Remember FrostWire (BitTorrent client)? They’ve completely transformed their platform and are integrating Bitcoin into their system.
While at a Bitcoin conference I met Angel Leon, a project lead for FrostWire. Bitcoin, he mentioned to me, has caused a resurgence of excitement in the open-source movement.
Angel is also working hard on the OpenBazaar Project.
I asked him some questions about everything from Bitcoin, to FrostWire, and OpenBazaar.
Kevin Cruz: How did you come to begin working on open-source projects and why do you enjoy it?
Ever since I was into school I couldn’t understand why so many people in campus would be so adamant to not show their code, it wasn’t as if they were developing top secret super important technology, I thought we’d learn more from each other if we shared.
But it wasn’t until I joined LimeWire in 2005 when I truly began to learn what the Open Source process really meant. From there I moved onto other projects, such as FrostWire, and everything I do, if it can be opened, it will be.
How does the vision behind Frostwire relate to the idea of bitcoin?
Bitcoin is the missing key for many projects, not just FrostWire. In our case, we see tremendous opportunities to enable content creators to monetize the content they share with those who can pay what they can, and while they do that, we believe no third party should be involved in taking a cut of the transaction.
We believe that there’s great value to be added to industries that deal with Intellectual Property if you onboard content creators worldwide without any friction and better yet, if they can transact with their fans/customers directly and efficiently like you can with Bitcoin.
How has Frostwire changed more recently?
FrostWire is now 9 years old, it went from being a LimeWire fork into a project of its own. FrostWire is the result of integrating a multitude of Open Source projects; it’s basically a file downloader with built in search capabilities, along with a full featured media player powered by MPlayer.
FrostWire downloads files from cloud services and from the BitTorrent network. For this purpose we’ve been using the Vuze/Azureus BitTorrent engine, but as of FrostWire 6 (currently in alpha) we’ve removed Azureus completely and we’re now using libtorrent.
We were born a Java project, and integrating things like libtorrent in the product have made us create new technology for the java community.
For FrostWire 6 we created a full featured libtorrent wrapper API for Java called frostwire-jlibtorrent. https://github.com/frostwire/frostwire-jlibtorrent Our commercial proof of concept for this library will be the release of FrostWire 6, a full featured end user BitTorrent client, now lighter and faster than ever thanks to this “engine” replacing decision.
We hope this library will enable other projects, certainly in the enterprise/cloud sector which is heavily serviced by Java technologies, to take a closer look at what the BitTorrent technologies are able to do. Once mature, this will be a powerful library to build products that can benefit from decentralized file sharing.
During those 9 years something interesting happened along the way, and it was the birth of Android. When we got on Android we were the first peer to peer file sharing client ever published on the “Android Market” (as I believe it was called at the time), back then we had implemented a new p2p protocol which we had called “metafrost”. The protocol mimicked the Gnutella Protocol and at the time it was an experiment that was catching exponential attention from Android users that could browse each other’s shared files. However, this didn’t go well with the federal government which had concerns about our default settings for a file sharing app, and they ended up not just auditing our Android app, but also putting very strict rules on how the desktop app was to behave.
This led to the hard decision of removing Gnutella support from FrostWire and transforming it into a BitTorrent/Cloud downloader.
We’ll soon be releasing an Android version that also enjoys the power of our new frostwire-jlibtorrent client, and we believe this new version should be able to run very well even in very modest hardware equipped Android devices (just by looking at our initial tests and comparing things like memory usage, threads used, battery consumption)
How did you come to join OpenBazaar?
I’ve joined OpenBazaar simply because of the daily anxiety of not having it. I believe OpenBazaar needs to exist. The world of e-commerce is made up of a bunch of walled gardens that don’t talk to each other. Thanks to Bitcoin this can finally change as the payment medium is no longer owned/controlled by a central organization not willing to open up in anyway.
My goal with OpenBazaar is to have a standard Smart Contract Protocol that any ecommerce related app/service can use. What this means for FrostWire is still uncertain as the protocol is still far from having an implementation that we can look at and say “we can actually do this, and that”, but it is in my gut that this protocol will enable us to work on a decentralized music store, a decentralized music store that allows not just for the “Pay what you can” business model, but also the more traditional “Pay for this track” model, while not ripping artists off 30% plus what labels steal from them after that.
I think this will be very healthy for the music industry as a whole, especially as technology has allowed for very specific niches to discover the music they actually care about (long tails). If we can pull it for music, I’m sure we’ll be able to empower content creators working with film, books, software, etc. to list, and sell their products be it on FrostWire, or on some other OpenBazaar based product.
Another interesting thing we started doing recently with FrostWire and Bitcoin to grow our developer team was the addition of tip4commit to our repo. We’re converting all fiat donations into Bitcoin and distributing these to the following projects:
As a result, the first week we started getting translators from Russia, Croatia, Greece, [and] China to help us with out of date translation files. As of last week we started getting our first contributions to frostwire-android (someone from Azerbaijan) and the beauty of it is that, once the projects are funded, the bitcoins are out of our control. And once a new contribution is merged, the contributor will receive bitcoins almost immediately to their wallet.
We’re now seeing 2-4 daily contributions to the projects and making new friends all over the planet.