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BitTorrent Client Offers P2P Without Central Tracking 218

Shiwei writes "While BitTorrent is the most popular P2P protocol, it still relies on several centralized points for users to find the files they are looking. There have been several attempts at making BitTorrent more decentralized, and the latest Tribler 5.3 client is the first to offer the BitTorrent experience without requiring central trackers or search engines. Tribler offers some very interesting technologies; the latest version enables users to search and download files from inside the client. Plenty of other clients offer search features, including the ever-popular Torrent, but Tribler's results come from other peers rather than from a dedicated search engine. Users can search and download content without a server ever getting involved; everything is done among peers, without the need of a BitTorrent tracker or search indexer."
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BitTorrent Client Offers P2P Without Central Tracking

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  • What (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnonGCB ( 1398517 ) <7spams AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @11:58PM (#34510826)

    Slashdot UTF fail. muTorrent, or utorrent, not Torrent.

  • To clarify (Score:4, Informative)

    by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Friday December 10, 2010 @12:12AM (#34510898) Homepage

    The summary (and TFA) is misleading. This client isn't the first to support trackerless downloading. Most clients support DHT and PEX, and have for some time. You just need a single peer to bootstrap yourself, and you're good to go.

    What Tribbler has done is created a P2P torrent search engine. I'm not sure if they're the first either (I swear I remember reading about some other client with P2P search a couple years ago), but it does appear they put some thought into making their feature set more user-friendly, with categorization ("Channels") and such.

    • Re:To clarify (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DamienRBlack ( 1165691 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @12:36AM (#34511026)
      Wouldn't this experience be a lot like the old eDonkey 2000 experience. The problem with no centralized servers is that no one pays attention to ratio and the like. In fact I don't think most eDonkey users ever thought in terms of ratios. Also, there is no place to go to request stuff and ask for new seeds. The reason I switched to torrents, (and it took me a long time), is because of the centralized tracking. Sure, the popular stuff is usually available, but try to get something obscure that you can only find online and you are probably screwed. At least that is how eDonkey always was. Now eDonkey had some servers, but my point is that I feel like the experience would be the same as sharing on the eD2k network. No comments, no tracking, no ratio enforcement, no one pulling fakes and spam. eD2k was a hazardous wasteland but of mines. How would any of this be addressed with peer-to-peer torrents?
      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

        While the ratio concept is a good one, it's totally borked by ISPs providing things like 3Mbps down and 64kbps up. No matter how hard you try, you'll never get a good ratio.

        • by 6350' ( 936630 )
          This is blazingly untrue. Most users don't have a synchronous line, yet with only moderate effort ("stay connected after you're done" and "actually pay attention to how much you have downloaded and take it easy") these millions have no reall issue maintaining a ratio. You're Doing It Wrong.
          • "stay connected after you're done" and "actually pay attention to how much you have downloaded and take it easy"

            I think the other factor is likely to be "get onto the torrent early". If you are limited to a tiny up speed like that I don't expect many clients are going to bother you much if there are plenty of other available peers that'll serve faster.

            If you are there near the start when the seed may be bottle necked your 64k will be valuable and will remain so until there's more seeds than demand.

            • This

              I've tried leaving certain torrents sitting there seeding and get zero leechers ever, presumably because I have bugger all bandwidth.

              • by Hatta ( 162192 )

                It's probably more a lack of leechers than anything else. Private trackers reward people for seeding, so most of the stuff is overseeded. Most of them have occasional free leech periods or other programs to stimulate the credit economy, look into them. Generally it's only in the beginning that you have ratio troubles on a private tracker.

      • by Nikker ( 749551 )
        You could create a shared directory on each client just like eDonkey did and hash them ... just like eDonkey did ;) Since the requests are going to your machine you could really return any results you wanted as long as it has the corresponding hash map it can send and receive.
      • I would say the advantage of eDonkey2000 (or eMule now) is the lack of ratios per file. You share large numbers of files and download large numbers. What gets uploaded is what's needed and requested by others, not necessarily a specific torrent you want to get a higher ratio on.

        The no comments/fake filtering/requests/reseeds can be mostly solved the same way as Bittorrent has solved it, with a link site/forum community.

        The other major advantage of ed2k is that there won't be two separate swarms for the same

        • There have been proposals [] to make use of partial matches (and papers [] about how to do so effectively), but to my knowledge, nothing has come of them.
      • The problem with no centralized servers is that no one pays attention to ratio and the like.

