Lindows offers discount to P-to-P buyers

Lindows is offering a 50 percent discount to customers who download its commercial software using its new peer-to-peer system, it said Thursday.

LindowsOS is now available for US$25 over peer-to-peer (P-to-P), instead of the normal US$49.95, Lindows said.

The company has established a P-to-P system, based on open source software called BitTorrent, that it says is ideal for transferring large applications with high-demand peaks. The data is broken down into chunks and then reassembled after it has been transferred, the company said in a statement. A typical 500M-byte Lindows OS file, for example, will be broken into about 1,000 pieces, each about 500K bytes in size.

All active downloaders on the network cooperate by exchanging numbered chunks until each user has the whole file, Lindows said. The system uses cryptographic hashing, or document numbering, developed by a group called SHA1 (or Secure Hash Algorithm 1) to automatically verify that each piece is what it should be.

New software upgrades will create spikes in demand, but the number of people on the network will grow proportionately as people join the "download cooperative," the company said.

Lindows expects the P-to-P system to become the main download system for its larger files. The current FTP (file transfer protocol) system is capped at 200K bps (bits per second), and with up to 1,000 people downloading at the same time this can lead to delays of up to four hours, the company said. P-to-P will allow immediate download at a faster speed, it said.

Costs are also reduced, as there is less need for hosting infrastructure such as servers, firewalls and routers, Lindows said.

The BitTorrent system requires users to install a small piece of free software, available for Linux, Macintosh and Windows users, Lindows said.

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