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Slyck's Interview with Zultrax

Postby Juggalo15 » Tue Jun 29, 2004 7:50 am

Fresh from the sanctity of the Netherlands comes Zultrax, a new file-sharing application. This P2P program offers not only access to the Gnutella network, but to their own in-house network called ZEPP. Although Zultrax only has around 8,000 users, things are starting to look interesting in this northern European file-sharing haven. Slyck would like to thank the members of the Zultrax team for participating in this interview.

<b>Juggalo:</b> It has been said a lot of Gnutella clients like to hammer the GWebCaches, is your client up to standards?

<b>Zultrax:</b> We don’t and we won’t.

GWebCaches are meant to make sure one always has a clean and up-to-date list of nodes to connect to by getting that list from the web. It is not a part of the Gnutella protocol. A client can function fully and fairly on the network without supporting GwebCaches. If [a client could not function fully and fairly without GwebCaches,] we would support it, although we do not approve [of] the concept. We have several reasons for that; I’ll give the two most important ones to not make the story too long.

Supporting GwebCaches would mean giving up the way we achieve the same goal. That manly consists out of a large list of nodes, kept by the client itself, maintained by a genetic algorithm. It maintains besides just an IP and a port also data concerning the quality of that node. Might it be spoofing? Did we download something over there? Did he download something from us? Etc. Exactly this is one of the stronger points in our Gnutella-implementation; we won’t give that up.

For Gnutella clients with a smaller user base, like Zultrax, it might anyway be not such a good idea to start using GwebCaches. When connecting to a certain Gnutella node this node should allow the connection if there is space for it. Several clients limit the possibility to make connection also based on the name of the program you are connecting with. The story told is that this is done to block greedy clients but it seems to be implemented as to block all clients not being mentioned in a certain small list. Greedy or not, the GwebCache might just give you a list of nodes of which many just do not want to connect to you.

Of course this VendorID-filtering is easily passed by VendorID-spoofing but that stays limiting a problem which you better can try to avoid totally.

<b>Juggalo:</b> There has been a claim on your site "ZEPP offers the best privacy protection currently available on a P2P network" Do you have any information to support that claim?

<b>Zultrax:</b> One should not be capable of linking a certain file or a certain download to a specific IP number. As long as that is not possible, privacy is a fact. …Privacy is reached by features in both the software and the network. Those features could be never 100% secure because the software needs to make the same link to function.

A main feature is that we make information not-reliable. A portion of the network traffic on ZEPP is just not true. Search results are false, on purpose. Also the receiving client cannot detect it is false. He who finally hacks into the network will see information of which he still cannot rely. It might be just false.

Each security we bring in is vulnerable to hacking. [It is] important to make that as difficult as possible, to make the win out of that hacking as little as possible and to make the attempt detectable. On our website we give a few answers on how we do that but we cannot go public with all details because that would spoil most of the security we try to give.

For now no one claims to have cracked our security. The attempts we detected were also not impressive. That also has to do with the size of our user base; we are not such an attractive target. We are rather convinced it will stay also when that user base grows.

<b>Juggalo:</b> How did you come about to start making your client? What keeps you working on it today?

<b>Zultrax:</b> Two of the three of us worked as IT-consultant. Software for accounting after a few years becomes less and less inspiring. We just for fun wanted to experiment a little with technologies we normally didn’t work with.

Zultrax started as just another Gnutella client with an experimental – and awful, experiment not successful – GUI. That was about it. Just another Gnutella client. Meanwhile we explored the world of shareware and strongly got the idea we could make a living in that world. Also with a P2P client we think we can reach levels on which we compete with today’s strongest clients. Let’s quit our jobs and go into something exciting and new!

We want to work on good solid shareware. Shareware that in no way is supported by any advertising sponsor. I already feel a strong desire to do something with black paint when I see a billboard hanging on a bus stop: I will definitely refuse to make my living on advertisements.

Finally we think with our group we can support 3 projects of the size of Zultrax simultaneously, make great software and have a modest living out of it. This month we also started working on the second project.

<b>Juggalo:</b> Could we all have a hint on some improvements you wish to see in your program in the coming weeks/months?

<b>Zultrax:</b> Security, performance and the GUI.

Security (privacy) is a point we will have to work constantly on.

The GUI has still a few bugs inside and will also become more configurable to the taste of the user.

The ZEPP network is steadily growing. Both searches and downloads go smoother on Zepp compared to Gnutella. With the growth of the network also the performance of Zultrax gets better. We have a few issues on which we think we can also improve the protocol.

The main point we are working on now:

Each P2P network suffers from firewalls. A large group of users simply doesn’t allow incoming connections. ZEPP already makes downloads from this users possible but it is still hard to get the connection. We are now experimenting with turning the issue around. Nodes disallowing incoming connections will not just sit there and wait for a push-request but will look actively for other nodes wanting their files and send them a push-offer.