        Then they should implement the concept of "authoritative peers". Peers that have a secret key that gives them special powers over the swarm, such as kicking them out or regulating their participation.

        It would also solve another problem with torrents: incremental updates. Today, if you want to do a minor alteration to one file out of 100 in a torrent, you have to publish a different torrent, tell all the peers to swit

    • I'm not sure if they're the first either (I swear I remember reading about some other client with P2P search a couple years ago) []

      It failed however, due to the initial version having spyware and subsequent loss of users.

    • What Tribbler has done is created a P2P torrent search engine. I'm not sure if they're the first either (I swear I remember reading about some other client with P2P search a couple years ago)

      Yup, the eMule/aMule network has had serverless search via the Kad Network [] for years. Works pretty well.

    • Re:To clarify (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @02:13AM (#34511456)

      Bootstrap is the interesting issue.

      You can't have a situation with no server involved, ever, unless you're distributing the software on a friend-to-friend basis. There *has* to be a root node or selection of root nodes that the software knows about when it's installed, unless they have sufficiently advanced technology that it's indistinguishable from magic. Or they use some sort of brute force search....

      Sure, once a node is online and given enough other nodes stay online enough of the time, it would be possible to have a persistent network.

      I suppose you could do something like search google for random torrents, join in, test the folks you connect to for being part of the decentralised network, grab network info from there etc. It still uses google as a central reference point but it would be more robust than having some sort of hard-coded 'peer tracker' server, or using any sort of brute-force port scan of the internet.

      • Bootstrap is the interesting issue.

        It is indeed. The bittorrent DHT solution is based on Kademlia [] (or the BEP for Bittorrent specifically []). If you google a bit you'll find a few papers and some interesting things, including attack vectors. I'm implementing a version of Kademlia at the moment to have nodes in a network find other nodes for accepting work in a distributed environment, and bootstrapping the thing is "the weakest link". You could set up multiple bootstrapping nodes, but suppose that a network failure takes out your access to the

    • Don't forget, all the hardcore private torrent sites will ban you if you enable all those extra "features" like DHT and PEX.

  • Ok, but. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrQuacker ( 1938262 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @12:12AM (#34510902)
    But how does moderation work then?

    With a large public tracker like PirateBay there are mods and members who weed out and delete the malware, spam, and bad torrents that are on the tracker. Wouldn't a distributed system like this actually make it easier for "bad" content to get uploaded? Its like Limewire all over again.

    The idea here seems to be that "you cant stop the signal". But I am not sure how they get around the fact that you don't have to kill the signal, just garble it.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      But how does moderation work then?

      Throw in web of trust?

      Send in $1 to get your 'reviewer' certificate signed by some trusted entity. Sort search results by number of signed positive reviews; and then number of downloads which "reviewer nodes" saw occuring.

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

        So if you want to shut the whole thing down, you go after the "trusted entity". Sort of destroys the point of decentralizing.

        • Re:Ok, but. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @01:38AM (#34511320) Homepage Journal
          You don't need a single "trusted entitity", a web of trust [] is based on your own prior experience and what others around you will vouch for.

          If you have downloaded a torrent signed by someone before and been happy with it your software might be happy downloading more from them without warning. If you haven't seen anything from that person before your software might poll your peers to see if they will vouch for it and ultimately give you a choice one way or another.

          Various key servers could be set up to serve trust information but would not present a critical point of failure or (for dodgy torrents) be at much legal risk because they wouldn't be serving anything remotely related to other peoples copyrighted information.
          • by Kjella ( 173770 )

            Didn't email and pgp prove once and for all that WoT and convenience is pretty much direct opposites? You don't get a straight answer, you get a bunch of complicated information and choices on who to trust. Also, many people need to do it in order for it to function and most people won't so people won't think twice about downloading a torrent with no trust. Those who try will have huge problems with malware makers and MAFIAA goons trying to poison the well. Not only can they create as many fake identities a

            • The experience with email and PGP just proves that most people are boneheads. The only places I see PGP (well, GPG) signatures are on software development mailing lists.

