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Peer to Peer: Collaboration and Sharing over the Internet

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Peer to Peer: Collaboration and Sharing over the Internet


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  • Copyright 2003
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-76732-5
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-76732-2

“The author has given a well-written and comprehensive overview of several representative peer-to-peer technologies. It is diligently researched and gives a lot of insights into a little-understood subject.”

     —Erik Möller, Scientific Review Service and infoArchy.org

“Interesting topic, well organized, engagingly written, excellent illustrations; a good read. I think it does a particularly good job of balancing technical, functional, business, and legal information, and presenting it in a way that is useful for both executive and technical people (which is no mean feat).”

     —Mitchel Ahern, Director, Business Development, AdTools Inc./SonyMusic

“It is technical enough that the reader can actually implement or model the methods used in the text. However, it is not presented at such a high level that nontechnical users would get lost in the math.”

     —Austin David, Senior Systems Architect, Wink Communications, Inc.

“Peer to Peer offers a contemporary and intelligent insight into the popular technologies that are the building blocks of p2p. It cuts through the media controversy and is a useful resource for exploring these technologies. This book was a pleasant change of pace from my day-to-day technical reading.”

     —John Wegis, Engineering Manager, Kana Software, Inc.

"Bo Leuf's book does a particularly good job of balancing technical, functional, business, and legal information, then presenting it in a way that is useful for both the executive and technical reader—no mean feat." —From the foreword by Mitchel Ahern, Director Business Development, AdTools Inc., a Sony Music Company

Moving beyond its grassroot and controversial beginnings, peer to peer (p2p) is now entering the mainstream of Internet communications and business as managers and technology professionals look to tap into the vitality of this widespread communication model. But without a common protocol, tool suite, or single networking structure to facilitate development, harnessing peer-to-peer technology is not a simple task. Peer to Peer: Collaboration and Sharing over the Internet provides the first comprehensive resource to help business and communications professionals get started.

This complete handbook presents everything industry professionals and interested users need to know. Readers will find a clear overview of peer-to-peer concepts, architectural models, and network applications; a practical guide to installation and deployment; information on specific protocols and tools; and discussions on legal and security issues.

Specific topics include:

  • The history of peer-to-peer network communications
  • An overview of atomistic, user-centric, data-centric, and leveraged p2p models
  • Security issues, including firewalls, tunnels, redundancy, and persistence
  • Legal issues, such as file sharing and intellectual property rights
  • Trade-offs inherent in various messaging technologies, including ICQ, AIM, and Jabber
  • File-sharing solutions, including Napster, Gnutella, and Madster
  • Distributed storage and content distribution p2p solutions, such as MojoNation and Swarmcast
  • p2p technologies for secure or anonymous publishing of content
  • New collaborative infrastructure solutions, such as Groove and JXTA
  • Discussions of legal and monetary issues in the content control wars

The book also includes several case studies that feature enterprise p2p solutions, trust and security issues in peer-to-peer journalism, and integrating peer solutions into the new Web.

Practical, insightful, and thoroughly entertaining, Peer to Peer: Collaboration and Sharing over the Internet brings to light the current and future capabilities of p2p technology and its likely role in the next generation of the Internet.

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Introduction to Peer Architectures

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Table of Contents

(NOTE: Each chapter begins with At a Glance.)



Why This Book?

P2P: The Journey.

Who Should Read This Book.

Book Structure.

The Author.

Contributors and Colleagues.

Errata and Omissions.

Contacting the Author or Publisher.


1. Introduction to Peer to Peer.

The Concept.

The Killer P2P Application.

The Bandwidth Factor.

The Distribution Factor.

A Common Denominator.

Historical Analogies.


Internet Infrastructure.

Power to the People.

Virtual P2P.

Original Chat and IM.

2. Peer Architectures.

From Model to Reality.

Protocol Types.

Network Purpose.

Architectural Models.

Atomistic P2P.

User-Centric P2P.

Data-Centric P2P.

Leveraged P2P.

Specific Architectures.

Native Networking.

Other Application Groups.

3. Internet-Based Peer Network Application.

Implementation Overview.

Particular Focus.

Searching the Network.

Atomistic Search.

Distributed Search.

Content Management.

Storage and Retrieval.

Improving Retrieval Performance.

4. Security, Vulnerability, and the Legal Issues of P2P.

Security Issues.

The Dimensions of Security.

Firewalls and Tunnels.

Subversive P2P.

Redundancy and Persistence.

Legal Issues.

Peer Communication.

File Sharing.

Intellectual Property Rights.



5. Deploying P2P Solutions.

Practical Considerations.

Why Deploy P2P?

Business Considerations.

The Benefits.

The Problems.

Selecting and Deploying the Technology.

Dynamic or Static.

Determining Purpose and Scope.

Select an Implementation.

Scalability Barriers.

Connectivity and Scale.

Addressability and Scale.

Scalability in the Atomistic Model.

Scalability in the User-Centric Model.

Scalability in the Data-Centric Model.

