November 29, 2001

Review: Linux P2P client 'qtella' is small, smart, and fast

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
After using Java-based LimeWire for several months, I find qtella just too fast, too smooth, and too advanced. It's not as beautiful as LimeWire, but who the heck cares? Everyone knows intelligence is more of an asset than good looks, and this Open Source Gnutella client is a smart sister in the P2P family.qtella's search screenIn case you don't know, Gnutella is "an open, decentralized, peer-to-peer search system that is mainly used to find files," according to the Gnutella site. It's not a program, they say, but a technology, like email or Internet. The Gnutella network has done nothing but grow since its inception in March 2000, fueled lately by the demise of the centralized music-sharing network, Napster. Other than being open and decentralized, Gnutella is different from Napster because its users share all different kinds of files, not just MP3s.

qtella was introduced in May 2001 and development has progressed quickly. The program features multiple downloads, continuation of interrupted downloads, multiple search, autoconnect list, downloading from firewalled hosts, and qtella uses QT libraries for seamless KDE integration.

I compiled the sources, (could it be the reason qtella runs so quickly on my system?) but Daniel Etzold, the project's sole developer, offers binaries and rpms. At just 199k, it is no problem to download, and the install process went off without a hitch -- maybe its just the magnetic field around my house, but installs rarely go smoothly for me -- so I was surprised.

I love qtella's wider default window size. Some of the other GUI Gnutella clients pop up in a standard narrow box, but qtella gives me more space to see what's going on -- and it gives me more information. On the left side of the search screen, color-coded graph bars show the connection speed, client availability, and whether the file is behind a firewall (Fig.1).

Status bars show speed and availability
The length of the bar indicates speed, red stands for a busy host, green means a host with open upload slots, yellow denotes a firewalled host, and gray means that the status is unknown.

At the far right of the search screen, qtella tells me what application the file-sharer is using. I haven't figured out why or if it is important to know what apps other people are using, but its interesting.

Some info from stats page Continuing with the theme of interesting information, the stats page also shows the number of hits from qtella users, LimeWire, Bearshare, and "other." (Fig.2)

Like all good Open Source projects, the qtella site has a discussion forum and mailing lists in case you have problems getting it installed.

I'm using version 2.3, billed as the latest stable release, but 3.1 was just released on November 22, with more functionality, like a new tab to manage interrupted downloads -- but probably a few bugs, too.

After using qtella 2.3 for three days, no problems. No slowdowns, no rendering goofs, core dumps, or mysterious freezes. The searches are fast, the connections are good, and I know if I click on a long green bar, I'm gonna get the file.


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