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MUTE protects your privacy by avoiding direct connections with your sharing partners in the network. Most other file sharing programs use direct connections to download or upload, making your identity available to spies from the RIAA and other unscrupulous organizations.

Ants display collectively intelligent behavior when foraging for food or fighting off predators. Each ant in the colony acts in a rather simple way, but together they end up doing something clever, like discovering the shortest path between their ant hill and a food source. MUTE's routing mechanism is inspired by ant behavior.

MUTE is based on research, and experiments show that it works quite well. MUTE's ant-inspired routing is light-weight, robust, and adaptive. Results from experiments in real MUTE networks show that the collective behavior of MUTE nodes quickly finds the shortest (or fastest) routing path between two nodes on the network.

"The RIAA just started bullying Internet users, but they've been bullying musicians for decades. By refusing to pay for major label (RIAA) music, we can usher in a more fair music business and keep the Internet free (as in freedom)."
--Holmes Wilson
Read more at Downhill Battle...

MUTE File Sharing Quick Start Guide

If you've used other file sharing apps in the past, you should find that MUTE is easy to use. There are a few fine points, however, and they are covered in this guide.


1. Download MUTE

If you have Windows or a Mac, you can download a pre-compiled version of MUTE for your platform (if you're using Unix, you'll need to compile MUTE from source, which is easy, but beyond the scope of this guide).

After downloading, double-click on the MUTE archive to extract it, and follow the instructions. You should have a MUTE folder after extraction is complete.

2. Updating MUTE's Default Configuration

Before MUTE can connect to the network, it needs a way to find other MUTE nodes. MUTE uses web-based host caches for this purpose. MUTE ships with a list of host caches, but that list is out-dated. You need to update your list before starting MUTE the first time.

Inside your MUTE folder, look for the settings folder. Inside that folder, there should be a bunch of files (all of MUTE's settings). Look through those files for one called webHostCaches.ini. Launch your favorite text editor (perhaps Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on the Mac) and open the webHostCaches file. You should see a list of web addresses---delete all of them, and then paste the following addresses into the file:
Save the file.

3. Starting MUTE

Back in your MUTE folder, find the fileSharingMUTE application and launch it. MUTE will ask you a few questions the first time it starts. Here are some hints about those:
  • You are probably behind a firewall (see below for some tips about firewalls).
  • For randomness, type some gibberish on your keyboard, like a370489kjsdfgjj38jasdyuJAj0934SA.
  • A 1024-bit key should be fine for now (and "a while" means 30-60 seconds, depending on your CPU speed and your luck).
  • Pick a folder with lots of sharable files---help the MUTE network out.

4. Getting Connected

After MUTE starts, take a look at the Connections tab. This will show the MUTE nodes that you are connected to. Near the bottom of the window, you should see a status display that shows the IP address that your node is currently trying to reach.

Getting connected may take a while, especially if you are behind a firewall (see below). It could take up to an hour as MUTE tries to find other nodes.

5. Searching

When you have at least one connection in your Connections list, switch to the Search tab. MUTE search works by sub-strings only (searching for ion will find the files nation.mp3 and lions.mpg). If you search for more than one word, MUTE will only show you files that contain all of your words. Quote marks (like "george bush") and wild-cards (like *.mp3) don't work, so don't use them (just search for mp3 to see all the MP3 files).

As a sanity check, you may want to try catch-all searches like txt or mp3 before you try searching for more specific terms.

6. Downloading

Select a file in the search results list and click the Download button. MUTE downloads are quite a bit slower than KaZaA downloads.... but hey---it's anonymous.

Firewalls (Everyone, read this please)

MUTE works fine from behind a firewall---if it can get connected to the network. Once connected, the performance of a firewalled node is no different from that of a non-firewalled node.

Why is it harder for a firewalled node to get connected? Because it cannot accept incoming connection requests (they are blocked by the firewall). Thus, a firewalled node must get connected by sending out connection requests to others. However, no firewalled nodes can receive these requests. Thus, two firewalled nodes cannot connect to each other. The upshot: every firewalled node depends on finding non-firewalled nodes with open connection slots.

In other words, the total possible size of the MUTE network is limited by the number of non-firewalled nodes that are present in the network.

What you can do

MUTE needs more non-firewalled nodes.

You can can become a non-firewalled node by opening a port on your firewall or router for inbound MUTE connections. This will let other MUTE users connect to your MUTE node.

Opening a port is pretty easy, but the process varies according to you brand and model of router. Your best bet is probably a Google search for your router's name and the phrase "opening ports" or "port forwarding".

For example, I have DSL through Verizon, and the modem that they gave me has a built-in router/firewall. I can run a Google search for westell 2200 port forwarding to find instructions. My modem, like most modern routers, has a web-based control panel. I can open ports by accessing from my web browser and going to the Service Configuration area. Oh, and by the way: MUTE uses port 4900 by default.

How this helps you

If you are behind a firewall and are having trouble connecting to the MUTE network, this is because you cannot find non-firewalled nodes to connect to. If you become one of these non-firewalled nodes, suddenly everyone will be trying to connect to you, so you will have no trouble joining the network.

If you're behind a firewall, you're currently begging for a connection. If you open a port, people will be begging you instead.

Their lips move, but no sound comes out.
Who really listens to the people on TV?
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