Multimedia : Napster on Linux
If you haven't heard of Napster then you have been sitting in from of your Linux box staring at Emacs/vi (no arguments please). Napster is a file sharing system which can be used for pointing users towards other users who have the file the first user was looking for. The client that the user runs contacts the server and sends it a list of the files available for download, when a user does a search for a file the server searches through its database of users and files and gives the user a list of other users the file could be downloaded from. No files are stored on the server, it just acts a matchmaking system. The Napster system started as a client for Wintel systems, but the protocol was reversed engineer and many new clients and servers have been coded, many are open source.
There are plenty of Linux/BSD clients available we will cover gnapster in detail and I will run over some of the others. Gnapster as its name suggests is a gtk/Gnome client, clients also exist for the console and KDE.
Gnapster (see bottom for download information) looks very much like the official Napster client but thats inevitable I suppose, it has full support for all download types, refinement of search based on bitrate/connection, able to browse a users mp3 collection, and has a nice implementation of the chat facilities of Napster. After you have downloaded an rpm, apt-got a deb or built from the tarball, the configuration of gnapster is extremely simple, you can create your account via the preferences dialog shown below.
To create an account enter a username and password and ensure the new account option is selected. Select your connection type and where files you are willing to serve are stored and where you want files you have downloaded put, I have these put in a different directory from the rest of my collection. Before you close the window click 'Build mp3 list' and a database of all the files in your upload directory will be recorded. When you have finished your configuration click 'OK' and you will be able to connect to a Napster or Opennap server. The shot below shows a list of Napster servers you can connect to. The first time you login an account will be created for you.
Using gnapster is extremely simple, after you have connected and read the MOTD (Message Of The Day). Goto the seach tab and enter a search phrase, shortly a list of files matching your search will be displayed. Right click over the file you wish to download and select 'Dowload File'. You will notice that the text of the download tab goes white, this indicates something has changed whilst you are not looking at it. The download tab shows the files you are downloading and and the upload tab shows the files people are downloading from you. There are many cool features available in the download and upload sections which are beyond the scope of this document, have a fiddle and find out for yourself what they do.
One area where I will go into detail is the console/chat section of the client. If you havent changed the default settings then when you connect you will automagically be dropped into the channel gnapster (shown below). You can join a channel using /join channel-name and leave a channel /part channel-name. You can have multiple channel windows open and even chat with a person 1 to 1 using the /query username command. The chat system is very close to IRC and some other IRC commands are also supported /help gives you a full list.
If the official Napster network has been closed down when you read this then dont worry as a network of interconnected Opennap servers is available for your use, your client will most likely provide you with a list of these.