With all the hype surrounding BitTorrent, it’s easy to forget the other mainstream P2P network, Gnutella. While LimeWire still rules that roost, Phex should make a strong showing with their first major software update in a year and a half, version 3.0. The open-source Gnutella client now runs on top of Java 1.5, and is available for download on SourceForge.
Interesting new features include significant improvement to file-segment prioritization, peer swarming to speed downloads, a robust search that supports regular expressions and shared library management tools like regular expression filtering and hidden folders. The coolest features by far are private networks and “Magma-lists.” Private networks can be set up for groups like forum or web site members, making it easy to share files among, well, actual peers.
Magma-lists are indexes of shared files that themselves can be shared, allowing other users to subscribe to content from a particular source, making decentralized distribution fairly painless. By making your “Magma-list” available, or by putting magnet-links on your site, users can click a link in their browser and open Phex to download a single file, or subscribe to receive any and all content you make available.
The installation was both fast and painless on my Windows machine. The user interface is fairly straightforward, offering easy access to key features (like scam and spam filters for searches) and robust access to advanced settings. This could be the product that brings me back to using the Gnutella network regularly. It certainly has the potential to become a favorite of content distributors as well as downloaders.