It is a bit silly that Zultrax supports just 2 networks. Somewhere on the months to come we will decide what to do. Either run multiple networks (more than 2) or drop Gnutella and fixate on ZEPP. We just do not know yet what it will become.

<b>Juggalo:</b> Limewire, Bearshare, and Gnucleus are currently the lead in the Gnutella world (personal view) what do you offer other then the ZEPP network over these clients?

<b>Zultrax:</b> The list of good Gnutella clients might be even a bit longer. None will function much worse than the other ones. As far as Gnutella is concerned we are definitely not unique. We are definitely not a bad Gnutella client but no better than the rest.

We come with a very different GUI, for some that might be a reason to choose for us, for others that might be a reason to definitely not to choose for us. A matter of taste.

We discussed on the beginning gWebCaches and how we have a different approach to that. Perhaps on a few other points there might be differences but not in a way that makes our Gnutella implementation superior over others.

We come without adware or spyware but also in that we are not unique.

The main difference is in ZEPP.

<b>Juggalo:</b> What does the ZEPP Network offer that other clients do not?


<b>Zultrax:</b> ZEPP is a response on Gnutella. We concluded for ourselves that the Gnutella protocol is rather inefficient with bandwidth, cannot have any privacy protection features and stopped evolving. After finishing our Gnutella implementation we concluded we could do better. That’s were we came up with ZEPP.

The main feature of ZEPP above many other networks is the privacy protection. We also do believe the network is rather efficient and will come with good results as far as getting your downloads completing quickly. For now the user base is too small to have large profits out of that. Most of the traffic of a normal Zultrax user goes by Gnutella.

<b>Juggalo:</b> How large would you say the user base using Zultrax is? Do you feel it
will grow?

<b>Zultrax:</b> Just over 8000. (We count those who use Zultrax for more than 5 hours during a week)


We concider Zultrax as something serious since version 3.0, that was released around new-year and had a user base of 200. So, it is growing, from almost nothing to 8000 in 7 months. It is growing now and we will try hard to keep it growing.

<b>Juggalo:</b> Where did the name Zultrax come from? Is there an significant meaning
to it?

It is just a name. It sounded good in our ears, not to long, nobody used it already for something and http://www.zultrax.com was still available.

<b>Juggalo:</b> This is the portion of the interview where I ask is there anything I
missed or just something you would like to get out about your program?

<b>Zultrax:</b> Our main source of inspiration is the feedback we get from users. Our mail-address is all over the site and also on a prominent place on the screen of Zultrax. So let me use this space for a call to those who actually have a look at the software. If you are experiencing problems, have ideas for improvements, extremely like or dislike certain aspects, it would be very welcome if you let us know.
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Postby j_dogg » Tue Jun 29, 2004 8:06 am

Yet another great interview Juggalo...

Bit sceptical about this client when I first heard about it, but it seems like an O.K app... Anyone here who's tried it and willing to share thier experince/thoughts?

They mention living off of Shareware? How so? Are they planning on developing a Pro version, or making the client a pay to use?
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Postby DaBlade » Tue Jun 29, 2004 8:52 am

Superb interwiew juggalo! 8) And as J_dogg said, they're not gonna start with shareware, are they? Like Limewire did, giving a crappy free version out...
If the software is good and popular, there's no need for making money directly off it, donations will rain down on them...
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Postby nms04 » Tue Jun 29, 2004 10:52 am

great interview !! i realy like zultrax, with more users zepp could become a relay great network !! the only thing i don't like is the interface, it looks a litle bit strange =)) and the developers should change the search (add search) window, a kazaa or shareza like search window would be better
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Postby nms04 » Tue Jun 29, 2004 10:58 am

ah and does someone know if there r other clients connecting to zepp out there ??
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Postby chacho » Tue Jun 29, 2004 11:14 am

interesting interview, ill try this app out.

their site needs some major work, however. looks very unprofessional.

compare: http://www.zultrax.com
http://www.shareaza.com

lol and i like the images they used on the falsification page: http://www.zultrax.com/pages/features_falsification.htm
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Postby tm, » Tue Jun 29, 2004 11:42 am

I tried Zultrax a month or 2 ago and it was one of the quickest uninstalls I ever did.

Zultrax has a very odd interface - and is missing a lot of the usual features we come to expect in a P2P client.

As a Gnutella client - there are much better ones out there.

The Zultrax network has practically no files being shared. Tiny networks are useful when they have a built-in chat feature - so you can find other users and browse their shared folders. Since Zultrax has no chat, it is very difficult to find out what files are available on the network. Searching almost always produces 0 results.

