Apollon is a file-sharing program for the KDE desktop environment running on Linux/Unix systems. Based upon the giFT framework, it provides a user-friendly client for the giFT daemon (giftd), and thus supports the OpenFT, Gnutella, and FastTrack (KaZaA) networks, though with varying degrees of maturity. Apollon is a fairly new application, having had its first public release in July 2003. The program rapidly stabilised and has been mature enough to be usable on a regular basis since October 2003. Apollon's development has been greatly aided by the giFT project finally releasing a 'stable' release in June 2003, which doesn't require the user to install the latest CVS snapshot on a weekly basis to keep giFT working.

Apollon's interface is clearly inspired by KaZaA's, but it is not a direct clone. There are five panes selected from a list box along the left side of the program window: Info, Search, Transfers, Shared Folders and Player. The Info pane displays the status of the various giFT plugins along with basic statistics for their respective networks. The Search pane tracks multiple searches using a tabbed window. The searches can be constrained to certain types of file, and there is an additional entry box for searching within the results. The Transfers pane is a carbon copy of equivalent panes found in almost every file-sharing application ever made, with lists of current uploads and downloads. Apollon's Transfers plane shows the status of the download, transfer speed, percent completion, and ETA. The items are persistent between sessions. The Shared Folders pane shows the files that are being shared with previews (although only images currently have working previews). The Player pane depends on the bare-bones KDE media player Kaboodle, and can be invoked for any partially downloaded file or any file in the shared folder through the context menu. It supports the formats that Kaboodle supports; only audio in KDE 3.1 but some video formats will be supported in KDE 3.2.

Apollon also provides a convenient interface for configuring giFT. Most of the important configuration options, such as the download directory, the shared folders, the upload and bandwidth restrictions, and the active network plugins, are given an easy-to-use and well-documented GUI. Some of the more obscure giFT tweaks are also given interfaces.

In my experience using Apollon and giFT, the most reliable downloads are found on the smaller OpenFT network, OpenFT being the 'native' protocol of giFT. giFT/Apollon is possibly the best Gnutella client I've yet used, although the usual practice for Gnutella downloads is to try two or three of the identical-looking options and see which one succeeds. Gnutella also suffers from a dearth of metadata such as song/video length. The FastTrack plugin is more flaky than the others, since unlike OpenFT and Gnutella it isn't an open protocol. Fortunately, swarming downloads work better than with Gnutella, and the variety of content available is, by far, the largest of the three protocols.

Apollon is available at http://apollon.sf.net/. The site is rather low on content but does link to the homepages for giFT and the third-party FastTrack plugin. Its Sourceforge page is at http://sourceforge.net/projects/apollon/. At the Sourceforge page there is, in addition to a basic Apollon-only download, an all-in-one file-sharing package containing giFT, the giFT plugins, and Apollon. It is not yet included in any Linux distributions except Gentoo and Debian Unstable/Testing.

This writeup is copyright 2004 D.G. Roberge and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence. Details can be found at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ .

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