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FrostWire Prepares for Gnutella's Future
September 30, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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On September 25, 2005, Slyck reported that several new branches of code were being developed by LimeWire. This code's ultimate function was to block the sharing of unlicensed files. LimeWire had already taken many steps to discourage the sharing of unlicensed files, however the June 26 Supreme Court decision emboldened the RIAA to further pursue file-shairng developers.

LimeWire's decision to develop this code was an unfortunate result of the RIAA's über enforcement campaign. Although P2P developers feel they have not "induced" copyright infringement, they simply do not have the funding to thwart the RIAA's attack. In order to survive, they are forced to comply.

Yet there is a silver lining to LimeWire's decision to include DRM (Digital Rights Managment) to its client. Two years ago, LimeWire released the source code to its client and quickly surrounded itself with an open source community. Clients such as AquaLime circulated the Internet, however the official LimeWire client would remain the most popular Gnutella client due to its simplicity, word-of-mouth recommendations, and lack of spyware/adware.

Today, LimeWire is the most popular P2P application for music. Over 2 million individuals simultaneously use this client, more than any other client for this purpose. When and if LimeWire decides to upgrade their code, millions of voices will suddenly cry out in terror and suddenly become silenced. Indeed, something terrible will happen.

But it doesn't have to be this way. The P2P community has proven to be a resilient, elastic and talented core of individuals ready to meet and overcome virtually any obstacle placed before it. The stifling of LimeWire is no exception, as the rise of FrostWire hopes to continue the core of LimeWire as a pillar of Internet freedom.

FrostWire is a fork developed by the LimeWire open source community. Currently being readied for release, FrostWire will function virtually identically as the much loved LimeWire client. FrostWire currently has between 6 and 10 developers, none of which are currently employed by LimeWire. To get a deeper understanding of the FrostWire client, Slyck spoke with Gregorio, one of the administrators and code editors of the FrostWire project.

When can we expect the first release of FrostWire?

That depends on how much we rush it. Basically it is not very difficult to create a FrostWire package and make it available on our website. Our goal is to offer the first versions by mid-October. The website, new themes and the rest should be complete by December. (The website, FrostWire.com is already running - although there is not much content yet).

What is the goal of FrostWire?

We believe that LimeWire's decision to start filtering content will also remove a lot of legitimate content from the Gnutella network. Our goal is to offer an open alternative of the same quality for those users who prefer to have the freedom of deciding for themselves which files to share and which not to. FrostWire will be a slightly modified version of LimeWire that allows users to share and download files that currently contain no license metadata (LimeWire minus PRO nagware and filtering/DRM). Should LimeWire ever go offline, we hope to be able to continue the development of the LimeWire core and the Gnutella network.

Will FrostWire be able to keep up with the same pace of development as LimeWire?

As long as the LimeWire development continues at LimeWire LLC (and we currently do not have any reason to doubt that it will continue) there will be no noticeable difference. All the new features, bug fixes and improvements from the LimeWire project will be ported to the FrostWire client. Likewise bug fixes from the FrostWire team may find their way into the official LimeWire code.

Considering many people will migrate from LimeWire to alternative sources, particularly FrostWire, describe and compare the development team’s talent to that of LimeWire. Can they expect the same quality product as produced by LimeWire?

We do not have the equivalent of five full-time developers on our team. If LimeWire were to stop developing their client, the development of FrostWire would undoubtedly slow down too. For the time being, FrostWire will offer the same quality product as LimeWire because it will contain all the latest improvements from the official LimeWire client. We hope to be a little closer to our users than LimeWire currently is but the design philosophy will remain the same.

Explain the similarities/differences between LimeWire and FrostWire. Although most likely similar during the first few releases, what can the Gnutella community expect as it begins to diverge? What plans are currently being discussed?

There was not a lot of discussion about FrostWire's future beyond the first few releases yet. There certainly are a few ideas to improve the client, but nothing definitive yet. Our focus is to offer a smooth transition for LimeWire users to FrostWire in order to prevent most of the negative effects LimeWire's decision to start filtering content will have on the Gnutella network.

Will the FrostWire team continue to collaboratively develop this client with the guidance of the GDF community?

Yes.

Will any former LimeWire developers participate on the project?

We don't know yet, but we will try to work with the current LimeWire developers as closely as legally possible.

Editor's Note: From speaking with Gregorio, its obvious FrostWire undoubtedly has many challenges ahead of it, the greatest being cut off from LimeWire developers. With a talented core of programmers however, such obstacles will hopefully prove to be just that – challenges – and not a detriment to the longevity of the Gnutella network.


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
P2P Clients :: FrostWire
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Interviews

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