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Division in WinMX Community Threatens Resurrection
October 14, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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Virtually every WinMX fan can articulate the history of this network, especially the last month. Over the last month, this network has seen perhaps some of the most interesting developments. Many know that FrontCode Technologies, the development team behind WinMX, ceased operations on September 21st. The remaining community was thrown into chaos, unwilling to abandon this client as FrontCode had many months, perhaps even years, prior.

In the aftermath of the closure of WinMX.com, the community surrounding this client immediately began work on its resurrection. With the WinMX.com domain down, clients could not contact FrontCode’s vital host (peer) cache server. The host cache server contained the IP addresses (peer caches) of supernodes currently connected to the network. Without knowing a connected IP address, the network collapsed. Despite this, several individuals succeeded in resurrecting this network by establishing an alternative host cache server. And there was peace in our time.

But that peace would be short lived.

The original host cache that appeared on P2Pzone on September 23rd, was created with the assistance of "SABre'911", "Polini" and "Ramna.” Based on their work, Vladd44.com released what is known as the “PIE Patch.” The PIE Patch” redirects the WinMX client via a modified hosts list file to one of several host cache servers.

Alternatively, WinmxWorld.com, another well established WinMX community site, developed their method of reconnection. Instead of altering the hosts list, WinmxWorld deployed their own patch, developed by “KM” or “King Macro.” This patch replaces the “ws2_32.dll” in the WinMX directory. This Dynamic Link Library is responsible for directing (now redirecting) the WinMX client to the WinmxWorld.com host cache server, which provides the WinMX client with the peer IP addresses necessary to connect.

Competition can be an excellent attribute to innovation. It helped spur the “space race” and helps individuals achieve their goals. Yet it can also degrade relations between two factions working towards a common goal.

The relations between these community sites began reasonably enough. Information on host cache servers was exchanged on a regular basis, communications were maintained and “Ghost Ship”, an administrator of WinmxWorld.com, had a virtual seat on Vladd44.com’s “PIE committee.”

r communications began to break down over the methodology of each faction’s method. Accusations began flying, until things came to head with WinmxWorld.com stating Vladd44.com was attempting to hijack the network.

Vladd44, administrator of Vladd44.com, who spoke with Slyck.com, dismissed these charges and contends there are more technically oriented reasons for WinMX users to use their patch.

“As far as the DLL vs. PIE Patch, older versions of the DLL have shown to cause instability in WinMX. When it cannot contact their main server, it crashes [WinMX.]”

Vladd44 is also at issue over the fact WinmxWorld.com relies on only one host cache server, while his own method relies on several.

”It also makes WinMX vulnerable to shutdown via a single server. When you connect it gets an updated list of servers from their WinmxGroup.com site. Shut it down and the DLL is null and void - a virtual paperweight.”

Ghost Ship acknowledged both these situation. First on the DLL stability problem.

“The issue that Vladd has spoken to me about is one of reliability and admittedly there has been a minor hiccup in this process, this occurred due to a site outage from the site providing the blocklist, which is our own (we were in fact running one of the primary peer caches and the traffic required the site to be shifted to keep the cache running, this is what occurred) , the patch tried to connect to the old address and failed causing a WinMX crash, this was rapidly fixed and this is no longer a problem as extra servers were purchased and brought online as demand increased, Vladd was given updates as they occurred and was aware of the problem and solution.”

Ghost Ship also accepted the possibility of a shut down of the WinmxGroup.com domain. The shut down of WinmxGroup.com would replicate the same problem faced when WinMX.com was removed. Ghost Ship downplayed this possibility, stating that redirection would easily remedy the potential situation.

“Myself and Vladd44 have spoken about this issue at some length, his major concern was that to set up a FrontCode style DNS lookup would leave us vulnerable, but I’m sure you aware as a site op yourself a DNS can be shifted rapidly.”

Technical issues aside, perhaps the most important issue facing the WinMX community is a potential network split. A split between the two factions would cripple any chance this network has in rejuvenation. WinmxCommunity patch developer KM discusses this looming possibility.

“Currently both patches utilize the same set of peer caches, however Vladd appears to be doing away with this and trying to get all users of their patch to only use their peer caches. In my opinion this is a stupid idea, all users should be able to connect using whichever peer caches are online, not just those brought online by a single group. As well as the other technical problems they are having that makes them still dependant on a single set of peer caches. Which can easily have filtering applied to them; their caches have already started filtering users so only selected users can use them.”

“Depending on a single group of peer caches that can only be used by selected users is short sighted at the least, damn stupid at the best.”

In the interim however, KM feels his patch should keep the network together for the time being.

“However as for splitting the network, my peer caches actually connect to the network itself and use the source addresses in the requests flowing over the network (Searches, and other types of request) to locate Primary users, so it does not depend on primary users using that peer cache for the users to find them. As well as preventing any form of network split this also has the advantage that it provides much better results to the end user. (As non-functional primary users will often connect to the cache more, causing the results to be biased towards returning more non-functional primary users, this solution removes that problem.)”

But in the longer term, Ghost Ship also expects a network split if peer caches are no longer exchanged.

“The WPN is fairly resilient but to continue trying to gather all the users to a single server group that has proved unreliable is foolhardy and dangerous. It is possible to splinter the network over an extended period if address swapping is halted. This is not something we wish and I have annoyed many members of the team trying to obtain this info.”

In time there will be little doubt that a network split will occur as the polarization between the two factions is already becoming established. The result of this will be the end of the WinMX resurrection before it can ever begin. It does not have to be this way. Both sides have more than enough in common to find a way to coordinate their efforts.

From speaking from both sides, it appears both are genuinely concerned for the health and longevity of the WinMX network.

“We made decisions based on the data in front of us,” Vladd44 told Slyck.com. "We know the DLL has caused problems, I had asked them to at least remove the older versions from availability on their site since they know they have bugs. Without the ability to coordinate a mutual solution, we decided to resolve it the best way we knew how.”

In reality, both sides want what is best for their users, and both want to see the WinMX PNP Network restored. But neither side has trust for the other. Vladd44’s position is WinmxWorld’s remedy is not technologically capable, while WinmxWorld.com feels Vladd44.com is simply trying to take over the network out of a lust for power.

Objectively, it seems WinmxWorld is technologically competent and has the ability to adapt, while Vladd44’s desire to take over the network is out of concern rather than power.

Each side has created the power to make the resurrection of WinMX work (while interestingly also creating the power to destroy it.) Working together will achieve this goal.


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
P2P Clients :: WinMX

Vladd44.com Homepage.

WinmxWorld.com Homepage.

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