Welcome in the Universe of P2P: Peerverse

Comming soon. All what you read here is conceptual!


Q1: What is Peerverse?
A1: It's a distribution system using P2P.
    Today that means BitTorrent.

Q2: What can do Peerverse for me?
A2: Two things:
    - You can download files from this site.
    - You can distribute your files through this site.

Q3: What does it cost me?
A3: Downloading files always is free.
    Distributing files which may be copied freely has following options:
    Distributing non-legal files is not allowed.
    Distributing open files always is free.
    Distributing closed files will cost a small fee.
    However the latter is not yet implemented (I need a payment processor).

Q4: Why do you do this?
A4: I need a distribution system for myself.
    As I could not find anything suitable, I had to invent it.

Q5: What exactly are "open files" and "closed files"?
A5: That's as easy as "open audience" and "closed audience".
    Open files are basically all sort of open source or public domain.
    Closed files are basically all commercial and shareware software.
    A patch file for a closed file itself is closed again, as the
    patches are not working standalone.  So if it can be used feely
    by a closed audience and is meaningless to the open audience,
    this means, the file is not open, and thus closed.
Q6: What are "non-legal files"?
A6: Basically this are files where you don't have the rights to
    distribute this files to others without limitation.
    Either you own the copyright and allow anybody to own the file,
    or the copyright owner must allow this.  Another thing is, that
    the contents of the file must be legal in most countries, too.
    Explaination in German language:
    Niemand anderes darf die Verwertungsrechte an der Datei besitzen
    und der Urheber muss der Verbreitung der Datei zugestimmt haben.
    Der Inhalt der Datei darf nicht gegen geltendes Recht verstossen.

Q7: I don't know if the copyright owner allows distribution.
A7: You cannot use PeerVerse to distribute this file.

Q8: I don't know or cannot make sure that the contents is legal.
A8: Sigh.  You cannot use PeerVerse if any of following sentences is true:
    - You try to stretch the law by distributing the file.
    - The contents of the file hurts somebody (like Child Porn).
    - The copyright owner doesn't want the file to reach all people freely.
    - The file's origin is undetermined or from a closed environment.
    - The file is not free speech but that is required for distribution.
    - Usually people pay for the content which is in the file
      (i. E. it's a copy of a film, book, or music).
    - You want to bring me in trouble by using PeerVerse for distribution.
    - The file is targeted for a country in which the file is illegal.
    And probably others.  I hope you get it now.  Note about cryptography:
    PeerVerse is located in Germany, where strong cryptography is legal.
    However there are countries where this is not, like France.  Or there
    are countries like USA where export of strong cryptography is prohibited.
    If the files uses or provides strong cryptography, you should make
    sure that the users know this *before* downloading the file.
    Especially receiving Crypto-Products through PeerVerse can be a threat
    for american citizens (likewise P2P), as this means re-exporting of the
    software.  It is a matter of fact that this re-export regulation is
    just a joke when it comes to grid thechnology where you simply cannot
    now any more where a program runs or data is stored, and the Internet
    is Grid.  So America must disconnect from Internet to protect their
    civilians to violate this stupid law by accident, as the likeliehood
    of this accident is over 100% just by surfing the net.  As america
    does not do this, I think it's not the fault of american citizens
    to accidentially break this law, it's the fault of the congress
    or the President (or is the President allowed to bring all american
    citizens into danger to violate the law just by innocently surfing
    the web? proof of concept).
    So if the file provides or uses strong cryptography, please state
    so clearly, such that people of some countries can stay away.

Q9: Is it possible to distribute files which must not be copied freely?
A9: No.  The Grid nature of P2P implies, that the files can be reached
    by all users in this universe (regardless of on earth or not).
    All you can do is to limit usablility (to "close" the file).
    This either can be done using encryption (which can be broken)
    or things like serial numbers or activation (which can be hacked).
    So if you want to control who gets the file, PeerVerse is not for you.
    However you should think about how you want to stay in business
    when Grid technology is widely deployed, as then the "location"
    of software starts to become undefined.  So if PeerVerse is not
    suitable for your files, this probably means, your files are not
    suitable for The Grid, and thus are not suitable for the future.
    (Note: Q6 is not missing the words "with PeerVerse".  It *is*
     impossible to distribute files which may not be copied freely.
     That's a fact as simple as that.  If you try yo do it, you try to
     do something that's impossible, and if you think I am wrong, you
     will suffer by learning it the hard way.  The problem is that
     your lawyer or law will tell you something else.  However this
     does not mean I am wrong, this only means, the law is out of
     sync with reality.  It's a proven fact, that information can
     only be kept secret by not sharing it.  Ask your Physicist
     about Quantum Duplication and your Mathematican about Goedel,
     put it together and you have what I told you here.)

