File Transfers...again (yet?)

Richard Clegg RichardC "at"
Fri, 22 Mar 2002 17:58:45 +0000

I admit I'm no expert on P2P applications, but surely the point of having
the central server is to provide a link to all active potential participants
in a P2P session.

Without the central server, how can you identify participants without typing
in the IP address (assuming TCP/IP)?  I don't think you can.  In theory you
could, but the downside to this is that you would have to know exactly who
to start a session with, and if you start having multiple sessions, then the
number of links you've got to add grows exponentially, into a mesh
structure.  I would class this as a configuration nightmare for all but the
smallest groups of participants, and the solution to this problem is to move
back to the central server.

I know you don't want to have a central server, and I can respect that, but
with all due respect, this is a VNC mailing list, and we're probably not the
best qualified people to advise on this.

My experience is mainly Windows based, and as such I tend to use either
internally hosted FTP sites or Windows shares for this kind of thing (and I
like Bill's recommendation of email as well) but I don't see how you're
going to get round this.

I can't see an advantage in using an extra utility when email or shared
folders would achieve the same thing.  You want to keep complexity down, yet
want to introduce another component into it.  Surely this is in conflict
with that aim itself.

You say you want to send a file, from Person A to Person B, without any
logging on.  Just choose the file, and the person to send it to, and away it
goes?  Good news ... email does this.  Why reinvent the wheel.  It's
platform independent, requires no central server (other than the mail
server, which I'll assume you have anyway), and it does the job you want it


P.S.  Apologies for the tone, but I've had no coffee for the last six hours,
the damn machine is bust, and I'm feeling a little grouchy.

-----Original Message-----
From: Charlie Summers [mailto:charlie "at"]
Sent: 22 March 2002 17:00
To: vnc-list "at"
Cc: John_Roland_Elliott "at"
Subject: Re: File Transfers...again (yet?)

Mr. Elliott;

   First, let me thank you and all of the others who have responded.

   Instead of responding on a point-by-point basis, let me comment that all
of the responses I've received seem to run to making things _more_ complex,
not less. Some suggest tunneling through secure protocols, some suggest a
file server with filesystems mounted on every machine in the room (we have a
server running atalk and samba on the same filesystem, we just don't see any
reason to mount those filesystems on machines [like the voicemail machine,
for example] that don't need them), and everyone seems pretty convinced that
running an FTP server on one machine is the "sensible" solution to the
problem. VNC is an example of a simple application that allows view/control
of an outside machine (reasonably) efficiently; why not the same thing for
file transfers?

   So let me try something else, avoiding references to VNC completely. Joe
and Sam have two laptops which are connected to each other through TCP/IP,
but not connected to the Internet (I'm doing this to eliminate the
requirement for securing the data...let's keep it simple for now and add
public encryption later). Joe wants to give Sam a file. One file. Joe
want to run a full-featured FTP server, require Sam to log into the server
(even as anonymous), Joe just wants to send Sam One File. Oh, and to keep
things honest, I won't tell you what operating system Joe _or_ Sam are
running; it doesn't matter if Joe is Mac and Sam is linux, or Joe is FreeBSD
and Sam is Windows. (I made the mistake of giving a real-word example
a file from Windows, and some assumed this was the only direction this
mythical application would need to work.)

   Isn't it reasonable that somewhere I haven't looked there is a small,
efficient application to solve this one really simple issue? If you use ICQ,
you can transfer a file to anyone while chatting with them...I want to do
same thing between two machines without the chat or the central
server. If you use IRC, you can transfer a file directly (DCC)...I want to
the same thing without the central IRC server to coordinate the initial
request. Think _really_ simple - both guys open the VNT (Virtual Network
Transfers, with apologies to AT&T) application, Joe pics the file from a
picklist, and Sam has it. Both quit the app, and move on.

   (Wasn't P2P supposed to be the hot new thing? Why do all P2P schematas
_require_ a central server? Doesn't that kinda defeat the purpose?)

   Oh, I will answer one specific point you raised:

At 18:00:06 -0500 3/22/02, John Roland Elliott is rumored to have typed:

> For my own idle curiosity, why do you prefer a little peer-to-peer utility
> to a file service on one of the boxes that has interfaces usable by all
> platforms?

   Because it's clean in situations when machines don't need to mount an
entire filesystem. Forget the internal network with central fileserver, and
look at my friends Joe and Sam...or think about the large number of small
home networks being cobbled together today as newbies connect their machines
with wired and wireless networks _without_ fileservers. This small, simple,
impossible-to-screw-up-the-setup-since-you-just-double-click utility is so
obvious in this world I can't _believe_ I'm the first guy to see the need.
(Trust me, I ain't that smart.) It almost _has_ to exist somewhere I haven't
looked yet.

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