Run Your Own Encrypted Decentralized Filesharing Network

AllianceP2P is a free open source software for Windows, Linux and Mac which allows groups of file-sharers to share content in a secure, encrypted way. As the software reaches version one, we interview the developer of AllianceP2P, to find out about his labor of love.

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Last year we wrote about AllianceP2P, a safe and secure way for Windows, Linux and Mac users to share content with each other in an encrypted environment. There are Alliance networks running alongside other filesharing communities, and others set up by mutual friends as an added layer of communications and filesharing capability.

A little like a private tracker, you either have to be invited to an Alliance network – or help the hydra and make your own. It’s very easy to setup and scale your own decentralized network with BitTorrent-like ‘swarming’ capabilities using Alliance, and as the software just reached V1.0 we thought it would be a good time to catch up with the creator for the lowdown.

TF: Tell us about the birth of AllianceP2P and why you decided to conceive it.

Maciek: I remember writing the first lines of code for Alliance back in 2005. It was cold and dark outside. In Sweden, where I live, it tends to be dark and cold during the end of the year. So I’m guessing it was around November 2005.

I was discussing the different p2p networks out there with a work colleague. There was nothing really good that guaranteed high security, was easy to use and had high download speeds (all truly secure p2p networks I know are really slow, to the point where they’re useless). We talked about many, many different solutions to the problem – I remember talking about DHTs and network coding.

Finally I got totally hooked on the idea of a network where you connect to people that you trust. You’d use encrypted connections and only connect to friends , this way safety would be guaranteed. You’d be able to connect to friends of your friends , if you knew you trust them. This way the network would grow. I’d use a BitTorrent-like download mechanism and direct connections (no tunneling). This way I could guarantee high download speeds. I’d make sure it was user friendly and easy to use. This way networks would grow fast.

Now, almost three years later, I’ve just released version 1.0! I’m really happy with this because I feel I have implemented my entire vision. I have a full time job so I coded Alliance during my spare time. At times it was pretty intense… Other times I didn’t code on Alliance for months.

TF: Who else is involved in the project?

Maciek: This being an open source project I’ve had help from others along the way:pontusm, mrund and deathfired on sourceforce.net to mention a few.

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TF: What size is the AllianceP2P userbase and who are they?

Maciek: Since Alliance is free and open source there is no real target market. I simply developed a piece of software that I knew I’d love to use. And since it’s decentralized I don’t keep track on any user statistics (a part from the automatic error reports I get). I just released version 1.0. Before 1.0 the alpha/beta versions where downloaded over 50,000 times.

TF: How does the software work?

Maciek: Alliance is written in Java and runs on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. It has file-swarming capabilities like BitTorrent. Unlike BitTorrent it has an extensive built-in search, is completely decentralized and designed to be secure. Alliance is actually a friend-2-friend network. Within each network of friends is a community where users can download files from each other, chat and post new files in the chat.

TF: What are the most important aspects of Alliance?

As you only connect to people you know and all connections are encrypted, Alliance is very secure. Since there is no central server or single point of failure, the network gets strength by decentralization.

Alliance has great scalability , it has been tested to work with share sizes where each client shares one terabyte of data in approximately 50,000 files and it is very easy to use. Additionally, Alliance is, and will always remain, free and open source.

Alliance uses tiger hashes to identify files. All files that a user shares are automatically hashed and indexed in the background. This way Alliance can automatically identify a file that several users have and download from all those users simultaneously.

TF: Tell us about this latest version 1.0. Why should people install it?

Maciek: I actually took two weeks off of my normal job in order to complete version 1.0. I knew that I would not be able to finish it otherwise. I had over 3000 detailed automatic error reports sent to me during the last year. I sorted all error reports in order of “popularity” and started fixing them. One after another. It was a dirty job but someone had to do it =). Alliance 1.0 is the first stable release of a new kind of p2p software. A network that is fast AND secure.

TF: Thanks for speaking with us.

So, if you’d like to quickly create a secure, decentralized filesharing network with BitTorrent-like swarming, and a DirectConnect-style community to compliment your communications and sharing arsenal, Alliance could be your solution. Even when your favorite tracker goes down, Alliance will still be there, with all the peers intact. You can get it here.

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