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eDonkey2000 (also abbreviated as eD2K ) is on the one hand the name of a file sharing network on the Internet and on the other hand the name of the first client for this network.

Both the peer-to-peer principle and the client-server principle are used with eD2K . The software that is installed by the user to participate in the network is still called a client .


Originally, Internet users could only use the file-sharing network with the eDonkey2000 software from the US company MetaMachine . MetaMachine was founded by internet entrepreneur Sam Yagan and programmer Jed McCaleb. The initially existing separation between Overnet and eDonkey has been lifted. In 2002, out of dissatisfaction with the original eDonkey2000 client, the eMule project was created to create an alternative client on an open source basis. eMule, however, is strongly tied to Windows, which is why aMule was created in 2003, an easier-to-port client. Around this time, the trend was from many servers with few users to few servers with many users. In May 2002 300 to 350 servers served 200,000 clients, in November 2003 60 servers were responsible for 1.5 million clients.

In October 2004 the eDonkey network overtook the FastTrack network used by Kazaa in terms of user numbers: 70 servers served 2.5 million clients. On May 14, 2005, the 4 million user limit was exceeded. After the developers of the original eDonkey software had been threatened with legal means by the RIAA , they temporarily stopped the further development due to a lack of money for legal countermeasures. In March 2006, the inventor and developer of the network Jed McCaleb announced the resumption of further development. At that time, the network had around 3.5 million users.

There were also legal steps against server operators. On February 21, 2006, the then largest server "Razorback 2.0" was disconnected from the network by the Belgian police. Due to the enormous amount of data, no connection data was saved on the hard drives, which is why all information in the 16 GB RAM was lost when the device was switched off. Even before the Razorback server was shut down, several fake servers were in operation under the same name .

In May 2006 the eDonkey2000 network had around 3.4 million users.

On September 12, 2006, sales of the eDonkey client were discontinued and the MetaMachine websites (including www.edonkey2000.com and www.overnet.com) were shut down. However, the eDonkey network itself was not switched off. It is still possible to use the eDonkey P2P network with other client software. The open source client eMule has already been represented in the eD2K network for a number of years with a share of over 90% and is de facto the standard client in this network.

eD2K links

These links can be used to add a server to the server list or a file to the client's download list. The following links show examples of their structure:

  • File: ed2k://|file|datei.txt|123|1234567890abcdef1234567890abcdef|
  • Server: ed2k://|server||4661|

Link components

  • ed2k://|fileIdentifies the link as the ed2k protocol and the file file .
  • datei.txtSpecifies the name of the file to the client. Interchangeable.
  • 123Specifies the size of the file in bytes .
  • 1234567890abcdef1234567890abcdefSpecifies the hash value to identify the file. For files that are greater than or equal to a so-called "chunk", it is the overall MD4 hash from all connected MD4 hashes, each consisting of a chunk of approximately 9.28 MiB (exactly 9500 KiB or 9728000 bytes ) of data (an empty chunk is appended in the event that the file has exactly one chunk size). For files smaller than a chunk size, the file's MD4 hash is simply used.

eD2K users can pass such eD2K links on to other users; the link always refers to the same file (the file name is irrelevant, only the size and hash value are decisive). Therefore, several file names are often in circulation for the same file, some clients can show the user a list of the file names found in the network so that the user can select one of these file names.

Connection variants

Client server

The client tries to establish a connection to a server . The server software is a program specially written for this purpose. In principle, every Internet user can provide an eD2K server , but this is not useful for users with Internet connections below 2 Mbit / s because of the high network load.

The operators of eD2K servers have deviated from using the original server software. Instead, other software, the Lugdunum-eserver or the satan-edonkey-server, is used. This enabled, for example, the number of users per server to be increased significantly while the bandwidth and hardware requirements remained the same.

Essentially, the following communication takes place between client and server:

  • The client transmits the information about its released files ( shares ) to a server, which indexes them.
  • The client wants to search for a file and sends part of a file name (some other properties such as file size are also possible) to one or more servers. The requested servers search their indices and send back the corresponding eD2K links .
  • The client regularly queries all known servers, which clients release the files that it would like to download. The servers look in their indices and send back the IP addresses and ports of these clients.

The servers only manage an index of the released files and the associated client addresses. A server does not save or send files, only their metadata .


Since the network load of the servers continues to increase with the increasing popularity of the eD2K network, various concepts have been developed to relieve the servers. Most clients are now able to compress their data traffic with the server with the help of the zlib library and thus save data transfer rates at the expense of CPU time . The most radical approach, however, was the one to convert the eDonkey network into a serverless network. The original eD2K developer first built a new client ( Overnet ) that operated entirely without a server using the Kademlia algorithm. As soon as you are connected to another Overnet client, you get a list of clients that you can ask for a specific file. If a client does not have the file (which is usually the case), it at least "knows" which other client is topologically closer to the file and can "help". Overnet worked well, but suffered from the fact that it was slow to search for files and a significant portion of the client's bandwidth was lost as search overhead . So the approach of making eDonkey completely serverless was abandoned. The aim was no longer to completely abolish the servers, but to search serverless in parallel to the server-supported search and thus relieve the server. This functionality was first integrated into the original eDonkey client, which then became the eDonkey hybrid client.

