The Complete History Of WinMX - Part 6
We have reached the last series of WinMX releases, the 3.54 series was created to act as a test bed for some important updates in the library and within the packet handling engine, many of the older buffer overflow type of attacks had been closed off at last, it was no longer possible for an attacker to display 3000 rooms based at the same IP or crash secondaries by making some of the data-fields excessively long, but the main upgrades where focused clearly on the library segment of the client, it was noted that as well as seeing a general upgrade of the library engine we saw support for video file metadata within the library for the first time, this was not translated into additional data fields within the protocol however so we can only speculate that this would have been the next upgrade that "might have been"
Frontcode Technologies released a comprehensive set of screenshots prior to any actual 3.54 release that I have been able to locate, you can view them here
Shortly after the release of these screenshots and with the rumour mill in full swing we saw the first of the actual beta series appear in public.Announcement of WinMX 3.54 BETA series
WinMX 3.54 beta 1 was released on the 4th of November 2004 and these notes refer to its subsequent upgraded functionality.
Changes in v3.54 beta 1
Completely new Library component. The new component's features include fully asynchronous file and folder scan on separate background thread, video file meta info, full recursive operation, selective sharing, and several other major improvements.
Just over a fortnight later on the 19th of November WinMX 3.54 beta 2 appeared with a much more extensive set of changes.
Changes in v3.54 beta 2
- Fixed crash when confirming file delete
- Shared file count should now be correct
- File and filetype share state loading bug fixed
- Library page in settings window large-font scaling corrected
- Bug in file count on program reload fixed
- Fixed display refresh problem in Library window bottom status line
- '#' numeric wildcard symbol in file extension matching (e.g. "Archive (.zip .iso .rar .r##)" ) should now work
- Option to disable specific recursed folders
- "Remove" in folder menu now only requires _any_ selected folder to be root instead of _all_ selected.
- Added more options to folder-filetype submenu for sharing and unsharing filetypes in multiple folders simultaneously
- Added share option to filetype-only context menu
- Added share/unshare/default sub-menu option to file context menu
- Fixed minor bug stopping enter key from completing in-place edit under certain conditions
- Default filetype insert on libr4.dat load error now checks for already-present filetypes
- Add folder dialog folder name input now checked for invalid characters
- Fixed a few bugs regarding file renaming (especially with incomplete files)
- Fixed divide by 0 exceptions in mp3 and mpeg file scan routines
- Fixed bug in avi video bitrate calculations that led to 7/8ths of audio bitrate being added to video bitrate
- Fixed bug in avi audio scanning routines that prevented scan of many files encoded with AC3 audio
- Fixed many bugs in mpeg video scan routines that prevented some mpg/mpeg files from being scanned
- Delete file confirmation list control header default size bug fixed
- Added "Move Up" "Move Down" and "Add Defaults" buttons to filetype area in Library settings
- Added "Share" status column to 'Add Folder' filetype selection list
- Fixed bug that prevented colours in all new list controls from refreshing when adjusted in settings
- Fixed bug that prevented file launch options from being displayed in upload context menu Column width, ordering, and sort order of main Library display is now saved
- Fixed problem in OpenNap server status display when sending shared file list
- Fixed 'Add Folder' task button focus display bug
- Fixed bug in shared file rename server update and incomplete current size update
Beta 3 appeared later on in the day (19th) following on from a minor but annoying bug discovery.
Changes in v3.54 beta 3
- Fixed bug that caused 0 shared file count when secondary connected and entering a channel
Beta 4 was released on the 12th of December 2004, this sadly was the last official release of this series and infact the last ever WinMX release from Frontcode Technologies. At the time of writing, this particular version has been serving the WinMX community for a few days under 10 years, a truly remarkable acheivement by any stretch of the imagination.
Changes in v3.54 beta 4
- Fixed several bugs in file scan code that were causing crashes.
- Library view remembers expanded folders between sessions
- Shared file/byte count on folder lines
- Search for Alt/Similar menu option on Library files
- Fixed bug that prevented column sort order persistence
- F2 key rename selected Library file
The names of the more technically minded users who had unearthed feature bugs or potential exploits and reported them quickly but quietly will never be known but this author knows of at least 2 such cases where these important feedback reports lead to rapid fixes to remedy the issues and we can all be thankful that many have over the clients actively developed years spent their time reporting and asking for updates on specific features, and far more importantly the crucial developer(s) at frontcode for implementing all of the updates and changes over the years for free.
This free to the end user concept was to rebound on frontcode in mid 2005 along with many of the other major P2P networks and followed on from the RIAA v Grokster
The RIAA sought to leverage this particular US supreme court ruling to their advantage despite it being clear that the ruling was only in regard to inducing copyright infringement and profiting from such activities the RIAA speculatively sent threats to all of the major P2P networks operating at that time and made a simple ultimatum, either close down or face the US courts.
Whilst many P2P network operators had been making a lot of revenue from their activities with big flashy adverts or malware infested clients, Frontcode the operators behind WinMX had not and thus Frontcode felt unable to muster enought financial resources to fend off the threat of legal action so on September the 19th 2005 users of the decentralised network woke up to find that they could no longer join it, this was a shock to many who assumed that "decentralised" meant out of the control of anyone. Unfortunately this was not the case as with all P2P networks some way of obtaining the IP addresses of other already connected network users is required and althought often given a different name such mechanisms exist for all such networks.
To add a further twist to the story it was noticed at this time and reported on a well known P2P news forum
that a new company had been opened on the island of Vanuta a place notorious for ignoring foreign governments and corporations.
The new companies name was WinMX Technologies and in the confusion many WinMX users where at this stage listening to the rumour mill, some suggested that the Peer Cache closures where part of a strategy by which Frontcode would vanish legally and re-appear outside of the US, thus escaping the clutches of the RIAA and its threats, as whilst it was well known that Frontcode operated out of Canada the vital Peer Cache servers where located in the US and this made them a potential liability.
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