Tribler: BitTorrent and Beyond

P2P (peer-to-peer) is the nature of the Net. You can fight that, or you can embrace it. Here in the US, the mainstream entertainment business has mostly been fighting it. Hollywood and its phone and cable company allies have long regarded P2P, and BitTorrent in particular, as a copyright piracy system and a bandwidth hog. In the European Union, however, P2P is more than accepted: it's supported by the Union itself.

Early last year, the EU granted 14 million euros to P2P-Next, a consortium of 21 media companies and universities, including the BBC, Delft University of Technology, the European Broadcasting Union, Lancaster University, Markenfilm, Pioneer Digital Design Centre Limited and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The purpose of the grant is “to develop a Europe-wide 'next-generation' Internet television distribution system, based on P2P and social interaction”. (An additional 5 million euros is also being donated by some of the P2P-Next partners, for a total of 19 million euros.) The project has a four-year span and will include technical trials of new media applications on many devices.

“Everything we're doing is based on open source”, says Johan Pouwelse, PhD, scientific director of P2P-Next and Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Delft. The good doctor also runs P2P-Next's first trial application: Tribler (pronounced “tribe-ler”), a BitTorrent-based client with no servers and a “zero-cost” business model. Tribler provides an all-in-one way to find, consume and share media.

But Tribler goes beyond BitTorrent to support live streaming and other enhancements. The project's Research page lists 26 allied development projects, including six that are already completed and operational. If you're looking to help media evolve past the TV model, there's a rich pile of possibilities on the Tribler project list.

The Tribler download page lists two Linux sources: Ubuntu Linux and “GNU+Linux/Source”.

Check it out, and let us know how it works for you (or, you for it).

Doc Searls is editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, where he has been on the masthead since 1996. He is also co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto (Basic Books, 2000, 2010), author of The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), a fellow of the Center for Information Technology & Society (CITS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an alumnus fellow of the Berkman Klien Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He continues to run ProjectVRM, which he launched at the BKC in 2006, and is a co-founder and board member of its nonprofit spinoff, Customer Commons. Contact Doc through

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