Monday, February 16, 2009

SoulSeek P2P Network

I hear the best way to acquire the music and media you need is to use Soulseek. You can everything and anything here, especially the most obscure of artists. Soulseek is far superior to those other sites like Limewire, or Sharezaa etc. etc. I'm not even sure what else is out there any more in regards to P2P. It can be a little slow but it is well worth the for the rarities you've been desperately searching for. One downside I have found though is that if you search for a word, phrase or artist that is too common the program will overload with search results and crash.

Here is the Wiki entry for more info

Soulseek is a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing network and application.[1] It is used mostly to exchange music, although users are able to share a variety of files. It was created by Nir Arbel, a former Napster programmer.[2] The server used is composed of two networks since 2006. Since 6 July 2008, there has been an attempt to merge them with the arrival of a new stable release.



The original Soulseek user base was composed mostly of members of the IDM mailing list,[3] and most of the music first found on Soulseek was underground electronic music or music created by the users themselves.

The user population was believed to have grown rapidly since its beginnings, but there is no published data as to whether that has continued or reversed. Original Soulseek users noticed a huge increase in users when the site Audiogalaxy was closed down in 2002. When comparing the number of users in the then new feature of being able to create rooms in Soulseek, the most joined rooms before the shutdown of Audiogalaxy was around 50 or so people and then jumped to 100 or more after the shut down of Audiogalaxy. As of 2008 the room titled as "!ReGGaeGaLaXy" (created from Audiogalaxy migrants of 2002)[4] has constantly been the most joined room with 200 plus users. Nir Arbel stated in an interview [5] published December 26, 2003 that there were, at that time, over a million registered usernames and that 80,000 - 100,000 users log on during peak hours.

Version 156 first appeared in 2005.[6] A second 'test' version of the server, version 157, was set up shortly afterwards, which became the primary client in 2008. Version 157 is effectively a separate network, with a separate userbase from version 156. Neither network communicates with each other, however both networks can be run simultaneously on the same computer.

Non-Windows platforms

No official client has been developed for non-Windows operating systems, but a number of unofficial third-party clients exist. Development of third-party clients is discouraged (but not prohibited), as coding errors or explicit circumvention of network rules in third-party clients can have a drastic negative impact on the Soulseek network.

PySoulSeek is a Soulseek client written in Python that runs under Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris and other Unix-based operating systems. PySoulSeek runs under Mac OS X but with some difficulty.[7]

Another such client, named Nicotine, runs on all Unix-based systems and on Mac OS X.[8] It is available from most package distributors on Linux-based systems. There is also an iPod touch / iPhone client available through Installer. [9]

Two clients exist for Mac OS X: Solarseek[10] and ssX [11] ssX was listed as a trusted third-party client by soulseek's developers and has had a stable beta since 2006. Solarseek never achieved a stable release, but enjoys somewhat wider popularity owing to a user interface that looks more like OS X. The program's website has not been updated for over a year, with long-time users complaining the program is increasingly unstable under OS X 10.5.

iSlsk and MewSeek, both available in the jailbreak repositories, are clients for Apple's iPhone.


As a peer to peer (P2P) file sharing program, the accessible content is determined by the users of the Soulseek client, and what files they choose to share. The network has historically had a diverse mix of music, including underground and independent artists, unreleased music such as demos and mixtapes, bootlegs, live tracks[2], and live DJ sets.

Soulseek Records

Many of the original Soulseek users are also music producers, and Soulseek Records (also known as SLSK Records) was formed in 2002.

Key features

Central server

Soulseek depends on a pair of central servers. One server supports the original client Version 156, with the other supporting the new client, Version 157.[12] While these central servers are key to coordinating searches and hosting chat rooms, they do not actually play a part in the transfer of files between users which takes place directly between the users concerned. (See Single Source Downloads below).


Users can search for items; the results returned being a list of files whose names match the search term used.[13] Searches may be explicit or may use wildcards/patterns or terms to be excluded. For example, searching for blue suede -shoes will return a list of files whose names containing the strings blue and suede, but files containing the string shoes in their names will be excluded.

A feature specific to the Soulseek search engine is the inclusion of the folder names and file paths in the search list. This allows users to search by folder name. For example, typing in experimental will return all the files users have in folders of that name giving a very quick access to new bands and albums in a determined musical genre.

The list of search results shows details such as the full name and path of the file, its size, the user who is hosting the file together with that users' average transfer rate, and in the case of mp3 files, brief details about the encoded track itself such as bit rate, length etc. The resulting search list may then be sorted in a variety of ways and individual files (or folders) chosen for download.

The Soulseek protocol search algorithms are not published, as those algorithms run on the server.

