, for legal file sharing, anyway. What you do with your tools is your own business.

Helping you use those tools safely, however, is my business.

Stay safe, everyone.

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