The development team of the most popular client eMule has meanwhile also developed a hybrid client that replaced the old, exclusively server-based client with the version jump to 0.40; The eMule implementation of the Kademlia algorithm differs somewhat from that of the eDonkey client.

peer to peer

As soon as a client has been informed about other clients by the server, it tries to connect to them. In the following, the clients are referred to as peers because they have the same status and the eD2K server no longer plays a role in this part of the data transfer.

A peer has a limited number of upload places ( slots ). Every peer that requests a file from another peer occupies a slot in this one. If all slots are occupied, the peers are placed on a waiting list ( queue ) and have to wait their turn.

The peers can download a file from multiple sources at the same time, thus reducing the download time. At the same time, you can send the finished parts ( chunks ) of your ongoing downloads to other peers.

Small selection of eD2K clients

  • eMule is currently the most widely used eD2K client. It was originally developed only for Windows and brings some extensions to the eD2K network protocol (e.g. credit system, web interface, source exchange ), which were incorporated into other ed2k clients. For many eMule eMule mod exist called Forks . Meanwhile, with aMule and xMule, there are also ports for Unix-based systems. Since version 0.40, eMule can also be connected to the eD2K network additionally or exclusively without a server using the Kademlia algorithm.
  • MLDonkey is primarily developed for Linux , but there are also versions for Darwin , FreeBSD , MorphOS , Solaris and Windows. In addition to the eD2K protocol, it also uses the FastTrack , OpenNap , Direct Connect , BitTorrent and many other protocols.
  • Shareaza is also a hybrid client which, in addition to the eD2K protocol, is also understandable to the Gnutella , Gnutella2 and BitTorrent protocols.
  • Lphant is primarily developed for Windows, but there is also a command line version that supports Linux and MacOS in addition to Windows. Lphant also supports web cache .


The following addons are available for Firefox :

  • Copy ed2k links
  • eMule Web One-click
  • Torrent server handler
  • FireMule


Spiegel Online reported on May 23, 2006 that the day before, "completely surprising [...] investigators had attacked thousands of German eDonkey users". Nothing was ever heard about this report, and no proceedings were known.

On September 12, 2006, sales of the eDonkey client were discontinued and the MetaMachine websites (including www.edonkey2000.com and www.overnet.com) shut down. Metamachine also agreed to pay the RIAA $ 30 million to avoid litigation.

Legal situation for eDonkey links

With a decision of July 15, 2005, the Hamburg Regional Court had to rule on the admissibility of eDonkey links to copyrighted material on a website as part of a preliminary legal protection procedure. The court was of the opinion that both the site operator and the server owner could be used as interferers in the context of a copyright injunction .

Setting eDonkey links is of course unproblematic if the author agrees. It can make sense for authors to offer works on file sharing platforms instead of renting storage space on a web server . The user should note: The fact that a work can be accessed via an eDonkey link with the consent of the author does not necessarily mean that the work has become in the public domain . It only means that the author consents to the distribution in the eDonkey2000 network. For distribution in other networks you still need the explicit consent of the author.

Tampering servers

Servers are also active in the eD2K network trying to deceive the user. A simple approach is to imitate a well-known eD2K server by adopting its name. Although the IP address is different, most users ignore it. If the server outputs a fake number of active users and indexed files, it attracts users because it is more attractive.

The operator of the server now has the option of recording, filtering and falsifying file requests. This can be done via file types, keywords or via hash value and file size. For example, some servers try to trick users into downloading malware by answering every search query and giving the malware a name that matches the search term.

Some users suspect that the manipulation occurs partly on behalf of an interest group of the film or music industry, for example the RIAA , which can damage the network in this way and obtain information about copyright-infringing activities.

Individual evidence

  1. Edonkey overtakes Kazaa in user favor . Heise news ticker
  2. eDonkey2000 Reaches 4 Million Users . ( Memento of August 7, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) slyck
  3. eDonkey server Razorback offline ( memento from March 9, 2015 in the web archive archive.today ) gulli.com , February 22, 2006
  4. Faked Razorback servers online . eMule News
  5. As of May 2006, source: slyck.com ( Memento from April 24, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  6. eDonkey operator finally throws in the towel . Heise-Newsticker, September 12, 2006
  7. Firefox Addons
  8. Mass raid: Investigators target 3500 German eDonkey users . Mirror online
  9. eDonkey operator pays 30 million US dollars to the music industry . Heise news ticker
  10. eDonkey website blocking - LG Hamburg decision of July 15, 2005, AZ .: 308 O 378/05