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Researchers Latch Onto BitTorrent To Spot Connection Problems 87

Posted by timothy
from the like-a-nice-drink-of-barium dept.
alphadogg writes "Northwestern University researchers have developed a system that gives a heads up about traffic problems on the Internet, where there is no central management system. Their Network Early Warning System (NEWS), which latches on to a popular BitTorrent client, is designed to spot problems by encouraging feedback from end users who are experiencing problems. 'You can think of it as crowd sourcing network monitoring,' said associate professor Fabián Bustamante. He has a track record with BitTorrent users, having developed the popular Ono plug-in for speeding up P2P interactions."
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Researchers Latch Onto BitTorrent To Spot Connection Problems

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  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:19PM (#25887159)

    As per the Ono plugin. Not everybody's cup of Java.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      What's wrong with Azureus? Is there a better open-source client out there that I'm not aware of?

      • rtorrent + rtgui?

      • by lattyware (934246)
        Yes. It's called Deluge.
      • by ubercam (1025540)

        There is nothing wrong with Deluge [deluge-torrent.org]. It's the best drop in replacement for uTorrent on Linux I've ever come across. Beats Transmission by a mile (and uTorrent in Wine). They have binaries for a few flavours of Linux, Windows and OS X.

        The source code for all releases is available here [deluge-torrent.org].

        I found it in Add/Remove in Ubuntu Hardy. It's got just as many, if not more configuration options as uTorrent, which all other clients I've tried lacked. It's very quick and I'm entirely pleased with it. Even comes with a web G

      • "Better" might be a strong word, but I prefer rTorrent, since I can run it with screen and check up on it occasionally via ssh. Plus the system requirements are very low.

        It's not without its negatives though. My biggest issue is that, because it uses mmap to write to files, it's incompatible with filesystems that do not support shared-writable mmaps (e.g., ntfs-3g, or anything else involving FUSE).

      • What's wrong with Azureus? Is there a better open-source client out there that I'm not aware of?

        Well, 'better' will always lead to a fight. But personally, I prefer Transmision.

        http://transmission.m0k.org/ [m0k.org]

        You can also try Deluge.

        http://deluge-torrent.org/ [deluge-torrent.org]

        YMMV

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 (716938)

      Azureus is OK...for a Java app...but Vuze sucks....
      Constantly clicking HELL NO! on the:
      "Do you want to update? OK? Oh Come on! do ya do ya? you REALLY wanna update now doncha? Ok?
      button(s) every single use is old....
      I do not use plug-ins in Torrent Clients, Firefox or anything else because you CONSTANTLY spend time maintaining them: "Client XYZ needs to restart to use the new thingy do you wanna do that thing now later, never, when hell freezes over, or when you are i

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        Excuse me? What version are you using?

        Every once in a while, I'll get an update prompt because I have the configuration set to check on startup and check periodically. You can disable both of these, and it will never prompt you to update anything.

        And, "Vuze" is really just Azureus with an optional UI. The executable is still named "Azureus.exe", and if you choos the old UI in options, it basically works exactly as before. I'm running version the latest 4.0.x release, and it really isn't any different fr

        • That's too rational for him. Stop using logic where it shouldn't apply. It just like when OO.o takes more than 10 seconds to load. It's unbearable for these people for some reason. I mean, he could have won an internet in the time OO.o opened a Writer document.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by BattleApple (956701)
        sorry, but.. pebkac
      • Agreed about Vuze, but in all fairness, you can run it with the "classic" interface. The Vuze UI blows shared balls. You can also turn off auto-updates, or reduce the frequency of their checks. I personally have auto-updates turned off because some *ahem* sites I frequent disallow Azurues above a certain version number until that version's been vetted by the community.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Researchers Latch Onto BitTorrent

    That's a shame, once you get researchers underneath the floor boards, nothing will get rid of them.

    There goes any funding you ever hoped for.

  • To What End? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheNecromancer (179644) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:20PM (#25887175)

    From TFA:

    The main goal of this plugin is to reliably find problems in the network and raise alerts about them. As a user, you want to be sure that you are getting the service that you're paying for and be notified quickly about network problems, especially those that can lead to compensation for service interruption.

    As a user, so what if I know what the problem with my ISP's network is? I still have to call their crappy support lines, and wait the hours it takes their idiot technicians to fix the fucking problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      How do you know that it's a legitimate bad connection and not just throttling by your ISP?
    • by owlnation (858981)

      As a user, so what if I know what the problem with my ISP's network is? I still have to call their crappy support lines, and wait the hours it takes their idiot technicians to fix the fucking problem.

      At least your ISP fixes things. I was with BT (which I believe is short for Bastard Telecom). They fix nothing. Your call goes to India. A rep there, whom you can barely understand, promises you everything and proceeds to completely ignore anything you say. I gave up after daily, hour-long calls for three wee

    • You mean when you call your ISP's support line, they actually make someone try and fix the problem?

      My ISP's answer is always "we'll open a ticket and get back to you by e-mail". Then, a few hours later, an E-mail comes saying they're closing my support ticket and denying a problem exists. And the problem will continue for days.

      That, or they'll give some answer acknowledging a problem exists, but refusing to do anything about it. Only pulling 300kbps over your 5Mbps connection? Sorry, we sold you bandwid

  • plug it into your Garmin?
  • Onto? is that like Goto?

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:22PM (#25887211) Journal

    When the smiling AT&T cable sales people come knocking on my door, I'd like to show them a website or printed graph of how badly their Internet service really sucks. I'm starting to get a couple of options for ISP now, and it would just be so awesome to hold up a graph and smile the entire time I tell them how badly their service/product sucks!

