Sun's stealth mode P2P gets modular

Software needs wetware

Cat 5 cable

Sun released its Jxta Peer-to-Peer technology two years ago, just at the moment, that the P2P hype was imploding in on itself.

But it's survived in stealth mode, and today Sun claimed it had reached a milestone of a million downloads for Jxta, which is available under an open source BSD-style license. But more interestingly, a new version 2.0 touts a new modular architecture.

Juan Carlos Soto, the group manager for business and engineering for Jxta, told us that version 2.0 introduced a much more modular architecture, so it could live more comfortably alongside sympathetic technologies.

One example is JXTA's SRDI, or Shared Resource Distributed Index.

"It's very much like a distributed hash table," Soto told us. "One of the complications with distributed hash tables is that they require a fairly stable network. With SRDI there's a DHCP-type mechanism that does not require as much network stability."

People can plug in a formal DHT if they want, he said.

Another example is that the algorithm used to walk the superpeer network is itself pluggable, as is discovery, which is now more robust. (Superpeers are new in version 2.0. Gnutella introduced a superpeer model quite early on its evolution.)

Jxta has a few unique aspects. It's perhaps the only project that has major backing from a vendor that's released under an acceptable (to many people) open source license. Sun is keen to see it used in low-cost embedded or mobile devices, and customer examples cited such examples. Although one company, Internet Access Methods, has used Jxta to create a distributed IDE for software developers.

Jxta reference code is Java, but a C version is being nursed along too. (P2P developer Brandon Wiley, whose Alluvium project you must read about is a huge Java fan, says people can implement Alluvium "as a patch"). As is a MIDP version.

So maybe stealth mode isn't such a bad thing. ®

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