By Thomas Mennecke 9/09/04
If you are a Windows user and are looking to access a new P2P network, perhaps many P2P networks, then KCeasy is certainly worth looking into. Using various giFT plug-ins, an individual can access Gnutella, FastTrack and OpenFT. For the purposes of this article, we will cover the impressive OpenFT network which KCeasy was primarily built for.
KCeasy is a Windows front client for giFT. giFT is a modular daemon that accepts various network plug-ins. For those unfamiliar with what a modular daemon is, simplistically it is a program that runs in the background and performs certain tasks (in this case, connects to various P2P networks.) KCeasy acts as the graphical interface.
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Perhaps KCeasy's greatest claim to fame is its accessibility to OpenFT. To
understand OpenFT is to know a bit of its history. Back in the day, giFT was
an acronym for giFT Isn't FastTrack or Generic Interface to
FastTrack. In addition, giFT at the time was not a daemon, it was an open
source FastTrack client. The venture succeeded in many ways, as it did access
FastTrack briefly. Sharman was to have nothing of this, and successive FastTrack
clients locked the project out. giFT developers instead concentrated on making
an alternative network, OpenFT.
While OpenFT is based on FastTrack, there are many and very substantial differences. KCeasy developer Markus Kern explains:
"OpenFT and FastTrack are both two tier networks with normal user nodes and a smaller number of more powerful supernodes (called search nodes in OpenFT) which keep track of the files on the network. The operation of both networks is very similar. Users with more resources (hardware/bandwidth) become supernodes and have a certain number of children whose shares they manage. Searching is done by sending a search requests to one's parent which searches its own children and also forwards the search request to some neighboring supernodes. The tricky part is how to do this forwarding efficiently. Even though it already works pretty well in OpenFT there is work underway to improve it even more.
The main technical advantage of OpenFT over FastTrack at this point is without doubt the use of a better file hashing algorithm. While FastTrack uses an easily spoofed custom hash function, OpenFT uses MD5 which is practically impossible to fake."
While OpenFT has more technological advantages than FastTrack, the content is also significantly better. In addition, various music file types, such as Ogg Vorbis, are readily available.
"From a user perspective the contents of OpenFT is of much higher quality
than that of FastTrack since it was originally only available on *nix systems
which traditionally has a more sophisticated user base. For the same reason
there is also a lot of audio in ogg files instead of mp3s."
When using KCeasy, one may not be too impressed with the marginal 2,000 to 3,000 population of OpenFT. However, Markus points out the number displayed by KCeasy are not terribly reliable, and the total population is much greater. According to a more dependable spidering of the network, the population actually hovers in the 5,000 to 6,000 range (although it is pointed out that it could be even greater.)
During KCeasy's earlier days, it came packaged with a FastTrack plug-in. However,
it was issued a cease and desist notice by Sharman Networks. Despite removing
this plug-in, the popularity of KCeasy has nearly doubled. Considering the content
and resourcefulness of OpenFT, this comes as little surprise. KCeasys
primary function is and was to act as a Windows interface to OpenFT, not FastTrack.
Also, unlike Sharmans Kazaa, ones shared directory is not left vulnerable
to prying eyes. We look forward to OpenFTs and KCeasys growing importance
in the P2P world.
For more excellent stories on P2P apps and digital music check out Tom's site at www.slyck.com
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