eDonkey was released in September 2000 and was hence tagged with the name eDonkey2000. It started out as a very small community but the subsequent fall of Napster and growing problems on the Kazaa network, suddenly made this software one of the 
most viable clients for the P2P network. 

What took off slowly suddenly became a storm that brought down the P2P planet. If you were one of the hip crowd, you just had to know what eDonkey2000 was!

eDonkey2000 was a third generation P2P software by a small developer group who called themselves MetaMachine. eDonkey was based on the same centralised server concept as Napster, but there was one vital difference. 

Emule, a freeware client for the eDonkey 2000 network Napster had all their servers located at a single location in Silicon Valley, CA. MetaMachine, though, went the opposite direction and released their server software in the community. It was akin to letting salt dissolve in water with the water being the P2P community. 

Now it became the community’s responsibility to take care of the server and update it with the latest information to attract more users to use the software. MetaMachine develops the technology, but it is the responsibility of the community to maintain the network. 

The eDonkey network requires some maintenance for operating at optimum levels. First, every user needs to install the eDonkey2000 client and then download the server.met file from a 
specified website. This file contains the latest information of all the servers available and provides server address to the client software so that it can connect to faster and live servers. 

Once that is done, the client makes a connection with a server and gets connected to the network. Now you can use the integrated search box in the client to search for whatever you want ranging from applications to movies to albums to just about anything. Other applications that are modified eDonkey2000 clients and utilising the same network are eMule, Shareaza, aMule, eMule plus, Morpheus and many more for the Windows platform. For Macs, you can use software such as hydranode, iSwine and of course eMule and aMule versions for Macs. Similar clients are also available for Linux. 

The eDonkey network set the standard for hashing files. What is file hashing? Hashing is the transformation of a string of characters into a usually shorter fixed-length value or key that represents the original string. Hashing is used to index and retrieve items in a database because it is faster to find the item using the shorter hashed key than to find it using the original value.

So, if you have a database of Digit magazines consisting of records of articles from June 2001 to July 2005, trying to access data by typing in “Digit-February 2002-Insight-Quick Start-30 Minutes Expert” you will be better off by giving this a shorter value such as “DigFeb02-IN- QS-30". Not only will the search be faster but also be better indexed which will let retrieve data faster. 

Now imagine the same thing being done with over a billion files on a network. There is bound to be confusion and ultimately chaos. Therefore, what happened was each file that was uploaded to the edonkey network was hashed uniquely and checked and then made available. 

This made downloads simple, quicker and reliable. But the same problems that affected the Kazaa network, which were spyware, viruses and Trojans, also affected the eDonkey network. To overcome this, the community came out with Web sites that listed verified content that was being made available on the eDonkey2000 network. Since all of these downloads were verified 
and checked, there was a large reduction in the number of fake applications and the network survived. 

Once again, though, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) swung into action and started proceedings for legal action against several network communities and the process still goes on. With all of this going on, something was coming and it promised to revolutionise...


Kazaa Vs. Napster

The difference between download options offered by Kazaa and Napster was massive. While Napster only indulged in song swapping, Kazaa was a virtual pirate bay. Any application-music, video, documents that was shared on a computer could be accessed (as long as the data was kept in “My Shared Folder” in the Kazaa directory. Plus, an mprovement in the network performance due to a decentralised system allowed users to download anything they wanted with ease.

Users who could understand file-sharing had a lethal and potent software at their disposal, which would get them everything that they wanted without paying a penny in the process (of course, not considering the Internet access charges). Suddenly, everything was on Internet.

You want Windows XP, connect and download it. You want Shrek the movie, connect and download it. You want Sheryl Crow’s music, connect and download! Everyone had everything and the share and share alike adage was catching on like bushfire. What also got Kazaa going was a deluge of Web sites that were dedicated on making Kazaa the only place to get software and other stuff. Links on these websites could be clicked on and would be automatically added to the software saving users the pain of sifting through junk results thrown up by the internal search in Kazaa. Nevertheless, there was an inherent problem that users were not aware of and which became public only later.

The Kazaa client that users installed in their computers had a spyware that would pass on personal, sensitive information to Sharman Networks. When this became public, there was a huge public outrage and people suddenly started using alternatives such as iMesh, Grokster and Kazaa Lite K++. While iMesh and Grokster were similar software using the same network, Kazaa Lite K++ was a hacked Kazaa without the spyware and all the modifications which made it one of the best P2P clients ever.

However, there was one problem. Sharman Networks quickly made this software illegal and users using this software started getting low results and download speeds were capped making it excruciatingly slow for users of Kazaa Lite K++. However, other software such as iMesh and Grokster kept users enticed and downloads all over the planet reached a peak in 2003 with over 140 million PCs connected to the network at any given time using one or the other version of software. Other than the spyware issue, there were many other issues plaguing Kazaa users. Primary amongst these were the fake files that people started getting after finishing a download.

Other issues included viruses and spyware planted in downloaded programs which only became evident after programs started malfunctioning or the system started misbehaving. There was no solution for this and the only solution was to download and scan and check all software.Music companies by this time were hopping mad and soonenough, they started closely monitoring the FastTrack network,which is being carried on even at this point in time. Eventually, music companies started flooding the network with fake music files with authentic tagging information to discourage downloads. Software companies followed suit and the legal battle ensued.

The battle rages to this day with the recent MGM versus Grokster case, where the Supreme Court ruled that Grokster was actually violating copyright laws and issued an order against it. Soon enough, users started trying other software, which included
eDonkey and the recent BitTorrent.



Kazaa is a file-sharing software similar to Napster barring minor differences. Firstly, Kazaa is second-generation P2P software and is not based on the centralised server principle. This particular software is based on the FastTrack network and is currently owned by the Australia-based Sharman Networks. Niklas Zennstrom from Sweden and Janus Friis from Denmark, though, were the original programmers who invented KaZaA. The FastTrack network supports other P2P clients such as iMesh, Grokster and Kazaa Lite K++.
The principle utilised in the FastTrack network is simple. There is no centralised server. Instead of a central indexing server, the FT network dynamically assigns indexing features to other connected nodes or peers based on criteria such as machine uptime, data availability and system performance. These peers are called Supernodes and it is to these machines that other peers or nodes are connected.

There are a large number of supernodes present on a network at any given time and clients or peers connect to any available Supernode irrespective of the priority of the client. As long as there is a Supernode available on the network, you can be connected. The principle of having a Supernode on the network increases scalability without affecting network performance and also catering to a large number of users at the same time.