Recently (or not so recently, around September) LimeWire made the decision to start to introduce forced licensing of content ("Limewire Moves to Block Unlicensed Material", Slyck). In response to this, a dev team started work on a "new" program called FrostWire ("FrostWire Prepares for Gnutella's Future", again via Slyck). (LimeWire is an open-source program, so altering it is fairly simple for anyone who knows how to code in Java.)
According to the Wikipedia article on FrostWire:
FrostWire is an open-source file-sharing program. It uses the Gnutella network and is heavily based on the more well-known LimeWire program. The project was originally started in September, 2005, after it was discovered that LimeWire's distributor was placing code in LimeWire that could eventually block LimeWire users from sharing unlicensed files. The first release was in October, 2005. LimeWire is rumored to be developing its "blocking" code in response to RIAA pressure and the threat of legal action in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in MGM Studios v. Grokster. FrostWire claims to be based outside the United States, presumably to avoid legal liability. In any case the FrostWire team has stated that no "blocking" code is placed, or will ever be placed, in FrostWire. Like LimeWire, FrostWire is written in Java and is capable of supporting multiple platforms. However, while LimeWire is available in both free and paid versions (with the paid version, LimeWire Pro, ostensibly offering better searches and connectivity), FrostWire is only being released in a free version (which its makers claim is equivalent to LimeWire's paid version). FrostWire's developers also claim that their program is completely free of any adware or spyware. As FrostWire's coding is based on LimeWire's, their user interfaces are virtually identical.
So there's your brief introduction to the program. I'll also leave you with a nice picture of its incredibly inventive logo:
Well, at least it matches the name (which is admittedly odd, but at least not as odd as "LimeWire"). Anyway, as the article mentioned, back in October the first betas of FrostWire were released (Slyck, "FrostWire Betas Released"), and FrostWire is now downloadable from here. I grabbed it a few weeks ago, and decided to try it out today. (This review is based on v4.9.37 beta.)
First impressions are overall good, despite the strange version numbering. The developers seem to be quite keen to distance themselves from LimeWire to avoid confusion and trademark issues ("Since LimeWire is a registered trademark, we cannot distribute the client under its old name") - and yet they number their first (or one of the first, I'm not sure) version as version 4 as per LimeWire's numbering. Right. However, the installer has a pretty icon, and a nice splash screen, which despite their uselessness, are appealing to a lot of people, and say a lot about the professionalism of the project. However the professional look of the splash screen is offset somewhat by the ridiculous sound that plays when it appears.
All's well and good. The installer is your typical InstallShield thing, but it does look nice. The code is also GPL'd, as the EULA states (screenshot). Additionally, the installer checks for Java, although I'm not sure what it actually does if you don't have it, since I already did (screenshot).
However, once you actually run the program, things start to go downhill a little. You are presented with this splash screen on opening the program.
Additionally, I soon discovered that if you happen to be using the Royale (WinXP MCE 2005) theme, the icon is practically invisible in the system tray.
Right. Well, moving right along. The user interface looks exactly the same as LimeWire, ie. not that great, and it's fairly unremarkable (screenshot). I decided that I would search for some Linux ISOs, since that's what everyone uses P2P for, right?
As you can see, I promptly decided to download "linux iso.mp3", since it was clearly so popular and was less than 150KB! WOW! What a Linux distribution! FrostWire helpfully warned me that I may be breaking the law by downloading Linux, or something.
However, I was disappointed upon the completion of the download. It was just a sound file saying the following in an extremely poor impression of Bill Clinton's voice (listen here).
My fellow Americans. I would once again like to say that I did not have sexual relations with that woman. I did, however, go to eFreeClub.com, where they offer hundreds of free products: computers, notebooks and accessories; televisions, home and portable audio and video, fashion and cosmetics, housewares and much more. Visit them today at www.eFreeClub.com and do like I do - just get it free.Right. So my first attempt to get a Linux ISO was disappointing. By the way, visit that eFreeClub site if you really want to, but I'm not linking to them as it would increase their traffic and PR, which is bad. (Companies that advertise on P2P networks suck.)
My second attempt was even more of a failure. I've heard that ISO is short for "ISO image", and I have received images in my email before as "jay-pegs", so I figured that "LINUX ISO.JPG" was exactly what I was looking for.
The download finished in a matter of seconds. Go FrostWire! However, I was to be disappointed when I opened my newly-acquired "Linux image".
Failing that, I pressed on in my noble quest to obtain 1337 hax0r open-source linux warez, and downloaded some things that looked a little more promising.
I left these files to "download" in my system tray for around half an hour with no luck. Then I thought "maybe FrostWire isn't designed for people who like Linux ISOs?" My fears were quickly confirmed.
Finally, I decided that in lieu of being able to actually download anything legal, I would instead turn myself into an UltraPeer (ie. router for the network), sit back, relax and watch what other people were searching for on the network. (Yes, fortunately, FrostWire preserves this option.)
The verdict: To be completely honest, this isn't that great as a client by itself. However, I would recommend it over LimeWire, because apparently, it will eventually have an advantage over it. The comments I made earlier about not being able to find anything actually relate to the Gnutella network - FrostWire searches exactly the same files as LimeWire. However, if you don't already use LimeWire, there's no great reason to start using it now just because it has a new name.
What surprised me the most about this client was the ugly theme and crappy graphics that initially came with it, when there are a whole bunch of much better logos and themes available from the FrostWire website. So, if you plan on using FrostWire, I suggest you check out those pages as soon as you finish installing it.