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Manolito Strikes Back
May 10, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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Everything is about BitTorrent these days. It’s taken over as the leading file-sharing network, has become synonymous with obtaining information over the Internet, and has nearly consolidated P2P development under one roof. Is there any hope for the P2P simpleton?

There is, and comes as the rejuvenation of the Manolito P2P (MP2P) network.

The MP2P network is the work of Pablo Soto and his associated Optisoft company in P2P friendly Spain. Based loosely on the Gnutella network, Pablo created one of the most successful file-sharing networks. During its early days, the MP2P was spearheaded by the Blubster client and became popular under the self-contained 1.2.3 version.

Soon after its release in the summer of 2001, Blubster immediately began mustering an impressive, albeit modest, user base. With the collapse of Napster imminent and Gnutella not quite mature enough to accommodate the masses, the MP2P network saw its network grow to over 3,000 users by February 2002. At the time, its competition was the rapidly expanding FastTrack network with 500,000 users, iMesh with 165,000, eDonkey2000 with just over 100,000 and Gnutella with a population of approximately 60,000 simultaneous users.

Yet these powerhouse networks were out of reach for the fledgling MP2P network. More humble competition took the form of the now defunct SongSpy and FileNavigator networks. MP2P would have significant work ahead to remain competitive, as SongSpy and FileNavigator boasted populations of over 8,000 users.

However the relatively small MP2P network maintained one distinct advantage – decentralization. Before the MGM vs. Grokster decision, the music industry successfully negated P2P networks by forcing the shutdown of their centralized indexing servers. The tactic worked against Napster, Scour Exchange and AudioGalaxy. Just about any network that resembled the Napster or Scour architecture quickly fell, including SongSpy and FileNavigator.

The inability of these networks to adapt to the rapidly changing P2P world facilitated their demise. While FileNavigator was already fading by early 2002, the promising SongSpy P2P community was struck down by mid summer and absorbed by IMG Entertainment on July 31, 2002. The new owners of SongSpy attempted to reintroduce the application as a legitimate resource, however this never materialized.

With most of the smaller file-sharing networks now removed, MP2P now had the distinction of being the leading mediocre P2P network. Although middling at best, the lack of small scale competition gave MP2P the opportunity to reveal its potential. This mediocrity would slowly dissolve into credibility, as by September 2002 M2P was topping 20,000 simultaneous users. By November MP2P was topping 50,000 simultaneous users. With a burgeoning community poised to strike at the major networks, it seemed nothing would stop this network from reaching its potential – perhaps with the exception of internal politics.

The shareholders of this community, Optisoft; and Pablo Soto, the lone developer, saw different visions for Blubster. The inability for the two sides to reconcile their visions led to Pablo’s departure in late 2002. The exact details of this split are unclear, however it’s widely believed Optisoft was pushing for a more commercialized product, while Pablo was looking to keep such commercialism to a minimum. Optisoft retained the right to distribute Blubster by purchasing the licensing rights to the MP2P technology. Out of the Optisoft picture yet still in control of the underlying technology, Pablo went on to found Piolet (pronounced Pee-oh-lay) on January 3, 2003.

The shakeup appeared to have little effect on the already established network. Piolet was readily accepted as the successor to Blubster and by the end of January 2003 the MP2P network was topping 100,000 simultaneous users. With over 200,000 by mid-2003, it yet again seemed nothing would stop this network. It survived the shakeup of Optisoft and the rebranding of Blubster – but not WinMX syndrome.

Like many file-sharing applications and networks, Piolet and the MP2P network appeared to spiral into self-destruct during its peak. The last version, 1.05, was released in March 2003. The MP2P community would not see another update until August 2004. With over a year between updates and absolutely no news in 2005, MP2P was largely considered dead despite a reunification with Optisoft. It continued to function reasonably well into late 2004 and early 2005, however rapid advancements with Gnutella and BitTorrent rendered MP2P nearly irrelevant.

However MP2P wasn’t neglected because of a lack of interest. Rather, personal health problems in 2005 prevented Pablo from concentrating on his nearly five year old project. Healthy again in 2006, Pablo has reinvigorated the MP2P project. MP2P fans were surprised this week to see the Piolet.com homepage renovated, with the release of a new product: Manolito.

Currently, the Manolito client contains no appreciable differences from the latest version of Piolet. Many changes are coming however, as Pablo now has a team of developers working on the project with him. In addition, the Manolito homepage promises “anonymity” for the end user – details of which should be released by the development team soon.

The new Manolito client maintains many of the attributes of its predecessor, such as being free from spyware and adware – an attribute that will maintain throughout its future. Like LimeWire or BearShare, there is the standard free version and the more “enabled” $19.99 version.

However the current Manolio homepage lacks the community feel of the old Blubster.com. Although more utilitarian in appearance than the spit and polish Manolito.com, it laid an excellent foundation for the MP2P community to interact, grow and prosper. Manolito shows promise, yet if it wishes to fulfill its never obtained potential, it needs to reestablish this community architecture.


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P2P Clients :: Other Clients

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