An Adaptive Large-Scale Solution.

6. Instant Messaging.

Beyond E-Mail.


Messaging Technologies.

Some IM Concepts.

ICQ and AIM.

ICQ—IM for the Masses.

ICQ Protocol.

Using ICQ.




Jabber Protocol.

Brief Mentions.




Windows Messenger.

7. Sharing Content.


Napster Architecture.

Alternatives Gain Users.



Client Software.

Connecting to Others.

Broadcast-Routing Strategy.


Transfer Issues.

Gnutella Scalability.

Trust and Reputation Issues.


8. Distributed Content.

Mojo Nation.


Mojo Money and QoS.

Cooperative Content Storage.

Joining the Network.

Server and Broker.

Workable Micropayments.

File Management.

Mojo Nation Protocol.

Reputation Management.

Relay Services.



How It Works.

Minimal Knowledge Solution.

9. Persistent and Anonymous Solutions.


Concept of Freedom.

How It Works.

Trust and Content Veracity.

Protocol Details.

Node Discovery.

Malicious Nodes.

Scalability and Stability.

Practical Installation.

Ongoing Work.

Business Solutions.

Related Work.

10. Collaborative P2P Spaces


The Architecture.

Shared Workspaces.


Security Issues.

Client Issues.


JXTA Architecture.

Peers and Groups.


Security Model.

Software Projects.


11. Peering Insights.

Peer Community.

Technology Acceptance.

Social Criteria of P2P.

The Content Control Wars.

The Legal Challenge.

Micropayment Solution.

Free and Legal.

Visions of Sugarplum.

12. P2P Case Studies.

Enterprise Goes Peer.

Intel and P2PWG.

Finance and Trading.

The Case of the Missing Material.

Brief Mentions.

Usage Cases.

Usage Patterns and Problems.

Peer-to-Peer Journalism.

Practical Trust Systems.

Security Futures.

Peer-to-Peer Politics.

Peer Integration.

Integration with the New Web.

13. In a Screen Darkly.

Networking the Future.

The Future of P2P.

The P2P Vision.

Embedded Peers.

Collaboration Peers.

Distributed Processing.


Trust and Recommendation Peers.

Appendix A: Technical Terms and References.
Appendix B: P2P Resources.
Appendix C: Lists.
Index. 0201767325T05292002



The idea of writing this book, Peer to Peer: Power Tools for a Personal Internet, seemed in several ways a natural and complementary progression from the previous one, The Wiki Way (Addison-Wesley, March 2001). Subtitled Quick Collaboration on the Web, that book explored the client-server peer-collaborative world of WikiWiki. Even in that server-centric situation, there were then hints of a wider peer perspective even for the applications. The thought had there arisen of interlinking different wiki servers in a peer-to-peer kind of network to transparently exchange content and extend search capabilities across sites.

The main thrust of this book, however, is to explore what is, at its extreme, the complete opposite of server-centric communication. This is in other words when individual user applications connect "end-to-end" with each other across the network for various purposes. One significant and popularized reason for doing this is to share content (file swapping), but this book makes the point that the full potential lies in the broader purpose of communicating and collaborating between endpoint applications, as well as between the users who sit by their respective computers or carry the appropriate network-aware devices in general.


In Peer to Peer, you are invited to a guided journey into a hitherto arcane field, so far mostly known from the hype and controversy surrounding what is really only a very limited part of a much broader field of network distributed application.

You'll here get to know better an innovative emerging technology that not only can change, but is in fact already revolutionizing the way we use the Internet. Peer technology is at the heart of the efforts to build the next-generation Internet, what in some contexts is referred to as Internet 3.0.

Because we are dealing with peer technology, this means the practical implementations will for the most part be near to each of us, the users. For this reason, and the fact that the individual selects and deploys the implementations on the local machine, overviews and comparative explanations of the technology are needed in a format that not only the techno-nerds comprehend. And they are needed now, because an informed user base needs to be able in time to influence everything from corporate policy to legislative proposals. It's not just on an idle whim that significant sections of the text deal with both social and legal ramifications of p2p.

Therefore, read Peer to Peer with a mind open to exploring simple yet powerful networking tools that you can have complete control over. Play with the concepts, try the implementations pointed to, tweak the open sources, and see where it all takes you. Above all, contemplate the implications of the technology, both in terms of your own convenience and a broader social change.


This book targets primarily three distinct groups of readers:

  • Any reader who wants to explore new peer-based ways to communicate, collaborate, publish and share over the Internet in ways independent of the usual content providers (traditional Web sites). To this end, the overall style and structure of the book is mainly held at a light to moderate level of technical difficulty, and all techo-jargon terms explained early.
  • Industry professionals, such as managers or technical responsibles, who need to get up to speed on distributed tools for messaging or collaboration, or for publishing, storing, sharing and securing content. Typically, they would want both an general technology overview and a how-to-implement guide in order to make informed decisions about what to use. These readers would be inclined to focus on the core implementation chapters, but shouldn't neglect the more general chapters.
  • Researchers and students in academic settings who both study the design and implementation of peer to peer tools, and use them in their day-to-day submission and collaboration work.

