Researchers from the Tribler P2P team at the Technical University of Delft, Netherlands, have been working on their next generation BitTorrent client for a few years now.
The project has been awarded millions of euros in funding from the European Union. With this money, the researchers have been developing a new BitTorrent ecosystem where torrent sites are no longer needed.
To achieve this goal the search functionality of the new Tribler client is fully distributed, meaning that the torrents come from within the network of peers and not from a torrent site or a central server. This could potentially make BitTorrent indexers such as The Pirate Bay and isoHunt obsolete.
The downside of this type of search is that it is impossible to remove or moderate spam and fake files. In order to solve this problem the Tribler team has implemented a SwarmRank feature which ranks torrents based on their trustworthiness and speed.
“SwarmRank is inspired by Google’s PageRank algorithm which is used to keep Google search results neat, tidy and relevant,” Dr. Johan Pouwelse, lead researcher at the Tribler P2P team, told TorrentFreak.
Another new feature based on the trust idea implemented in the latest Tribler release is a reputation score for downloaders called BarterCast. With this feature the Tribler team hopes to achieve higher download speeds for users who share the most.
To reward seeding the Tribler client doesn’t rely on sharing ratios like most private BitTorrent trackers do. Instead, every peer that shares valid pieces of a file will simply become more trustworthy. The more users upload, the more their reputation score increases and the higher their download speeds will be.
Below is a picture of a previous version of Tribler which includes a test version of their BarterCast reputation system. It shows how peers automatically form a web-of-trust.
With the new SwarmRank and BarterCast features, Tribler has made a step forward in preventing spam filling up its decentralized BitTorrent environment. “By adding reputations for both swarms and peers we have a new tool against spam and pollution in Bittorrent, while we can reward seeding,” Dr. Pouwelse told TorrentFreak.
We have to admit that the Tribler team is working on some fascinating stuff. However, thus far the client still has a very small market share which is not ideal for a decentralized system like this. Depending on what the future has in store for BitTorrent, this may change quickly. The good thing is that the client is entirely Open Source so other developers can take advantage of the research if needed.