a tool for sampling peers uniformly at random from the Gnutella network
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.


Copyright (C) 2006--2009 Daniel Stutzbach

README for ion-sampler 1.0.1

ion-sampler is a tool for selecting peers approximately uniformly at
random from the active peers in a peer-to-peer network.  The tool's
algorithm is described in detail in the paper:

    Daniel Stutzbach, Reza Rejaie, Nick Duffield, Subhabrata Sen,
    Walter Willinger, ``On unbiased sampling for unstructured
    peer-to-peer networks'', IEEE/ACM Trans. Netw., vol. 17, iss. 2,
    pp. 377-390, 2009.


Reading the paper before using the tool is highly recommended.

The tool is intended for research use.  It depends on protocol hooks
generously provided by P2P network developers.  If the tool is abused,
it is likely these hooks will be removed.  Use with care.



1. An initial list of ultrapeers
2. gcc
3. GNU make
4. A real-time library (librt) with the clock_gettime() and
   clock_getres() functions.
5. Python 2.4, 2.5, or 2.6

Place the list of ultrapeers in the "gnutella.in" file.  The
ion-sampler distribution comes with a list of around 1,000 ultrapeers
that were up in October 2009.  If ion-sampler takes a long time before
printing any output when run, probably none of the ultrapeers are
still online and it is diligently trying all of them.  In that case,
you will need to acquire a new list.  It's not important that all of
the ultrapeers listed in gnutella.in are online, as long as a decent
percentage of them are.

Tested on Red Hat Debian and Linux.  Porting to other Linux systems
should be a piece of cake.  Porting to non-Linux systems shouldn't be
too hard either, as long as they have gcc and Python.

The use of the real-time library is to avoid problems with clocks
running backwards.  Ordinary time-related system calls simply return
the current wall time, which might change and might even change often
(such as on systems running NTP).  Clocks running backward can wreck
havoc when trying to keep accurate timers for timing out network
traffic, so we use functions from the real-time library that provide
clocks that measure elapsed time.


Build instructions:

Run "make"


Execution instructions:

"./ion-sampler gnutella -n 50" will select 50 ultrapeers from the
Gnutella network and print out their IP:port pairs on standard output.
Adding the -d option will print out the degree (how many neighbors)
the selected ultrapeers have.

ion-sampler typically takes a few minutes to run.  Don't be alarmed
that it doesn't output anything immediately.



ion-sampler is really two programs.  One of them is called "gnutella"
and deals with the protocol details of asking a Gnutella peer for a
list of its neighbors.  The other program is called "ion-sampler" and
performs the random walk to select peers uniformly at random.  The
mandatory argument "gnutella" to ion-sampler tells it run the
"gnutella" program and use "gnutella.in" as an initial source of

ion-sampler can be extended to other peer-to-peer networks by writing
an appropriate program, similar to the provided "gnutella" program.
Hereinafter, such programs are called "plug-ins".

The plug-in reads addresses from standard input.  Each address is
separated by a newline character ('\n').  The plug-in must contact
that address via the network and either discover the peer's neighbors'
addresses or fail (due to a connection refused, timeout, etc).  

When the plug-in retrieves the list of neighbors, it must print out a
line in the following format:

R: IP:port(optional) peertype neighbors, leafs


IP:port -> the peer's IP address and port, as earlier read from stdin
optional -> any extra data you need for debugging
peertype -> "Ultrapeer" or "Leaf"
neighbors -> a space separated list of IP:port pairs
leafs -> a space separated list of IP:port pairs

This format is regrettably a little Gnutella-specific.  In the future,
a more flexible system may be used.

In the even of a failure, the output format is:

R: IP:port() failure message

The failure message may be any string as long as it does not start
with the words "Ultrapeer", "Leaf", or "Peer".  The plug-in *must*
output either a list of neighbors or an error for every address read
from standard input.  If it loses track of an address or waits
indefinitely for a response, ion-sampler will also wait indefinitely. 

For correct operation, the plug-in must continue to read addresses
from standard input even while processing earlier addresses.  In other
words, the program must multiplex.  It cannot just read one address,
get data from the network, print out the results, then read the next


Please send all questions, comments, or patches to:
    "Daniel Stutzbach" <daniel@stutzbachenterprises.com>