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Greg Burri, 04/06/2011 05:29 PM

General approach


Each file the user want to share is cut sequentially in logical pieces called chunk. Each chunk has the same size except the last one which can be smaller.

For each chunk there is a footprint called hash which identify the chunk across the network. We admit that two chunks with the same hash contain the same data. The hash is computed with a cryptographic hash function like SHA-1 .

To know who are the other peers

Each peer sends periodically a message to tell to the other peers that it exists. This message can contain different information like the peer name, the amount of sharing data and also the wanted chunk hashes, see Download section below. Multicast UDP is used to broadcasting the message to all other peers simultaneously.


Remote entries can be browsed by asking the content of a given remote directory. A listed file can contain one or more of its hashes.

There is a special case which the peer doesn't know about remote entries and wants to retrieve the root directories.

Search for entries (by terms)

A multicast UDP datagram is sent to all other peer with the searched terms. The remote peers which have one or more matched entry will send them back with a unicast UDP datagram.

A file result can contain on or more of its hashes.


A chunk can only be downloaded if we know its hash. The hashes associated to a specific file can be explicitly asked to the peer owner of the file. If the remote peer doesn't know the hashes of one of its file when they are asked, it will compute these hashes on the fly and send them one by one as soon as possible.

The list of the files to download is ordered by the user, thus the top files must be downloaded first. We will try to know first the hashes of the top files. As soon as we know a hash we can try to download the associated chunk. There can be many parallel downloads but only from different remote peers. The number of parallel downloads is limited.

To choose a chunk to download we will take the first file having at least one un-downloaded chunk which has at least one free peer, then among theses chunks we will choose the one which have the minimum number of peer (rarest part first), if there are several eligible chunks we choose one randomly.

To known which remote peer has which wanted chunk we asked periodically to all remote peers if they have the next chunks we want to download by sending them the corresponding hashes. The number of hash sent is limited. This can be achieved by putting theses hashes in the message described in section To know who are the other peers.

To initiate a download we ask a remote peer by sending a hash and an offset relative to the beginning of the chunk.

Communicate by chatting

A multicast UDP datagram containing a arbitrary message can be sent to all other peers.

Controlling the Core

The core is controlled via a TCP socket, there is three kinds of message:

  • The state message is sent periodically by the core to the controller it provides the whole state of the core including the known peers, the current downloads, uploads and some settings. There is no dependency between two states.
  • The event message is a message sent by the core to the controller for some event like a new chat message or a new log message.
  • The command message is a message sent by the controller to the core. An answer may be provided by the core. Commands may be used to add a new download, to move a download in the queue, to search some entries among the other peers, to send a chat message, etc. For some commands a tag may be provide by the core to identify some deferred answers, for example there can be many answers to a search command and they can be send several seconds after the initial command.

A non-local connection must first, right after the connection is established, send a command to authenticate the controller with a hashed password. If the password is wrong the connection is closed by the core.


Remote <thing>: <thing> is associated to another peer.
An entry: Can be a file or a directory.
A peer: A computer on the network running D-LAN.
A free peer: A peer from which we don't have any active downloads.
A chunk: A part of a file.
A hash: A identifier for a chunk.

Updated by Greg Burri over 13 years ago · 14 revisions