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Bringing BitTorrent to your Smart Phone

Postby SlyckTom » Tue May 23, 2006 2:38 pm

PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and cell phones continue their technological merger. Independently, PDA sales continue to decline due to their “extra baggage” characteristic. Most cell phones carry some basic PDA functionality such as web surfing and rudimentary instant messaging; however lack the processing power of an independent PDA. Those looking to take advantage of both characteristics with minimal space have opted to purchase “smart phones” such as the Palm Treo, Blackberry or Nokia series.

Smart phones are the evolving merger between PDAs and cell phones. Operating systems such as Palm and Symbian are powerful enough to allow for a wide rage of functionality, including word processing, MP3 support and GPS integration. But hey, what about file-sharing you ask?

File-sharing applications have been slow to arrive to the smart phone market, but progress is being made. One of the more recognizable clients to appear is <a href=http://symella.aut.bme.hu/ target=_blank>Symella</a>. Symella is a Gnutella client designed to work on the Symbian OS, which is utilized heavily by Nokia smart phones. Because of the large bandwidth requirements and dependency on the mobile carrier’s network, the client can only download from the Gnutella network. The project appears to be stagnant, as a new version of the client has not been released since July 2005.

But file-sharing development on other protocols continues to march forward.

While the concept and implementation of Symella is impressive, many people have found BitTorrent to be their community of choice. However options in this field are limited, as <a href=http://21talks.net/voip/bittorrent-goes-mobile target=_blank>no client</a> for the smart phone exists – until United Kingdom based programmer David Hulbert decided to change that.

Filling the void in the smart phone arena, David is nearing completing of Python based BitTorrent client designed for the Nokia S60 Symbian OS. His client, called <a href=http://dave1010.googlepages.com/wizbit target=_blank>WizBit</a>, is actually part of a school project at the University of Exeter where he majors in Computer Science. At its current state of development, WizBit is far from complete, but has some basic functionality such as the ability to connect to a tracker and download peers. This is a significant step forward, and additional functionality should be readied by early to mid June.

“I should probably have a fully working prototype by then,” David told Slyck.com. “It will by no means be a finished product but should have basic functionality.”

One of the major functionalities of any BitTorrent client of course is the ability to swarm. As this protocol is an incentive, “tit-for-tat” based network, the inability to upload is a significant concern. Acknowledging this, David informed Slyck.com that immediate versions may not have upload capabilities, “but this is one of the main features I hope to get working as soon as possible.”

The current and future versions of WizBit requires the Python interpreter installed on the S60 based Nokia, David explained to Slyck.com, “which runs on all S60 platform Symbian phones including most Nokias. This is the largest percentage of the Symbian OS, but does not include UIQ platform devices, such as the touch screen Sony Ericsson phones.”

Once out of testing and ready for mainstream usage, some questions still remain. Primarily, how will one obtain .torrent files? Fortunately for the end user, the search feature is integrated into the client. Alternatively, the end user may opt to use smart phone's web browser.

“The client can either use a .torrent file (result of a search) that the user already has on the phone or the user can enter a search and WizBit will return (currently only the highest seeded) result from a BitTorrent search site. I've got MiniNova working with it, though it would be easy to adapt it to almost any other torrent search site and let the user choose which result to download.”

A significant factor that held back Symella is the client’s inability to upload. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the developers, as most mobile carrier networks limit upstream bandwidth. Although using WizBit on a mobile carrier’s network may face similar problems, times have changed – especially when it comes to Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) networks. If a mobile carrier’s network greatly inhibits the use of WizBit, Wi-Fi hotspots provide the cure.

“Music should be fine to download. It depends on what network access you have. It would take a long time over GPRS or EDGE but 3G networks or, better still, Wi-Fi (like the Nokia N80 and N91 support) should allow fairly quick downloading, almost as fast as broadband on a PC.”

As we’re talking about smart phone, the practicality of using your Nokia N80 to watch a movie is not particularly likely for most people. But WizBit may prove significant for small music files that would not inhibit the mobile carrier’s network or rely or hot spots.

“Memory cards are available in excess of 1GB so it would theoretically be possible to download a 700MB film, though phone processors currently cannot decode large videos. Some phones may be able to play films or TV episodes encoded for iPods or similar. I think downloading the odd mp3, zipped album or music video is more likely; at least until the next generation of media-playing phones arrive.”

David plans to simplify the installation process as to be accommodating to mainstream usage. He doesn’t anticipate creating any version outside the Sybian OS; however any OS that supports Python should be able to run WizBit.