Single source (one to one) downloads

Soulseek does not support multi-source downloading or "swarming" like other post-Napster clients,[2] and must fetch a requested file from a single source. (In contrast, swarming allows a requested file to be sourced from a number of users who have that file, thus pieces of the file may be downloaded concurrently from a number of sources, typically giving improved performance.)

Soulseek has often been criticised for not offering multi-source downloads. Many users find that multi-source downloads offer more speed and resilience. Single-source downloads are more subject to the vagaries of the internet, where the performance and reliability of a connection between two points can be impacted by any number of factors. However, the direct one-to-one nature of file transfers in Soulseek can be seen as favouring diversity. It favours communication between users, thereby encouraging them to get in contact with downloading users sharing similar tastes by removing the anonymity of the "swarming" system.


Soulseek hosts user-created chat rooms, of which most are dedicated to musical styles or geographical regions. Some users find that this gives the system more of a community feel.

Individual 'chat sessions' are also possible directly between two users, and the software features an 'ignore' facility should a user not wish to receive messages from another. The Soulseek client also allows the user to create what is essentially a 'buddy list'. Users on this buddy list can then be given preferential treatment, like being able to jump the queue ahead of 'non-buddies' when requesting files for download.

Many of the more popular file-sharing clients support personal messaging. However Soulseek resembles WinMX or mirc in having group chat rooms (for a few music genres) giving some users a community feel.


The client also contains a ban feature whereby selected users may be banned from requesting files. This is in response to users who might be leeching files (i.e. taking files from others without sharing any files themselves) or who might be causing a nuisance for other reasons, such as a personal argument through the chat facilities or just taking up a users bandwidth by downloading too many files, or simply on the whim of the banning user. Banning can be a contentious subject, and was the subject of much discussion in the user forums particularly in the early days. Users with download privileges can still be banned.

Album downloads

While Soulseek, like other P2P clients, allows a user to download individual files from another by selecting each one from a list of search results, a Download Containing Folder option simplifies the downloading of entire albums. For example, an artist who wishes to facilitate the distribution of an entire album, may place all tracks relating to the album together in a folder on the host PC and the entire contents of that folder (i.e. all the album's track files) can then be downloaded automatically one after the other using this one command.

File transfer monitoring

The Soulseek client features two file transfer monitoring windows where the progress of files being uploaded and downloaded can be monitored and controlled.

User profiles

Users may complete a profile which contains basic free-form text information (e.g. basic information about themselves or their 'file transfer rules') together with a list of things they like, a list of things they dislike and optionally an image file. These items may then be viewed by other users when selecting the username from a list of members in a chat room or a list of files returned by a search.

The list of items a user likes may also be used to obtain global rankings for that item in the Soulseek community or to obtain recommendations from other users who have the same items in their list of things they like.


The Soulseek client provides a wishlist feature which functions like a stored search. Search terms are input as entries in a wishlist and each wishlist entry is then periodically executed as a search automatically by the client software, returning results as appropriate.


While the Soulseek software is free, a donation scheme exists to support the programming effort and cost of maintaining the servers. In return for donations, users are granted the privilege of being able to jump ahead of non-donating users in a queue when downloading files (but only if the files not shared over a local area network).


The first release was 139, which ran for about 12 months from 2002-03. Following a change in servers, a new version was released to coincide with this event. Whilst the main interface has largely remained unchanged since its inception, additional features such as the chat room 'ticker' were introduced into the 156 version.

Since July 6, 2008, there are no longer two versions of the Soulseek client. The older version, v.156 was running for 2/3 years. There was also a separate 'test' version where new features may be developed and which uses a separate centralised server (v.157 "test"). v.157 test 12c was released in November 2007 but 157 has been around since 2005.

It was proving difficult to get new users to migrate to 157. Users are now obligated to upgrade.[14]

Support forums and blog

Like numerous other software titles, Soulseek has a set of forums where users may seek help on a variety of topics such as technical aspects of using the software. There are also forums where music including Soulseek Records releases may be discussed.

In the latter part of 2003 a Soulseek blog was created by Nir Arbel whereby users could be informed of various developments with the client software and the status of the Soulseek servers. It remains active as of July 2008 [14].


Soulseek is entirely financed by donations, with no advertising or user fees. Nir Arbel writes, as of July 1, 2008:

I would also like to take this opportunity to address some of the lies that have been spread about our lifestyle and the money we make off Soulseek. We live from hand to mouth. A few months ago we had to let go of sierracat, our system admin, despite his excellent work, because we could no longer afford his services. We are pretty heavily in debt. We are fighting a legal battle in France. We are not poor nor starving, but neither of us drives a fancy car nor could we begin to afford one if we wanted to. I don't like discussing money issues, but I feel it necessary to defend ourselves from accusations that are, and have always been, patently untrue. with that, I would like to thank you all for using Soulseek and making it a significant, if not hugely popular or successful experience. Thanks.[14]

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