As this book later shows, peer to peer is not a new concept; only the forms and medium changes over time. The recent hype and controversy has also obscured much of the technology's potential, and additionally its problems. In fact, a number of the problems confronting the current crop of peer implementations are well-known in older networking contexts, with solutions that can be adapted to the new.


Peer to Peer is a combined exposition, guide and tutorial. The ambition is to provide you with a single volume replete with historical background, state-of-the-art and some of the vision. Melding practical information and hints with indepth analysis, all in an easy-to-read informal and personal style, the result is even entertaining—a damn good read, as the technical reviewers continue to reassure the author.

The mix includes conceptual overviews, philosophical reflection, and contextual material from professionals in the field, in short all things interesting. You might consider this a tall order to fill for a single book. Assuredly, but it worked for the previous book, and was once again fun (if hard work) trying to pull off with this new subject matter.

The book is organized into three parts, each in effect catering to different needs and interests. There is some overlap, but we think you'll find that each part approaches the various manifestations of the peer to peer concept from complementary directions, with a tone and depth appropriate to each. No matter what level of detail and involvement is desired, a reader should always find something worthwhile to focus on.

Part I

Part I sets the foundations for the later discussions.

  • The first chapter starts with the basics and defines what kind of beast the p2p considered in this book is, a term which has come to mean different things to different people. Getting familiar with a concept often requires some history, to know where it comes from, so the chapter looks both at the history of a p2p analogue, telephony, and at the early Internet, to draw important parallels and properly set the stage.
  • Chapter 2 moves on to introduce the architectural models relevant to a discussion of peer technologies and explains some important terminology.
  • Chapter 3 is a logical continuation that partly introduces the implementations that are covered later, partly examines from a general stance some major performance issues common to most implementations, namely search and content management.
  • Finally, Chapter 4 tackles two difficult concern areas, also common to most implementations, namely security and legal issues.

Part II

In Part II, the focus turns to practical implementation examples. These core chapters go into considerable depth for each implementation area, providing a mix of well known and lesser-known solutions that serve to illustrate different ways of achieving the similar functionality.

  • Before later implementation-specific technical detail, Chapter 5 provides a managerial overview and guide to deployment issues. This chapter also covers technology selection and examines the factors that determine the scalability of a particular solution based on its architectural model.
  • Chapter 6 highlights a selection of messaging technologies, showing the trade-off factors inherent in each, and noting why the most popular implementations might be less suitable for corporate use.
  • Chapter 7 progresses to file-sharing solutions, again with a special view to explaining the concepts behind some of the more popularized implementations.
  • Adopting a broader network perspective, Chapter 8 studies two peer solutions that approach distributed storage and content distribution from different requirements.
  • This is followed by Chapter 9, which explains at length an important evolving technology for secure, anonymous publishing of content. Of particular interest there is the adaptive storage mechanism.
  • Chapter 10 ends Part II by again broadening the perspective to that of collaborative spaces in general, examining a couple of new infrastructure solutions that might define the Internet of the future.

Part III

Part III lofts the reader into the higher realms of analysis and speculation.

  • The "insights" segment, Chapter 11, looks at some of the assumptions and implications highlighted by peer technologies. From community building to legal concerns, from payment mechanisms to trust systems, peer solutions have shown a knack for raising controversy while suggesting innovative ways of working together.
  • Chapter 12, intended as a sort of case study section, summarizes the practical sides of working in a p2p environment, and suggests where the current infrastructures might not yet be fully up to the task expected.
  • In closing, Chapter 13 voices both opinion and speculation on a grander scale. The visions of the future can just as easily be dark as light, and the text attempts to show why.

Finally, a collection of Appendixes supplements the main body of the book by collecting references and resources, and providing additional detail that would otherwise have cluttered up the main text.


This is undeniably a book filled with a plethora of facts and explanations, and it is written more with a flowing narrative in mind than mere itemization as a reference volume. Notwithstanding the narrative ambitions, texts like this need multiple entry points and quick ways to locate particular detail. To help you navigate the content, as a complement to the detailed table of contents, chapter at a glance introductions provide a quick overview of the main topics covered in each. The publisher furthermore assures that it has crafted a decent index.

Scattered throughout the text you will in addition find the occasional highlighted and numbered "Bit" where some special insight or factoid is singled out and presented in a shaded box, lest it otherwise pass unremarked on casual reading. These could have been given any suitable context label, but as a reviewer rightly quibbled, the template's original Tip was less applicable to this book. Calling the element a Bit seemed about the right level of unpretentious emphasis—they're often just my two-bits worth of insightful comment. Bits do serve the additional purpose of visual text milestones and content locators for the reader, however, and are therefore given their own List of Bits at the end. Lacking for greater reader convenience is a full infrastructure of hyperlink referencing, but perhaps a future edition.



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