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm starting to get a couple of options for ISP now, and it would just be so awesome to hold up a graph and smile the entire time I tell them how badly their service/product sucks!

      Call them up, complain, and ask for compensations.

      More often than not, they'll credit your monthly bill just to keep you happy.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      cron job with a ping in it works for basic on/off, then draw it in excel.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by zappepcs (820751)

        Yes, but when 37% of their clients show the same poor service it's much more convincing than one person's tale of woes. There are plenty of ways to monitor your own ISP, but when it's not your ISP, where do you go for the information? That's why this would be brilliant.

  • Wrong question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:28PM (#25887305) Journal
    Unfortunately this answers the wrong question. It doesn't tell me about network performance, it tells me about bittorrent application network performance. Big difference.
    • And a test using TCP tells you about TCP performance, a test using UDP tells you about UDP performance, a test using ftp tells you about ftp performance.
      Can't be helped if ISP's happen to intentionally cripple their networks for the protocols I care about.

      • "Can't be helped if ISP's happen to intentionally cripple their networks for the protocols I care about."

        What do carrier pigeons have to do with anything?

    • You mean people use the internet for things other than bittorrent? ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Well, since BT traffic stresses a network's resources more than any other, and is the subject of aggressive filtering and other control methods, I'd have to say it's as good a baseline as any. It's easy enough to do performance testing in a laboratory where all conditions are controlled, but when you start running packets through dozens of administrative domains each with their own configurations, equipment, etc., what you have is a very organic problem that it nearly impossible to diagnose.

      To use the oblig

  • by Narnie (1349029) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @12:34PM (#25887385)
    Finally a tool that will allow end users to objectively compare ISP networks!

    I've switch service providers several time because of network outages and performance issues. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be on the phone with tech support, insisting that I need to reboot windows one more time (though it's funny as hell to tell them it's a linux box) and after 45 minutes holding and 4 or 5 technical support reps I finally talk to a tech that admits network issues. It will be nice to see how my current provider compares against the local competition.

    But I wonder how much bittorrent "traffic shaping" (blocking) will effect ISP scores?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by corsec67 (627446)

      But I wonder how much bittorrent "traffic shaping" (blocking) will effect ISP scores?

      That is a good thing: combining network performance with how much the ISP fucks with your traffic into one easy score.

      Bittorrent is a pretty good benchmarking system: it checks upload, download, making tons of connections, bulk data transfer, and is considered by some people to be "evil". That really is a fairly good combination of network parameters.

      • by squizzar (1031726)

        1: Create ISP performance benchmark using metrics based on p2P functionality
        2: Popularise metric so that customers use it in order to choose between ISPs
        3: ISP are placed in a position where subscriber numbers are directly affected by p2p service levels.
        4: ?
        5: Profit!

    • I've switch service providers several time because of network outages and performance issues. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be on the phone with tech support, insisting that I need to reboot windows one more time (though it's funny as hell to tell them it's a linux box) and after 45 minutes holding and 4 or 5 technical support reps I finally talk to a tech that admits network issues. It will be nice to see how my current provider compares against the local competition.

      While this is an excellent

      • by Narnie (1349029)

        I don't think this plug-in will help you.

        I agree with you that it will not help me with tech support. However, it will let me circumvent tech support in a few instances. It will point me in 1 of 3 directions:
        1. My LAN is FUBAR'ed
        2. The local ISP is SNAFU
        3. The wider internet backbone is having problems( anchors [slashdot.org] on pipes [slashdot.org])
        If it's local or internet issue, then pestering my ISP won't do much. If it is my ISP, I can ask if they are doing maintenance, throttling my connection, or if there is other network issues. Unfortunately, none of these things are a

  • This will be great for those of us who are stuck trying to blindly diagnose network issues since most everyone drops ping packets.

    Currently the best I can do to tell if users of my web app are experiencing network issues is to log the timing between SYN and the first ACK packet on incoming connections, which gives me a passive variant of a ping time.

  • has been around for ages.. http://www.internettrafficreport.com/ [internettr...report.com]
  • From the NEWS link in TFA:

    For each potential anomaly locally detected, NEWS publishes its information to distributed storage. NEWS then corroborates the potential anomaly by reading anomaly reports from the same distributed store. If a sufficient number of reports indicate the same problem at the same time, the anomaly is considered confirmed and an "alarm" is raised for the user/operator.

    Now - is it just me, or aren't a whole lot of people going ape over Safari (and others) phoning home information?? http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/25/1813241 [slashdot.org]

    Doesn't "publishing info to a distributed store" mean phoning home? Doesn't that include routing info - from sites you might not want to have published as associated with your torrent activities??

    I do not think the biggest issue that this raises has Thing One to do with which torrent client you're using. I thin

  • It seems to me that this system is based on a false premise: that throttling or blocking of BitTorrent traffic means that something is wrong. In fact, the ISP could be doing P2P mitigation, which improves the overall performance of the network by preventing kiddies who are doing illegal downloads via BitTorrent from degrading legitimate users' performance.
    • by xous (1009057)
      Yes, It's completely irrational to expect an ISP to deliver the promised XMbit/s as mush as a paying customer desires as it is clearly documented in Section 5, subsection two, paragraph three that "we reserve the right to throttle, inject, or alter any traffic subject to our own (and secret) fair usage policy." Of course we can't expect these poor ISPs to reasonable provision their networks to the capacity they have sold. If you feel this sounds correct I have a unlimited hosting package that would be pe

How many hardware guys does it take to change a light bulb? "Well the diagnostics say it's fine buddy, so it's a software problem."

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