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Razorback’s Decline is Kademlia's Time to Shine
February 22, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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Hollywood rejoice! The great evil known as Razorback2 is now a mere memory. Its servers smashed, its administrator jailed, its users on the run - today will be a day long remembered in the halls of copyright enforcement justice. Certainly with the undisputed leader of the eDonkey2000 network whisked away, the roadmap for peace in the online copyright wars has now been paved.

The eDonkey2000 network surpassed FastTrack as the leading P2P network in late 2004. With a steadily growing population, eDonkey2000 hit an average of 2.9 million users in January 2005. In January 2006, it was sustaining approximately 3.5 million users. Well known for its selection of multimedia files – especially more difficult to find material – eDoneky2000 has maintained a highly favorable reputation in the file-sharing world. Adding to its favorability is the widespread use of the eMule client.

The eMule client is an open source alternative to the official eDonkey client. The original eDonkey client was developed by MetaMachine, a commercial P2P firm located in New York City and metro New Jersey. When eDonkey was first released, its potential was already obvious; however the limitations presented by the official client left many frustrated. Among eMule’s many advantages is its open source nature, lack of adware or advertising, cleaner interface and multitude of added functionality and features too numerous to list. Perhaps eMule’s biggest advantage is its wide spread proliferation.

It's currently estimated that over 90% of all clients connected to the eDonkey2000 network are eMule applications. This is important for two reasons. First, it allows the eDonkey2000 network to grow and prosper independently from any legal action taken against MetaMachine. Currently, MetaMachine is facing potential litigation from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) as it received a cease and desist letter in September 2005. The RIAA demanded that MetaMachine must find a way to thwart the infringing activities of its users or face litigation. Sam Yagan, President of MetaMachine, testified before Congress and stated he was “throwing in the towel” – meaning he has no choice other than to comply with the request.

Secondly, the 3.5 million eDoneky2000 users also benefit from another major advantage – Kademlia. Kademlia is a DHT (Distributed Hash Table) based network overlay that works in conjunction with the eDonkey2000 network. Unlike its BitTorrent brethren however, it can work completely independently of the centralized eDoneky2000 servers and is searchable. The Kademila, or Kad, network utilizes DHT by distributing the indexing responsibilities away from the centralized servers and towards the end client. Kad uses a highly advanced networking architecture that allows for rapid distribution of large files. Its importance has been steadily increasing within the last several months as eMule users have found this network not only well supplements, but also exceeds that of eDoneky2000.

Considering the rapid growth and importance of the Kad network, many in the eDoneky2000 community are having trouble justifying Hollywood’s jubilation over the demise of Razorback. Razorback was the largest sub-community of indexing servers on the eDonkey2000 network with well over 1 million connected users.

Razorback was indeed an important aspect of the eDonkey2000 network, yet its importance is greatly overshadowed by the magnitude of the eMule community and the Kad network. Regardless of the elimination of Razorback, the same number of individuals who traversed eMule before the server raids are logged on to eMule today. In fact, the brief population loss associated with Razoback’s elimination appears to have been reversed, as estimates of the current eDoney2000 population remain consistent with its monthly average. Those disconnected from Razorback have simply moved on to alternative servers. In fact, the eMule client estimates just over 4.1 million simultaneous users - an actual increase over yesterday's 3.5 million.

The demise of Razorback has many similarities to the fall of Napster. Both Napster and Razorback had simultaneous populations of over 1 million users, while enjoying wide spread popularity. Like Napster, Razorback had its life cut short by the enforcement efforts of copyright holders, except this time the effort was coordinated by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) rather than the RIAA. And like Napster, the eDoneky2000 community is being forced to evolve. Instead of the lengthy crossover to FastTrack or other decentralized networks, the groundwork is already in place.

It’s important to realize the average eMule user is considerably more computer savvy than the average FastTrack user. The ability to adapt to and absorb rapid network changes, such as the one forced upon yesterday, is manifesting in the already expanding use of Kademlia.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
P2P Clients :: eMule
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Statistics/Analysis

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