              "email" is the wrong metaphor. It misleads people into believing their messages are secure, because they are used to their mail being enclosed in an envelope - just like the one that basically every email program with a GUI depicts somewhere. It's more like a postcard. One that gets delivered via a network of disreputable postmen, some in th

    • Well, if ten peers show up, maybe it's not so good. If ten thousand show up, maybe it's legit.
      • That's a measurement of a torrents health, the seed/leech ratio, not quality. So while the 1000peer file might be done faster than the 10peer file, its a moot point if you're downloading static or malware.
        • Except 10,000 people probably won't be retarded enough to just keep around garbage files that didn't work when they downloaded them.

          Way to miss the point.

          • Except they probably will.

            Also, botnets.
          • If you ever used one of the free trackers you'd find out that a lot of the fake/spam/malware files posing as movies or tv shows have thousands of fake peers. This is to trick people like you that think there is strength or knowledge in numbers.

            So just because a file says it has 17543 peers, it really doesnt.

      • Too easy to fake. Look at how many limewire spam files are supposedly with 100+ peers

      • So if a botnet gets on with 10,000 users, then everyone on the Internet will believe it's therefore a legitimate file? Or if something new comes out and two people have it, so no one else downloads it, how can it become big enough to appear "legit"? There's no good way to solve these issues, so you are pretty much guaranted that there will be a flood of malware. Not that I care. I hate piracy. But the point stands.
        • If you're at a point where you need a botnet to make a spoofed file look legit, you're doing pretty well. Using a botnet is a lot of effort for fairly little gain. However, AFAIK there are (or were) other ways of faking the number of peers without resorting to "brute force". Still, looking at the number of people associated with a torrent is a moderately good metric of its quality, though it's obviously not the only.

      • by kent_eh ( 543303 )
        Or if only 10 peers show up, it's obscure and not well seeded due to a lack of popularity...
        Like many of the things I look for. (video of Zappa concerts from the '70s, old Canadian kids TV shows, etc)
    • Common sense and an antivirus software could be used to weed out a majority of the malware. As for the spam and bad torrents, I have no idea.

      • Antivirus is useless if the user doesn't even know what a file extension is, let alone a friggen .exe. People will click files labelled pop trash.mp3.exe.

        The thing about common sense. Common sense simply isn't that common.

    • by Nikker ( 749551 )
      You could still rate at the clients machine and propagate the torrent signature to all the other clients there by distributing the ratings in almost real time on already discovered client/hosts. Meta moderations could also be propagated to blacklist. Since this is added to the torrent you can sync hashes to ensure everyone is on the same page. YMMV
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @12:17AM (#34510934) Homepage Journal
    this, dns-p2p, and etc are turning the internet into a truly decentralized, uncontrollable, REAL cloud as it should have been from the start.

    i, for one, am not suprised that the ones to save net freedom, are ending up being people who have been accused of piracy. after all, if it is not detrimental to the control of private interests, why villify something in mass media, right ...
    • people who have been accused of piracy

      Not that any of them actually do ever rip off anyone's work or spread it around, of course.

      This whole thread is full of comments tap-dancing (badly) around the fact that the real driver here is the ability to avoid getting busted for ripping off copyrighted works. Yes, the technology is compelling (if, as described, a huge magnet for malware and bot-net bullies running the show), and has legitimate uses. But this particular twist on the torrent landscape is driven
  • by phantomcircuit ( 938963 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @12:28AM (#34510982) Homepage

    Giant waste of time, bittorrents benefit is from the community bitching about bad torrents, you cant do that without a web of trust or a trusted third party.

  • There's still the fact that IP data is available. Any user on the network will be broadcasting their activities making them vulnerable. Protecting users' anonymity is just as important as decentralizing any part of the network. In my opinion, this is the most important aspect of P2P that needs to be fixed. Not that I have any novel ideas on how that can be done....

    • Maybe each client could accept requests to transfer bytes from another client. The requests would have a format like "please get me byte x for torrent y from peer z". When you download a file, then for each byte your client would randomly pick another client to make the request.

      This way if you serve a file you'd have no idea who actually downloads it - you'd only get requests from random clients which are not actually downloading the file.

      You can further complicate this by not making the request directly

  • The future. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by onefriedrice ( 1171917 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @12:41AM (#34511066)
    It's becoming ever so popular to complain about ICANN or otherwise feel that a decentralized internet is the solution to our problems. I'm not a prophet, but even I can see the future on this one. The ones who will benefit the most from a completely decentralized DNS and/or P2P system are the ones who control the biggest botnets within the network. The rest of us will be so inundated with garbage that the internet will essentially become completely useless.

