Is there a type of software that’s more controversial than file sharing programs?
Some people, like record company execs, claim they’re the Devil Incarnate.
Others, like the hordes of Weezer-loving downloaders, claim they’re the online equivalent of Seventh Heaven.
Then there’s this Harvard smart guy, who did a study showing that file sharing networks actually increase music sales. Go figure.
As the debate rages, file sharing continues apace, an action that’s almost as unstoppable as gravity.
Even as you read this, some jittery, Red Bull-fueled soul is searching for Death Cab for Cutie’s newest tune.
Let’s wish him luck, and let’s also hope he finds some way to compensate Death Cab. Those boys can’t work for free.
If file sharing programs are seen as renegades, then open source file sharing apps are the furthest extension of this outlaw ethic.
Not only are the files transferred for free, the software itself is free – at every level. Free of charge, free of copyright restrictions, free of ownership.
For better or worse, nobody’s going to control open source file sharing. It just ain’t happening.
There’s no lack of open source file sharing apps. Developers like coding them, and users love downloading them. But some are better than others.
Below you’ll find a list of the programs that have proven hardy enough – and user friendly enough – to gather a mass audience. Let the downloading begin.
Note: To be on this list, the program has to be distributed under the GPL license.
1) Ares Galaxy
Not only is this BitTorrent filesharing client tied into some powerful networks, it includes plenty of jazzy features. Most notably: a built-in directshow media player and a robust library manager.
In case you want actual human contact (you remember humans, right? They’re the things you don’t click on) you can use Ares Galaxy’s shoutcast radio support to host p2p chatrooms. OS: Windows.
A filesharing client based on the eDonkey2000 network (hence the name “eMule”), this client enables advanced functionality.
With the built-in IRC client, you can talk with other downloaders. To help this process, it’s translated into many, many languages, from Hungarian to Latvian.
OS: Windows. (And if you like eMule, you might take a look at eMule Plus – some say it’s prettier.)
This java-based filesharing app is one of the more popular BitTorrent clients. Conveniently, Azureus allows users to specify maximum upload and download speeds. It also offers a handful of plug-ins, in case you want a really souped-up P2P app.
Trivia point: for some reason, the software’s logo is a Blue Poison Dart Frog. Wild, huh? OS: Windows, Linux, Mac.
This P2P filesharing client is used by whole lot of people to connect to the Direct Connect network.
If you’re not a geek, this might be the program for you: Despite its odd name, DC++ boasts an easy-to-use interface, without a pixel of adware. OS: Windows.
Have Shareaza, will travel: this P2P client supports the eDonkey2000, Gnutella, Gnutella2, BitTorrent and FTP protocols.
(Is there anything else? Yeah, but not that you really need.) To top it off, it’s available in 27 languages. If that’s not enough to satisfy you, you need to take a hard look in the mirror. OS: Windows.
A BitTorrent client that prides itself on hoggling less memory than BitTorrent itself, Burst actually has an exclamation point in its name.
Check it out: Burst! Doesn’t that get you excited? Yes!! Plus: it includes super seed mode, which reduces the amount of data it needs to upload. OS: Windows.
The popular BitTorrent has inspired a lot of clients, and this is “yet another,” as its developers point out.
To help stand out in a crowded pack, ABC has plenty of bells and whistles, including a customizable queue system, support for advanced settings from BitTornado, and the ability to manually add torrents from both file and URL. OS: Windows.
Perhaps the most philosophically high-minded open source file sharing project, Freenet is committed to freedom of speech.
It’s built with the goal of preventing all censorship or government control of information tranfer. Right on, brother, now where can I download the newest Lindsay Lohan? OS: Windows, Linux, Mac.
At one time this multi-network client (it runs on eDonkey, Overnet, BitTorrent, Kad and others) was Linux only.
Since then it has opened its arms to offer a Mac and Windows client. There are a lot of variations of this program.
This popular file sharing app is considered easy to use (although in truth most file sharing programs are pretty simple).
It’s coded for the Windows OS, but there’s a similar apps for KDE, Apollon, and for Mac, Poisoned.