Zultrax might have promise as a more secure network, but it still needs a lot of work before it becomes useful as a worthwhile alternative network.
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Postby Skel » Tue Jun 29, 2004 1:01 pm

Zultrax's Zepp network from what TM said seems to be nothing more then 8000 users with no chat features so you can not find what you want. With 8000 users its like filetopia 2 times over but with no chat too find those rare files.. Maybe they should make a chat Function. :?
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Postby M3wThr33 » Tue Jun 29, 2004 3:19 pm

I see they took the WinMX logic with using fake data.
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Postby tm, » Tue Jun 29, 2004 4:06 pm

Skel wrote:Zultrax's Zepp network from what TM said seems to be nothing more then 8000 users with no chat features so you can not find what you want. With 8000 users its like filetopia 2 times over but with no chat too find those rare files..


If you read the fine print you will see that it is NOT 8000 SIMULTANEOUS users

Zultrax wrote: Just over 8000. (We count those who use Zultrax for more than 5 hours during a week)

So that works out to as little as 238 simultaneous users.

5/(24x7)x8000=238

With that few users, there needs to be some way of locating what files are available - either via chat, weblinks, etc. Keyword searches just don't do it.

But at least Zultrax has an excellent help section (that's one idea they certainly did not get from WinMX)and their security focus is certainly a step in the right direction that applies to all P2P networks.
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Postby Nessmaster » Tue Jun 29, 2004 4:34 pm

I thought Zultrax was suppose to have good security. How is it that the second I connected Protowall started going crazy, blocking around 80 packets in a minute???
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Slyck's Interview with Zultrax

Postby SlyckChuck » Tue Jun 29, 2004 5:17 pm

Good interview juggalo. Nessmaster if that happened you might want to re-configure your blocklist manager. Bring that up and seek out the help section.
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Postby Zultrax » Tue Jun 29, 2004 6:06 pm

So that works out to as little as 238 simultaneous users.

5/(24x7)x8000=238


Small correction on the math:
Only when all 8000 immediatly exit Zultrax after 5 hours running and no one runs it for less than 5 hours 238 is the correct number of simultaneous users.

So it is safe to assume the number of simultaneous users is far above 238 although it will not be 8000. I cannot come with any actual number simultaneous users because we simply do not count it.

I don't want to say we have a large network. Just had to mention it is larger than the very minimal number you counted.
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Postby no_dammagE » Tue Jun 29, 2004 6:13 pm

@ Zultrax:
* the very first thing you have to do is a newer GUI. Really - it scared the majority off. There doesn't have to be skin control etc. - just plain proper WinAPI in 9x style. It would already lead people to the app.
Next thing of course is privacy: it would be nice to create fake transfer.
Maybe a privacy suggestion: save data chunks in encrypted manner so that they can't be assigned with a download?
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Postby Juggalo15 » Tue Jun 29, 2004 6:14 pm

Yea, I figure they have more then just that little number. It seems like an up and commer, just needs a little work on the GUI if I say personally. It reminds me of Ares (which i believed never would grow about 15,000, man do i bite my tongue now) So yea all give it a shot.


Also welcome for the interview though don't forget to thank tom, he did some grammer fixes and also added this part for me cause I couldn't think of anything...well..it might have been ray but toms my best bet

Fresh from the sanctity of the Netherlands comes Zultrax, a new file-sharing application. This P2P program offers not only access to the Gnutella network, but to their own in-house network called ZEPP. Although Zultrax only has around 8,000 users, things are starting to look interesting in this northern European file-sharing haven. Slyck would like to thank the members of the Zultrax team for participating in this interview.
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Postby chacho » Tue Jun 29, 2004 6:39 pm

Nessmaster wrote:I thought Zultrax was suppose to have good security. How is it that the second I connected Protowall started going crazy, blocking around 80 packets in a minute???


gnutella maybe?
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Re: Slyck's Interview with Zultrax

Postby Coffee » Tue Jun 29, 2004 8:08 pm

<b>Zultrax:</b> One should not be capable of linking a certain file or a certain download to a specific IP number. As long as that is not possible, privacy is a fact. …Privacy is reached by features in both the software and the network. Those features could be never 100% secure because the software needs to make the same link to function.

A main feature is that we make information not-reliable. A portion of the network traffic on ZEPP is just not true. Search results are false, on purpose. Also the receiving client cannot detect it is false. He who finally hacks into the network will see information of which he still cannot rely. It might be just false.

Each security we bring in is vulnerable to hacking. [It is] important to make that as difficult as possible, to make the win out of that hacking as little as possible and to make the attempt detectable. On our website we give a few answers on how we do that but we cannot go public with all details because that would spoil most of the security we try to give.


