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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 22, 2001

LimeWire a Napster-like Mac option

By Burt Lum

About a month ago, I did a column on Napster alternatives that netted me a string of e-mails recommending more favorites. It's reassuring to know there's a strong cadre of people canvassing the Net like a cyber patrol.

As a quick summary, here are some suggestions worth following up on. First, a little background on Gnutella. Where Napster is a peer-to-peer (P2P) application that communicates to centralized search engines, Gnutella is a distributed file-sharing environment.

Think of Gnutella as a set of programming specifications ("application protocol") for the creation of software that allows the user to search for and share files.

The Gnutella Web site (gnutella.wego.com) provides a good explanation of how this is done. The important point is Gnutella is not a company like Napster and therefore, it is difficult for special interests to shut Gnutella down as they are attempting to do with Napster.

Armed with the Gnutella application protocol, developers create client software that runs on the Macintosh or Windows PC. This software is what then allows you to search for and share files. These files could be images, documents, videos and of course, MP3 audio files.

Two of the most popular client applications, based on the feedback I got, were Bearshare for the Windows PC (www.bearshare.com) and LimeWire for the Macintosh (www.limewire.com). Both are very user friendly, but for the moment I will focus on LimeWire for the Macintosh, as an unrelated incident hosed my Windows 98 laptop — which, in my opinion, is typical of Windows. Argh!

So let's get back to LimeWire. Once downloaded, launching and running LimeWire is very intuitive. Just enter your search, and away you go. One big difference from Napster you will immediately notice is the ability to search for file types like images, documents, etc., in addition to MP3 audio files. After spending some time searching for "stuff," you will be surprised at what people share. P2P is alive and well. ;-)

Burt Lum is one click away at: burt@brouhaha.net.