As free Wi-Fi becomes more common, it will be interesting to see how the proliferation of WizBit and similarly oriented file-sharing applications interact with mobile pay-for-download services currently being offered.
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Postby liberator » Tue May 23, 2006 4:16 pm

Wow a 0UL pure-leecher client for Bittorrent(!) running on a useless for P2P and always-on networking platform. How cool is that!
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Postby SlyckTom » Tue May 23, 2006 4:22 pm

One of the major functionalities of any BitTorrent client of course is the ability to swarm. As this protocol is an incentive, “tit-for-tat” based network, the inability to upload is a significant concern. Acknowledging this, David informed Slyck.com that immediate versions may not have upload capabilities, “but this is one of the main features I hope to get working as soon as possible.”


That should be in the June release...Remember this is still in the testing phase.
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Postby OmegaGreg » Tue May 23, 2006 4:52 pm

Hey, you have to give the man credit, at least hes trying...
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Postby liberator » Tue May 23, 2006 5:28 pm

"Do, or do not. There is no try." --Yoda (Starwars Ep5).

If I were his teacher at Exeter University I'd fail the guy instead of giving him credit for 2 reasons:
1. Not understanding the sharing concept behind P2P. It's NOT something you add as you go - it's something you start with.
2. Not understanding the Bittorrent protocol and the tit-for-tat.

Once you take that away what are you left with?
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Postby SlyckTom » Tue May 23, 2006 5:50 pm

Actually, FileTopia didn't have sharing ability until later in its release. Symella doesn't even upload. There are a few other clients out there that later implemented uploading ability...such as Kceasy's FastTrack support and a few others (cant think of off the top of my head.)

I have to reiterate this is a test client. Only experienced users will be using this for now, and I doubt many of those users will be using their Symbian Nokia phones to leech off BitTorrent.

His work is a big step forward for file-sharing, and may even represent where its all going once we all have small, wifi enabled, portable devices at our disposal.

In any case, I would like to keep this discussion relevant to the topic...you made your point, now lets move on :arrow:
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Postby SlyckScratch » Tue May 23, 2006 5:58 pm

Thanks for this article - it jogged my memory about this..

http://python-psp.net/trac/

The Python interpretor for the Sony PSP.....

I wonder.... 8)
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Postby liberator » Tue May 23, 2006 8:30 pm

SlyckTom wrote:His work is a big step forward for file-sharing, and may even represent where its all going once we all have small, wifi enabled, portable devices at our disposal.


I hope I live to see the future you're describing. Not because of the bittorrent-enabled cell phones which are largely irrelevant and completely unnecessary but because of the kick-ass battery technology that will have to make all this possible...
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Postby Alex H » Tue May 23, 2006 9:45 pm

Uh...Pocket G2 has been around for quite a while with both uploading and downloading capabilities. It's still in active development too:
http://www.pocketg2.com/alpha/index.html

Props to the WizBit developer for doing something innovative though. More and more smartphones are getting 802.11 connectivity so the limitations of 3G networks might not be so important - so it's good that there are apps being made for the Symbian OS.
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Postby tm, » Wed May 24, 2006 2:56 am

I can't see much of a future for wireless filesharing unless the upload speeds increase significantly, and that's not likely to improve in the foreseeable future. Although download bandwidth can approach 1Gigabit/sec on Verizon and Sprint, upload bandwidth is commonly at close to dialup speed. The slow upload speed is not some arbitrary number due to the service provider slapping down a low throttle speed - as is the case with cable and DSL connections - but it is an unfortunate reality of wireless network architecture, since the towers transmit at much higher power than hand-held units could ever hope to.

Wireless service providers have been especially vigilant at policing their networks for bandwidth hogs, and have a ruthless reputation for kicking out the heavy users - which is often everyone who uses it for much more than checking email and light surfing.

In light if this, the traditional concept of P2P file sharing appears to have little hope.

SlyckTom wrote:Actually, FileTopia didn't have sharing ability until later in its release.