    That's not to say that ICANN and especially the RIAA et al. aren't problems, but I don't see this becoming a viable solution. So I'm a skeptic, for now.
    • And you make exactly the same mistake that RIAA and friends make: just because criminals will use it, does not mean that ONLY criminals will use it.

      Criminals have always been quick to pounce on new technology. That's no excuse for killing the technology so that nobody else can use it. I doubt very much the picture is as gloomy as you make it out to be. And even if it is: prior restraint is not the answer.
    • No, centralized control of the internet is a bad thing. Also, why should the US be in control, why not $VeryReligiousMuslimCountry, China or North Korea? I'm sure they would like to shut down some sites too.

      And botnets can cause problems in the current situation too. However, I still think that properly implemented decentralized DNS is a good thing. A completely decentralized P2P system that's actively in use will make torrent sites obsolete and make it harder for US companies to take down the files.

      We have

      • Criminals can abuse almost any technology, but that does not mean that everybody else should be prevented from using it:
        Do you use encryption to do your banking? Do you know that terrorists use encryption too?
        How about anonymous networks (tor etc)? Terrorists also use them.
        A knife is useful to cut food. It is also easier to kill someone with a knife than just bare hands.
        A car is useful for going long distances. It can also be used to deliver illegal drugs or run someone over.

        That wasn't parent's argument - it was that it would be impossible to use due to being flooded with crap. And it does happen, just look at eDonkey networks. I stopped using it when 6 in every 10 files were fake.

        • Interesting, a few months ago when I used eMule to find a certain song, I managed to get the real file on the first try. Actually, other than the download speed, eMule is quite OK, especially for rare files (ones that nobody bothers creating a torrent for).

    • cryptographic signatures
  • And once you'll get cryptography enforced and a few more TCP/IP tricks I wonder how riaa will stop p2p.
    • by Magada ( 741361 )

      Outlaw crypto and those TCP/IP tricks. Make possession of software that uses these technologies prima facie evidence of conspiracy.

      • by thijsh ( 910751 )
        You have been disconnected from the interwebs until further notice for suspected possession of copyright infringement technology.
        Infringing technology detected on your PC (by method of our complementary rootkit) includes (but is not limited to):
        - FileZilla
        - Putty
        - TrueCrypt
        - PGP
        - And last but not least: mTorrent (the evilest)

        We hope you enjoy your offline existence banned from the interwebs.
        Frankly, we think you got off easy and deserve much worse you terrorist pirate scum.

        MAFIAA lawyers
        • by Magada ( 741361 )

          Yup. Something like that. Only it would be local police coming to arrest you and impound your computers, acting on an anonymous tip from concerned citizens in the RIAA.

  • Not new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Per Wigren ( 5315 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @09:19AM (#34513238) Homepage
    From what I can see, it's pretty much OneSwarm [], but without the anonymity.
  • Dunbal already mentioned this, but I didn't see anyone commenting on this. Isn't this just LimeWire or Kazzaa in another skin? Seems kinda like a good way to spread crap malware. Is my logic flawed?
  • by chipwich ( 131556 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @10:06AM (#34513596)
    Thomas Jefferson said, "Information is the currency of democracy". The WikiLeaks drama is showing us how readily our own politicians will abandon core values of democracy in order to avoid embarrassment. It also clearly demonstrates that we live in a world where our personal communications can readily be disrupted at the whim of private corporations under pressure from these same politicians. The entertainment industry has tried to criminalize peer-to-peer technologies for years, but what is happening with WikiLeaks makes it more essential *now*, than ever before, that we adopt open source peer-to-peer technologies on a large scale. Perhaps the most important of these is The tor project [torproject] which permits private and anonymous communications. Democracy cannot exist if people cannot speak freely without fear of reprisal. The more TOR relays that exist around the globe, the more immune we all are to the government/corporate censorship we are witnessing. Do your part in ensuring your digital rights by running a relay and becoming part of the network.
  • Before torrents, there was Kazaa, Gnutella,Limewire and eDonkey. (They still exist). All of these support searching peers from within the client without any intermediary website. I always wondered that bit torrent seems like a step backward - since it relies on websites and trackers that can be shut down, or seized and have the users traced from the logs.
    So why is BT so popular as compared to the earlier services? Is it a more efficient P2P protocol? After all you still require a client to download and you

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