LimeWire Pro 2.2.3, by LimeWire LLC
Posted: 26-May-2002

3 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: LimeWire LLC Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Robert Hanno Class: INTERNET
     
$9.50    


LimeWire Pro 2.3.3 is a Macintosh OS X package which enables individuals to search for and share computer files with anyone on the internet. LimeWire is compatible with the Gnutella file-sharing protocol and allows connection to other client computers on the Gnutella network.

Price: Single - User License - $9.50 (on-line), $14.00 (mail)
Multiple-user licenses with a sliding scale are available (e.g., a 100-User license is $600).

Test Environment:

  • B&W G3, 350mHz, 896 MB of memory
  • Mac OS 10.1.4
  • RoadRunner

LimeWire Pro 2.3.3 is a file-sharing application allowing searches, uploads and downloads for users connected to the internet. The Gnutella file-sharing protocol, reverse-engineered from an AOL subsidiary's project which "escaped" into the Public Domain shortly before the parent company shut it down, forms the basis of a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network. This network is de-centralized relying on no main server as Napster did (among other P2P networks).

The Pro version dispenses with the ads on the basic (and free) version. Bundled software (Spyware) is also removed. Additionally, added support is provided for owners of the Pro version, including e-mail support.

The installation creates a folder in the Applications folder containing the LimeWire package, a number of jar files and other miscellaneous shell scripts and folders. LimeWire scans your computer's drives for media files and asks if you would like to share these. You may delay this choice for a look at a number of preferences which must be set (and tweeked for maximum efficiency):

  • Sharing Options allow the user to select a location from which to share files. You may also restrict your sharing to certain file extensions.
  • Speed Options may be set appropriately. Fast connections may be set up as "ultrapeer" for slower users.
  • Upload Bandwidth, Uploads Per Person, Starts and Max Upload Slots will need to be set appropriately.
  • Searching quantity, quality and speed may be set.
  • Filter options allow you to ignore search results containing selected words, adult content, .htm/.html files, .vbs files, or messages from specific hosts.
  • Advanced options allow you to set your tolerance for "Freeloaders" --- based upon the number of files shared or how often you'll share with them.
  • The default listening port is 6346.

The exact settings for these will depend upon your preferences and experience. The LimeWire website and associated Forums apparently do not address this.

The Search tab is where most of the action takes place. The user may choose to search by "Any Type", "Programs", "Video", "Documents", "Audio" or "Images". "Audio" and "Video" searches also may specify metadata: "Album", "Genre" (Bebob is described as "jazzy Dylan"), etc. Clicking the Search button sets the lime slice rotating while the network is being explored. Stop halts the search occasionally. The mouseover of a returned search file name will occasionally display the file's metadata.

LimeWire automatically groups files with similar names and sizes from different peers into a collection on a single line. Whenever more than one file is grouped, a quantity will appear in the # column indicating the number of files that are grouped. To use LimeWire's Smart Downloader, select the file you want, and click the "Download Any" button. This action causes LimeWire to attempt to download the file rotating through each peer in the group. It downloads only one copy of the file, but will smartly use all the peers (e.g., it will start with the fastest peer, but if that connection is dropped, it will continue with the download using the next fastest peer, and so on).

You can also highlight several files, and click the "Download All" button. This will queue downloads for all the files (for files that are grouped, it will only download one copy of the file). Double-clicking the file name of an individual file also initiates the download.

Each download in progress is displayed in the Download window with a status, a progress bar and download speed. A partial download may be previewed in its application (iTunes for mp3s) --- handy if you're not sure that the file is one in which you're interested. Completed downloads may be launched in the appropriate application. Incomplete downloads attempt to resume when LimeWire is restarted and will complete if the uploader is still available.


Search Page

A search for "Macintosh" resulted in 3038 items before I clicked Stop. The first 2 were OS 9 update files and the rest (as far as I could scroll before locking up) were MP3s in the Michael Jackson-cum-Hip-Hop genre. Searches often seem to turn up some inexplicable matches.

LimeWire also includes a chat functoin. If a smiley icon is displayed under the "Chat" column, that indicates the peer is available for chatting. I was unable to convince anyone to chat, but it appeared that my message was being sent out.

The fourth button is a "Buy" button. Clicking the Buy button opens a search page at Amazon.com in your browser, and performs a search on the name and type of your selection.

The Monitor tab allows the user to monitor the searches on the Gnutella network. This defaults to disabled but when enabled, the number of searches may be adjusted. Whenever I selected this, I received a dialog box stating, "Your client is a leaf node shielded by an ultrapeer. Hence you will see few or no searches in the monitor window." This didn't seem quite correct as I watched a parade of Incoming Searches march by.

The Connections tab displays the connected hosts on the Gnutella network, IP addresses, messages, bandwith, peerage and percentage of dropped I/O (poor performers may be removed here.)

The Library tab displays the files that you have selected to share. These files may be launched in the appropriate player or LimeWire's media player. Playlists may be created, updated and saved. Files may be annotated with various attributes for audio or video ("Title", "Artist", "Genre", etc.)

The OS X Tools menu item delivers the statistics for your current connection. The on-line documentation hints at more functionality in the PC version.


Statistics

The Help is browser-based, which is fine since everyone has a browser. However, having to switch to another window for help when you want to keep the LimeWire window visible is not always an easy task. Adding insult to injury, an ad window oftens pops up along with the help web page. The User Guide pictures alternate between the Windows and OS X versions, and provides a decent amount of help.

LimeWire froze often requiring a Force Quit and occasionally completely locked up the computer mandating a Restart. I also needed to use Force Quit a half-dozen times to terminate large search results when Stop didn't seem to be working. This behavior seems to be an OS X related problem, as the freeze-ups never occurred running LimeWire under OS 9.2.

Summary
Running LimeWire 2.3.3 on a G3 was very sluggish. Perhaps LimeWire's newest version has alleviated some of the more egregious interface issues, and running on a G4 might show a bit more responsiveness. In any case, LimeWire does deliver on providing a doorway into the world of P2P, where all kinds of files, from MP3's to programs, can be downloaded at will for sharing and evaluation. The Pro version of LimeWire provides e-mail support, and ad-free. Try the free version first, and if the ads don't bother you and you find that you don't need much support, then there's no reason to upgrade to the Pro version (with the exception that you would be supporting the free version, an honorable gesture usually reserved for those with money).
Basic version or Pro version, LimeWire is one of the best tools on the Mac for accessing files on the Gnutella network.

Pros:

  • $9.50 is pretty cheap
  • A great deal of media files can be found
  • Smart downloading using multiple peers speeds the download process
  • Buying the Pro version helps support the freeware version, which is good for the Mac


Cons:

  • Slow
  • Browser-based help hijacks open window
  • Interface issues abound
  • User's Guide is limited


Overall Rating:

3 out of 5 Mice