What does this mean for the uploader, is it ip spoofing?
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Postby tm, » Wed Jun 30, 2004 6:29 am

I tried out Zultrax again since I could not remember all the specifics of what I did and did not like about it. Since there are many better Gnutella clients available, my only interest was in the Zultrax Zepp network.

Zultrax Zepp network seems to use a lot of bandwidth to maintain network connections. (56k users will be maxed out) Almost as if everyone becomes a supernode. It reminds me of the original Gnutella. No modern non-proxying P2P application sucks up that much network bandwidth. Unless that high bandwidth usage is because everyone acts as a proxy "bouncer"? Zultrax does not include the ability to connect through socks or http proxies - an absolute must-have feature these days - so that might imply that zepp nodes proxy for each other by default. Either that or the lack of socks/http proxy setting is just a glaring omission, and would require installing a 3rd party socksifier to correct.

But without a method to proxy (or possibly even IP spoof), there can be no true anonymity; your IP address is revealed to the downloading party.

It makes me wonder what Zultrax was patterned after? Is it trying to be more like a Napster-type P2P or more like the Freenet/WinNy model? Unlike most modern P2P apps, there is no upload window, no instant message capability, no browse feature, no file hashing, no weblink ability, and no chat functions. Choices for preferences/settings is very sparce; no bandwidth throttle, no IP block filter. So to get even marginally decent performance and features, it requires installing a lot of additional 3rd-party applications.

One feature that stands out is that Zultrax allows filtering the filetypes to share from shared folder. My preference would be for it to share everything except specified filetypes (such as email files) However, the default settings leave out many commonly shared filetypes - no .nfo, .ace, .ogg, .ape, mov, .ram, .bin, .cue, multipart rars, and many more commonly shared filetypes. It also easily allows people to leech by accident - the default settings allow a user to download .bin files but not upload them.

This leads me to believe that the developers of Zultrax are probably not themselves experienced P2P users.
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Postby DaBlade » Wed Jun 30, 2004 6:49 am

tm wrote:One feature that stands out is that Zultrax allows filtering the filetypes to share from shared folder.

Wrong, WinMX already has that feature, filtering file types. No new idea...sorry tm.. :lol: :lol:
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Postby gregorio » Wed Jun 30, 2004 7:07 am

HaloFan!@WinMXFan! wrote:Wrong, WinMX already has that feature, filtering file types. No new idea...sorry tm.. :lol: :lol:

Too bad that WinMX sucks so bad nobody wants to use it anyway.
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Postby tm, » Wed Jun 30, 2004 8:21 am

Lately I seem to get more corrections than almost anyone else. But not on technical details (as I was hoping) but on the meaning of words and phrases like "stand out" and "as little as".

HaloFan!@WinMXFan! wrote:
tm wrote:One feature that stands out is that Zultrax allows filtering the filetypes to share from shared folder.

Wrong, WinMX already has that feature, filtering file types. No new idea...sorry tm.. :lol: :lol:

Halofan, to "stand out" means to be exceptional, unusual, or superior, and I think that term applies to Zultrax's file filter, as file filters are a rare feature in most P2P clients. Winmx is the only other one I know of that offers anything similar. But I think if you try out Zultrax and compare the two, you will see that its shared file filter is a lot different than the one used by WinMX.


Zultrax wrote:So it is safe to assume the number of simultaneous users is far above 238 although it will not be 8000.
I don't want to say we have a large network.... Just had to mention it is larger than the very minimal number you counted.

I could just as easily turn those statements around and emphasize the minimum rather than the maximum:
I could have wrote:So it is safe to assume the number of simultaneous users is far below 8000 although it will not be 238.
I don't want to say you have a small network....Just had to mention that it is smaller than the very maximum number you counted.


I mentioned 238 as the absolute lowest possible number of simultaneous users based on Zultrax's formula, since they like to print the number as 8000 based on the absolute highest number of users - and some people already thought that there were 8000 simultaneous users - since that is the commonly accepted standard of measurement. Instead of pointing out the absolute maximums or minimums, maybe we can compromise on the geometric halfway point between 238 and 8000 - of somewhere around 1500 simultaneous users.
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Postby Zultrax » Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:39 am

tm wrote:maybe we can compromise on the geometric halfway point between 238 and 8000 - of somewhere around 1500 simultaneous users.


Yes we can. It sounds about right.

Although some interview with Slyck also seems to have its positive effects on the number of users trying out Zultrax. Thank you, Juggalo. This week the number will be higher. We'll have to see what remains.
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Postby Sansculottes » Thu Jul 01, 2004 7:50 am

tm wrote:Halofan, to "stand out" means to be exceptional, unusual, or superior, and I think that term applies to Zultrax's file filter, as file filters are a rare feature in most P2P clients. Winmx is the only other one I know of that offers anything similar.


LimeWire also has a file filter and I find it a very useful feature.
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