How Gnutella Works

XoloX Example: Searching

XoloX is a typical, fairly simple program for connecting into the Gnutella network. It does not have some of the bells and whistles of the more sophisticated clients, but it does work, it is a small file to download (only 600 kilobytes or so), it has no "spyware" or bundled pop-up advertising mixed in with it, and it is very easy to install and use. Its simplicity makes it useful to demonstrate how a typical Gnutella client works.

There are three big things you can do with XoloX: search for files, transfer files to your machine and look at your downloaded files. There are three buttons at the top of the XoloX window that let you toggle between these three activities.

The figure above shows a typical screenshot during a search. All you do is type in the name (or keywords) of the file you are looking for. You can also select the file type: audio, video, etc., or "All Types." Your XoloX client sends out a message containing your search string, and over the course of 30 to 60 seconds a search window fills with results from the thousands of other machines that are processing your query.

One thing you will notice in the search window is a score. The score represents the number of machines currently online that have the same file available. By choosing a file with a high score, you increase your odds of actually getting the file you want.