How PeerVerse wors

The file storage

Thanks to the P2P nature of PeerVerse the file storage can be located on different servers easily. On my server there are 100 GB of space. There is no need for backups or such, as when a file is destroyed, it can be re-loaded from the P2P network easily.

As more and more file storages add to the network, it becomes more and more reliable and gets a higher bandwidth, too.

The P2P core

Currently BitTorrent is a very reliable and mature P2P system which is widely deployed and widely used. The basis of PeerVerse thus is BitTorrent today.

My server, which is the first one, of course, has a Tracker and a Seeder with an allocated bandwidth of 200 KB/s running. Currently this all is a little bit experimental, as I run Azureus for this.

In the future there will come some components which will monitor the swarms and will make sure that all files stay available.

Note that PeerVerse concentrates on distribution and availablility, not on throughput. This means at no time there will be any need to keep the BitTorrent client open after it has downloaded, it's enough what the BitTorrent client uploaded while it was online.

Thus a missing components is a BitTorrent client which can run as an Applet (Java? Python?) which downloads a file and (gracefully) stops right after it finished doing this.

Another thing that's needed for a good distribution is, that the .torrents must have very small pieces. I think about modem users here, such that a piece only takes some seconds. A reasonable size for pieces thus is 64 KB. PeerVerse will refuse your .torrent if it does not fit into following:

The torrent should be between 128KB and 512KB, however for small files it may be less and there is no need to use smaller pieces than 64 KB which takes arround 10 seconds with ISDN or fast modem.

Currently file sizes from 1 MB to 16 GB are supported, so there is a maximum piece size of 4 MB.

The web frontend

There will be the possibility to upload .torrent files via WEB. You must categorize the .torrent correctly, such that it can be placed into the proper RSS feed, so Broadcatching is supported from the start.

PeerVerse then let you download the .torrent again. Usually the .torrent will not be showing in the RSS feed before it was seeded completely. However you can override this.

You then start to seed the file. You must make sure, that the file is seeded to PeerVerse completely else it may be eligible to deletion. Note that you must make sure, as well, that the file is re-seeded in case some desaster happens to PeerVerse, as PeerVerse does not keep backups (PeerVerse is the backup. One never does backups of backups, usually ..).

Another variant is to let PeerVerse download the file and create the .torrent for you. Then you do not need to seed. All you need for this is the complete URL of the file. FTP and HTTP/S is possible.

Please note that PeerVerse is not a public tracker like other trackers. You must be somethow allowed to publish files. This usually means, you are either a developer of open source software, the admin of a project who is responsible for the file distribution or are a moderator to add files to PeerVerse.

To become one of those above, you must apply for access. This must be done over Tino's discussion board for today.

What you will find here (soon)

You will find here ISO images of all sort of Linux, starting from Knoppix, Debian and so on. However, except for some Bootstrapping images, you probably never will find distributions like GenToo here. However this will become the main distribution site for HilbiX, which is my Linux version.

Also you might find other open source projects, which have files which can be distributed using BitTorrent.

Note that the seeder not neccessarily uses the local tracker, it also seeds other well known Torrent Streams, like Legaltorrents, Knoppix, Mandrake, TuX has some .toorents too, BitTorrent Linux Mirror.

Some notes about HilbiX

Note that HilbiX is not supposed to become a full Linux distribution, it is supposed to install Linux onto any computer via the network. Thus it shall become a fully automated Gentoo and Debian installer. All you have to do to install is to do the setup via Web, download a generated disk image suitable for Floppy, CD or PXE, let the computer boot this image and get itself installing over the web completely. Note that you (the one controlling the install) and the person booting the computer can be at different locations in this scenario.

For this to work, you need a high capacity distribution system, capable to handle an enourmous load of parrallel connected clients. P2P is ideal for this.

However there are some drawbacks:

If you are behind a good firewall, you usually only do HTTP requests and HTTPS connects. This is why PeerVerse, by default, runs the tracker via HTTP and the feeder on the HTTPS port. However using the feeder this way will be slow, as many persons might do the same.

To work arround this limitation the PeerVerse BitTorrent Applet will contain a "Proxy" mode. This is, it will take part on the BitTorrent network accepting connections like any normal BitTorrent client, however you will be able to "remote control" it. HilbiX will connect to this Applet and command it, what it has to download.

This way HilbiX is free from the needs to handle all the distribution workload itself, and it can concentrate on the installation task, using the Applet as the "Virtual Installation Server" for HilbiX. Note, that this way multiple HilbiX installing at the same site can use all the cached files by the Applet.

Perhaps the Applet sometimes will integrate into Azureus. Until this works, there will be a workaround using RSS feeds: There will be an RSS feed published on PeerVerse with the contents coordinated by the Applet. This way Azureus will automatically download the files, which are then proxied by the Applet to the HilbiX installation process. Note that the core protocol used for the communication between the Applet an HilbiX will be NAStySAN, another one of my projects.

2004-06-09 - Impressum