WinMX is a freeware peer-to-peer file sharing program authored by Frontcode Technologies that runs on Microsoft Windows operating systems, created in 2001. According to one study, it was the number one source for online music in 2005 with an estimated 2.1 million users. Frontcode itself abandoned development of WinMX in September 2005, but a community of developers brought the service back online within a few days by releasing patches or new host files. In North America, WinMX has since been eclipsed by other networks such as Gnutella and BitTorrent, but it remains one of the most popular p2p clients in Japan with over 3 million estimated users as of 2006.
Beginnings[edit | edit source]
WinMX began its life as an OpenNAP client capable of connecting to several servers simultaneously, although Frontcode later created a proprietary protocol, termed WinMX Peer Network Protocol (WPNP), which was used starting with WinMX 2 in May 2001. WPNP version 2 was phased out as WinMX 3.0 and its WPNP version 3 protocol came into existence. Frontcode had operated several cache servers to aid WPNP network operation.
Downloads can be very fast for popular songs since the user can run a "multi-point download" that simultaneously downloads the same file in small pieces from several users. Some consider WinMX to be much safer than many other file sharing software, mainly because no spyware and adware comes with WinMX.
The WinMX program houses a few inbuilt features such as bandwidth monitoring, short messaging, and hosting chatrooms. Often, two users negotiate an exchange of their files with the help of the short messaging system or chat. After the transfers have started, one gets the option of selecting an individual bandwidth for the other to make sure both transfers end more or less at the same time. The program itself has a few drawbacks. It eats up huge amounts of memory when run for a long time. It also needs some third party add on programs to monitor automated file exchanges and accelerate search results.
Function[edit | edit source]
When connecting to WinMX, you connect to the WinMX Peer Network (WPN) either as a primary or secondary user. A majority of the functions on the WPN are available to both users, but primary users need to spend more bandwidth, tend to have better connections and have the ability to host chat rooms. Secondary users use very little idle bandwidth, but their prolonged connection to the network is not always stable.
Sharing files in WinMX[edit | edit source]
WinMX, by default, will only share Audio and Video files, although, if properly configured, it can share almost every type of file. It is also considered a very safe network with a limited number of viruses. WinMX also has a file-size restriction. Files over 2GB will not be shared, and must be split into chunks smaller than 2GB in order to be shared. Although there is no limit to the number of files a user can share on the WPNP network, when a list of a specific user's files is requested (using the 'browse' function) only a limited amount will be shown. These limits are 5000 files for a Primary connection, and 3000 files for a Secondary connection. However, ALL the shared files will be visible to a general search via filename or hash. These limitations do not apply on OpenNap servers (see below).
Searching for files[edit | edit source]
You can search for almost any file in WinMX. When a user sends out a search, the search is spread throughout the network. If a file is found, the HASH number of the file along with the way to find it is sent through the network to the user who made the search. Searches can also be made with hash numbers instead of words and numbers.
Even before the WinMX network was originally shut down, there were increasing reports of fake files and corrupted data in the networks. The people hosting the files, called flooders, connect as secondary users. If certain trigger words are included by a user when searching for a file, that user gets many results which are not real. The resulting large bandwidth also often crashes the user and the "Primary" to which s/he is connected.
Chatting[edit | edit source]
WinMX allows a person to host chatrooms with its built-in Chat function. There are some rooms reserved for chat, some for trading files, and some which allow both. There are typically around 1500 to 2000 chatrooms open at any given time. WinMX also allows you to message a user using its Private Message function. You can message any user regardless of whether that user is in the same chat room as you or whether you are downloading from/uploading to that user unless his or her settings are configured not to. It is also possible to host chatrooms in languages other than English, such as Japanese, German, French and Italian.
OpenNap[edit | edit source]
WinMX started out as a Peer-to-Peer program that connected to OpenNap servers. It can still connect to many OpenNap servers. These servers enable users to connect to a wider userbase and also receive many more search results. Two advantages for running OpenNap is the ability to have a permanent list of friends called a hotlist and the ability to share an unlimited number of files.
Translations[edit | edit source]
WinMX is natively run in the English language, but language files can be installed to translate menus into the following languages: Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.
Official closing[edit | edit source]
On September 13, 2005, Frontcode Technologies received a cease and desist letter from the RIAA demanding that they either implement filters to make it impossible for users to download copyrighted material from WinMX, or shut down. On September 21, 2005 the network and the WinMX homepage were officially confirmed as offline.
User-controlled resumption[edit | edit source]
By September 25, 2005, users were able to download a working software patch for WinMX from two websites. These patches work by modifying the DNS lookup WinMX uses to find peer caches. When WinMX tries to find the FrontCode peer caches (central servers essential for the operation of WinMX), it is instead directed to look up one of the new peer caches set up by the WinMX community. There is no officially sanctioned patch to download and each will include its own set of instructions for installation and use.
Third party programs[edit | edit source]
In addition to the program and patches, developers and WinMX users have created third party programs to either enhance the chat room function or to control uploading by others peers.
Chat[edit | edit source]
Most of the software that was made by the third party developers were for use in the WinMX chat rooms. They include bots, clients to host rooms and plugins. Bots were used in the chat rooms to either make it more lively, introduce games or to moderate users. Another one, called Shareguard, maintains lists of the files a user in a chatroom has.
Chat clients are used primarily to host rooms. They are used so that room admins can host rooms more effectively. A big advantage of chat clients is that a chat room can be accessed without having to run a full copy of WinMX. Some also contain useful shortcuts or menus to make administrating a channel easier. For normal users, the clients can be used to view rooms independently of the server. Web listings of the chat room are also available and can be accessed using software.
There are numerous plugins that can be used; common plugins allow users to announce in the channel what song they are listening to currently.
Upload managers[edit | edit source]
Upload managers are used to control the upload rate of peers and can block certain kinds of peers from downloading, including those who do not share any files.
References[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Resurrecting WinMX - September 23, 2005 Slyck.com article
- Archive of WinMX homepage (from November 2004, site is defunct as of September 2005)
- What Happened to the WinMX Network? - September 29, 2005 About.com article