I never tested the earliest releases, but I'd be surprised if this was true. I thought that file sharing was the whole point of Filetopia being created.
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Postby slinkyspirit » Wed May 24, 2006 5:50 am

liberator, u get out the wrong side of bed this morning? he obviously knows alot more about bittorrent than u given that he's WRITTEN HIS OWN CLIENT and as Tom said repeatedly, this is only at a very early stage. I think its quite interesting, and while not practical right now, the same would ahve been true of p2p on 33k modems.
props to him and I hope my network just reduce my damn usagbe charge (£2.50/mb!)
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Postby larytet » Wed May 24, 2006 7:29 am

Rodi client will work fine on any Java enabled phone and i could prepare latest version of Java applet to run directly in any browser - no need to keep 400K JAR file on the flash disk.

second alternative is GoMyPlace.com - allows to access file system and command shell from any cell phone, PDA. this is not exactly file sharing application, but remote access utility.


all above is not BT client in any way and is not BT compatible.
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Postby cjules13 » Wed May 24, 2006 8:44 am

Check out the new Motorola "Q" smartphone.

http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/002134.html

Seems like there could be some possibilities with this one, since it's running MS... Maybe a little easier to morph a client to run on the mobile OS....
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Postby MrFredPFL » Wed May 24, 2006 11:49 am

it's all very well and good to say "well the client is still being developed."

but nothing forces anyone to release anything until it has what is considered to be a MINIMUM of functionality. it's amazing how often it is that developers seem to consider the ability of a client to upload a luxury as opposed to a necessity.

i'd love to see even one single example of a client that was released with the ability to upload, but not to DOWNLOAD yet.

imo, there are already enough ways to be a leech. this, and every other client that was released like this, could have waited until they could do both.
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Postby Alex H » Wed May 24, 2006 7:39 pm

MrFredPFL wrote:i'd love to see even one single example of a client that was released with the ability to upload, but not to DOWNLOAD yet.


Adagio: http://sourceforge.net/projects/agio
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Postby MrFredPFL » Wed May 24, 2006 8:00 pm

well, nice to see that at least one developer has priorities in that order - thanks for that, alex :)
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Postby P2P_G » Wed May 24, 2006 8:19 pm

I don't need a p2p 4 my phone, i use the 3-Music service, i pay only 49kr(4 to 5 USD)/Month and i can download unlimted music, music videos, listen to 50 internet radio stations, stream music video tv, stream my playlist through 3G and the sound is great! They have a very cool service, i make a playlits on 3musik.se with 50 songs and i can stream it in my phone :lol: And if i had a p2p app on my phone it would cost a lot! 1.5 USD/Mb! The 3G speed is very good. I could use a p2p-app in my phone if i had a unlimted internet. I download music videos that are about 4mb in 2min! :wink: There are new Hsdpa network for cell-phones, 1,8 Megabit is the speed! but they are going to update the network soon to 3.6mbit! Damn the video-call quality would be good with those speeds. And p2p-apps too! :shock:
This is the first Hsdpa cellphone it think:
http://mobil.mkf.se/ArticlePages/200605 ... sdpa_s.jpg
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Postby yaveznodo » Wed May 24, 2006 8:32 pm

I can see phones becoming the centre of a lot of P2P in the future, once they get over the hurdle of the 3G companies locking everybody in. Imagine a phone that could take pictures, play games, share files, listen to music, well, basically a computer hooked up to Wi-Max (when that becomes feasable). Wherever you go you could share. How in hell would the media cartels react to those kind of devices flooding the market?

It's going to be fun to see.
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Postby Alex H » Wed May 24, 2006 8:40 pm

yaveznodo wrote:I can see phones becoming the centre of a lot of P2P in the future, once they get over the hurdle of the 3G companies locking everybody in. Imagine a phone that could take pictures, play games, share files, listen to music, well, basically a computer hooked up to Wi-Max (when that becomes feasable). Wherever you go you could share. How in hell would the media cartels react to those kind of devices flooding the market?

It's going to be fun to see.


I've already got one - hacked Sony Erricson with 802.11 and a 512MB memory card.
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Re: Bringing BitTorrent to your Smart Phone

Postby in_hiding » Thu May 25, 2006 3:34 pm

I think there are a couple of misprints in the article:
SlyckTom wrote:WizBit will return (currently only the highest seeded) result from a BitTorrent search site. I've got MiniNova working with it

Surely this developer, in his interview with a widely-read, publicly-available filesharing website monitored by the Forces of Darkness™ said "I've got LegalTorrents working with it" or "I've got LinuxTracker working with it", not MiniNova. If you know what I mean... :wink:

He doesn’t anticipate creating any version outside the Sybian OS
I think you'll find that a Sybian is a vibrating sexual-pleasure device (wiki), not a smartphone. I don't know what OS it runs, tho. NetBSD?
:D
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